Tonight I'm planning a night on the sofa. It may not be the most exciting way to spend a Saturday night, but I'm in the middle of a "six Christmas parties in five days" marathon and I'm shattered! The final one is tomorrow and as much as I've enjoyed them all it has been a bit full on.
The picture above shows where I was on Thursday night though - the Houses of Parliament in central London. On behalf of the Watercress Wildlife Association (where Mr C and I are volunteers) I attended a reception that was hosted by our local MP, Anne Main, to thank volunteers in St Albans for the work that they do. I was there with our committee chairman, but in total there were eighty of us from across the voluntry sector. People I chatted to ranged from someone who volunteers at their local church, through to members of a local residents association and someone who spends time teaching local prisoners English as a foreign language. It was a fantastic opportunity to find out what other local charities are up to and also brilliant to see how many people in St Albans gve up there free time to help others.
The big highlight of the night had to be a tour of Parliament and as neither house was sitting we were able to go into the chambers of both the Commons and the Lords. I should say that if you ever get an opportunity to visit then do take it up. After all, Parliament is there for the people, are MPs are there to represent us and our taxes go towards its upkeep.
There is a lot of tradition in Parliament and just hearing about the old-fashioned way that things happen there is fascinating. Many things have stayed that way for years and you have to wonder just how long it can stay like that in this modern age. The decoration is opulent in a way that doesn't always come across on the TV cameras and the chambers are also so much smaller than they look on TV. There was something slightly magical though about standing there in a place that you see so often on the TV news.
We obviously weren't the one people to think that it was such a special place as just before we were taken into the Commons Chamber there was a young couple in there also visiting. Their visit is likely to be one that one day they will tell their children all about for one particularly special reason though; whilst in there the man got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend, in front of the slightly bemused policeman who looked on. And the good news for him is that she said yes!
Visitors are not allowed to take photographs on their tours so I'm afraid that you'll have to make do with my photograph from outside, but then I'm guessing most of you know what much of the place looks like already. If you want to see more then you should definitely try and get yourself on a tour.