Wednesday, February 16, 2011

London - the first few days

I was planning to post all of these stories on different days, but that did not happen.  The later ones are actually more interesting.  Read on if you like…

I arrived in London on February 12, after an overnight flight from Chicago.   Apparently, Saturday is the day to fly into Heathrow.   It was empty.  There was no line/queue at Immigration or anywhere else for that matter.   It was an easy ride on the Heathrow Express and took me no time at all to get to Gabrielle & Frederic’s.

Entertaining Sue and the children at the same time…
So, the weekend started out as spending time with my friends Gabrielle, Frederic and their children George (aged 4) and Amelie (almost 2).

On Saturday afternoon, we went to the Royal Air Force (RAF) Museum.  George LOVES planes and all to do with aviation.   He was very entertained and had a great time!   Amelie was also entertained for quite a while as well, which was a good thing. (pictures on facebook!) 

On Sunday morning, I attended church (St. John’s Wood Church) (Church of England/Anglican) with Gabrielle and the kids, which was nice.   It was the family service, but it is still hard for the children to sit still!   We had a lot of conversation about children and church.  Children’s formation programs, how to engage small children in the liturgy.  (Shawn Schreiner be prepared to share!)  There are programs for the children, but she is looking for something more hands on for the kids (probably something along the lines of Godly play or Catechesis)  As a general practice, children don’t receive communion here until about age 7.

I also got to meet some of Gabrielle and Frederic’s friends on Sunday, which was fun!

Canterbury and Canterbury Cathedral
I went down to Canterbury on Monday, February 14 (there is now a high speed train between London and Canterbury), just missing a direct train by seconds, I watched it pull out of the St Pancras station) (I was delayed on a very slow Hammersmith & City tube line)  So, the next train required a change of trains, but still arrived earlier than the next direct train.   I had to ask staff about 3 times where I was to change trains, as it wasn’t clear to me and I was afraid I would end up in the wrong place.

When I asked a staff on board the train, he gave me the name again, but a University(College) student was sitting in the seat across from me.  She said she was also going to Canterbury, where she is a student, and to just follow her.   She also just missed the 9:37 train because the Hammersmith and city train was very slow.  

The student and I ended up talking.  She asked if I was going to the Cathedral, which, in fact I was.  She talked a lot about Canterbury Cathedral, specifically from an artistic point of view (and was thrilled I was going there to take pictures) Somehow got on to cell groups, and small churches, Cathedrals and then Emergent churches.   She has experience of them in London, and told me about that.   We also talked about programs for children in churches.

After having just attended church with Gabrielle and her 2 and 4 year old, all of this was fresh in my mind.    I am also going to visit some “Fresh Expressions”/”Emergent” churches both in England and Ireland, so for this random person on the train to start a conversation with me about them was remarkable!

I made my own pilgrimage to Canterbury, of sorts.   I really journeyed there be in that space and take pictures.   (hours of entertainment for me).  It combines my love of sacred spaces and my love for photography, that provides for a great experience!  I just love the space and the history of these Cathedrals and churches.  We just don’t have anything like that in the US.   We have such a short history. We don’t have Archbishops buried there from the 1300’s!

Solti experiences…

I am visiting with my friend Gabrielle Solti and her husband Frederic Dupas.  Their house is quite full with the children, so I am actually staying at the house next door, Gabrielle’s mum’s house, where there are lots of guest rooms.

I never know what to expect when I stay there.   Valerie (Lady Solti) is a fascinating person (wife of the late Maestro – Sir Georg Solti)  She knows lots of interesting people, entertains a lot, and I am almost certain to run into an interesting musician who is there at some point during my visit, learn something, or have an engaging conversation.

Monday back at Chez Solti…
So, then back at Chez Solti, Valerie arrived home. The evenings guests, also guests for the week,  included a French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet and his wife Andrea, also a pianist.  They are fascinating people and I have learned a lot, and had many conversation with them and Lady Solti about music, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and all kinds of things.  

Jean-Efllam will be in Chicago April 13 touring with the Orchestre National de France, playing at Symphony Center.  I hope to be able to attend that concert that night.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valerie Solti suggested that I go down to Westminster Abbey to try to get early seating for the Dame Joan Sutherland Memorial service.  The music was bound to be spectacular, and the musicians rumored to be in attendance, no less than impressive!  I wasn’t sure that I would get a seat, Lady Solti had a reserved ticket for seating, and it sounded like it was reserve seating only. 

I was heading for the tube to go to central London – National Gallery and other attractions, when Valerie was heading out.  I realized that I was probably leaving too late to get a seat if it was even possible at Westminster.  She had someone to drive here to Westminster for the Joan Sutherland Memorial.  She told me to hop in the car, perhaps there was public seating.   Any sort of trip (or time) with Lady Solti is always an adventure.  She knows the most fascinating people and trips are bound to be interesting.

We got to drive through central London, down Baker Street, and past Buckingham Palace.  That was timed (coincidentally) at the time of the changing of the guards, so I got to see that from the car window.  (I have been there to see that in the past), and by happenstance, a Royal carriage was leaving Buckingham at that very moment, a horse drawn carriage, followed by the Queen’s car.  No Royals or official people seemed to be in the carriage or the car, perhaps it was a practice for the Royal Wedding??

We got to Westminster and I checked, there was no public seating at all.  Oh well.  I snapped a few photos of Westminster, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament and the Thames and headed to Trafalgar Square.

More to follow…

1 comment:

  1. I wonder if I should have mentioned that I know the Soltis, BUT they are a huge part of the experience here and of course enhance to the experience! I love meeting the musicians. My dad was a musician by vocation, though his job was that of an engineer. He played music semi-professionally all of his life (sometimes professionally) so my experience was being surrounded by music and (some) musician, so I love the Solti’s – that is the experience here too – though their connections are well known and international!