Greetings From London

Despite the fact that there is plenty to blog about right now (I think I have 551 unread articles in my feed reader) I will have to ignore much of it as I spend this week in London.  My son is going to summer school at Cambridge and he and I are spending this week together in London.


As is typical of flights to London, we arrived at about 8AM.  I tried to share with my son the virtues of my long experience travelling (telling him to gut it out and not sleep on arrival day) but you know how teenagers are about listening to parental wisdom.  So while he napped, I wandered around some areas of Westminster I had never seen before, including Westminster Cathedral:


I found this to be an odd church.  Byzantine on the outside, the inside is much more reflective of its Victorian heritage, with monolithic brick vaults.  It could have been quite beautiful inside, but the upper reaches of the church, including its domes, are entirely unfinished brick - not even a plaster coating.  The sign said that it was left unfinished for future generations to add murals, but given that about 5 generations have passed since its construction, it is probably time for a bit of decoration.  Right now the ceiling looks like the interior of a coke oven.  I did, however, walk into a mass in progress (which is why I have no interior pictures) and the organ and choir were magnificent.


  1. Tim Worstall:

    Strange: until a couple of weeks ago (just finished a contract in London and am now back in Portugal)that was my stamping grounds. Would have been able to take you into the Commons etc, for I was working for a political party and thus had a pass.

    Worth noting (I'm sure you know but readers may not) that Westminster Cathedral is the Catholic one. Thus built in Victorian times as prior to (1837 I think) that not legal to build Catholic churches.

    Strongly recommend a walk in St James' Park (10 minutes walk away from where those photos were taken). Innumerable spy films have the goodies (and sometimes the baddies) conversing by the duck pond there.

  2. Robert Dammers:

    Welcome to London! Telecommuting means I don't actually go into the office much any more, but I still nominally work in London. Westminster Cathedral was a favourite place to visit on Wednesday afternoon walks when I was at university in London (Imperial). Did you read the part of the history referring to the foundations? They were very strapped for cash during the construction (the restoration of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in England following Catholic Emancipation was very recent, and they had few wealthy families to provide support), and the Byzantine style design was adopted, partly, because they could re-use the foundations of the debtor's prison that had stood there before!

    I hope you have a wonderful stay with your son, and that he enjoys his summer school very much.

  3. Fred . . .:

    One of my favorite stops in London is the Imperial War Museum.

  4. Franco:

    Please be careful crossing streets, we wouldn't want you to get hit by a car approaching on the "wrong" side of the road.

  5. Addie:

    I went to summer school in Cambridge and it was a great experience. Have your son rent a bike ASAP as it's the best way to get around the city, but make sure it is always locked up (I've had friends bikes stolen).

    I hope your son has a great time. Check out this wiki for more info on what to do.

  6. Will H.:

    My favorite restaurant in London was McDonald, at least the one I went to the most, although I did find a good steak house near Piccadilly Circus. Also, as an ardent supporter of mass transit make sure you ride the tubes. :-)

    My last trip to London 9/2005 I ended up in a Florence Nightingale Ward in St Bartholomew's (Barts) Hospital with a kidney stone. It was an experience that I don't want to repeat. A look at national health care from the inside. The ward had 20 beds all filled, no phone, no tv, the bed was flat with no adjustments. The nurses was nice and there was no paperwork, the only good things outside of the meds.

    When they discharged me there was no riding in a wheelchair to the curb, they just said you can go. Since I came in an ambulance, I had no idea where I was at or even how to get out of the hospital. So I walked up to a woman that looks like she was leaving, asked if she was (yes) and could I follow her to get out of the hospital. Once on the street hailed a cab and had his take back to my hotel.

    Called the travel agent, changed my flight to leave as soon a possible, got the hotel, packed and off to the airport. The kidney stone hadn't passed but had dropped into the bladder, so no more pain but I was heading to the good old US of A as fast as I could. If I was going back to a hospital it was going to be a more modern one, in particular Overlook hospital in Summit NJ.

  7. Stephanie:

    Have a wonderful time in England ..... I hope you get to see many places that you have never seen before - and enjoy the heat wave!! Bristol, where I was born is the home of the Clifton Suspension Bridge ( built or maybe I should say designed by Brunel and is a marvel to see. You can also visit the boat that Brunel built which is amazing, the "SS Great Britain" (".

  8. Craig:

    Have a good trip. The London tips you provided after your last visit were useful on my subsequent trip there in 2007.

  9. John Moore:

    I suspect your son will be over jet lag far sooner than you will, if my own experience provides a guide. When I was a teenager, jet lag was just not a problem. I served in Navy Air and flew all over the place, plus pulling midnight watches, etc. It never fazed me.

    Last time I went to Europe (many years older) it took a week before I felt halfway decent. I fell asleep in a business meeting at the horrible hour of 8AM (heck, I'd fall asleep in one at home if it started that early.

    Have a good trip. Watch out for British street crime - the rate is now much higher than almost any US city.

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