Pedal Power Kennington had been looking forward to today's ride for months, ever since I'd found out it is possible for a group to go up the 334 steps of the Palace of Westminster Clock Tower and see Big Ben strike the hour!
It's something very few people get the chance to do....and it's free at the moment (though an entrance charge is in the offing)! You have to write a letter of request to your MP and they can ask the authorities to arrange the visit for up to 16 people (a big thanks to Kate Hoey, our MP. You then send your list of people and other details about them to the authorities two weeks before the visit to get police clearance, and roll up at the appointed time on the day.
The tour is brilliant, but you're not allowed to take photos so you'll have to book your own tour (or, for a sub-prime experience, watch it online ) .
What made the trip even better for our group is that most of us live or go to school within sound of the bells, plus about half the group were born in St Thomas' Hospital directly opposite - the first photo of my daughter has the clock face in the background.
We had a quick practice ride, then set off as it started to rain. We went over Lambeth Bridge and, being in good time, went along the Mall to Buckingham Palace before cycling to Parliament Square and parking our bikes on the racks outside Portcullis House.
After the tour it was straight over Westminster Bridge (past the first Ice Cream van of the year parked and trading in the bus and cycle lane on the red route) and back to Kennington. Not a long ride but a great afternoon out that we'll remember for a long time to come.