In all my years of doing the family washing, I had the highest percentage of socks go missing one day. (In England things don’t “get lost,” they “go missing.”) By the next day I’d recovered all four.
Do you remember the verse about the little girl with a curl in the middle of her forehead? When she was bad, she was horrid. Well, little John can be haughty, but more often he’s NAUGHTY. In one day he unpacked the frozen foods all around the car, willfully threw pebbles from a planter into the fireplace, played in the salt pig, knocked down the gate at the door to play in the shower while I was washing my hair, and opened the big box where my angels were and began pulling them out. Imagine me following in the wake of that little swirling disaster, cleaning up one mess as he was making another. He had also made off with my glasses so that I couldn’t see to dress after washing my hair as the door bell was ringing. You might guess this was a day John Sr. went to London. Do you suppose he knows what’s coming and abandons ship?
John had them rolling in the aisles when he went into the office to catch up on a few things. One of the old hands in the chartering department was moving into a vice-president’s office that John had used the last two weeks. As the man pondered where to put furniture, John said, “It’s kinda like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, isn’t it?” The dour Norwegian couldn’t stifle his laughter on that one.
$ decided to stir up a cake while I was fetching the girls and John was upstairs working. He used two dirty beaters, two cake testers, one clean wooden spoon, two bowls and the cheese grater. Unfortunately, the cake he stirred up was one I’d baked that morning.
We had a most delightful weekend in the Cotswolds. The first historical thing we visited was also the oldest – the foundations of a Roman villa. It was hard to believe they allowed about as much space for elaborate baths as for all the other living spaces put together. Tile mosaics were exquisite, and the hypocaust heating system running under all the floors is more advanced than many systems in use here today!
Not far from that villa were the ruins of the Cistercian Abbey of Hailes founded in the 1200’s by a brother of Henry III. Most of the foundations and some of the walls are there, filled in with a carpet of lush green grass. Just across the lane was the parish church still standing which is older than the abbey.
Tewkesbury Abbey was our last tourist stop of the day. One of the first things we noticed was a coal heater with a little wagon of coal standing beside it. The same kind of heaters were also in Ely Cathedral north of Cambridge. The photo at left was taken at Hereford Cathedral and does not have a wagon of coal beside it.
After we’d walked around admiring the elaborate, but delicate, stone work, there was a special sung evensong service in honour of the 30th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s reign. The reverberation period must have been at least 5 seconds, showing off the fine tones of the choir and the oldest organ in use in this country. That organ has just been reworked and was rededicated only a couple of months ago.
For Sunday worship we sat in the choir of Gloucester Cathedral. A proud sidesman told John their choir ranks sixth or maybe even third in the country. We were sitting at the entrance to the lectern, and each time the men stood waiting to read, they smiled at $. Most unusual to us were the organ pipes over the choir screen painted in colourful scrolls and intricate patterns.
We admired the shiny floor tiles typical of this area – all in two colours. They were made by pressing a stamp into the soft clay tile, filling the indentations with lighter coloured clay, and firing them. After buying a reproduction tile in the bookshop [still on our dining room table in 2022], we went back into the choir (or quire as they spelled it on a sign) to find where that design was laid. We wandered into the cloisters, saw the chapter house where the congregation was invited for coffee, and fell into conversation with the dean of the cathedral who had preached the sermon. Around another corner of the glass and stone enclosed cloister was a sign that on that site William the Conqueror ordered the census later known as the Doomsday Book.
Two Sundays in a row we’ve been in churches with such warm friendly people – Guildford last Sunday and Gloucester this week. At both we felt such a part of the congregation that we were comfortable taking communion. Probably it helps that we know the Anglican service fairly well now. These smaller cathedrals are obviously home churches for many people; the sidesmen greet the regulars as old friends and have welcoming words for strangers. Of course, this feeling can’t extend to the tourist-mobbed big churches in London.
We couldn’t resist buying the record of Christmas music by the Gloucester choir. On reading the cover, we found that Gustav Holst was very active in that church and that Ralph Vaughn Williams was born near Gloucester, though he later lived near Dorking.
I forgot to mention that we saw the tomb of Edward II in Gloucester Cathedral. If we go to enough churches, we will have “seen” most of the kings and queens of England.