Saturday, December 08, 2018

Winter Trip Plans

I've always been to the UK in the summer:  July 1980, August 2010, July 2016, June 2017, and August 2018.  It's time I experience London in the winter.  This will include part of Christmastide and my 68th birthday on 7 January.  Of course, I cannot get time off on Christmas Eve or earlier, and I usually cover all the music at Stella Maris during the quiet time after Christmas, but this year it's my turn to take some time off at that time!  I'm leaving in the afternoon on Christmas Day and returning on January 9th.

I'll be staying with my friend, Katarina, and her family in Mottingham.  I find London City Airport much more convenient that either Gatwick or Heathrow, so that's my destination.  I found a cheap flight Charleston to London - actually three flights each way.  On the way over, I have a 12-hour lay-over - in Frankfurt, Germany!  Charleston-Charlotte-Frankfurt-London on the way over.  London-Dublin-Philadelphia-Charleston on the way back.  I've purchased both Euros and Pounds from my bank before the trip.  They should be at my branch Monday.

Meanwhile, I need to have all the worship aids for both English and Latin Masses done through 13 January.  That way, when I get back in the office on 10 January, I don't have to worry about worship aids!  I will have plenty of end-of-year bookkeeping to take care of!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Weekend - 25-26 August: London

I had originally intended to turn the rental car in some time on Saturday, but I decided rather to keep it over the weekend.  That way we could all go to Mass at the Oratory, and then spend the afternoon at Harrod's department store.

The Oratory:
 ( ↑ These photos are from the internet. ↓ )

Driving in central London is definitely not for the faint of heart, even on Sunday mornings!  It was also raining, and the Oratory has not parking available, not even for handicapped vehicles.  I had to let everyone out, along with Katarina's wheelchair, and drive around to find a parking place.  Luckily, street parking is less restricted on Sunday mornings, and I was able to find a spot only a couple of blocks away.  We were seated on the left-hand side, in front of main crossing, so we could see that Sanctuary quite well.  At Communion time, I took Katarina up in her wheelchair to the far left end of the Communion rail, even to the left of the line of communicants.  I wasn't sure how this would work, but it turns out there is a side brass gate especially for the priest to come in front of the rail for the handicapped!  Photography is not allowed, but we took a couple of shots before we left.  I also was allowed to take Amy up in the choir loft to see the organ.

After Mass, I had to fetch the car so we could drive the few blocks to Harrod's.  It would have been a nice walk if it hadn't been raining!  But I also needed to move the car to a parking garage for the afternoon.


  ( ↑ These photos are from the internet. ↓ )

The Egyptian escalators:

Modern escalators:

We were all hungry, so the first order of Harrod's business was to pick from one of the many restaurants.  Besides the special foods area on the first floor, there is a different restaurant on every floor of the store, each with a different ambiance and cuisine.  We chose the Café on the 3rd floor.  There were five of us, Katarina and Amy, and two of Katarina's friends, Frieda and Mary, and me.  We all had different entrés, mine was a "braffle" (a hybrid of a brioche and a waffle) with Crème Pâtissière and fresh berries.   We had an incredible time!

(Of course, the younger generation has to take a food photo!)

We spent the rest of the afternoon shopping for souvenirs etc., and taking photos!  The store was quite crowded, with folks from all over the world.  It was almost a Christmas shopping atmosphere.  There were toys (and not cheap!) literally flying off the shelves.  Workers was constantly going back to the stockrooms to restock shelves!

We all purchased some interesting things and enjoyed many departments in the store.  The employees were actually closing down registers as we were checking out.  We were among the last customers of the day.  This also meant that we had a lot of traffic getting out of the Knightsbridge neighborhood and on our way back to Mottingham.

Once we got home, it was time for me to start packing to leave early Monday morning. Then all that was left was good-byes and driving my rental car to Heathrow airport, and that pretty much finished this summer's trip!

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Friday 24 August - Walsingham

I seem to be often blessed when I take these adventures abroad.  When you make last minute plans to go somewhere, and you meet someone you know there, and neither of you expected to see the other, it's at least a "small world" moment, at best a blessing.  More on that below.

We got on the road a bit after 9:00 am.  It was a beautiful drive, especially once we got past the north-eastern edge of London and reached motorway speeds.  The car handled great, and I was used to the stick being on my left.  But I was still concentrating.

The Shrine has a daily Mass at Noon in the Chapel of St. Catherine of Alexandria, but we didn't quite make that.  Once we got to Little Walsingham, the SatNav wasn't as much help.  There are multiple listings for "shrine" and "Walsingham".

The area looked familiar to me from eight years ago, but not enough from behind the wheel of a car for me to figure where the little dirt road was to the Catholic Shrine.  We did eventually find it, and a place for Katarina to get from the car to the wheelchair before I parked the car on the grass field.  But we were there!

Here is a photo of a gift shop post card of the etched glass window behind us.  The modern chapel Sanctuary is on the other side of it.  It is actually a series of doors that slide open for the outdoor seating to be included in large Liturgies. 

Since we had missed Mass, we decided to be a part of the 2:30 Rosary over in the Slipper Chapel, the only building dating from the 1340.  It was restored in 1904.  There was a sister leading the Rosary, and we sat in the back next to her.  There were about 20 people there with us.

 ( These photos are from the internet. )

Now for the "small world" blessing mentioned above!

At the end of the Rosary, Fr. Andrew Starkie showed up at the Slipper Chapel!  (See my post from last summer.)  He was attending a Youth 2000 event with some of his children and others teens from the Manchester area, and had arrange with the Shrine to celebrate his daily Mass there in the Slipper Chapel at 3:00.  Both of us were totally surprised to see each other!  One of the seminarians was setting  up the Altar for the Mass, and one of Father's sons was going to be serving.  People from the Rosary mostly exited, and only a few others had come into the Chapel, probably all surprised to be there for a Mass.

This was a super blessing for me, and for Katarina and Steven.  This was their second ever Ordinariate Mass, as we had been together for the Feast of the Assumption at Our Lady of the Assumption and St. Gregory in Soho the week before.  And for me?  Well, an Anglican Ordinariate Mass, celebrated in the historic Slipper Chapel of the Shrine of Our lady of Walsingham!  This was the high point of my trip this summer!

We had a nice chat afterwards, and Katarina took of photo for us.  I'm sure my friends in Broadbottom, Michael & Raven, will be pleasantly surprised at this blessed meeting!

We got back into the car, and decided to not head straight back home, but rather to drive further north, towards the town of Cromer and the North Sea.

We stopped west of Cromer near the North Sea to rest and take some photos.

Then we continued westward towards King's Lynn and the motorway back to London.  I got plenty of UK driving experience on everything from 6-lane motorways to 1-lane dirt roads.  It was a great feeling.