© 2011 Aaron

London on the side

I went to London for a professional conference known as @media ’11. While this was my primary reason for the trip, I enjoyed a little London on the side.

I stayed on the Thames in County Hall behind The Eye, and enjoyed the Big Ben (all night long), Westminster Abbey, the houses of Parliment, Buckingham palace and the fun Southbank Centre. The Southbank is a fantastic place with street performers every 20 feet, a sand beach built into the boardwalk and great restaurants on the river. Thankfully, Katelyn loaned me her smaller camera.

On my first night, I ventured over to Westminster Abbey for an Evensong service. I wandered around Westminster, including the inner Cloisters. I found out there was an evening service and made my way to the great door. There were many, many people outside wanting to ‘tour’ the inside of the church. I simply went up to the man minding the gate and said I would like to worship. In I went. There are a few audio samples of the service below. After the service, I strolled along the Southbank, then had fish n’ chips at The Wharf – fantastic!

President Obama was in town when I arrived, so I caught a glimpse of him riding by in his armored Cadillac (which I would have been fortunate to ride through the crazy streets of London).

London is very well organized, clean and easy to navigate – especially on foot. There’s much to see and learn. Our family looks forward to exploring more of the city in 2012 when we arrive to witness the Olympics.

Download a ZIP of MP3 files from the Evensong service. This includes two samples. First, the most beautiful “Amen” I’ve ever heard. Next, the portion of the service that included singing of The Lord’s Prayer. Enjoy.
»  Evensong at Westminster Abbey


  1. Janalee
    Posted June 11, 2011 at 10:54 pm | #

    REALLY enjoyed this post Aaron!
    Thanks for the snipits of music!
    That’s one of the best “Mind the Gap” pictures I’ve ever seen! 🙂
    I would have loved to have toured the Abbey like that!!!
    The “oldest door in England” made me giggle.
    What’s the glass orb thing in picture 26?
    Are those skateboards in picture 31?
    And I really like that paper-airplane art!
    Pangs of jealousy thinking about the Olympics!!!
    Hope to see you in your short visit to the states this summer! 🙂

  2. Aaron
    Posted June 12, 2011 at 9:28 am | #

    That glass orb is a cabin on The Eye (Ferris Wheel) below me. I was just rounding the top of the ride and thought it would be cool to capture what I was riding in. Very impressive feat of engineering!

    Yep, those are skateboards. I was struck by this. Is it a social statement? Is there an “underground” rule that one throws one’s skateboard down there to its demise once it’s reached the end of its life? I found it peculiar, and a great photo opp! A little hard to capture on a Blackberry phone, but had to use what I had.

    The paper plane art was an exhibition featuring poems from refugees of many nationalities living in London. One could hear recordings of poems read by authors, and some poems were folded into airplanes to “lift them up” into the city. I read a few and listened for a while – a rich tapestry of emotion.

    We’re jealous too, as we didn’t get any tickets in the first round 🙂 We’ll see what the second round offering brings. We weren’t willing to pay several thousand dollars for the opening ceremonies or several hundred for each sporting event, so we didn’t make the cut. The second round should be more affordable.

    I’m sure we’ll see you and James. Say hi to him for me! Thanks for the notes – always a treat to see comments from our friends.

  3. Posted June 12, 2011 at 3:20 pm | #

    An excerpt from the Southbank Centre website, describing the exhibit, The Lion and The Unicorn (the papers/paper airplanes in the photo above):

    “The original 1951 Lion and Unicorn Pavilion at the South Bank Exhibition aimed to describe the British character and way of life as well as pointing out their contradictions. The lion of the title represented bravery and courage while the unicorn represented imagination and independence. At the heart of the installation was a sculpture of a flight of ceramic birds, symbolising migration and freedom of speech.

    As a homage to this piece, our 2011 Lion and Unicorn installation has been made by artist Gitta Gschwendtner working with 50 young refugees, whose poems – written and spoken – reinterpret the original themes of strength and imagination. A flock of white birds – or are they aeroplanes? – fly down the outdoor corridor linking Waterloo Station with Hungerford Bridge and comes to rest next to Royal Festival Hall.

    Participants are from: The Refugee Council, Refugee Youth, The Refugee Home School Support Project, and The Klevis Kola Foundation, working with Joelle Taylor, Karen McCarthy Woolf, Philip Wells and Yemisi Blake.”


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