With the rain on Wednesday, I stayed in at my flat and did some school work and email management.
Just before 12 noon, I bought an Oyster card at the Lambeth North stop and walked half a block to catch a red double-decker bus, and then rode across Westminster Bridge to Westminster Abbey.
The bell tower (‘Big Ben’) at the Houses of Parliament is completely shrouded in scaffolding, so I’ll have no iconic photos this trip.
At 12.30 p.m. sharp, the bell rang inside the Abbey and a priest walked toward the altar in front of the grave of Sir Isaac Newton. And 100 or so pilgrims celebrated noonday Eucharist together in this most special house of worship. No matter that tourists were milling around on three sides, or that the din of their chatter never allowed for holy silence. God is in this place.
N.B. — in this country, when asked where you are from, kindly say “Saint Louis, USA.” Missouri means nothing in the grand scheme, but many Britons know of the Arch and Saint Louis.
After Holy Eucharist, I lunched in the Abbey Cellarium on salmon with blistered cherry tomato, artichoke, new potatoes, and capers. And feasted on dessert of white chocolate and lemon mouse, with a black cherry sauce. Lunch was heavenly.
As I was finishing dessert, two older gay men with American accents sat down at the adjacent table.
Said one, “I wonder what the soup is today.”
I leaned over, feigned a shudder, and said “sweet potato and celery,” which was true.
Then ensued a brief conversation. One of the men took degrees from SLU and WashU, and used to go the Opera Theatre on the Webster campus before moving to San Francisco. His partner grew up in Cape Girardeau. They met in Saint Louis.
By the way, they did not order the soup either.
The world is plenty small sometimes!
Here’s a shot of the west front of the Abbey from a couple of blocks away, taken in the rain today:
In the distance at left, you can see the scaffolding that is completely hiding the famous Big Ben.