So, in the post below, "Mustard Seeds", I talked about our home ed environmental group and explained how our involvement with a local conference ended with our children being given the task of delivering a pile of petitions to our local MP, prior to the Paris climate talks in December. When 4 of the children and I went to talk to our MP, he invited our group on a tour of Parliament, which we finally organised for this month.
I had never been inside the Houses of Parliament before, so this was a great opportunity. Our boys have acquired a lot of historical knowledge through talking with their Grandpa, and the visit brought to life some of the stories of ancient kings, plots, rebellions and beheadings. We had a delightful guide for our visit, who was really engaging and eager to share her love of history with the children. Best of all, she didn't patronise them, and loved all the questions they asked her.
The buildings are impressive inside - with beautiful architecture, paintings and portraits, amazing wood carvings and ornate gilding. It was fascinating to see the House of Lords, quite the most ornate room, and then the House of Commons, so familiar from television, and to hear the story behind the rule which bans the Monarch from the Commons. All the children and accompanying parents seemed to really enjoy the tour. My third son was particularly excited to get so close to Big Ben as he has had a long-standing interest in architecture, and iconic buildings in particular, enjoying building a good number of 3D puzzles, including Big Ben. Exiting the Houses at dusk, and seeing the clock lit up, and the sunset in the sky, was really beautiful. Quite an experience, and I hope an inspiring one for our young people.
During our visit to London, we also called in to The Faraday Museum at The Royal Institution.It was interesting to learn of all the scientific discoveries which have been made on that site, and about the research which is currently going on there. The boys were excited to visit the location of The Christmas Lectures, started by Michael Faraday in 1825, which we always enjoy watching, and we had to go and find the lecture theatre. They also loved The Periodic Table game, and spent a fair while trying to beat each other's record.
We met our friends for lunch at The National Gallery and were able to pay a fleeting visit to the Van Gogh and Monet galleries, where our second son was impressed to see in reality some of the paintings he has studied in books.
Later in the week, I asked the boys to write up a brief description of our day in London for their journals (I am trying to encourage them to keep journals this year of all their outings) ... I have told you before that they are not keen writers, so I encouraged them to use adjectives and to try to describe the Houses of Parliament to evoke the atmosphere of the place for the reader. After all, I thought it was pretty impressive. Anyway, they hadn't really gone in to too much detail ... until I got to the bit where they had written about their dinner! So it was immediately clear to me what the highlight of the day was for the boys - Our friends joined us in visiting a restaurant my husband used to frequent as a boy with his family. He recommended the chicken kiev, and the meal obviously inspired the boys' writing more than the Parliament! "It was really good. As soon as you cut into it, the garlic butter exploded out of it. It was coated in crispy breadcrumbs and came with roast potatoes and veg. For pudding, we had tiramisu. It was creamy and chocolately." Mouth-watering description form my foodie boy!