Back to reality...

Trip Start Jul 06, 2011
Trip End Aug 04, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Colorado
Friday, August 5, 2011

Here I am, awaiting my return flight in London's Heathrow airport. Thankfully, British Airways has a direct flight from Denver to Heathrow, so no changes are required.  My friend took me to work, dropping me on the way at Oakwood Station, the next to last station on the Piccadilly Line which goes straight to Heathrow Airport.  I just have to wait too check in, go through security and get to my gate, so I thought I’d write one last blog entry about my visit to St. Albans yesterday.  Well, that is what I thought was going to happen.  There is WiFi at Heathrow, but you have to pay for it, which means dragging out your credit card in front of everybody and their dog, which was not going to happen.  So I am back at home in my comfy chair to finish out the trip blog.

And now for one last cathedral.  I was able to get on a bus from right in front of the house where I am staying that took me straight into St. Albans, also north of London.  It happened to be market day, so the street was crammed with stalls selling clothing, wall hangings, fruit and veg, toiletries, just about anything you can think of.  There was even a butcher sitting on the side of his refrigerated truck, with fresh, uncovered meat sitting out.  Yum.  After going the wrong direction, and purchasing a fascinator (one of those great, feathery hats that so many of the women wore at the wedding of Katherine and William) on the way, I finally got myself to St. Albans Cathedral, and over to the Chapter House at the end of the South Transept.  There I met Tom Winpenny, the Assistant Master of Music at the cathedral.

 Tom just released an album of Judith Bingham’s organ music, so I felt that he would be another good person to talk to about her music.  He, too, was very positive, impressed with her music and hoping that it will last into the future.

After our interview I took an official tour of the cathedral.  St. Albans was an old Roman town, and in about 300 one of the Romans was converted to Christianity by one of the local priests.  When the Roman army came to take the priest away for execution, Alban quickly changed clothing with the priest and quietly marched up the hill to his execution.  On the way the waters of a stream parted for him, and the executioner’s eyes fell out when he chopped Alban’s head off.  Therefore, Alban is England’s first saint.  His shrine stands behind the high altar but before the Lady Chapel at the far east end.  Before Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in the mid 1500’s St. Alban’s was an Abbey with a monastery attached.  Many pilgrims came to see St. Alban’s shrine, so they built a wooden room on one side above the shrine so that monks could watch surreptitiously to see if the pilgrims were behaving themselves and not taking away bits of the shrine.  It is supposedly the only Watching Room in the country.

It was a very hot day, and the Roman ruins were just too far away, so I made my way back to the bus stop (without further purchases) and rode back to my lodgings.  After a much needed afternoon nap, and a lot of packing, we had sausages and bubble & squeak for supper.  Bubble & squeak is mashed potatoes and vegetables all mashed up, mixed together and fried.  It is a painless way to eat those vegetables that you really don’t care for too much!

On Thursday, as stated above, my friend drove me to the tube station.  It was raining, as if to say 'See you later.'  The tube ride took almost 90 minutes with one change as it turned out.  The trains that go to the Heathrow terminal that I needed don't go that far northeast.  Once at Heathrow you are given a certain time when you can drop your bags, assuming that you checked in online, and then another time which you have to be through Security or you don't get to fly.  I got through to Security with no problem, but then there was that nasty machine.  When I got my knee replaced I was told that the titanium that they use does not set off the security machines at airports.  Don't believe it.  Denver was fine as they have those new xray machines, but Heathrow did not, and sirens went off in the whole area.  They stopped everything until they could find out why I set off the machine.  So with everybody and his dog watching, they patted me down (aka groped me) until their little wand only went off around my knee.  Yes, I had showed them the fresh scar, but that did not matter.  Only then did they start letting the back up of people through.  What a joy.  Other than that, the journey was long and noisy.  I was lucky enough to be in close proximity to three babies, one of whom spent a good portion of the flight screaming.  And the food was dreadful.  It was one of those kind of flights.  Never mind, I had a huge smile and hug from my husband when I got out of customs, and two very, very happy Scotties when I got home.

The trip was mostly a success, with the exception of the articles that I could not access.  But when I got home there was an email from a librarian at the Royal College of Organists.  If they have the journals that I require, for a fee they will copy the articles and send them to me.  Fingers crossed that they have what I need!

I loved meeting Judith and her colleagues.  It was fantastic to see and spend time with my friends, and to visit so many wonderful places.  Sadly, many things on my list did not get accomplished, but I think that I was overly optimistic.  Next trip!  I hope that you enjoyed the blog and photos!

Happy traveling!

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Janelle on

What a treat! It was a joy to hear of your travels. Glad you are home safely. Thank you.

Diane on

Sounds like a terrific ending to your very special trip this summer - I very muched enjoyed your leading us through your adventures. Welcome home!

Patricia E. Gerty on

Marjorie, what a wonderful trip for all of us to take.
An excursion into the past, present and the future,
meeting a special musician. Your dissertation will
be a biography we'd like to read. Also, our church
needs an assistant organist, know of one?

If you know of an organist this way,
our church needs an assistant for Jim.

Monica on

Welcome back, Marjorie!! It was so fun to be an armchair traveler with you!

Sheila Waters on

Welcome home - I love going back to my homeland but enjoy coming back home here. I've very much enjoyed your blogs as they revisited many places I know but also many where I have never been and much of the history was new to me too. Thank you!

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