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
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.