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

Sunday, November 15, 2015

London, Day 2 - WeiWie

Saturday morning

I awoke to the very good news that my host, in Paris, was safely headed home. Finding oneself in Paris, France, on a night like Friday night would have been frightening, to say the least of it. But he, praise the Lord, came through. A wonderful thing! We followed his progress all along his way, reading his texts, from hotel to Metro, to railway station, to Eurostar, to the Underground, to a final train, and then home. As he made his slow way here, we were on the streets in London, walking in rain, to the Ai WeiWei exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts.

It was fascinating and really should not be missed (although I think Ted must have missed it, because when we gathered at the end he said he had been out shopping in three stores!). Weiwei is a Chinese Contemporary artist and activist whose art most certainly does not come in frames. It is situated throughout the Royal Academy inside its massive rooms, in astonishing shapes and sizes. Almost everything we saw became my 'instant favorite', such as this collection of steel rods which came out of the dreadful 2008 earthquake in China. Thousands of children had died in the quake, due to faulty construction of their schools. The rods were taken from the rubble of those schools, straightened, and placed into this display to depict the ending of young lives in mid stream. (I am not describing it very well, but do look it up). All of the names of the children who perished are listed along the walls of one of the huge rooms. It was magnificent (although not a good photograph of mine).

But you can see your own photos by checking out his art here

And then it was time to say goodbye to friend Rosie, and her Ted. I do not like saying goodbye to friend Rosie and her Ted, ever. So while we stood pitifully contending with this next goodbye for probably a year, Rosie piped up. "I'll come back down! We'll get together again in London before you go!" And so we have wonderfully delayed our despair by a few days. Haha! Excellent.

And so my hostess and I walked home along the shining streets of London, discussing any number of fascinating subjects. You see, my hostess is uniquely interesting. She is the sister-of-friend-Rosie and I think their mother must have been spectacular, really I do. Look what she produced.

And her favorite moment of the day, barring none, was opening their door to find her good husband standing on the stoop, safely home, from Paris. 

Life's sweeter moments.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

(P.S. Sir Trevor was waiting for us too. In all his glory.)

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

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Sir Trevor

I will let you feast your eyes on Sir Trevor, one of my kind hosts (no matter what he looks like) of the weekend. He does stare quite a bit, but so long as he doesn't bat at my legs, he can stare all he likes. 

I find myself unable to finish tonight's post, but who knows what may happen on the morrow?!

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Friday, November 13, 2015

London, Day 1 - White Horse on the Hillside

Cornwall came out in all her glory today, to bid me a spectacular farewell. All of the best haunts were bathed in sunlight and you would never have guessed it had been raining only moments before! 

There was a farewell to the Norway Store lady ("Oh, your last chocolate twist? Sad! But here you are, it's only just come out of the oven.."), a quick dash to the trash (one must never leave trash in one's cottage), and then the inevitable bumpy cobbles rattling me thoroughly while trying to get down to the train. Fully one minute after I arrived, it rolled in, and I climbed aboard.

All the way to London, you could really hardly take your eyes off the windows. The greens were spectacular and I kept wanting to ask people, how can you ever grow used to this? There were hundreds, no thousands of fields with white sheep eating lush green grasses to their heart's content. Then there were the sweetest cows doing the same, gazing at us as we sped past. Thirsty California would never have believed it. And then I saw - really I did! - a white chalk horse on a hillside! You can see it here, at the top:

There were two very interesting ladies sitting with me. They appeared to be about the same age, but one was the step daughter of the other!. Both were in their sixties so the situation was unique, and you could tell that the step mother was the organized one ("You'll want to be sure your train ticket is out and ready because they won't let you out of the station unless you have it..", or "Remember, all of our bags are down the other end of the train car, so we'll need to get ourselves organized before the train pulls in.."). It was funny. They were both brilliant career women, making international deals even while we were on the train! The step mother was flying to Malaysia tonight to train and speak and do any number of fabulous things. Wow. As always, half the fun of travel is the people that you meet along the way!

Brunel Bridge (also called the Saltash Bridge)

And now, I am in my sweet hostess's darling home in London, have been fed royally, and am now ready to go get into my comfy bed. I had to say goodbye to Cornwall, but just think - only a few days, and I shall be back in the arms of my family. I can hardly wait! What fun we will have. What hugs we will give! 


See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Cornwall Day 41 - Rad

The last day in Cornwall, that is what this is. Lots of us here in St Ives tonight are finishing up last minute details. Checking our train times. Being sure to take everything out of the cupboards. The cottage itself is in a good condition, already quite tidy. And the refrigerator? It stands empty of all but the milk. One must have milk for the morning. I only hope I remember to do the trash.

It was sweet, this delightfully colorful cottage. Small, 'tis true, but it provided all that was necessary, and more. With Fore Street standing just outside the door! Ah, that is the best.

There is always a church

So there will be another roller bag on cobbled streets, tomorrow. A familiar sound on Friday and Saturday mornings, the proverbial changeover days. I have felt sorry for those bag-draggers these last weeks, but now it is my turn to drag. 

"Heading back, are you?" asked the shop lady.

"Yes, I am. Heading first to London, and then - off over the Pond."

She studied me for a moment. "Canada?" I shook my head. "Umm, California?"

"Yes, that's it," I enthused. "Good guess!" She placed my items into a bag, for it was souvenir day for the SconeLady.

"I would like to live in California," she said, rather wistfully.

"It is lovely, and you would like it. Truly. But you live in a much sweeter environment right here. As I'm sure you've noticed."

But she looked puzzled. "Compared with California? I don't know.."

(It was my turn here to be puzzled.)

She continued."I watch TV - that Kardashian show. It's rad."

I gave her my money, and politely exited the shop. It's strange, but I have thought many thoughts about that 'Kardashian show'. And 'Rad' is definitely NOT one of them.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Cornwall Day 40 - eleven/eleven

As I came out of the cottage, church bells began to ring and no one was moving along Fore Street. All was silent. I, however, did move along it, strolling toward a shop but wondering suddenly why so many people had stopped in their tracks. And then I stopped too.

Presently, all at the same moment the people began to move on in their different directions, several of them dabbing at tears as they passed. I quietly spoke to a lady nearby. "Excuse me, Ma'am, but can you tell me why everyone had paused?"

She was definitely surprised, but said, "Oh - this was the moment of silence in Remembrance of those who had died in the wars. It happens every year on the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month."

I thanked her, and then asked, "But how did everyone know?" 

"They just do. Everyone does..." and she continued on, probably wondering about this hapless American. 

There had been no announcement, no flyers handed out, no news release to get everybody ready. They already were.

I wandered up toward the War Memorial, once more. Stood to gaze at the wreaths placed there two days ago. Found myself in good company, where everyone just stood, heads bowed. No one talked. 

See you along the way,
the SconeLady

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Cornwall Day 39 - Cornish Miners in France

"..we shall not sleep, though poppies grow in Flanders' Fields"

I have heard much about the tough Cornish miners who descended deep into the earth to bring forth tin, copper, silver, and gold, among other minerals. But I have only just heard of the part these Cornishmen played during World War 1, not just in the trenches, but beneath them.

Photo and historical credit: The Daily Mail, Tuesday November 10, 2015

One of these, mining engineer Harold Llewellyn Twite, faced the enemy every day in a unique position. When the war broke out, he was working as a mining engineer overseas, but came back home to sign up. He joined the 183rd Tunneling Company of the Royal Engineers. His
expertise was in digging tunnels and sinking shafts, and so he was placed in charge of a team of Cornish miners whose job it became to tunnel beneath the enemy trenches, to lay explosives.   

On December 1, 1915, they had just retreated and were writing their reports, when the enemy detonated a huge mine beneath them. He and 4 of his team were killed, all from Cornwall. Men searched until they found his effects, buried with him beneath the debris of the explosion. Lieutenant Twite's items were sent to his widow, and among them was his shirt, his pipe, binoculars, correspondence, and most significantly, his watch. It was frozen on the stroke of 8:00 p.m., the moment the explosion went off.

These items have remained in an attic since that day nearly 100 years ago, until they were recently unearthed by my host of yesterday, in whose home I have been a guest. I was privileged to hear this story of his grandfather, and to learn of Lieutenant Twite's bravery and death. My host attended the Remembrance Day commemoration near Falmouth on Sunday last, planting this poppy to honor his memory.

December 1 will be the 100th anniversary of this brave man's death. May we each remember Harold Llewellyn Twite, Cornish miner, mining engineer, husband, father, and later grandfather to many. He was killed, it is true. But his family remain, and will continue on. 

He was 36 years old.

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them."
Laurence Binyon, 1914

See you along the Way,
The SconeLady

photo credit: <a href="">DSC_1927_20141110</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license)</a>

Monday, November 9, 2015

Cornwall Day 38 - Cornish Hospitality

During all of the weeks in Cornwall, I had never yet stepped inside of anyone's home. It was a dear and particular wish to be able to. Who knew what fascinating things one might discover in a Cornish home? But apart from actually going up to an absolute stranger and begging, I didn't see how it could be arranged.

But then there was a sudden invitation! How was I to know that the rather stunning son's darling girl had relatives in deepest Cornwall? Really and truly wonderful relatives who would be really and truly wonderful friends? Two lovely someones, who wanted me to come, not just to visit but to stay the night! I said yes, of course, and planned out my train connections. A new part of Cornwall I had never known before. Splendid!

Coming off the train I could see that an enormous wind was blowing down the tracks, and yet a pretty blond lady stood in it waiting for me. Her smile was endless and welcoming, behind all the blowing blond hair. We walked to the car and saw her husband, less blown but every bit as welcoming. "Come! Let's get you into the car!" he said. "How lovely to meet you.."

And off we went. "We are going to take you on a little drive around to help you get your bearings.." Country lanes, old churches, the Falmouth seafront, and more. It all proved to be stunning, even in a gale. 

Among other things, we then:

  • drove to their cottage for afternoon tea, with a sponge cake that was the absolute last word in sponge cakes
  • somehow got hungry again and went to an ancient Pub with unforgettable food
  • came home to sleep the sleep of the blessed, in the most comfortable bed ever offered
  • tiptoed down the stairs early to toast myself by the AGA! (see the chair?)
  • awoke to a breakfast of muesli with fruit and nuts, poached egg on toast, and fresh coffee
  • somehow got hungry again, and went to a cafe with adorable waitresses who were getting excited for the company party that night
  • drove back to St Ives, talking non stop along the way about (get ready for it) THE ROYALS! It was all utterly satisfying.
Friends with an AGA are the best kind

We reached the entrance to Fore Street at dark, scrambling out of the car before other cars might need to pass. "Got your bags?" "Goodbye! It was lovely meeting you!" "I need your mailing address! "I'll send it!" "Oh dear, a car..."

Toward the harbor front they rolled, I standing and waving, they signaling 'left'. 

There is a lot to be said for really and truly wonderful friends. Who knew what fascinating things one might discover in a Cornish home? 

Now, I know.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Cornwall Day 37 - Flanders

The startling thing was that I did not know it was Remembrance Day. Poppies had been in various shops these past few days, and I had noticed them. They had been attached to the lapels of just about everyone who came inside the church this morning. But it wasn't until I heard the sermon that the penny dropped. 

We, together, were reminded thoroughly of those who had laid down their lives in service of their country. The sermon and the songs commemorated their great sacrifice, and then we were all invited to step out to the war memorial, where it looked like the entire town had gathered. Two worthy bobbies stood along the street, directing traffic. There were the splendid St Johns Ambulance, dressed all in black and holding their flags high. There were children everywhere, each facing the cross with their red poppy on a lapel; and then, best of all, was the band.

Down the street they marched, playing their brasses with great and solemn meaning. They played all during the laying of the wreaths as the flags were lowered to the ground, in mourning. And for very good reason just then, there was hardly a dry eye. Men whose sons had not come back from recent conflicts, bowing to lay the red wreath at the foot of the memorial; children whose fathers or mothers were still missing, holding the hands of kindly escorts; women whose husbands had served, and had died. All of them lined up to bow and to pray and to thank.

It was blowing a gale but nobody noticed. Raining, but who cared? All eyes and minds were on one spot - the war memorial that had stood in St Ives since the end of the Great War. The War to end all Wars. World War One. The memorial that says, Lest We Forget, in the hopes that men might cease their wars and live in peace.

My father would have loved being there today. He had been to numerous American Veterans Day commemorations over his lifetime, having served in World War Two. He had recited the poem, In Flanders Fields, over and over again at these services, standing proud and reading clearly. 

by John McCrae, May 1915
In Flanders' fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders' fields.
And, my friends, how do men finally cease their wars, and live in peace? When Christ is their Peace.

See you along the Way,
the SconeLady

Hardly a dry eye.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Cornwall Day 35 - From 6,000 Miles

I had just unlocked the door and come through it when a Face Time request began to squeal. But where in the world was it coming from? The phones were supposed to be in Grandma's pockets, but - they weren't, and so I dashed around in a kind of wild search. It could have been anywhere, and so I held myself very still, and listened.

At long last, the squeal finally clarified its whereabouts, and I snatched it up. 

'Hello! Hello? I'm so sorry I forgot to bring the phones with me to town! Are you there?"

"Is that you Grandma?" said a sweet small face only a foot away from my head. "Yes my darling, it is I. How are you? What are you doing this morning?"

"I am READING, Grandma. READING!" said the excited voice. "Want me to read to you?" 

"Yes my pet, I would love it!" 

I watched and listened in admiration as page after page she read out the words with great ability (I used to be a teacher). The dimples never once left her cheeks as she patiently read, careful to sound out any rogue word that needed it. It was a feeling like no other (well, there was that first time her mother had read for me, and THAT day was an awful lot like this one).

Grandpa held the phone to facilitate this splendid show of knowledge, until suddenly I was jerked away and came face to face with 'Mr. Underpants Man' - without warning.

"Umm, I don't think I'm supposed to be meeting Mr. Underpants Man.."

Grandpa somehow caught the phone back and quickly rectified the gaffe, until all was (mostly) back as it should be. Mr. Underpants Man tried for another appearance or two, but then it was time for us to go.

"Goodbye, Grandma! Goodbye!" they cried.

"I love you, my darlings! Goodbye!" cried Grandma.

I caught a quick glimpse of Grandpa somewhere in the melee, looking baffled but kindly. No doubt, down deep he harbors the hope that Grandma will get home sooner, rather than later.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady


Thursday, November 5, 2015

Cornwall Day 34 - On All Saints Day

Perhaps of all the unique events within this place, the Processional is my favorite. They do it so splendidly! On Sunday, the church celebrated All Saints Day in the Church of England, a day that is held in honor of the saints, 'known and unknown'. The church was packed, the choir in wonderful form, and there were two priests! I slipped into my pew just as the bells concluded their proclamation, to Come!

Just as the organist began his opening chords of the first hymn, I knew we were in for a celebration. It is a particular favorite, and particularly uplifting - For All The Saints. Do you know it? If you would like to hear it, you may find it here. Each word is heavy with meaning -

For all the saints, who from their labors rest,

Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,

Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

The great cloud of witnesses

Thou wast their rock, their fortress and their might;
Thou, Lord, their captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

'For all the saints' - known, and unknown. I later sought guidance on the meanings, and found much to fill in the blanks for me, for example:

"In the Bible and the Methodist Church, the word "saints" refers to all Christians and therefore, on All Saints' Day, the Church Universal, as well as the deceased members of a local congregation, are honored and remembered.[10]"  -

During the service, we were told that the next day would be All Souls Day, where members of the congregation could commemorate their own faithful departed, whether they be from their families or the broader church. I was unable to go, but would have felt privileged to stand with them.

But on the Sunday, we were singing that hymn - and did we ever! The congregation sang with all their might as the choir processed around us multiple times, throughout most all of the hymn. The celebration lifted us up and gave us strength and hope. Kneeling where they had kneeled, bending the knee in order to be forgiven, as they had been. We felt as though that great 'Cloud of witnesses' was right there with us, saying "Keep going! Don't give up! It will be worth it all when you see His face!"

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

During communion, the priest lifted his arms during the Hosannas, superimposed against the stained glass where Christ stood, blessing the children. It was a magnificent invitation to come and not lose heart. 

After a cup of tea and sweet conversation, I stepped back out into the sunshine. "Thank you, it was a lovely service!" I said to the new priest standing at the door. He caught the accent, and replied, "We do things right here in Cornwall."

"Yes you do! Amen!" I replied, and he sent me on my way with a smile. The organist had gone back to our first hymn, and a few parishioners stood singing with him:

O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,

Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

See you along the Way!
the SconeLady

'When hearts are brave again, and arms are strong, Alleluia, Alleluia!'

photo credit: <a href="">Christ Glorified in the Court of Heaven (detail) by Fra Angelico - National Gallery</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license)</a>

photo credit: <a href="">Fra Angelico, Predella of the San Domenico Altarpiece, 1423-24, tempera and gold on panel, 32 x 244 cm (National Gallery, London)</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license)</a>