Instead of snoozing on the way up to London I took the opportunity to watch the last couple of episodes of Lost, so I have now completed series two... I'm not absolutely convinced that I didn't drift off and then wake up part way through a completely different show, so much has happened in the last few, I'm not sure what's going on. Might have to watch them again.
Admiralty House was cool, best bit was the board room with it's spectacular carved panelling all round. The admiralty have no actually permanent base in the building any more, it's now used by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. We think Prescott arrived just as we were leaving, we had to clear out of the boardroom for a meeting, and there was a chauffeur driven Jag waiting outside with the engine still running.
Lunch, was pizzas and squirrel - first to Pizza Express for a delightful meal (we need one of these in Folkestone) and then to St James' Park with a bag of nuts to feed the squirrels, then a cheeky pint in a pub that I forget the name of.
The afternoon's tour was the big one, It's all super secure getting into Downing Street itself, there is airport style security to get through the gates at the end, but when you're inside it seems a lot more relaxed. I've no doubt we were being watched constantly though, especially Clare and me, being 50 years younger and considerably less posh than the other people on the tour. We got up to the front door, and it was closed, did they not know we were coming? The policeman on guard outside said I might as well knock the knocker, as how often would I get to do that? So, I did and we were in. A couple of interesting points about the door, from a distance it looks like a traditional front door, but up close it looks a bit too shiney, it must be made of blast proof high technology or something. Also the zero on the number ten is crooked - there's a story (told to us by the house manager) that when the house was built (Downing Street was a regular row of terraced houses once) it was built in a hurry, the first door number was screwed on crookedly, and this tradition has been maintained. It could also be that the number is carefully skewed so that it looks straight when you're looking down the street - not many people get to see the door head on these days. We did, and this was the only place we were allowed to take pictures.
Number 10's an amazing building to go round, interesting enough just to see a building like that never mind the importance of the office and then all the history and artworks and things. The place is full of furniture as owned and used by all prime ministers ever, and they use these priceless pieces as every day furniture - we all got to have a sit in all the chairs and have a feel of all these antiques that would be behind bullet proof glass in any publicly accessible gallery. A feww bits I can remember are; a campaign chest belonging to Wellington that's in the hallway by the front door, (I expect Tony drops his keys there when he comes in), some Chippendale chairs, and a comfy leather number that knew the bum of Winston Churchill on many occasions. We didn't go up to the private appartments on the top but we did go in the cabinet room, receptions, dining rooms, etc, and we could see the garden, with the kids toys still in place. Just the artworks in the place are worth seeing, they have Turners and Gainsboroughs and a Henry Moore among others, all scatterd about the place and within grabbing distance. The history of the place is palpable. We sat in these chairs in this room:
No photos allowed inside unfortunately. Also I was so interested in everything, I forgot to go to the toilet, so didn't get to steal any soap or towels or anything. Everyone's asking how to get on one of these tours, I have no idea really, I think they're open to anyone who applies, but I could be wrong. There is a two year backlog at the moment though I think, they didn't do tours for a couple of years after 9/11. Go for it, it's well recommended.
Saturday we had another splendid meal in Escondido1, I love that place. After we had a few beers in The Ship2, and sat out in their back garden for a bit. Apparently there are a family of porpoises swimming about just outside, though we saw no sign of them.
Being back at work is rubbish...