Mon Nov 22nd 2010
A great day visiting the Houses of Parliament with fellow Rotarians from Italy, Sweden and France, organised by Basildon Rotary Club.
A GRAND DAY OUT
November 20th 2010 will live long in the memories of those who were on this Rotary outing. For me, there have not been many better days. The day out was organised by Basildon Rotary and the principal guests were Rotarians from Italy, Sweden and France. There was room and nine of our club were able to join the party.
It started inauspiciously on a damp morning at the Holiday Inn in Basildon. The challenge was to get there by 9am – which was when the coach left – after a happy occasion the night before. There were empty seats on the coach, but the door shut and the coach moved off promptly.
A word first about the coach. For me, coach travel is defined by knees being rammed tight against the seat in front. The coach operator was Kirbys of Rayleigh. Remember them, they provide a coach with adequate leg room. We had a comfortable journey. We needed to. Our route took us through many traffic jams. We had a guide aboard who pointed out many features before we got to our first target – the Olympic building site. We went through it with various stadia being pointed out. Then we got stuck in a really long jam and finally we got to our first destination which was Holden Point.
This anonymous looking block of flats in Stratford has three priceless assets. One is that it is 21 storeys tall. The second is that it has a portacabin on top which gives spectacular views over the Olympic site. The third is that up the top in that cabin was a lady who must be the greatest ambassador Newham has ever had. She talked us through what we could see and helped us to understand what a wonderful benefit the Olympic development would be to the people of Newham.
We left Holden Point, our coach driver being set interesting challenges in narrow Stratford residential streets. We drove on to the House of Commons. There we were welcomed by Stephen Metcalfe, a member of Basildon Rotary, who is Member of Parliament for South Basildon and East Thurrock.
We had an opportunity to stand on the House of Commons Terrace by the Thames.
We ate lunch in a House of Commons dining Room where yours truly had the humbling privilege of being bounced into saying Grace before the meal.
Stephen Metcalfe spoke briefly after the luncheon about what it was like to be an MP. He then took us on a guided tour of both Houses. It was so good to get an insider’s view which was not corrupted by journalistic cynicism.
After that it was back to the coach and back to the hotel. This time, once we had got over Southwark Bridge, the words “traffic jam” seemed to be deleted from the English vocabulary and we got back to the Holiday Inn painlessly.
We had an hour’s respite. Then it was back on the coach and out to Janet Mudd’s windmill in Orsett. There, we had, if anything, a better meal than we had at the House of Commons. Those who wanted to could go to visit the upper workings of the windmill.
Finally, it was home and bed. It had been a wonderful day.