Friday, July 18, 2008

London: Day 2!

So, I found out today that if you travel after 9:30am (end of peak time) they take a good 5-7 quid off your travel price. Needless to say, I slept in with happiness. Then I went in, just in time to catch the changing of the guard. Which was, as a short person, rather a disappointment. I suppose if you like looking at the back of people's heads and hearing scraps of music and being crushed by a crowd, you might like to see it. The only real redeeming part was the fact that the band inside (the one being relieved) played the starwars theme. The whole thing. It was brilliant.

After that was the Tower of London. Certainly a worthwhile trip. I think it was awesome: medieval castle, where the royal family lived for 500 years, the place where Queen Elizabeth I was imprisoned while a princess, where Anne Bolyn and her sister were executed, the royal crown jewels, and armouries!! I saw more suits of armour today than I ever have before... it was delightful. And the security guards all actually double as tour guides, and are incredibly knowledgeable about the rooms if only you stop to talk to them. I stayed until it closed and I got kicked out. I also did my mandatory "Fish and Chips" meal during this time. Yeay!

After that, I went over to Westminster Abbey to try and catch an evensong service. Unfortunately, I was too late. But I saw all these people walking in after whispering something that sounded like "high mass" to the security guard. So I did the same, and he let me right in. So I was wandering around this massive cathedral, and found the service in the main bit- right where the coronations happen. And as it turned out, it was a very small gathering with a very large choir. Probably about as many in the choir as in the congregation. And it was HIGH church. Incense and everything. (I actually talked with the guy who made the incense later, and he bases the recipe on the high priest incense in Exodus - you know the one that anyone who imitates should die? But he adds more cinnamon and nutmeg to the mix, so it comes out smelling like apple cider)
Anyways, there I am in one of the most glorious cathedrals in the world, celebrating high mass with almost everyone in the congregation in suits, and then the robes of the choir/priests, and I am in sandals, jeans, and my pink robot t-shirt taking communion. Classy. I know.
Then, as I was leaving, people seemed to be leaving in two different directions. I thought "Well, I've already been down that way, so I'll go the second way". But it didn't lead to a way out. It lead to a private reception in Poet's Corner. With wine and free food. Being a shameless student as I am, I ate... well... shamelessly. It turns out the mass I stumbled in upon is a once-a-year event put on by the "Our Lady of the Pew" society. I spent all evening there, talking to different people. And then one old Scottish guy decided to give me a tour of the Abbey. Except instead of showing me normal things, like the nave, or side chapels, he took me into the back gardens, completely ignoring all the signs that said "Residents only" or "Private" - right into where the canons live. Then another old couple (who turned out to be Catholic Charismatics) took down to Downing Street, and along the street beside Whitehall, the House of Lords and Big Ben. It was marvelous. They also said "We always have beds kicking around, and we live in London, so if you don't like commuting from Staines..." Hmm... I might just take them up on it someday!

Well, another adventurous day is past. Tomorrow? Indian curry with my hosts, and a couple of museums. But we'll see. It is after all, another day.

Good night dear reader!


Anonymous said...

What lovely adventures! How was the fish and chips?

Debbie Fawcett

Bethany said...

Not very good unfortunately. Rather disappointing. But I think it will be more than made up for in Cambridge. And the Indian food tonight was fantastic!!