“Well, I’m back,” to quote Sam Gamgee from the last sentence of the Lord of the Rings. Now, I shall be writing a whole series of newsletters about my trip. Because it will take me a great while to write out all that we saw and did in England, I will insert posts about my current doings in the midst of my long series of post on England.
Before I begin to tell of our adventures, I must say that England is everything I hoped it would be, the land of legends, of Faerie, of history, of beauty, and glory. It isn’t “ruined” as some people say. Sure there are modern cities, but they are shot through with the ancient, and the magical. Chesterton once wrote, “…how often the boundary of fairyland runs through a crowded city.” I finally understand. I realize I need to read all the English literature over again now I’ve visited the motherland, and I can finally imagine England as it ought to be. It is a green land, it is a wet land, it is a fertile land, and it is a great land. In short, I fell in love.
Our journey began Wednesday, June 8th at about 6 p.m. driving down the mountain to Chico, where we stopped for dinner and supplies before heading to San Francisco, arriving at 2 a.m. We stayed the night at the airport to catch our 7:30am flight Thursday, June 9th, with a stop over in Montreal, where we ate poutine, which is french fries with gravy and squeaky cheese curds on top.
At 9:30 a.m., Friday, June 10th, we arrived in London while the Queen was attending a birthday service in her honor at St. Paul’s Cathedral. We dragged our sleep deprived bodies to the tube station and rode the subway from Heathrow to Kennington, and then trudged from the tube station to St. Anges Church where we dropped off our heavy bags. Next, we had lunch at a nearby pub–I ate fish and chips– before touring the waterfront along the Thames. We got tickets for Taming of the Shrew at the Globe, saw the Tower of London, and then headed to Southwark Cathedral for evensong. While waiting for the service to start, some of us napped on the lawn in the back garden. I had a splitting headache, but couldn’t sleep. In desperation, I took a pain killer. Emma started sleep walking, and woke in a choir stall with no memory of how she got there.
That was our first of eleven evensong services we would enjoy in England. After the service, we headed back to Kennington and right across from the tube station, we had dinner at the assistant vicar’s house. It’s a hidden jewel with a lovely English garden, all roses and climbing flowers, and such sweet heady scents from the rich damp air! Our host provided us with an ample spread. Soon, a parishioner joined us to watch the Queen’s service at St. Paul’s on the telly. It was delightful to learn she is a lady in waiting on the Queen. She had been at the service, and she pointed out when we could see her hat or her pearls in different parts of the footage. I finally fell asleep on the couch, and woke feeling much better. Everyone sang for our host, and then we headed to St. Agnes and to bed.