Wednesday, January 15, 2014

There is too much. Let me sum up.

Okay, so. Weekend. Guess what I went to see?

Yep, Lisa DeLong and I went to see the awesome immortalness that is Agatha Christie's Mousetrap. Here she is, to take a bow.

Whodunnit? I can't tell you. I'm sworn to secrecy.

Sunday was an adventure into the wilds of south-of-the-river to reach the ward to which I have been assigned. It's a long way, but not unmanageable. It did involve a bit of walking, which resulted in some hot spots, but no actual blisters or bleeding. So success! The ward is filled with nice people from all over. It was . . . odd . . . to be in an LDS congregation and feel conspicuous, not because I'm tall, but because I'm white. Odd, but kinda cool.
I was informed I'd be serving in the primary. My compatriot Jo was informed she was serving in Relief Society. We had a conversation, and then informed the ward leadership that we would be switching. And everyone was happy.

Here are my compatriots resting their tired feet on the trip home. 

Wednesday was our first official trip out of the city. First stop: St. Alban's Cathedral. My gosh, so gorgeous. The day was gray and misty, but never actually rainy . . . just soft and cool. And the church was extraordinary, both inside and out. 

I couldn't get a huge dramatic shot of the inside of the church, because there was SO much going on inside. So here are some little shots. Here, for example, is the little chapel at the very top of the cathedral, which was tiny and lovely and adorable. 

Here's Molly, lighting her very first prayer candle. This was something a lot of the students had never done.

And here's the actual shrine of actual St. Alban, which means that maybe sorta I've completed a pilgrimage now. I started in London, I went to the cathedral, I visited the shrine and said the appropriate prayer . . . that counts, right? I need a medieval Catholic friend to clarify these things for me. 

Oh, and here's St. Alban getting martyred.

After the cathedral, we walked through a lovely park* over to the Museum of Roman Stuff, which was extremely cool. It was a small museum, but was very well put together and quite clearly had an awesome collection of artifacts. These were my favorites: 


Also very cool was the mosaic-ness going on, pictured below: 

And here are a couple of my fellow travelers doing what the adage recommends for such times as these.

And on our way back to the bus, we got a lovely parting look at St. Alban's, above the green fields and below the gray mist.

St. Alban's explored, we moved on to Cambridge, where I grabbed a quick pasty in the market square because I haven't seen any pasty shops yet. They were YUMMY.

Pictured: All the pasties I didn't get to eat. 
Cambridge is a very bicycle town. The things were everywhere. Also, in the market I could have purchased a used but road-ready mountain bike, plus a U-lock to secure it with, for 45 pounds. I didn't, but I was tempted. 

Our charming tour guide, a retired teacher named Hugh, took us around Trinity College and King's College, giving us a run-down of the history and how the college/university system works on this side of the pond. Here he is telling us about Henry VII's mum, who is actually not in the niche above this doorway (that's just a very feminine-looking John the Evangelist). 

And here we have Henry VIII, great patron of the school, holding a royal chair leg because the students stole his scepter so many times the administration was forced to just leave it like that. 

Not pictured is the Wren Library, as we were not allowed to take photos. But it is a beautiful space, filled with beautiful old books. On display were, among other things, the first folio of the collected works of Shakespeare, a first edition of Newton's Principles, and the original handwritten manuscript of Winnie-the-Pooh. The only thing that could possibly have upstaged that for me was a copy of Sir William Cavendish's treaty on horsemanship. After spending so many months buried under mountains of research on Sir William and Lady Margaret Cavendish, to actually see one of their books nearly brought me to tears. 

Crown jewel of the experience was the chapel at King's College, which had quite the most dizzying ceiling I have ever seen. 

The only bit of actual sunlight we got was while we were in here, so the stained glass just lit up and covered the pillars in all these crazy streaks of color.

The windows (a full set of 25, all as they were originally designed and intended by the original craftsmen, telling one coherent story of the life of Christ all the way around the building) could have been upstaged only by something really spectacular. Like a Rubens painting of the Adoration of the Magi. 

That's the whole altar. No cross, not even a raised platform. Just a table, two candles, and the painting, under the blazing windows, surrounded by plain white limestone walls. Just lovely. 

We got to wander Cambridge for a couple of hours, and I caught one shot of the lawn in the middle of King's College just as the light was starting to fade. 

At the end of the day, we got to hear Evensong sung by the choir that was endowed by the house of Tudor and is still singing the services, in Latin and in English, every day. It was truly truly lovely.

And now, happy but spent, I leave you. 

*I spent fully five minutes in this park just watching a duck dive. The water was clear enough that I could see it all the way down to the bottom. It was immensely entertaining to watch. 


  1. I LOVE THAT CHAIR LEG SO MUCH!!! I'm so glad you saw it! Did you also see the Mathematicians' Bridge?

  2. There is an amazing pasty shop at the exit of Earls Court tube and yummy and near Hyde Park.

  3. Oh my goodness I want to see the Winnie the Pooh manuscripts!!! :-D Also, your pictures are very, very nice to look at!