Lots of new cities in England
10 February 2015 | Village of Staple outside of Canterbury
Karyn / overcast and cold
To our friends and family. We are really exploring this wonderful country, England. We are currently in the Village of Staple about 12 miles outside of Canterbury, UK. As we ended our Isle of Wight sit, we hiked to the "long rock" a pagan religious site. We hadn't been able to find it the first time and went out for one last try. It still amazes us to be in a place with such history. We had a week to ourselves before we started this current sit. I think that we used it wisely. When you look at the gallery, perhaps you will agree. We have seen so much in the last 10 days.
Our Isle of Wight homeowners, Alan and Pat, came back an hour early so that we could try to see the Mary Rose Museum and the HMS Victory in Portsmouth. We were successful. What an amazing museum. The Mary Rose went down in 1545. It was preserved in the mud and over the past 43 years has been raised and analyzed archaeologically. The pictures really don't do it justice. It is unbelievable to see it and to hear the conclusions that have been drawn about the ship and its crew. They have found clothes, food, money, medicine, tools, books, guns, long bows, etc. Thousands of items that tell the story of this ship. Don't miss it if you ever get the chance to see it. Of course, the HMS Victory, Nelson's flagship at the battle of Trafalgar, is there to be enjoyed as well.
Then on to Salisbury. We wanted to see the Cathedral that was written about by Ken Follett in Pillars of the Earth and Rutherfurd's, Sarum. We not only saw it (it is magnificent), we climbed to the top of the spire. What a view. We could even be in the bell tower when the bells rang. What an experience. Nearby are Stonehenge and Sarum. The weather was bitterly cold and windy, so we didn't stay long, but these sights are places we have dreamed of seeing our whole lives. We never tire of experiencing the antiquity of this country. We are learning so much about the history and the people. We continued our drive to Bath, a spa city developed by the Romans from 50AD to 400AD. It is really something to see and experience. They have done a wonderful job of creating a living museum of both the space and the artifacts of this spa sight. Oh yes, I got to have high tea in the Pump Room. This is definitely not the place to go if you are watching your carbs. But, what a beautiful room and we were serenaded by a chamber ensemble. Who could ask for more? We also heard a part of evensong in the Cathedral and did a city tour. Our guide was 85 years young and taught us with knowledge and humor.
Then on to London for 3 days and 4 nights. We had rented a flat on Air BnB. If you haven't used them please take our recommendation. We had a whole flat for less than a room at the Best Western. We were in Chelsea and we saw a lot in our time there. What a wonderful city. It is clean and an interesting mixture of cultures. We went to the British Museum, The Tate Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. In each place, we had wonderful tours with such knowledgeable guides. I especially enjoyed the wedding dress exhibition from the 1700's. Bob like the early Greek pieces from the Parthenon and all the history that went with it. We took a few pictures, so check it out. Still astounds me that we can be looking at the articles used daily thousands of years ago. This trip has planted seeds in us to look for an excursion that will allow us to join a dig at some point in our lives. A stop at Leicester Square got us two tickets to Billy Elliott for $37.00 apiece. We enjoyed it so much and the young boy who played the lead was terrific. On our last night, we were headed to St. Martin's in the Field to hear Hayden's Creation, but as we passed Westminster Abbey, I wanted to walk around it. In the process, we ended up in a line that took us into the Abby and seated us for evensong. You heard it right. We went to evensong at Westminster Abbey. What a treat. Then on to the concert. The stars were aligned for sure. What a wonderful day!
Our last stop before starting this sit was Canterbury, in Kent. As soon as we arrived, I went to evensong (again). Bob's had enough evensongs! I would love a chance to do this everyday. Then in the morning we attended Sunday's sung Eucharist. We were able to to sit in the choir loft with the cathedral guides during the service. We were positioned to watch the choir director and the worship leaders. It was just perfect. England has just ordained its first woman Bishop in the Church of England. The Dean of the church was a man, but the scripture and the Eucharist were presided by a woman. It is a hopeful time for women in ministry here in England, where history has not done much to support their work. I think of Allison and Karen, Anglican women who have gone ahead to be ordained. So proud of them. We will come back to Canterbury during our house sit for a tour of the cathedral and of the city itself. There is so much to learn in this site of the Canterbury Tales.
We are so blessed to get to see so much of this wonderful country. It is so much more than either of us had expected. Check the gallery for pictures in the next day of so and enjoy. I must sign off. The Vicar is coming and I am preaching this Sunday. Each Vicar handles 4-5 parishes out here in the villages and they are happy to have some help. I'm more then happy to be of service.