Saturday, 17 March 2018

"England Swings (Like a Pendulum Do)"

So far, we are experiencing a Charles Dickens' London! With the snow and cold, our arrival via the Eurostar was a frigid one. While in the King's Cross Station, we were able to see our breath in the air as we walked around searching for lunch. One student commented that she wished that she had her winter coat and snow pants! Though it was chilly, students hearts were warmed as they entered Platform 9 and 3/4 - the home of the Harry Potter store. One student was very excited about the gift shop and was able to pick up "some goodies."

After a brief ride on the "tube", we were excited to exit the station to see Big Ben, but we were promptly underwhelmed by the sight of scaffolding surrounding the entire tower. The next disappointment was being told that Westminster Abbey was closed for tours until Monday. However, our wonderful tour guide, Barrie, in a serendipitous conversation with a security guard was informed that an Evensong service would take place at 3 PM. Content that we would be able to see the abbey after all, we quickly found shelter in the nearby St. Stephen's Hall Cafe for some warm beverages.

Once inside the abbey, we settled into our seats for a 45 minute service of Bible readings, prayers, and songs. We had the privilege of hearing The Choir of Westminster Abbey sing throughout the service. This choir is comprised of nearly thirty boys and twelve men. Words from the Magnificat "My soul doth magnify the Lord: and my spirit rejoiceth in God my Saviour" rang out with great purity throughout the cathedral. We walked out of the church to the grand sound of the church organ and the ringing bells of Westminster Abbey.

Unfortunately for some of us, our 5:00 AM wake up time this morning conflicted with our ability to keep our eyes open throughout the service. Here are some student comments on the Westminster experience:

  • "I liked the music in the church; I paid more attention than my own church; the young boys’ high notes were super high."
  • "It was interesting to listen to; it’s very different than ours; really traditional."
  • "I fell asleep in the church; that was awkward."
  • "Westminster Abbey was cool because it was something we never experienced before, and the choir was good."

Once the service concluded, we were back out on the cold streets. With a little unplanned time prior to dinner, Barrie challenged the students to see how many could squeeze into an iconic red phone booth. Apparently, the record is 15 people, but we only managed to fit in 11. A student later commented that "fitting a copious amount of children in a small space is not very comfortable."

Our final stop of the day was at The Mad Hatter Hotel for a classic fish and chips supper. The fresh fish was covered with the chef's homemade batter, and the meal was topped off with a chocolate brownie cake with cream for dessert.

After a nearly hour long tube ride, we were happy to see the lighted sign for our hotel after a only 3 minute icy walk from the station. One parent commented that this one "is the nicest hotel we've been in yet!" So while we it was certainly a chilly day, as one student commented, "I have hopes for tomorrow!"

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