Smile, the Paralympics are Coming

First up, I was disappointed to learn that although the torch would be lit in the Houses of Parliament while I was working there on Friday, I would be unlikely to see it.
However, just as we were leaving the Lords Chamber on my second tour, we were told to stop. There was a lot of hanging around, and people in grey shorts with turquoise trim walking backwards and forwards. Then an announcement explaining that the torch was going to be lit in front of us in Peers’ Lobby and that photography would be allowed. I didn’t have my camera, but I am hoping the members of the Royal navy who took this blog address will send their photos here. In the meantime, you can see it here on the BBC news. The two torch bearers were both workers for Sainsbury’s who have been responsible for heroic acts while at work, one saving the life of woman who had been crushed by a car, the other helping an elderly customer who had suffered a stroke. Their smiles say it all.

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Saturday at the Palace of Westminster

Had a great day guiding in the Palace of Westminster aka the Houses of Parliament today. Four lovely groups who were interested and responsive. The tour lasts just over an hour, though visitors need to arrive early to clear security. It follows the Line of Route from the Victoria Tower, leading through the Lords and then to the Commons and finishing in Westminster Hall.

My favourite room remains the Prince’s Chamber. It is, at least for the palace, intimate in scale, and the perfect setting for a winter dinner party. I said as much to one group, and a man told me I should go to Broadstairs where there is pub with a restaurant not dissimilar to the Princes Chamber.

The Prince’s Chamber

This isn’t my photo as you can’t take pictures inside the palace. I found it on Google. It is a couple of years old as the paintings of the Armada have been installed where you can see red panels at the top of the wall. Still, I hope it gives you some idea.

There were lots of new security people I did not know, but just as I ended my last tour I saw Naughty Nigel walking through Westminster Hall. It is ages since I saw him. The security staff at the palace are a good bunch and I have enjoyed working alongside them over the years.

Having got up to speed with Nigel, I turned and saw Leroy toting his gun. In the past we used to start the tours at Sovereign’s Entrance. Groups would go through security while an armed policeman stood close by. Leroy was always my favourite policeman on these occasions. He would diffuse the awkwardness by beaming at the visitors and asking them for their sweets. It always raised a smile.

I didn’t see any of the sniffer dogs today, alas. They are a happy hardworking bunch and a joy to watch.