I had plans to meet up with a blogger friend in London, Poppy, (who will remain anonymous, unless she chooses to reveal herself) and was looking forward to finally meeting her, as she and I had e-mailed back and forth over the past two years. A few days ago, I received a voicemail from her, asking if I’d like to join her and her husband at the House of Lords for dinner. I was thrilled at this generous offer and was delighted to accept. As you can see from the time on Big Ben, I arrived a bit early and had the chance to walk around the Houses of Parliament before I had to arrive at the Peers’ Entrance.
Even though darkness had fallen, the building was still just stunning in its mass and scale and was beautifully lit.The details are just incredible and almost every inch is covered with some sort of design. As I walked around the building, every single aspect of it was fascinating. It was massive and just looms above you. There are angles that show the working days and evenings of those who work inside.If you look in the top row of windows, you can see workers still hard at work, or getting ready for an evening event.
I was given instructions to go into the Peers’ Entrance by the huge statue of the horse.Across the street stood the incredible Westminster Abbey, site of so much of England’s happy and sad past. Again, beautifully lit and stunning in its detail.I met my host and hostess and the other guest and we moved to a bar to have some champagne and small snacks. From the bar, we descended to the dining room with its beautiful arched ceilings and cozy atmosphere. The menu and food rivaled any gastro-pub. I had a gorgeous Parma Ham starter, and an English beef with truffled potatoes for my main. As my “pudding” I had a bright and buttery lemon tart.
I was informed in no uncertain terms that I should not take pictures while I was in Parliament, but did manage to get a few surreptitiously.As our host gave us a personal tour of some of the building, my jaw just dropped open. I have never seen a more incredible building in my life and it’s hard to find enough superlatives to describe the magnificence. This is the robing room where HM dons her robes before she addresses the Houses of Commons and the House of Lords. We saw the hallway where the Queen comes in, and the stairs that are lined with her guards. The scale of the rooms is enormous, and the ceiling is nothing short of incredible. As we wandered the hallways, our host kept us entertained with historical tidbits and fascinating facts about significant events. There is nothing like a personal viewpoint to bring history alive.
Just before we finished the tour, my friend Poppy said that we should nip into the “ladies” and I was so glad we did! This room was formerly the “men’s” and in its own way, it was every bit as great as the rest of the building. As we were by ourselves, it was slightly easier to take pictures without some constable chastising me!The walls were a green striated stone and the tiles were a semi-translucent stone, with red and white details. The sinks were carved from the green striated stone and specially shaped to fit the spigots and drains. Each had a small scallop shape carved into it for the soap.Each sink was marked with the portcullis, the mark of the House of Lords.
As we said our goodbyes, I thanked the kind, generous and funny Lord and Lady for an evening I will never forget, and headed back to the tube, but with one brief stop first. Just across the river was the new London icon – the Eye!
I realized on the Tube home, as I read a recent news article about him, that our host is a genuine hero, a man whose place in history is forever assured by his actions. His wife is every bit as incredible as he is, but in her own brilliant way. Thanks to both of you for a night to remember.