No Horsing Around, The Horse Meat Scandal

DSC_0166

Have you ever eaten something and then regretted it?  Since moving here, I’ve occasionally eaten horse.  I buy it for American visitors to taste.  If you’ve watched the news lately, you can understand why I might be regretting it.  If you haven’t seen news stories about Europe’s horse meat scandal, here’s a recap.  Horse meat has been discovered in European beef products sold in supermarkets in countries including Britain, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany and Ireland.  Here, eating horse (particularly in countries like France and Switzerland) is commonplace; it’s estimated that each person in Switzerland eats between 600 and 700 grams of horse meat each year.

From The Swiss Watch Blog

There are two types of horses, ones that are given the powerful and dangerous veterinary drug called phenylbutazone (also known as Bute and banned for human use because to cases severe side effects) and those without who are issued health certificates certifying they can enter the food chain.   Can you guess what happened?

from afp.com

Spanghero, a French company, labeled the horse meat it received from a Romanian slaughterhouse as beef.  According to officials, Spanghero should have identified the meat as horse from its Romanian customs code, as well as its appearance, smell and price. The company said it acted in good faith, never ordered horse meat, and never knowingly sold horse meat.  Parisian prosecutors are now investigating it as fraud.

From Business Inquirer

The geographic scope of the scandal expanded this week.  While the quality of food and the food chain in Switzerland is quite high, Swiss company Nestle (the world’s largest food company) is now embroiled in the scandal.   It suspended deliveries of all products supplied by German subcontractor H.J. Schypke alleging they sold the contaminated meat to one of Nestle’s suppliers.  German discount retailer Lidl pulled products from Finnish, Danish and Swedish stores after finding horse meat in products labeled as beef.  German ministers met in Berlin earlier this week to discuss the scandal.

Horse meat scandal dominating the front pages

Horse meat scandal dominating the front pages (Photo credit: Gene Hunt)

But, wait, it gets worse…. The Swiss program, Kassensturz, showed emaciated horses being beaten, neglected and transported in cramped conditions without food or water before being slaughtered.  Apparently it was pretty disturbing.  In response,  several grocery stores, including Coop, Denner, Aldi, Spar and Migros, pulled most horse meat products off their shelves.  Coop and Migros continue to sell some from suppliers (mostly in Canada or France) in whom they have confidence.  It’s almost enough to make me a vegetarian again.  It’s definitely enough to reduce my meat consumption and be choosier about where I purchase it.

 

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Schmutzli, St. Nicholas Vigilante Style

I am ashamed to admit that until I met my husband, I didn’t even know the Feast of St. Nicholas holiday existed.  They celebrate it in the German parts of Switzerland with St. Nick and his heavy, Schmutzli.

Drawing of Schmutzli and Santa from http://2.bp.blogspot.com

Unlike the holiday in the US, in Switzerland St. Nicholas brings his thug buddy, Schmutzli, with him.  For reasons I don’t fully understand, instead of reindeer, St. Nick usually shows up with donkey.  Schmutzli is a dirty guy dressed in brown hooded cloak and smeared with soot.  Unlike jolly old St. Nick,  Schmutzli traditionally beat naughty children with a switch and carried them off in a sack to be eaten in the woods.   Now, he’s a little bit less of a felon/child abductor.  He passes out the goodies and delivers stern lectures on proper behavior.  It’s pretty unique and highly entertaining, therefore, I’m giving Schmutzli two thumbs up.

Schmutzli and a donkey from http://www.eselmueller.ch/Kurse.php

Before he reformed his naughty ways, Schmutzli might have been even worse than that (see the illustration below).  Then again, who’s seen Bad Santa.

Schmutzli looking a little more dangerous than Santa who slides down a chimney and steals a kiss from Mommy – from http://2.bp.blogspot.com

By the way, if you are into metaphors, unlike in the US, St. Nicholas is slim in Switzerland.

Samichlaus (aka St. Nicholas or Santa Claus) with Schmutzli and donkey from http://rooschristoph.blogspot.com/2010/12/knecht-ruprecht-schmutzli-co.html

No World Wars In Western European Since 1945 = Nobel Peace Prize

Yesterday, the European Union was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  In 1993, I was living in Belgium and the Maastricht Treaty  (aka the Treaty on European Union) was taking effect.  It was all over the news…and I didn’t understand any of it.  I asked and a lovely Belgian friend explained it to me.   Before I tell you when they told me, lets detour to quick history lesson.   This is a list of just some of the battles that have the battles that have taken place on Belgian soil:

 

  • World War I The Battles of Flandres – There were five, yes five.  The First Battle of Ypres, the Second Battle of Ypres, the Battle of Passchendaele, the  Battle of the Lys,  and the creatively named Fifth Battle of Ypres.  Germany and the Western Allies faced off once again in Belgium.  Industrialization increased the scale of wars and they took on a far more devastating nature.  Battles with over 50,000 fatalities became common.  Mustard gas doesn’t seem like a particularly good way to go either.  Belgian farmers still turn up canisters of gas when they plow their fields in the spring!
  • When the Germans wanted to invade France’s Mangiot Line fortifications built after WWI, they just went to Paris via Belgium.  Like many of the occupied countries during WWII, most of them weren’t too happy about their visitors.
  • Battle of the Ardennes (also known as the Battle of the Bulge and the Siege of Bastogne) – After the Allies landed in Normandy, they made their way to Germany.  If you’ve read the last few bullets, you know the easiest way from France to Germany (and vice versa).  Southern Belgium has the Ardennes mountains, which happen to be a good place to entrench (and freezing in the winter).  The Germans mounted an offensive and surrounded almost 20,000 American troops.  It’s famous for General Anthony McAuliffe‘s line, ‘Nuts,’ in response to the German’s request to surrender.  Although I have heard that  ‘Nuts’ was the only printable equivalent of the word that was actually used, it goes without saying that a battle ensued.

You get the idea.  If you got tired reading that list, you can imagine how tired the Belgians were of the wars themselves.

My Belgian friend explained to be that linking their economies and cultures so thoroughly that untangling them was more difficult and costly than waging war was the only way to prevent it from happening again.  At that time, many people were alive who’d lived through the occupation and the war.  I met people whose family members were shot dead in front of their house by the Nazis.  When you think about it, Belgium is a country that only experienced intermittent periods of peace before foreign powers again waged war on their soil.  As a citizen of the tiny country that was continually caught in the cross-fire, they were hopeful that the European Union would help put an end to the seemingly never-ending series of wars waged by European powers like England, Spain, France, and Germany on their soil.

You can’t read the news today without reading about the European Union’s problems.  Some countries, like Switzerland, have good reasons for not joining (which they haven’t in order retain their neutrality and independence).  Nevertheless, as someone who likes a lot of Europeans and likes to travel, there hasn’t been a war on Belgian soil since WWII and I will happily celebrate that.

Why We Miss Driving In The US

We are lucky to have a car and be able to drive here.  Nevertheless, it is a lot more stressful than driving in the US. The rules, the road signs, the cars, the roads and the other customs are all different.  Because they aren’t yet second nature and we learned in a different environment, driving takes a lot more effort.  We don’t think of Sunday drives here as relaxing.  Here’s why we miss driving in the US.

The signs are different.

  • Speed limit signs are round with a number indicating the speed limit (in k.p.h.).  Unfortunately, we haven’t seen many of them.  More often, we see circular signs with a slash through them.  They indicate that the listed speed limit has just ended.  We would find it much more helpful if the new speed were posted.  These signs mean that the limit reverts to the standard speed limit posted at the borders.

Speed Limit

  • We find this especially difficult because we live mere miles from the French border.  The limits differ in France.  I get the default speeds confused.
  • Due to Europe’s multi-linguality, many road signs have symbols instead of words.  Modifiers (such as, only farm vehicle are permitted) are always given in the local language, which we probably won’t understand.
  • Traffic lights are rarely above the road.  Instead, they are mounted on posts on either side of the road.  I have found myself in the left lane watching the stoplight on the right side (I missed the light for my left turn).  The lights change from red to yellow (before becoming green), giving everyone a change to get a great start off the line.
  • Street names frequently change, at irregular intervals and without warning.  It is even more problematic because there aren’t signposts at intersections.  Street signs are posted on the corner of buildings, just above the ground floor.  This makes them harder to see from the car.  Sometimes they are missing.  Other times, they are in a different language than what is listed in the guidebook.

The rules of the road differ from the US.

  • There is no right turn on red.  Given the may complex intersections, it is understandable (but still slightly frustrating when you are sitting in traffic).
  • The speed limit drops when the road is wet.  What qualifies as wet?  A drop? A rainstorm?
  • Here, yellow diamonds indicate priority.  In the US, priority is generally standard given your location.  Roads here tend to intersect at bizarre angles and turn randomly.  As such, they need a different way to show priority.  They use yellow diamonds (intersecting roads have yield markings).  In the absence of signs, it isn’t the first vehicle on the spot, but the vehicle coming from the right that has the right of way.  Approaching intersections, I constantly worry about whether I have missed a sign…

Customs are different here.

 

  • Standard transmissions are standard.  Although it doesn’t bother us (unless we are stuck in traffic) a lot of our friends miss having an automatic transmission, particularly on hills.

 

  • Radar detectors are epidemic. Rather than seeing a police car roadside or lurking in a median, inconspicuous radar/camera/strobe lights cameras are everywhere.   We live in constant fear of receiving a giant ticket in the mail.  Why a giant one?  Look below at the section on speed limit signs.

 

  • We were astounded the other week when on our trip through the south of France, people didn’t immediately pull over for an ambulance.  Apparently this is common here.   Even so, it was foreign to us.  In the US, drivers are required by law to pull to the right and stop for all emergency vehicles with siren and lights.  By the way, emergency vehicles here sound just like they do in the Bourne Identity movies.

The roads aren’t the broad, straight avenues that we grew up on in the US.

  • Shoulders?  What are those?
  • Good luck finding a straight road.  The roads are narrow, winding and often steep.
  • The German Autobahn doesn’t always have speed limits.  Fun, but not exactly relaxing.  We didn’t get to take full advantage of it because we spent most of our time on the world’s narrowest lanes in construction.
  • Parking spaces are Texas tight.
  • Car-free pedestrian zones all over.  Usually, there is usually a barrier preventing you from driving  in these areas, not that you would want to.  They usually have crazy streets.  You can’t get into them, but getting around them can take a while.

Oh well, at least the scenery is good.  No Entry

  • More problematic is when there is merely no entry sign with words underneath.  These are easy to miss.  Often, they have words underneath describing which cars are permitted to enter…in another language.  They may allow certain vehicles, like taxis or local residents and business owners, to enter.
  • One way streets.  It isn’t just that you have to make sure that you are going the correct way.  The problem is also that if you miss your turn, you can’t change your route easily.  It can take an extra 20 minutes to get back.
  • Roundabouts (aka traffic circles).  Worse with driving in the UK and you have to go them the other way around.

Our New Language…English (Or At Least Our New Vocabulary)

courtesy of Wallace and Gromit

Usually when we learn new words, they are inappropriate ones on other languages.  Sometimes we try to be polite travelers and learn words like “hello”, “goodbye”, “yes”, “no”, “please”, “thank you” and “cheers”.

Courtesy of photo pod and Picture Britain

In an effort to understand and fit in with other speakers here, he has worked on his English vocabulary.  Yep, that’s right.  English.  In truth, he’s been working on British English.

with the loo

New words he likes to use:

  • Banger = sausage, used in the phrase bangers and mash (meaning sausage and hash browns)
  • Chaps = they are not the pant covers cowboys wear, but are instead a couple of guys (sounds better when uttered by Michael Caine)
  • Cheerio = Goodbye
  • Fancy = exhibiting a fondness for something, liking someone or something
  • Flat = Apartment
  • Governor = a colloquial expression for boss
  • Loo = Bathroom
  • Quid = a unit of money equal to one pound (+/- $2)
  • Proper = used as an intensifier
  • Posh = fancy, upper crust

My Favorites include:

  • Carry on = literal, but not used as much in the US
  • Keen = Eager
  • Knickers = Underwear
  • Jolly = an adjective meaning very, as in jolly good fun
  • Peckish = Slightly hungry, in the mood for a snack
  • Toilet = Restroom, they do not say restroom because you don’t rest in there.  Likewise, they don’t use bathroom unless there is a bath in the room.

Courtesy of Take Me Out

Unfortunately for our IQ’s, we have watched some British reality TV.  It’s so bad it’s good.  Don’t judge.  It has provided us with some new words:

  • Chips = French Fries
  • Chippie/Chippy = a takeaway restaurant that sells fish and chips (see above)
  • Chat up = Hit on
  • Cooker = Stove
  • Fringe = Bangs (the part of the hairstyle, not the verb)
  • Gutted = disappointed and upset
  • Redundant = Laid off
  • Slap = Slang for makeup

Courtesy of Summit Entertainment

Thanks to the large number of British Gangster movies, we were already familiar with some of them.  Here are a couple of British phrases that needed no translation due to our excessive viewings of movies like: Layer Cake, Snatch, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Gangster No.1, Green Street Hooligans, The Bank Job and Eastern Promises.

  • Blokes = Guys
  • Bloody = a mildly vulgar word used to express anger, shock or for emphasis (For obvious reasons, we are only listing quasi-appropriate slang here.  For the other stuff, you will have to come here and ask him)
  • Caravan = RV/motor home
  • Cheers = an expression gratitude or parting, not just toasting
  • Pissed = Drunk
  • Sort = to deal with, as in “don’t worry, it will all get sorted out.”
  • Tart = slang for a less than respectable woman
  • Tarted up = made up to go out but looking slightly less than respectable

Courtesy learn-english-esl-resources-com

Here’s are some other differences between British and American English:

  • Bancock Belly = Montezuma’s Revenge
  • Biscuit = Cookie
  • Boot = Trunk
  • Bin = Breadbox
  • Braces = Suspenders
  • Buggy = Stroller
  • Bunk = to play hooky
  • Callbox/Telephone Box = Telephone Booth
  • Closet = any small room

    Courtesy of aie.edu.vn

  • Diary = Personal calendar, not someplace where you write the juiciest gossip
  • Flyover = Overpass
  • Footpath = Sidewalk
  • Garden = Yard
  • Hamper = a basket for food, used in terms like picnic hamper and Christmas hamper
  • Hire = Rent
  • Hood = the top of a convertible car
  • Jumper = Tank top
  • Lead = Dog’s leash
  • Lift = Elevator
  • Lolly = Popsicle

    Courtesy of aim.edu.vn

  • Mackintosh = Raincoat
  • Mate = Friend
  • Mum = Mom
  • Nappy = Diaper
  • Plaster = Band-Aid
  • Pudding = A heavy dessert or main course, not just a creamy dessert
  • Quite = a term of agreement use to express reluctant agreement or disbelief; more like “not quite”, “not really”, “sort of, but not very”, or “hardly at all”.  Apparently, it must be uttered in an aloof, pretentious, manner so I don’t plan on using it anytime soon.
  • Rubbish = Trash Queuing = Waiting In Line
  • Rubber = Eraser
  • Skip = Dumpster
  • Spots = Pimples
  • Stand = to run for office
  • Straightaway = Immediately
  • Suspenders = since they use the term braces instead, suspenders mean garters.
  • Torch = Flashlight
  • Trolley = Cart
  • Tube = The London Subway
  • Underground = Subway
  • Waistcoat = Vest
  • Wagon = Freight car on a railroad
  • Wash up = to clean after eating food
  • Winker = slang for a turn signal

courtesy of en.islcollective.com

Should you wish to further educate yourself, here is the link to the British Dialect Translator or the Dictionary of English Slang and Colloquialism (UK version).

2011 By The Numbers

999      A conservative estimate on the number of times we have been lost (or at least taken wrong turns).

998      Pots of yummy, Swiss yogurt eaten.  I know that this number is a bit low.  We found the world’s best cottage cheese a couple of months in.  It definitely hurt our yogurt consumption.  We will try to do better next year.

45        The number of dollars paid in speeding tickets.  Astoundingly, we have gotten fewer tickets than anyone we know.  We were “lucky” enough to get ours in France so we paid it in Euros, much cheaper than tickets in CHF‘s.

40        Number (more or less) of cute pairs of heels in my closet here that have gone unworn due to large amounts of walking and heel eating cobblestones.   What has happened to me?

30        Roughly, the number of times I have been honked at while driving.  This works out to more or less one honk per drive.  Not too shabby.

17        Number of languages we can watch tv  in.  They are: French, German, Italian, English, Spanish, Catalan, Galician, Portuguese, Turkish, Serbian, Bosnian, Albanian, Arabic, Dutch, Russian, Mandarin and Thai.  Unfortunately, we can only understand 1 or  2 of these.

15       The approximate number of emails he receives when I post pictures of him in      “fashionable” attire.  I get calls saying “what did you post about me because my email is blowing up”.

13       British TV Shows viewed (don’t judge): Top GearGrand DesignsWallace and GromitSnog Marry AvoidTake Me OutHow Clean Is Your House (it is extremely motivational to put on while cleaning), Horrible HistoriesGok’s Fashion Fix/Gok’s Clothes RoadshowSherlock (fantastic, a must see), Doctor WhoJamie’s Great BritianTime TeamHistory of Ancient Britain (History of Britain is better).  We did not watch the royal wedding even though there is still excessive coverage of it on British TV.

12        Countries Visited: DenmarkSwedenSpainFranceEngland, Scotland  (him), Germany (him), Belgium (me), Switzerland, South Africa, Egypt, and the United States.

11        The number of hours our jet lagged, germ filled bodies slept upon returning to Switzerland (this was followed by several lengthy naps and another long night’s sleep).

10        Tours (KarlsburgBurgundyCheese FactoryCailler Chocolate Factory,  Underground LakeTour of LondonToledo, Cullian Diamond Mine, Nelson Mandela’s Home, Soweto, unsure if safari’s count as an official tour.

9         “Exotic” foods we have eaten: bugs (South Africa), pigeon (England), crocodile (South Africa), horse (at home purchased from the local grocery store), gelatinized foie gras (France – definitely worse than the bugs), ostrich (South Africa), snails (France, bien sur), wild boar (Switzerland), quail (Spain) and duck (France).

8          The number of times he has taken the wrong train, tram or bus to and/or home from work.

7          The approximate number of times I grocery shop in a week (this includes visits to the Patisserie to buy bread).  Before our move, I prided myself on being able to get by for almost two weeks on one shopping trip.  Now that I carry everything home (and therefore buy less at a time), look for sales all over and try to buy the freshest, I have septupled my trips. Craziness.

6(ish)   Fantastic, Unforgettable, Once in A Lifetime Hikes in Switzerland: Gruyeres Cheesemaker’s Path, La Salevethe MatterhornJungfrauLavaux, many around Geneva.

5         Meals eaten out at Geneva restaurants since we moved (due to their high cost and our unwillingness to bankrupt ourselves).

4          The number of snow tires that are currently on our car (also the number of regular tires currently in storage).  Anyone ever heard of all season tires?

3          Family members who have visited; also the number of times the washing machine repairman has visited our miniscule washer.

2          Dogs given away (and are very happy with their new families)

1          Bridge jumpaerobed destroyed, and container shipped to Switzerland.




 

We Minded The Gap And The Rest Of How We Got Around London

The fastest way to get from Heathrow* into the city is by train (15 minutes to Paddington Station).

Of course, we then took the Underground (London’s name for its subway system) to the hotel.  Unfortunately, I got a bit lost and had to hop into a one of these to actually find the hotel.

Had to take a picture of this taxi because it had one of the guys from Top Gear on it.

London’s Underground is famous and a bit of a tourist attraction in its own right.  London limits where cars can go, so it is also the fastest way to get around the city.

This is the gap.  We minded it.

Mind The Gap

One evening, we took a boat ride down the Thames.  It was a great way to see the city and on the London Transport Boat, which was surprisingly cheap.

Just about the only public transport we missed riding was one of these red double-decker busses.

*I like Swiss Airlines (especially when it is cheaper than EasyJet) because they always give you free chocolate.

You’re welcome

 

We Lost Our Heads At The Tower Of London

The Tower of London is an impressive set of buildings with a storied history.

They also have a lot of interesting stuff in there like the crown jewels (including the world’s two largest diamonds).  Here are some of the more things we found interesting…

Kings and queens put their names on everything…including drainpipes.
A catapult.  Cool.
They have a changing of the guard, in other words you can watch the shift change.

They have ravens because of a “legend” that the tower will stand as long as they are there.  Ironically, the legend appeared when the tourists did.

We were surprised that we got to see spots (plural as there was more than one) where kings were murdered.

 

We laughed because Henry VIII’s armor got progressively larger over the years.  The first set was made for a fit man.  The second set was clearly larger.  The next set was Shreck-sized.  He, um, made other parts of the armor larger too.  I know, it’s more than a little disturbing.
Deeply disturbing, no question about it

Some of the armor was tiny.  This one was made for a three-year old.   They must have been more coordinated than I was at three.

He found the loo.

Bedazzled guns.  The sign says it was ordered from a jeweler and never picked up.  The jeweler turned it in.

There was also a gold plated revolver that was used in an infamous murder and a gold plated sub machine gun.  Was the orderer killed?  Incarcerated?  Deported?

There was a dragon made from weapons.  Check out the claws… they are made from old guns with wooden handles.

In the gift shop, they had a mug that when filled with hot liquid, Henry VIII’s wives disappeared.  Creative.

This marks the spot where Henry VIII’s wives were executed (Anne Boleyn and Lady Jane Grey).

I got into trouble with the beefeaters.
Name someone else who else has a Yeoman Gaoler these days?

I’m still not sure why this hand is in the wall.  Please send me a note if you do.

 

London’s Museums

We left London a whole lot smarter (don’t get me wrong, we are still as dumb as two boxes of rocks).  We went to a few great museums: the British Museum, the Imperial War Museum, the Tower of London and the National Gallery.  The Rosetta Stone (below) is one the British Museum’s most famous objects.  It has same inscription written in three different scripts (Greek, hieroglyphs and demotic Egyptian) and allowed modern scholars to begin to decipher hieroglyphs for the first time.

From the statue of Ramses II to the egyptian mummies to statues from Easter Island and more. The British Museum was awesome.  If you rule 1/4 of the world’s population and have the money and the means to bring back treasures, you can amass an amazing collection.

 

 

King’s Library
Winged Lions (with human heads) from Assyria
This used to hang in the Parthenon.
The Elgin Marbles were amazing, his favorite part.
No wonder Greece wants them back.

The Imperial War Museum is in Bedlam.  Yep, that’s right Bedlam, the mental hospital that was so chaotic that it’s name became synonymous with it.  It was a fantastic museum.  They have tons of old bombs, tanks, vans, planes, etc., but there are also great exhibits.  Some of the highlights include: British spying in the 20th century, WWI (including a simulated trench warfare experience) and WWII (with a disorienting air raid experience).

The most astounding part of the museum was the Holocaust exhibit, the most complete in Europe.  They have an immense amount of materials and it is well presented.  Part of the way through, we found ourselves becoming a bit numb.  The content was so disturbing that it was the only way we could continue to the end without falling apart.  I cannot recommend seeing this highly enough.

The National Gallery (one of the world’s best art museums) has an unprecedented and immensely popular exhibit on Leonardo Da Vinci.  It just opened and they have already sold out of tickets online.  To see it, I waited in the cold rain for an hour and a half!  It was well worth it.  Da Vinci painted less than 20 paintings over the course of his life and they never had so many together.  Ironically, a lot of the drawings belonged to her majesty the queen!

We were exited for the opportunity to move here, in part, because we knew that we would learn and grow.  This weekend, it started to dawn on us just how much learning is so much more accessible.  We resolved to try to take full advantage.

Movies Filmed In London

Avi:                     Eighty-six carats.
Rosebud:           Where?
Avi:                     London.

Rosebud:           London?
Avi:                     London.
Avi’s Colleague: London?
Avi:                     Yes, London.  You know: fish, chips, cup ‘o tea, bad food, worse
                           weather, Mary ____ Poppins… LONDON. (from Snatch)
Willis Group Building Trinity Square was in Laura Croft: Tomb Raider. It was the mansion of villainous Manfred Powell.
Westminster Bridge was eerily deserted in 28 Days Later.
[09.jpg]
Whitehall from Trafalgar to Parliament appeared in V for Vendetta.
The stunning Millennium Bridge has been featured in tons of movies including: Harry Potter And The Half Blood PriceBridget Jones Diary, and Love Actually.
Tower Bridge is easily recognizable in:  Sweeney Todd,  Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason and from about ten million other things.
The London Eye was seen in Run Fatboy RunWimbledonFantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and Love Actually.
The Silver Surfer rides the London Eye
30 St. Mary Axe (dubbed The Gherkin for its resemblance to a pickle) was in Match Point and Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.
The Admiralty Arch (situated close to Trafalgar Square) was the heavily guarded checkpoint passed by Clive Owen in Children Of Men.
You saw Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square in Love Actually.
Of course, the Tower of London was featured in The Tudors.
The Royal Court’s of Justice were in Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.
Usually, I like to watch movies set in the destination before a trip.  Given that our tech system is not fully functional, we didn’t do that this time.  Before we go back to London, we will definitely rewatch some of the above films.