We looked at antiques in Dorking and found that the fronts of those small shops hide amazing spaces crammed full of furniture. There were small rooms upstairs, downstairs, and in lofts. The area I’m talking about is the small street where we pointed out to some of you a plaque about the Pilgrims who sailed to America. These shops specialize in larger pieces of furniture rather than knick-knacks. I was drawn to chairs, while John kept looking at sideboards. The piece we both fell in love with was a small cabinet that camouflaged a coal bucket. The inlaid wood was exquisite, but we couldn’t think of a way to use it in the Stony Brook house.
We noticed two For Sale signs – one at the house we would have loved to buy from our first visit to London and the other at Timberly (the first house we rented). Guess I’m a little wistful.
Bjorg S came out for tea and dinner; John had known her in New York and worked with her in London. She was very kind to the children, and we had a chance for a long chat after they went to bed. Enjoyable! It was nice to have the house presentable, too! All but $ pitched in to straighten, neaten, and clean. Surely that’s a reason to resolve to have company at least once a month!
We took a last swing into Westminster Abbey. As usual, the music was glorious and the preaching atrocious. After the service John showed Kate and me where he’d walked in the cloisters during the sermon. Some of the walls are from the 1100’s. Buried behind walkways and low passages was a delightful little cloister where a merry little fountain sparked in the middle of lush green grass and flower beds. Also tucked away was a treasure room where we saw the replicas of the crown jewels that are used for rehearsals of coronations, funeral effigies surprisingly life-like, the oldest saddle (for a horse) in Europe, seals and signatures of historical greats, and the coronation chair used only once to augment the ancient one when William and Mary were crowned simultaneously.
Responsibility for a service at St. Mary’s in Reigate rested partly on our shoulders when our home group led the service at 6:30 last night. Two ladies were in charge of the coffee, all women brought biscuits, the men helped with the offering, one of our group is a clergyman and could legally hold the communion service, Penny gave a testimony, several did readings and prayers, I accompanied the singers of our group for songs during communion, and John preached. It all went very smoothly for a surprisingly large congregation.
John could say, “Something funny happened on the way to the pulpit.” Just before the service he was checking the pulpit light when Tim, the minister of our group, was chatting with the regular vicar nearby. The vicar said to Tim in a chill, somber voice, “Just who is this John Mehrling?”
Tim, slightly taken aback, explained that John had been coming for two years. John walked over to re-introduce himself and got a very stiff reception. That would have really upset me, but John didn’t mention it until we were on our way home. He said the man had every right to be concerned about what would be preached by a stranger. It was a bit late to be concerned, I thought. We laughingly decided that every home group service will be minutely examined hereafter.
Today we bought an Edwardian umbrella stand that appealed to the whimsical and the practical in us. [It is in the entrance hall in North Carolina. We do not have a proper umbrella, only collapsible ones in tired heaps. A harness for Sadie and my fancy cane gravitated here.]
[For lack of any other appropriate photo, I will include our Welsh lovespoon. It should have been included in the letter for March 1.]