The Choir Trip to England
A Choir Trip to England: Saturday, July 18
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By Bonnie and Larry Arnold

With Kim Cutting's huge packed lunch in hand, we went to Yarm to see an octagonal church where Wesley preached, and then an unexpected side trip to the North Sea coast to Whitby before returning to York for another concert.

The Octagonal Church Yarm

Inside the Octagonal Church The octagonal church at Yarm is beautiful in white, rose and blue; even the offering plates are octagonal. It's hidden down a walkway between buildings and on a riverbank, with about 250 "communicants" and about 150 children. England has Girl Guides and Boys Brigade, similar to Girl and Boy Scouts, according to posters there.

The fields are more gold-brown, and we saw heather and bracken on the Yorkshire moors between Yarm and Whitby. Someone called it Jane Eyre country. This part of England looks more like Texas than any we've seen. I also saw sign for Toad Hall as in "The Wind in the Willows," and one that said "Scotland 34 miles." So close and yet so far!

Whitby; On the Coast

Whitby Harbor We had one hour in Whitby, a charming but business-like fishing port, where Captain Cook began his journeys. Their "public convenience" on the main intersection is my first experience with 15p pay toilets.

Abbey ruins We ate most of our packed lunch while on the coach between town and the abbey ruins. Up on that promontory, drizzling again, we saw the ruins of the abbey where the herdsman Caedmon composed England's first Christian poems. The coach driver called the weather "fresh." If that's fresh, I'd hate to feel the wind and rain off the North Sea in December!


On the way back to York we drove through Scarborough, along their beachfront. It's obviously a holiday-tourist town with arcades, donkey rides on the beach, many restaurants and food booths on the piers, boat rides and a carnival with a brightly painted carousel.

Back in York

We had a short free time in York this afternoon, and we walked fast to get to the Prince of Wales Own Royal Regiment, a military museum Larry wanted to see. Exhibits included a section called "1765-1780: The American Colonies." A sign called our 1776 events "the troubles" and said England lost only that one fight, in its long history, by fighting alone without allies and against combined forces. I confess, I chuckled audibly. Part of the exhibit also chronicled the landings on D-day, an action Larry had relatives in.

Holgate Methodist Church

The last concert by the whole group We invited the Cuttings to the concert in York but they couldn't come; no babysitter. The church was full and the audience very appreciative. They served us supper before, and tea and dessert after.

This was the last England concert sung by the whole group.

Once again, semi-impromptu, the men closed the party with "Let the Circle Be Unbroken" and then "The Eyes of Texas." And once again the Texas A&M Aggies among us didn't join in the University of Texas fight song. Why didn't we learn the words to the official state song, "Texas Our Texas" before we got on the plane?

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