It is Friday evening—with Evensong sung, dinner et (yes, that’s British), compline shared and more rain showers on the way. The day started with “wake-up” coffee and a quick “first breakfast” before joining Lolly and Louisa for morning prayer at the cathedral—a really nice, peaceful opportunity to share a God-centered moment with a small handful of other local worshipers.
Then came second breakfast. The hotel puts out quite a spread—don’t think anyone has blog-noted the food yet, but more on that later. Our daytime rehearsals have been nomadic—various times and spaces at the cathedral, a neighboring parish sanctuary, and the hotel. This morning it was in a hotel meeting room—it worked, but we’ll probably be rehearsing elsewhere on Saturday.
After rehearsal, with no scheduled group activities, most headed out on local adventures—like hop-on-hop-off bus tours, museum “crawled,” shopped, or attended to personal needs—and, yes, my laundry day was yesterday, self-washed and folded thank-you. So I spent some time at the ruins of the Bishop’s Palace adjacent to the cathedral. The archeological and preservation effort were incredible. The engineer in me marveled at the dense crumbling construct. It was easy to imagine the spaces filled with the palace staff bustling about.
The Friday Evensong was in anticipation of Saturday being a feast day for Mary Magdalene. So, as an “eve” service, we rose to the challenge of some last minute service and hymn music changes – all warmly sung and well received by the clergy and listeners. I’d like to make a musical note (pun unintended) pointing out David’s thoughtful programing, Christopher’s organ virtuosity, and Jack’s conducting leadership—all superb musicians par excellence. Together we filled the cavernous spaces with our heartfelt praises to God.
Now, to some quick reflections on my Brit food experience thus far. The hotel buffet breakfasts have been superb, as long as you bring your own coffee. I didn’t know that baked beans could be a breakfast staple. Pretty much wherever had, the fish and chips were spot on. Only fine china and silverware should be used for afternoon tea and not paper or plastic. Barbecue sauce is not a topping for macaroni and cheese—seriously. And, speaking of BBQ, one of my foodie pleasure centers, I thought I’d give it a shot… my advice: don’t.