Visitez Londres

I’ve just enjoyed a few days off and now I am back.

London is getting busier, with a noticeable increase in visitors over the past few weeks, including school groups from across the UK and abroad.

I have had several French groups; eleven- and twelve-year-olds on their first trip to London. They have traced the steps of Sherlock Holmes, Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare; seen the guard change and had their photographs taken with the mounted soldiers at Horseguards.

They have adored the squirrels and been fascinated by the pelicans in St James Park.

I was with one such group last week beside Westminster Bridge. I pointed to the statue of Boudicca and asked “Qui est-ce?”

One hand shot up, “Jeanne d’Arc!”

The teachers smiled. Discovering the icons you are used to at home are not the same as the ones you encounter abroad is just one of the things children learn when they visit another country. That’s Nelson in Trafalgar Square, not Napoléon. We really do drive on the left, and despite what the school text book says, no one calls policemen Bobbies these days.

Seeing London through their eyes, listening to their observations and answering their questions makes London new all over again.

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