How precious are Your thoughts to me, O LORD ... how vast is the sum of them!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Days in England: London

I hope that everyone has been doing well! Even though I’ve only been a click away on the internet, physically I’ve been in England for two weeks, so I still feel rather absent … I didn’t keep up with much social media, and easing back into it now is like easing back into normal life. In a way, I left part of my heart in England. I’ve taken time to savor the memories, whether it’s communicate with people I met there, extensively journal and relive each day’s events, browse pictures, or tell stories to my family and friends. God really blessed my time there. As you know, I’ve been writing a novel about a modern-day girl’s visit to England, the sequel to Family Reunion. So this trip felt like somewhat of a research trip as well, and I learned valuable tidbits to add authenticity.

Are you hankering for some anecdotes? Goodness, I don’t know where to start. If I start at the beginning, you’ll be confronted with a boring story (though it was anything but boring at the time) about a knot of travel snags that were more or less untied within the first couple days. Instead, I can spread this into two or more blog posts and write a paragraph about interesting things we did, centered around our itinerary.

Laden with jetlag (which was just extreme weariness), my friend Laura and I walked to Westminster Abbey for Evensong at 5:00 pm Thursday, September 4, the day of our arrival. That part of London—Westminster—around the Parliament buildings and Buckingham Palace, is the most picturesque section we saw. Many of the buildings are very old but in excellent shape, and big trees, little gardens, and flowerpots add life and friendliness. The air, thanks to a breeze, was cool and fresh for London. Though we were in a flood of people, and the sidewalks (or “pavement”) never seemed wide enough for all of us to walk comfortably between the lovely buildings and the noisy, frantic street, it created an exciting and novel atmosphere that I enjoyed.

Westminster Abbey
You can get in free to Westminster Abbey if you’re going for the worship, and that’s exactly what Laura and I desired. We wanted peace and calm and to thank God for bringing us here in safety. Awe filled us as we walked in with the others, trying to absorb everything we saw while still moving; after all, we were in a magnificent 1,000-year-old royal church drenched in major history. The choir of men and boys was heavenly and the Scripture readings and prayers were steadying, but we did have trouble staying awake!

After Evensong, we had enough daylight to stride by the Parliament buildings and hear Big Ben dong above our heads, spot the London Eye, amble through St. James’s Park (a breath of coolness and green, natural perfection … we could have stayed there ages!) and past the rear side of Buckingham Palace (seeing some members of the royal guard), before finding our way back to our hotel. (Note: never go anywhere unfamiliar to you without a map, unless the only thing you have on your agenda is to be pleasantly lost. Maps were our best friends!)

Buckingham Palace
London, day two, was only a partial day because we went somewhere supremely special that afternoon (next blog post). Fairly early, we headed north to Kensington Gardens, where we passed perhaps twenty different kinds of dogs and their owners enjoying the wilderness. If not for the background city rumble, you could forget you were in the metropolis. We saw the statue of Peter Pan. Afterwards we went for a peek at Harrods (the palatial department store, still closed) and a little shopping at a souvenir store before going to the Victoria and Albert Museum when it opened at 10:00 am. Now that is a museum! Its size is legendary, so, of course, we weren’t capable of seeing all of it in two hours, but I can tell you they had the most amazing things there, things you never think about existing outside of history encyclopedias. (Such as a medieval door and spiral staircase, Renaissance tapestries, and fool-you reproductions of sculptures and monuments like Trajan’s Column.)


Sculptures at the V&A
The historical costumes on display made me eager for what we would see on our tour (the Sense and Sensibility historical costume tour). We left London Saturday morning, with our new friends who were also going on the tour, to enjoy Oxford for twenty-four hours before meeting the rest of the group in Manchester on Sunday.

After the tour, Laura and I and several other tour members returned to London. Our Sunday and Monday, September 14 and 15, consisted of taking photos for friends of the Tardis (the blue vintage police call box Dr. Who fans know), trekking to Harrods only to discover it was closed, stopping at the Sherlock Holmes Museum giftshop, wearing ourselves out walking around the City of London to see Leadenhall Market, the Gherkin, the Tower of London, the Thames, Tower Bridge, Southwark Cathedral, the Globe Theatre, the Millennium Footbridge, and St. Paul’s Cathedral, where we bookended our trip with Evensong at 5:00.

Leadenhall Market

Tower of London
Tower Bridge
St. Paul's Cathedral
 Except for one cab ride with our friends, Laura and I went everywhere in London either walking or riding the underground. London Underground is a great system, most of the time, and, with a bit of a learning curve, you manage easily if you’re good with directions. It was fun and convenient, and especially on the farther edges of the city, not always underground. That was how I got my first ground view of English neighborhoods: on the way in from Heathrow Airport.

Inside the Baker Street tube station
At the risk of going on too long, I should stop for now. Truthfully, I loved the trip so much I could write a book about my experiences, but hopefully these blog posts will be just the thing to give you a taste of what it was like! Do you have any questions or remarks about what I did in London?


  1. Wow, sounds busy!

    Love the pictures!! Awesome. Especially the interesting angles... So pretty! Pictures are marvelous things because they show one has actually been somewhere and are great for memories! :)

    And I'd never seen a picture of Leadenhall Market before, but I knew exactly what it looked like from your description in your book. ...Wow. Well done on that! ;)

    1. It was busy! I didn't have thought for much else but staying on top of things while I was there, hence the online absence from blogs and so forth.
      I'm glad you like them! There are more to come!
      Really? You knew exactly what it looked like? Cool! It was so surreal to be in a place I could describe only by pictures, and discover it looked just as wonderful as I thought it did.
      Thanks for commenting!

  2. I'm so glad you had a good time in London, Kelsey! :)

    1. Thank you! And thank you for dropping by! I hope you're doing well.