28 September 2012

Open House London 2012

Diamond Geezer went to Open House last weekend.

As did I. I got the Tube up to Westminster and popped into two places. It chucked it down with rain throughout the day, but I brought an umbrella. I like to be prepared.

The Foreign Office

They certainly do not make government buildings like this today. In a way, it's a pity, because the ornate marble of the FCO makes it a suitably impressive building, particularly for those visiting our realm.

Photography was limited - you couldn't take pictures in the corridors or things behind red ropes (this was enforced by security), while the Locarno rooms were a bit too dark for my camera - my pictures didn't come out too well.

The main hall (the Durbar Court), in which you weren't allowed to bring in red wine, had a variety of stalls covering aspects of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's work, including a bit on the less glamorous side of diplomacy. There was also one of the thousands of Olympic torches on display and a map of what the re-done Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will look like.

The FCO has its own branch of Costa - got a rather cheap lunch there.

UK Supreme Court


A new use for an old building (formerly the headquarters of the administration of Middlesex then a Crown Court), the UK Supreme Court is the highest court of appeal for civil and criminal cases in the UK - only the European courts are higher.

Four floors in all, accessed after a longish wait for the single metal detector and bag scan. The building was interesting and educational - in particular the exhibition on sport and the law.

The ground floor contains the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council court - dealing with appeals from a number of Commonwealth countries and some of our overseas territories. I'm aware of this court from other things - it featured in an episode of the BBC's Silk (involving a Caribbean death penalty case), although they clearly used an entirely different location.

Certainly plan to do this again next year - I did City Hall a few years back and that was great.

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