The Choir Trip to England
A Choir Trip to England: Thursday, July 9
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By Bonnie and Larry Arnold

The next morning we discovered "Continental breakfast." It included a pot of tea, a variety of rolls, jellies and marmalades, and orange juice. It was more than enough to eat, and any hotel that includes chocolate candy filling in one kind of the rolls has Bonnie's vote!

We started the day with a driving tour of London. We were introduced to the British "Blue Badge" guides, one on each coach. These experts on London told us it had 7 million people, covered 30 by 10 miles, and was divided into 32 boroughs. We saw it in 3 hours, from the coach, including:
Buckingham Palace

And ended up at the Roman Catholic Westminster Cathedral for our first concert.

Wesley Chapel

John Wesley, 'The World is my Parish' The dissenter, Susannah Wesley The Wesley Chapel was the first stop "Following in the Footsteps of John Wesley." Standing where the founder of our Methodist fellowships, John Wesley, and his family, had walked was thrilling. Even more moving was watching our retired pastors and long-time lay leaders touch our history.

The chapel in London was only the first symbol of the historic and current presence of the Wesleyan dissent in what has become a country where church is "not a place one wants to take children." We were warned before we left the U.S. that Britain is labelled by many as a "post religious" society. What we found bears that out.

There is a vague hunger we sense on this island. Will it fade, or will another John Wesley fan it to flame?

Westminster Cathedral

The First Concert: Wesminster Cathedral At Westminster the choir, with string accompaniment, sang a short program between Masses. The small audience didn't outnumber the non-singing members of our group. The music hung in the air for long seconds after each song, especially Sonja Johnson's solo. That, and the sheer age of the holy building, made it "goosebump time," as Larry said.

The Victoria & Albert Museum

One of the places Larry and I both wanted to visit was the Victoria & Albert Museum. Unfortunately it isn't open on Fridays, so our only chance was that afternoon. With Susan's encouragement, we learned to ride London's underground Tube to get there and back.

By the time we arrived, we only had about an hour and a half, which was not quite enough to thoroughly enjoy the exhibit on clothing throughout the "modern" British age. (Modern covers a much longer time there.) We could have spent days in the V&A and I wanted Rebecca there to see it all. It's one thing to see medieval dress created for a play at the Point Theatre; it's another to see the real thing, plus the underpinnings, shoes, hats, and so forth.

On the way back to the hotel we stopped near where we needed to catch the underground, Victoria Station, and ate supper at "Shakespeare's Pub." The food was excellent. Larry tried Cumberland Curl, a spiral of thin sausage shaped like a stickybun, and we split sponge pudding (chocolate).

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© 1996 Larry and Bonnie Arnold, updated September 26, 1998