The Choir Trip to England
A Choir Trip to England: Monday, July 13
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By Bonnie and Larry Arnold

Our first homestay breakfast included a couple of unfamiliar marmalades. One was called Lemon Cheese, and Larry wants to find some to take home. It's like eating lemon filling out of a doughnut, but better.

Lynda directs from the high pulpit in the New Room The New Room

The coaches took us on a day trip to Wesley's Chapel in Bristol, which is called the New Room. All our preachers and retired preachers took turns standing in the top of the two pulpits, where Wesley preached, and the choir gave an informal short concert. Several of us Lay Speakers tried out the lectern, just below the preacher's pulpit. We decided it was more fun sitting down with the kids when we did a children's sermon.

This building has a balcony, then a third floor with a cupola and skylight in the center, and little windows up there where Wesley could look down to check on his preachers-in-training and see who was asleep in the (most uncomfortable!) pews. They told us some services used to be 3 hours long. Ruth Thorne got to play an organ that was built in the 1600s.

A topiary soldier guards a roundabout Once again there was evidence of the unpopularity of early Methodist beliefs. The pulpit was set high, and reached by a narrow, steep staircase. There were no ground floor windows. When mobs would gather to break up services the indirect route allowed the preacher to escape.

Those were interesting times, but perhaps not as discouraging as the modern question. Who cares?

Bath

The Roman bath, at Bath Then on to Bath we went. This town was built by the Romans, on both sides of a river. A few sections of walls, gates and actual baths are still there. Mineral water comes out of ground about 140 degrees and is slightly greenish in pools. The guide on the walking tour said the water is untreated and people aren't allowed to use or bathe in it now. Bonnie wants a grotto fountain like the spring we saw at street-level in a walled courtyard.

The Royal Crescent The tour guide set a brisk pace, uphill and down, touching on actor David Garrick, the Victorians' use of Assembly Rooms, and the very upscale row houses on the Royal Crescent. Nowadays a full row house there costs 2,000,000 to 4,000,000, or about 100,000 per bedroom if you're satisfied with a "flat." Those streets look just like several scenes in "My Fair Lady."

One of the group captures beautiful flowers Lunch was in the basement of a Baskin-Robbins. I got a sandwich OK but asked for chips "take away," and got a paper cone of hot French fries. I should have asked for "crisps."

Bath is one of the places I'd like to come back to someday. It is very picturesque. The weather sprinkled on us, but it hardly got the umbrellas wet compared to Stonehenge.

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