I don't do impromptu very well.  I am a Capricorn.  Measured, organised and a little bit boring to be absolutely honest.

But on Thursday, November 6, I took the unprecedented last minute step of jumping on a train to go and see the poppies at the Tower of London.   I knew that the art installation, Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, was going to end on Armistice Day, November 11, and I didn't want to miss it.

Except that at breakfast I found myself listening to artist Paul Cummins, interviewed on the Chris Evans Breakfast Show on Radio 2, talking about a petition to keep his work there for longer, so that more people could see it.  What?!  I could have planned my trip in advance!

The 9.35am train from Chester to Euston was packed with poppy hunters.  One young mum from Christleton had just two hours in the capital before heading back to pick up the kids and two women from Rhyl were heading back to the Tower having seen the installation at the very beginning, when only a handful of poppies were in the moat.  We all talked about why we were going giving the whole trip a charabanc feel.

I timed my visit so that I would be there for the Roll of Honour at 4.55pm so I arrived at 3pm to take it all in.  It is overwhelming, moving and a most fitting tribute to the fallen in the Great War.  The soldier reading the roll kept the crowd quiet for a good 20 minutes as name after name echoed around the tower walls - I caught an A Warbuton of the Cheshire Regiment and soldiers from the Royal Welch Fusiliers - and I think of my great uncle Ernest Hicks who lost his life at the Battle of Loos.  Last Post as dark fell was most poignant.

On the train back I pick up an Evening Standard with a front page full of politicians shouting for the installation to be extended, to allow more people to pay their respects.   For 'maybe another week'.  The original plan was for the magnificent display to start being dismantled by 8,000 volunteers on Wednesday, November 12, a day after the Armistice Day commemorations.

And I think we should stick to the plan.  Paul Cummins thinks we should stick to the plan - his work was meant to end on November 11, Remembrance Day.  For the poppies to be removed on any other day, the relevance of the whole piece will be lost.  Each poppy represents a British life, someone who gave their blood for our freedom, snatched early, taken from their nearest and dearest.  They had no choice to extend their lives, their parents, friends, wives, fiancées and lovers would have given anything to have had 'another day' but it was never possible.

At the time of writing, the poppies will be there until November 11. 

Here is what they looked like on a grey, solemn November 6 2014:

            
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