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Check out Dennis' debut novel
Soul Identity - Dennis Batchelder's debut novel
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day 1
By Marty Batchelder 14 February 2000

Greetings from Darmstadt Germany! Dennis is teaching a 3-day course in computer security for Computer Associates and Iím just tagging along. Originally he was supposed to teach the course in London and, since he knows of my interest in English history, he invited me to come along and spend the time museum hopping and sight seeing. CA then changed to the Darmstadt site and thatís why Iím here.

Since he had already gotten the tickets for London, we flew out Sunday evening and got into Heathrow airport about 6AM Monday morning. We took the ďTubeĒ (subway) into London and spent the day, in the cold rain, going through the Tower of London. The Tower of London is a complex of buildings covering about 17 acres. The first building was a fortified castle built in the late 1060ís by William the Conqueror. He had it painted white so that the English couldnít miss seeing it. At various times it has served as a castle/fort, prison, garrison, armory, gunpowder storage area, and museum. It was used as a place of execution, usually by beheading, for politically sensitive prisoners such as 2 of Henry VIIIís wives, Lady Jane Gray (queen for only 9 days), and popular noblemen and women. It is thought that Richard III had his two nephews, ages 13 and 11, killed in the Tower so that he could be king.

At times many of the English monarchs lived here. As a prison, some of the famous inmates were Mary Queen of Scots, Lady Jane Gray, Sir Francis Drake, Elizabeth I prior to being queen, and in more modern times German prisoners such as Rudolph Hess.

As a museum it contains many weapons from the time of Henry VIII including his personal armor and weapons, many ceremonial and real edged and black powder weapons, and of course the British Crown Jewels. The number of diamonds in the various crowns is unbelievable and the vast quantity of intricately worked gold is mind-boggling. I saw diamonds up to 500+ carats and there was an intricately carved gold punchbowl that probably held 25 gallons. The security cases and lighting prevented being able to take any decent pictures. To view the crowns and really expensive items, you stand on a moving sidewalk and move by the display cases, no time to really get the frame and focus.

While we were there, the local garrison fired off a 62-gun salute to celebrate the anniversary of Elizabethís ascension to the throne. This was fired using 4 modern field guns. The noise and smoke were unbelievable.

We went to Piccadilly Circus for lunch at an Indian restaurant. (Not the same one, Arlene and Kristin.) Not unusually, we ran into a protest in Piccadilly. Parliament was that day discussing the repeal of a bill; Section 28 banning the discussion of the gay/lesbian lifestyle in school classes. Somehow 4 young women had stopped a double-decker bus in the middle of the circle, painted it pink, 2 had climbed on top with a banner, and the other two had climbed a fountain and a light pole and were suspending another banner between them. There were police everywhere and traffic was completely tied up. We then walked to what we thought was Trafalgar Square but it turned out to be St. James Park, we werenít using a map.

We then took the Tube back to Heathrow. We caught our flight to Frankfurt via British Midlands Airways and after a brief, uneventful (the best kind) flight picked up the car and drove to Darmstadt and our hotel.

I am attaching pictures of the tower bridge, the Tower of London, the salute being fired, and of the protest.

protest_1.jpg
Protest #1
protest_2.jpg
Protest_#2
protest_5.jpg
Protest_#5
tower_bridge.jpg
Tower_bridge
salute_1.jpg
Salute_#1
tower_1.jpg
Tower_#1
tower_2.jpg
Tower_#2
 

Marty

 

day 1 - germany