Big Ben is an elegant structure (although slightly out-of-whack-looking here from a 3-photo collage). I haven't been to London in 25 years, and first impressions are that— at least in central London and Westminster—it's clean and well tended (and very expensive!). I remember it being much grittier 20-30 years back. It seems as if all the wonderful old buildings have been sandblasted or water-blasted. Maybe it's just early fall, but the air is clean. We've got a fourth-story walk-up room in a modest hotel on a quiet block, two blocks from the British Museum. We look out the window into an inner courtyard, where there's a beautiful tree with almost iridescent yellow leaves. I'm on the road for the next five weeks, and will post photos and observations whenever I can.