Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Dang!  I just wrote a beautiful, poetic, inspiring piece about our last two days and then I (actually, Blogger) lost it!  I’m sure it won’t be as beautiful, poetic, and inspiring the second time around, but, here goes…

Can you hear me speaking in a British accent as you read this?  I’ve gotten pretty good at it.  We’ve been steeped like a tea-bag in history and culture for the last two days.   We got up early yesterday and caught a bus that took us to Leeds Castle, Dover, and Canterbury.  The castle is out in the middle of a lake and the land around the lake is gorgeous.  It was a home until the 1950’s and the décor in it now is what it was like then.  It was also owned by an American.   It actually looked quite warm and comfortable, but of course, we weren’t seeing the whole thing.  They were busy putting up Christmas decorations and they were working on some of the stone work.  Scaffolding was set up in the moat and the workers were boating around the scaffolding and climbing in and out of the boat to work on the walls.  Interesting juxtaposition of old world and new.

We just made a quick stop at Dover but the cliffs are beautiful.  There is an ancient castle there, too, but it is in ruin.  There were sheep grazing up around it.   I’ve decided my photos of it are allowed to go into my collection of photos of deserted houses.  House, castle, very little difference.

We then went on to Canterbury.  I think it would be a nice place to stay a couple days.  The area around the cathedral has quaint little local shops.

Then Canterbury Cathedral!  There was a memorial service happening in the crypt so the music was wafting up to us as we looked around.  It was pretty surreal.  They were also putting up Christmas decorations and changing light bulbs.  That has been surprising to me.  These grand churches I’ve heard of all my life, are also actual, working congregations.  A member dies and they have a memorial for them.  The lights go out and they change the bulbs.  The seasons change and they put up decorations.  A service has more people than expected and they pull out the rack of chairs stored in the transept.  They aren’t museums to a dead religion, they are real church families of local townspeople, just like Arlington Heights, UMC in Fort Worth.

We had lunch at a little café that served us from beautiful little tea cups and plates.  When school let out, the town was flooded with teenagers in ties and blazers heading home on bicycles and on the train.  After we got back to the flat, we began to hear a choir.  We looked out the window and a choir was caroling, carrying candles, with their priest dressed in his robes.  The whole day was so very British!

Today we rode a tour bus around the city and got a feel for where everything is.  We ended the day at Westminster Abby.  Again, there were worship services going on and every hour the priest asked everyone to stop where they were and say a prayer.  The most powerful thing there, to me, was that Queen Mary I (Bloody Mary) and Queen Elizabeth I, half- sisters and sworn enemies in life, are buried in the same tomb.  On the floor beside the tomb is a marker commemorating those who have given their lives for their faith, regardless of their faith.  Moral of the story:  love wins. Or at least:  hate loses.   The queens’ hatred of “the other” gave them no different final resting place.  I also found the office I want to work in.  In one of the hallways of Westminster Abby, I saw an office with a sign that said, “LIBRARIAN AND KEEPER OF THE MUNIMENTS”  I’m not sure what muniments are, but I want to keep them.

Tomorrow will start with the British Library.  If I see any books that need to be shelved, I’m doing it!



Monday, November 25, 2013

What an amazing two days!  The flight was fine.  No real problems.  I got a beautiful shot of the sunset from the plane.  Leslie and I didn't get to sit by each other but the plane was dark and we were expected to sleep, so it was probably for the best that we weren't beside each other.

We got to the flat and pretty quickly went to eat and ended the day with Holy Communion at St. Paul's Cathedral.

We got up early today and had a lovely breakfast.  Glenda, the early riser, had walked to the grocery store and had cooked a great breakfast.  Then we went to The Tower of London for the day.  Absolutely amazing!!  Parts of it are from the original Roman settlement of London!  We're talking about year 100(ish)!!!  Then the main parts were built in the early 1000's.   Yes, I wrote 1000's.  More of it in the late 1260's.   Then other parts at other times through the years.  I was standing drying my hands in the public ladies' room thinking, "these walls were built in 1070 and I'm drying my hands with an electric dryer!"  It was a weird juxtaposition.

We came back to our neighborhood and Glenda and I ran some errands and went to the Middle of the Millenium  Bridge to take some pictures.  This comment requires some information about our "neighborhood."  We rented a flat that is a few blocks from St. Paul's Cathedral.  We are also a few blocks from the Thames.  The flat is in a Victorian building and is darling.  So much better than a hotel.  After resting for a few minutes, Leslie and I walked a couple blocks to a fish & chips spot and got take out for supper.  The shop is in the same place as a shop mentioned by Dickens in the Pickwick Papers.  That has been my take-away for the day.  Stuctures don't have to be torn down every 25 years.  Structures can stand for hundreds of years and they can be modified and adapted.  The trick is, building something worth standing for hundreds of years.

It is now 7:30 p.m. on Monday and the jet lag is hitting.  I'll sleep well tonight and tomorrow we have an adventure to Leeds, Canterbury, and Dover.   So many sights, so little time!!!  


Friday, November 22, 2013

I haven’t blogged in a long time.  I could blame that on busy-ness, writer’s block, having nothing worthwhile to say.  Mostly it is out of laziness.  I heard Anne Lamott speak recently.  She said that if you are able to do something, like write, and you don’t do it, you are wasting God’s gift.  I don’t know that it is a gift I’m wasting, but I know I’m wasting time.  So I’m going to try to blog for the next week because I know I’ll have something to write about.  Hopefully, it will get me in a habit of writing and I can continue putting my butt in the seat and writing so I’ll quit wasting God’s gift – or time – or whatever.  We shall see. 

I know I’ll have something to write about because I’m leaving tomorrow to go to London with my sisters, Royce, Leslie, and Glenda.  I’ll blog about the trip and post some pictures.  I’m very, very excited.  I’ll try to figure out how to blog with a British accent so readers can get the full effect.  I’ll include in each post a quote about England or from an Englishman.  Let’s start with a great one,