Because I’m a good, bourgeois, Guardian-reading parent who wants to use the summer holidays for improving activities the girls and I have been jolly busy the last few days.
Yesterday we visited the Houses of Parliament.
Millie (10) and Amber (7) mostly enjoyed it – the 90 minute tour did go a little above their heads, and I did see Amber yawn a couple of times, but the Palace of Westminster (to give it the proper title) is a fantastically impressive place, so I think I got away with it.
We arranged the trip some months ago with our local MP (thank you, James Brokenshire) – completely free of charge.
Arriving at the Palace at midday in time for our 12.30 tour slot we were thoroughly checked, scanned and cleared by a small army of security staff and police, who took away my tiny pen-knife keyring, just in case.
Westminster Hall, where you enter, is HUGE, and I mean MASSIVE! Millie and I worked out that it was more than twice the height of our house you could probably fit our entire street inside.
Oh, and it’s over 700 years old, too. They really knew how to build ’em back in the 1300s!
Our tour guide was a smiling and very knowledgeable man named Rob who gave just the right mix of information, trivia and humour as we wandered around – and there was a lot to see in a fairly short time.
Although not quite as large-scale as Westminster Hall the rest of the Palace impresses in its own ways – mostly by being opulently decorated or unnervingly familiar as a backdrop to the TV news.
I was overwhelmed to be stood in such a famous room, looking at seats and thinking “That’s where the prime minister sits on the news!”
It seems smaller than on TV – which is what everyone thinks, apparently – but still has a…a power and a grandeur that you can’t explain. Even the girls, who didn’t really know what they were seeing, looked a little awestruck.
I was told off for taking this picture of the girls in front of the Speakers Chair in the House of Commons Chamber.
All the awesomeness took it out of us, however. Despite the tour lasting only about 90 minutes we came feeling exhausted and all fell asleep on the train back to Bexley.
At home I had a little nap, only to be awoken by Millie reminding me of a promise to take her to see the new Fantastic Four movie directed by Josh Trank (whose earlier low-budget superhero movie, Chronicle, I was super-impressed with). All the reviews of Fantastic Four, I reminded her, had been terrible, but there was no stopping her, so off we went to Bexleyheath Cineworld.
There were just seven other people in the cinema with us (one of whom left halfway through), but the film itself wasn’t nearly as bad as expected. Sure, it wasn’t great, but the first half, before they get their powers, is actually pretty OK.
Unfortunately, everything goes to hell in a handbasket after that. I was surprised by Millie’s review of the film on the bus home – she pretty much agreed with me, and was particularly annoyed that the end battle was so rushed and uninspiring…