Saturday, November 21, 2015

From the SconeLady

My dear Readers,

It has been lovely keeping you all updated on the SconeLady's pursuits in Cornwall! Thank you for all of your encouragements along the way, which have meant much to me. Among my fondest memories are 

  • meeting and staying near Falmouth with a lovely Cornish couple
  • meeting and hearing the Mousehole Male Voice Choir
  • enjoying a walking tour with the splendid Tony
  • spending time with friend Rosie and her Ted!
  • enjoying the hospitality and friendship of two delightful Londoners
  • staying in darling cottages which protected me and made me welcome
  • walking along the cliffs of Cornwall
  • attending St Ia Church, St Ives, which also made me welcome
  • dashing out to the Norway Store each morning for a chocolate twist
  • finding Cape Cornwall and being awestruck by its beauty
  • discovering the magnificence of the many Cathedrals of England
  • and much much more!

But I do believe now is a good time to let the SconeLady rest a bit, and to consider focusing mainly on the book I traveled there to finish.

Did I finish? you might ask. A worthy question. If I may borrow a thought from my sister, I can explain it this way: as a seamstress places her fabric on a dress form, pinning those pieces together in harmony until the dress begins to appear, so have I 'pinned' together my book. The important parts are all there; written; loved; and in some cases, finished. Some chapters are where they need to be. Some hover nearby. It will not be too terribly long before the parts become the whole.

So I would like to focus there until the 'dress' is completed and ready to try on. What a day that will be! Sooner, I hope, rather than later. I will stop here from time to time, when something strikes that I believe my dear Readers would like to hear. 

And, in the meantime:

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Friday, November 20, 2015

British Mail Wherever You May Be

I needed to get to my Gate, of course, but I had to write postcards to the kiddies! Surely there would be enough time to do that, one last time. So I sat down near the British post box at Heathrow airport (you can always find a British post box), and scrawled out a few messy lines. Into the box they went, and then I made a quick dash down to the shuttle trains and thence to the Gate. Everyone was there, standing in the gargantuan line and yawning, looking thoroughly bored. We were all more than ready.

It had been my small daily chore, to fill the kiddies in the many details of a long visit to England in general, and to Cornwall in particular. I imagined their mother reading the two smaller tykes' cards to them aloud, while the 8 year old read his own. I couldn't believe that within less than a day I would be holding them, saying silly things to them, laughing with them. I knew for a fact that the 8 year old would be saying, "Grandma, don't go back there any more. Please? I don't want you to.." 

And then, after the flight and after Customs and Immigration, after baggage claim, after finding the SconeLady's husband's car along the crowded curb outside, it all did begin to happen just as I had imagined it (but not until we had had to trudge through the unbelievable SoCal traffic. It was a 'parking lot' out there).

"Grandma!" said they at last, "You CAME!"  My arms and hands were squeezed, my neck was hugged, and 3 squeals rang out through the kitchen. It was absolutely the sweetest thing. I will never forget those faces beaming over at me everywhere I looked. And then the inevitable words, "Grandma, don't go back there any more. Please...?"

I'm going to have to think about that one. It isn't an easy one.

See you along the way! (I think..)
the SconeLady

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Where I Belong

A large group of travelers stand waiting near me, already weary. It amazes me that they will be able to fit us all in the same plane, but they will, and then we will be off. Home. I can't wait!

Everything has been wonderful, and everyone has been endlessly kind start to finish. I have plumbed the depths of Cornwall, it must be admitted! No one could have done more. But now we are being called to board and I must bestir myself along toward the Gate.

So it is goodbye, farewell, to this emerald isle which has become a second home for the SconeLady. And soon, a marvelous HELLO! to my darling family. So what are we waiting for? Let's GO!

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

(England Swings)

You might not have noticed (I'm sure the British did..), but there were some corrections needing to be made on yesterday's post. So I have made them and updated it. You might want to take a look and discover that a certain 'burial' did not happen in Westminster Abbey! (Either hit 'refresh', or click on the link below for the newer version):

See you along the way!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

London, Day 6 - Bobbies, but Not On Bicycles

(The following is based upon information imparted to the SconeLady from a variety of sources. She does not claim to recall them all perfectly...but she tried)

As the SconeLady walked down London streets on (almost) the last day of her visit, a song kept floating through her head: 

'England swings like the pendulum do, 
Bobbies on bicycles two by two! 
Westminster Abbey, the Tower of Big Ben, 
The rosy red cheeks of the little children.'
-Roger Miller, 1965

And it was all true! There was very definitely a Presence on the London streets, good men and women dressed in their black uniforms and caps, ready to help, and ever vigilant against any who would harm. There stood Westminster Abbey, which I forthwith toured and adored. There was Big Ben in all its lovely glory, standing watch over the Houses of Parliament. And there were a plethora of little children with lots of rosy cheeks, all lining up with their teachers waiting for trains and buses, off to sight-see for the sake of education. They were quite literally everywhere. 

I tried to get photographs of it all, to remember in the months to come. 

Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey was truly the most magnificent of the cathedrals I have been privileged to visit. Only, I found that it isn't really a cathedral at all. It is an Abbey, and therefore does not have a Bishop, and therefore does not have a Bishop's Seat. I was shocked. All of this was told to the little clot of tourists on the very thorough (98 minute) tour we were given. Our guide kindly told us that it is the Queen who bears responsibility for Westminster Abbey, not a Bishop. The only other that does not have a Bishop is St George's Chapel in Windsor. The Queen is also the overseer for that church. 

Westminster Abbey was where Princess Diana's funeral was held, and where Prince William and Kate Middleton were married. We all remembered those images from the BBC coverage, and it was sweet to get to see such things up close. Oh, how my fingers itched to take a photograph. But we were informed that there is to be no photography inside the Abbey, at all. Each of the other cathedrals along my way had allowed it, but - sad. Partway through the tour I was fiddling with my phone... and heard the tour guide's cultured but deliberate voice, "Excuse me madam, but I must ask you not to use your cell phone in this place. Please put it away." Heads turned. (Oh dear). But I can promise you that there was, certainly, no further 'fiddling'.

                         The tower of Big Ben
The Abbey is where all of the coronations of the Kings and Queens take place, and we were shown images of the Queen's coronation back in 1953. We were told that 10,000 people attended the coronation and that it had taken 16 months to prepare for it (the Abbey was closed for 6 of those months). They had to build additional seating everywhere, 20meters high in some places. 

"There were lavatories placed everywhere and it really did become very disruptive, with people getting up and going out and in, people eating their picnics as they watched the coronation, as they ate and drank and then left their rubbish behind, like at any common soccer game.." Apparently, it was shocking. But the Queen was well and truly crowned, and that is what counts.

Queen Elizabeth the First was buried at the Abbey, and it was very solemn to walk past her august tomb. We all felt privileged to see her marble visage there, and to discover that her sister Mary was buried in there with her! They did not get along at all, in life, and King James (who succeeded Elizabeth) had them buried together In the same tomb in a show of kingly humor (Queen Elizabeth I on top, of course).

Inside the Abbey you will find a very nice memorial dedicated to Franklin D. Roosevelt, inspired by Winston Churchill. And US General Pershing brought along a Congressional Medal of Honor for the Unknown Soldier/s of WWI. It is still hanging on the pillar next to the Unknown's tomb, a tomb which no one is ever allowed to walk upon. Almost all of the other tombs are walked upon daily, but not this one. It lays protected by a short wall-like feature which is currently decorated with poppies.

The rosy red cheeks of the little children

Just as the tour ended, it was announced that the Holy Communion service was just beginning. So I joined the others already gathered and stood with people I had never met before, all receiving and praying together.

My dear Readers, what a splendid day that was! What a rare privilege, start to finish. The 'Old Country'. Can't think of much I don't like about it.

Because... England Swings.

See you along the Way!
the SconeLady 

photo credit: <a href="">Sight seeing</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license)</a>

photo credit: <a href="">Henry VII's Chapel</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license)</a>

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

London, Day 4 - Canterbury Cathedral

On my quest to see all of England's cathedrals I could not possibly leave out Canterbury, the seat of the Archbishop. The place where St Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered. The place where so many pilgrims traveled in order to be near the tomb of Becket, and indeed came away blessed. I just had to see it again.

The story of Thomas Becket is an interesting one, in part because he was venerated as a saint and a martyr by both the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. It is also interesting because of the close friendship between Becket and King Henry II, a friendship that in the end did not last. One must be careful of what one says, when one is a King. It is said that King Henry, in his frustration (and for a variety of reasons) , said, "Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?" or words to that effect. Four of his knights took these words and decided to carry out the implied order, assassinating Becket. There is so much more to the story than time and space permit. But you can learn all about it here

I joined the cathedral tour, which was splendid and given by a terrifically knowledgeable man who enjoyed it as much as the tourists did. His descriptions were so vivid that they made us feel almost as if the tragedy was happening now, rather than the year 1170. Becket was buried in Canterbury Cathedral until King Henry VIII decided he did not want Becket to be memorialized there. His remains were (we were told) removed and to this day, no one knows where they are. 

After visiting the cathedral, I wandered around the town of Canterbury, seeking lunch. It is a darling town! I finally decided upon the humble cheese-tomato baguette, with a pot of tea, all of which cost far too much but couldn't be helped. One must eat, after all. And then all too soon it was time to dash off in my train, and walk in on yet another marvelous dinner, made by my hostess. Chicken Thai this time! Delicious.

The only trouble with seeing all of these fabulous cathedrals is keeping them all straight. I really do not think I can (AND I forgot to ask where the Bishop's Seat is! I was so taken by the stories that I clean forgot..).

But I have seen it on Google Images and you should too! And I will be sure and ask about the Bishop's Seat tomorrow on my next Cathedral tour. Just wait till you hear about that one.

See you along the Way!
the SconeLady

You come around a bend, and see the cathedral peeking out above this building

photo credit: <a href="">Canterbury Cathedral Choir</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license)</a>

Monday, November 16, 2015

London, Day 3 - Southwark Cathedral


It was a terrific Lord's day, complete with not just one, but two church services - lovely!

It all began with the sweet and small service to which I was invited by my dear hostess. Off we drove, taking with us the most delicious home made carrot cake, her lovely flowers, and any number of other bits needed for the morning. It felt almost as though I knew the people there already, so thoroughly was I welcomed! It was the perfect way to begin my farewell Sunday in this United Kingdom.

I then climbed aboard the train and headed off to Southwark Cathedral for their Choral Evensong. If you ever decide to attend a Choral Evensong service in a Cathedral, my dear Readers, be sure you arrive early too, because you will hear something splendid. 

The boys choir were already in their places, going over bits and pieces of the songs they would be doing. We early visitors soon felt the tears welling up, so lovely was the sound. So carefully sung, each participant following the director right down to the most minute of details. We could have listened for hours.

Then, out they went to line up for the service. I happened to be sitting in the very front row (of course), and one of the vicars came and asked if I wouldn't mind moving to the second row because they needed that first one. And then she asked if I would make sure no one else sat there? Of course! 

The reason for this was that they were going to say goodbye to two of their boys' choir members, one of whom was their leader - a 'golden voice' that you only run across every several years. They sat in the first row and were honored at the beginning of the service. It was lovely. The two boys knelt and were prayed for, and vowed that they would continue their service to the Lord in whatever way He deemed best for them.

And then, the service. It was a Gift, the voices coming as near to perfection as I have ever heard. It reminded me of the purpose for music, to lift our and our souls up to God. 

I was wondering who the Bishop might be... was he there? I felt that he might be the man in the flowing black robes with red bits on it. But then there was another man in white, who might be the Bishop. It just wasn't clear.

I later came across the man who had handed out the prayer books, and whispered to him, "Excuse me sir, but which one was the Bishop?"

He smiled and said, "Well, actually the Bishop was not here tonight. He is often here, though."

He was so friendly that I continued, "Can you tell me where I might see the Bishop's seat?" I love seeing the Bishop's seats, for of course each Cathedral has one. That is what makes it a Cathedral.

He pointed out that there are actually 4 Bishops in the diocese, and therefore 4 Bishop's seats. And I have a photograph of 3 of them, situated at the front of the Nave (to be perfectly honest, I wasn't certain of where the other one was..and felt I had asked enough questions..).

It was time to go, to find my train and head back to a wonderful Sunday evening meal: roast lamb! with delicious roast potatoes, parsnips, butternut squash, steamed carrots/cauliflower/onion, plus gravy, and more! Of course, we had to have another piece of that carrot cake - which is another story - and the only choice anyone can possibly have at that point is to fall into the most downy, comfortable bed, and - you've got it - sleep.

See you along the Way!
the SconeLady