London Days two and three
Covent Garden and Westminster Abbey
These two days we walked miles. My fit bit registered 17,898 steps on Wednesday. We had intended using the Hop On and Off bus but instead we bought an Oyster Card for the local transit. London Transit is wonderful. It’s quick, easy, very accessible by lift and except in rush hour not too terribly crowded. We followed our pattern of sleeping in until 8. This slow beginning for our day kept us relaxed and fairly stress free.
We took the above ground railway to the boat bus and walked to Covent Garden. We wondered past a lot of sellers’ stalls and bought nothing. We checked out the live theatre productions and considered buying tickets to something but didn’t. We had lunch in Covent Garden entertained by a string ensemble in the courtyard.
We had a long walk along the river. Tom took my picture in front of the Scotland Yard headquarters. We walked past the parliament buildings and stopped to talk to a police officer. We asked about tours. He said the best tour was of Westminster Abbey. We walked over and discovered that there was a huge lineup to buy tickets. We decided it would be better to order the tickets on line and go tomorrow. We had a lovely quiet day. The only real angel this time was the policeman.
At supper time we ate in a typical British pub.
We returned to our lodging and visited with Sarah. She is a lovely young woman who loves to talk and discuss things, particularly religion. That was so good.
First task of the day, was arranging tomorrow. We decided to visit Windsor Castle which is in the town of Windsor on the outskirts of London. We had to organize where we caught the regular train and make sure we could get a ticket. That meant travelling to Waterloo station downtown. I would have to ride the “tube” down several layers into the earth. Since I struggle with feeling closed in, I knew this was going to stret……ch my comfort zone. We hopped on the DLR – the above ground transit – a piece of cake. One station and we transferred to the underground – the first layer. The train hurtled along screeching so loud on the corners and the downward slopes that I had to remove my hearing aids. The noise was painful. In about ten minutes we were at Waterloo station. The escalators up looked like at least 20 stories and we had to take two of them. The incline was frightful. At least we were going up so I didn’t have to look down. At street level Tom went up yet another level to buy our ticket to Windsor. I had had enough. I settled on a stool at a bar in MacDonald’s to wait.
The man beside me was eating – it looked like Timbits. I watched him pour HP sauce on his Timbits. I couldn’t resist. I asked, “What are you eating?” Turned out the Timbits were actually some form of breaded meat balls. The ice broken, we talked until Tom returned. He worked nearby and lived in the north end of the city. As we talked, my heart rate slowed. Riding the subway hadn’t been that bad, I told myself. Besides there is a lift so I won’t have to stand on those escalators to get home. Not that I like elevators. They too are closed in.
When Tom returned we walked out past the parliament buildings towards Westminster Abbey and beyond. We wandered through St. James Park which is lovely. We had a late lunch. And toured the Abby.
Westminister Abbey is an imposing elaborate structure. Beautiful inside and out. It has witnessed so much history. As I stepped inside, I remembered seeing the queen’s coronation on our brand new black and white TV, when I was a little girl. The self-guided tour focused on the many historical people whose remains have been encrypted in the Abbey. It felt like a tour of death rather than life. After a while, I grew tired of looking at stone sculptures of famous figures laid out on stone coffins. I gratefully found a seat in the main abbey sanctuary and sat down for a rest. After the tour we attended a special sung communion worship to celebrate the Ascension of Christ. It was beautiful. They ushered Tom and I and many others in to sit in the Quire (choir). Tom actually sat in the Canada chair – the chair where the Canadian ambassadors, and other dignitaries sit for special services. Tom of course was in his glory. I sat down below expecting to hear his voice soar out over me.
It just didn’t happen, partly because the actual choir took up a portion of the seats. They led the crowd sitting below us. The organ and the combined voices poured forth their song. Being one of many, Tom even at his best, would never have been heard. And Tom was not at his best. The beautiful formal Anglican service began with a procession. The lead man in a white gown overlaid with a gorgeous cloak of embroidered gold swung an incense pot. The aromatic fragrance rose up and swirled among us. Tom’s throat had closed up.
The priest and a number of others processed in behind the incense all of them dressed in white gowns with gold embroidered cassocks. I felt as if I was present at Lady Diana’s wedding or the coronation. The sermon was interesting, the music fabulous. I felt honoured to worship in Westminster Abbey.
Afterward, we had supper at a British pub. and took the “tube” (subway) home. Our day had been full. We were ready to sleep.