The Re-Dedication of England (and Wales) to Our Lady of Walsingham Planned for 2020

Re-Dedication of England to Our Lady of Walsingham 

That’s right. This is happening next year. This information  is dated 17 February 2019,  and preparations have already been underway since 2018, including the process of bringing the Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of Walsingham to every Catholic diocese and significant place of worship in England, but I only now found out about it.  Today in fact.

I was so excited I nearly squealed and flapped like a penguin. Even though I was there in  November of this year, I plan to be there again with my wife for this momentous event, and God-willing, lead a pilgrimage of American Anglicans (Episcopalian or otherwise) to deepen our appreciation of those who own the faith of Mary in Our Lord Jesus Christ.

I am hopeful that the Anglican Shrine will also participate in the Re-Dedication, or maybe have its own Dedication.

I cannot begin to explain how spiritually important to my life is the little village of  Little Walsingham. It is a place of power and prayer, heartache and restoration, full of the presence of God, if ever there be such a place outside the Holy Land. This is not to say that God is not present to and in all of His creation, for He upholds us all by His very power and existence, which is identical with every other attribute that can be said of Him, but I believe that He has chosen certain places to make Himself known in an especial way (quite apart from the sites of Apparitions, Visions, and Louctions, and in a wholly different way than He makes Himself known in the Sacrament of the Altar). And Walsingham is one of them. Don’t treat this as Gospel, but merely as Experience. One I hope that you would share with me, if ever you have occasion to visit Mary’s Dowry.

Oh Mary, Mother of God, into whose care was given England, spiritual birthplace of so much that I call mine, Our Lady of Walsingham,  pray for us.

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For I Lent : Authenticity and the Discerning Soul

  1. Discerning the Will of God.
  2. Discerning the Spirit of God.
  3. Discernment of Spirits.
  4. Advancing in Holiness.
  5. Leading an Authentic Life.
  6. Advancing in the Life of Prayer.

Which one of these six statements does not belong together, would you say? What if I told you the answer was ‘none of the above’; that in fact, all of those statements belong together as complementary threads making up but a single knot?

What, then, do all these phrases have in common? They are all descriptions of the same reality, illustrating the life of the man or woman who is increasing in humility, love, and obedience through the context of faith and an advancing prayer life. Such is the argument of Fr. Thomas Dubay in his book Authenticity : A Biblical Theology of Discernment (Updated Edition, 1997). For him, and Catholic Tradition, Discernment is more than a process, more than a set of methods used to make a decision in conformity with the Mind of God in a weekend retreat. I found this a very necessary book with which to begin my Lenten meditations, as it sets the stage, and the goals, and the tone for prayerful preparation for the celebration of the Paschal Mystery. It puts all our striving into context, it integrates our desire for discernment of the Will of God for our life at any given moment of our life, it provides a goal to strive for.  Moreover, Authenticity expands the teaching about discernment and shows how it is the very expression of faithful following after Christ.

He takes pains to distinguish many things that make up a life of authenticity -through which he shows what discernment is and is not- including descriptions of what such a life looks like, what problems along the way (errors and illusions and roadblocks) we can fall into, the nature of the experience, the conditions for such, what the implications for teachers, spiritual directors and the wider church. The most important thing I learned was that through our becoming more and more authentically human, the most important gift that God gives us through discernment is Himself -the Messenger is the message in a very real way, as Marshall McLuhan said in another context).  I also learned how very inauthentic most of us are (the truly authentic person is the Saint who so identifies himself or herself with God that he or she can repeat the prayer of Jesus in the Garden “yet not my will, but thine, be done”), yet how each one of us is called to the same life of authenticity following after Christ.

What better time to learn what being authentic requires of us then during Lent, when we are called to put aside self in a focused period of examination, confession, conversion?

Reading Devotionally for Lent as an Act of Self-Denial

The Church’s Season of Lent (from the Middle-English word for “Spring”) is a period of 40 days spent fasting and reflecting on the life and ministry of Our Lord leading up to the celebration of the Paschal Mystery -the Sacred Triduum of Easter.

This year, as an act of devotion, my wife and I are reading aloud to one another from the book The Challenge of the Disciplined Life: Christian Reflections on Money, Sex, and Power by Richard J Foster, an author best known for his work Celebration of Discipline. Through this book, we hope to reflect on our common life together, to go deeper into that mode of communion that is our marriage and our mutual radical dependence on God, and to avail ourselves of the timely warnings about those three great pitfalls of Christian life and Christian marriage:  money, sex, and power.

Alongside of that, I have proposed to myself -as I always do and rarely accomplish each year at this time- certain acts of self-denial designed to bring me closer to that experiential knowledge of my utter dependence on God that countless spiritual books tell me is the hallmark of the child of God who lives by faith. This year, though,  is different I hear you saying ‘yeah, and you probably say that every year also. because, inspired by  Eastern Orthodox practice of  “Meatfare” Sunday and a later “Cheesefare” Sunday, I am submitting to a progressive movement toward deeper self-denial. This year I am pledging myself to go “further in and further in” to work toward “katanoein”  a deeper knowledge of God, and my radical dependence on Him. This involves adding smaller acts of  self-denial each week, and a larger, lectio component.

But first, I should  what I am not doing. and that is going into Lent “cold-turkey” as it were. I have learned that it doesn’t work in my case, and I inevitably find myself having broken my Lenten Observance by II Lent and, forgotten it completely or -more likely- set it aside as a wasted effort by III Lent.  Neither am I engaging in “traditional”  Lenten Observances such as  “giving up”  chocolate, or caffeine (soda), or adding ridiculous additions to my (nonobservant) Prayer Rule such as reading all Seven Penitential Psalms each day, every day, or memorizing large swaths of Scripture (that is another gradual labor of love). On the contrary, I am engaging in smaller acts  of increasing frequency during the course of Lent -with the intention of learning from them, how much I do not need the object that I am abstaining from, and how much more I do need the God for whom I am setting whatever-it-is-I am setting aside. Through this process I hope to understand a little of what the great ascetics knew and felt toward the Lord as they lived their lives in the vineyard of the Desert.

Now for what I *am* doing: Over the next six weeks I shall read from the following books, one each week, with two partial exceptions (they follow closely upon one another). For simplicity’s sake, and an acknowledgement of the reality of my situation. I shall not attempt to read the whole book (again, with two, different, partial exceptions -because they’re shorter than average), but read only as much as the week allows me, putting aside the book Saturday night to begin the next one on Sunday. That alone is a ‘sacrificial act’ on my part, for I can not bear to set aside a book unfinished.  Along with my reading, I shall offer my thoughts on the reading so far, and share my plans for completing the book more in a more leisurely and thorough fashion, after Passiontide is completed.

The books, keyed to the weeks of Lent, are as follows:

I Lent  Authenticity: A Biblical Theology of Discernment.  Updated Edition. / Thomas Dubay. SF: Ignatius Press.  1997. 1977

II Lent  Abandonment to Divine Providence / Jean-Pierre de Caussade. Translated with an Introduction by John Beevers. NY: Doubleday. 1975

III  Lent  A Layman in the Desert: Monastic Wisdom for a Life in the World / Daaniel G Opperwall. Yonkers, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press 2015; and  Thirty Steps to Heaven: The Ladder of Divine Ascent for All Walks of Life. / Vassilios Papavassiliou. Chesterton, IN: Ancient Faith Publishing. 2013

IV Lent (Rose or Laetare Sunday)  The Pursuit of God / A.W. Tozer

V Lent (Sunday of the Passion) The Watchful Mind: Teachings on the Prayer of the Heart By A Monk of Mount Athos [Anonymous]. / Translated, with an Introduction and Annotations by  George Dokos. Yonkers, NY:  St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press. 2014

Holy Week Exposition of the Seven Penitential Psalms / St John Fisher. In Modern English, with an introduction by Anne Barbeau Garidiner. SF:  Ignatius Press. 1998.

The other thing I am doing, as written earlier, is taking on certain acts of abstention (that is, abstaining from certain  luxuries and commodities that I unthinkingly consume on an almost daily basis. Contemporary (Roman) Catholic custom is to fast from flesh-meat on Fridays (only) of Lent, as well as the recognition that every Sunday is a “little” Feast of the Lord, upon which no fasting is allowed (to the laity and those religious not under more strict Rules or Typikons that is). I have found that to be too minimalist for my vision of my walk with God; but I recognize that 1) the ideal I have for myself and where I actually am, spiritually, and physically are poles apart,  and 2) it is spiritually presumptuous, if not dangerous, to set for myself a program of  (even minor) askesis without the mature guidance of a spiritual elder (which I, alas, do not currently  have). With that in mind, I have resolved to read what I can, to stay away from what I can stay away from, and to add what I am capable of adding, and let God take care of the rest.

Please pray for -and with- me as I attempt this sequence of Lenten Observances.

 

Holy Mary, Mother of God, our Sorrowful Mother, Our Lady of Walsingham; pray for us.

Word for the Way for 2 January 2019

From our Father in God Romano Guardini

Mary’s vital depths supported the Lord throughout his life and death. Again and again he left her behind to feel the blade of the “sword” -but each time, in a surge of faith, she caught up with him and enfolded him anew, until at last he severed the very bond of son-ship, appointing another, the mN beside her under the cross, to take his place! On the highest, thinnest pinnacle of creation Jesus stood alone, face to face with the justice of God. From the depths of her co-agony on Golgotha, Mary, with a final bound of faith, accepted this double separation -and once again stood beside him! Indeed, “Blessed is she who has believed!”

The Lord / Romano Guardini : with an Introduction by Joseph Ratzinger. Trans. Elinor Castendyk Briefs. [Introduction trans John M. Haas. 1996] 1982. 1954. Washington D.C. : Regenery Publishing, Inc. p14

Word for the Way for 1 January 2019

From our Father in God Romano Guardini,

What is demanded of us, as of her, is a constant wrestling in fide with the mystery of God, and with the evil resistance of the world. Our obligation is not delightful poetry but granite faith -more than ever in this age of absolutes in which the mitigating spell is falling from all things and naked opposites clash everywhere. The purer we see and understand the figure of the Mother of God as she is recorded in the New Testament, the greater the gain for our Christian lives.

The Lord / Romano Guardini : with an Introduction by Joseph Ratzinger. Trans. Elinor Castendyk Briefs. [Introduction trans John M. Haas. 1996] 1982. 1954. Washington D.C. : Regenery Publishing, Inc. p14

Remembrancetide 2018

From 11 November 2018

Today across Great Britain the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended the fighting of Workd War One was commemorated. The United Kingdom and Canada (at least) term this Remembrance Day. The whole week my wife and I were there, there were adverts and appeals for the Centennary Poppy Campaign that serves as a fundraiser for the Royal British Legion, and churches were decorating their altars with poppy displays.

Unfortunately, we were not privileged to see any of these. But we did see poppies of all sorts on the people: paper, crochet, jewel pins, paper mache, earrings, even sashes, and at least one hat. The display at Norwich Cathedral included silhouettes of service men who died throughout the war, and with good reason called on all who came to bear witness to the memory of those events to reflect on the need for reconciliation among individuals, families, nations, and even religions, and on our own part in furthering or hindering the Gospel of Reconciliation in Jesus Christ.

I think on the whole, the American people have little to no understanding of how greatly the Great War affected Great Britain and Europe, we’ve been insulated and isolated, and in general ignorant of the conditions then prevailing. The closest thing in American memory was the Civil War, and that was nearly two generations behind us at the outbreak of WW1. England and Europe, on the other hand has suffered through the Napoleonic Wars, the Thirty Years War, The Wars of Religion, The Hundred Years War, to say nothing of the English Civil War, and the various “minor” hostilities such as War of the Austrian Succession, the War of the Spanish Succession, and The Crimean Waeme, and they have a longer institutional memory about war. Is it any wonder then, that Europe prefers the diplomatic approach and the consensus building narrative of the United Nations, and the European Union (the great hiccup of Brexit and rising tide of young Nationalism notwithstanding)?

Then too, America did not bear the brunt of the fighting, or the horror of the years 1914-1917. Not even the War on Terror in Iraq and Afghanistan and Vietnam come close to the generation killing atrocities that Britain alone experienced, to say nothing of Europe (and Germany). It was a soul-searing experience, one which badly shook their faith in progress (and I suspect in faith itself) and which was only exacerbated by the inter-war years and the greater conflict of World War 2.

To give another example, rationing stemming from WW2 ended for America in 1946, but lasted for a another 8(!) years in Britain, not being lifted until 1954, when American production had been chugging along for nearly a decade.

To say, then that the UK and Europe treat the remembrance of the end of WW1 with more seriousness, somberness, and sobriety than America does is not an exaggeration. Remembering the fallen in any Conflict, whether won or lost is a solemn duty of the living.

Remembrance Leads to Reconciliation

Christians also remember their dead, or at least the greater part of Christians remember those who have gone before us and who now rest in the sleep of peace in the mark of faith, or so we pray. Especially we remember Martyrs and Confessors who witnessed to Christ with their blood and their tortures and other sufferings. Reconciling the world begins with reconciling ourselves to ourselves and to each other, and that begins with accepting the reconciling work of God in Jesus Christ, accomplished on the Cross through the very torture and condemnation with which pagan Rome sought to dispose of Jesus and His message.

Holy Mary, Queen of Martyrs, whose own Sorrowful Heart was made perfect at Calvary’s feet, you who we honor as Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us who have recourse to you, that through your most gracious prayers, we might ourselves take our place in the great work of remembrance and reconciliation of all to all in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Leavetaking and Homecoming

From November 10 2018

We awoke, ate our paltry bit of Nan, or some of it, rang for a minicar. Rang for a second cab as the first company was booked way past our boarding call at the airport,

said our non-goodbyes to this particular airBnB host family who was busy with work, and finally alighted at Terminal Three, at a cost that was more than twice our last cab fare for nor that much further a distance. We actually spent more time driving around the perimeter of Heathrow than getting to the airport. Go figure. We got checked in, despite a minor hold up -we apparently misunderstood how many checked pieces of luggage we were allows and paid for more than we had. This necessitated a supervisor to help close the screen, and advise us to step aside for the refund, only we didn’t want to take the time. So we were directed to navigate Delta’s enormously (no doubt) friendly website for the refund when we got home.

Well, security was a breeze, we sat down to wait for our gate assignment, bought one last sandwich meal, this time from W.H. Smith, along with a newspaper for my friend Duane. Followed by a scramble for a pair of generic Earplanes for the trip home. Interestingly, I got selected for additional screening right at the gate! Yes, they have a unit that screens for explosives, using tape that scrapes material off socks, belt, satchel, and then run through Private MassSpec. Obviously I came back negative. Well, we loaded from the center of the plane, and oddly enough, it was a lightly booked flight, we could have easily moved seats.

I enjoyed two films this time around on the flight, the most memorable was a Japanese contemporary drama titled Goodbye, Grandpa about a young woman’s changing perspectives of her family after the death of her paternal grandfather. Funeral customs and family relations, dominate the film. I also watched (finally) Ant Man (so I can watch the sequel at home), and the beginning third of The Meg, about deep sea rescue, a new world beneath the Marianna Trench, and a prehistoric, 75ft proto-shark that would have swallowed Jaws whole.

We landed in Detroit around 3:46, and made it to customs after a more strenuous walk than I anticipated -my asthma created enough respiratory distress that helpful staff waved us through the diplomat/special assistance line, and the Border officer, whose name I believe was Brian, acquired a wheelchair escort for me to our connecting flight, a rather unique experience that left me feeling awkward even after accepting the necessity and good sense of it. Hillbilly stubbornness powers activate!! The final leg of our journey was relatively uneventful, though; due (thankfully) to the absence of earbuds, the only thing we watched on the chair monitor was the flight metrics, which was just fine by us on such a short flight. We got to ATL, grabbed our luggage, hiked to the International Terminal shuttle, transferred to the park and ride shuttle, checked out of that, filled the gas tank, and drove home.

But not before succumbing to a desire on my part for some Beefy Frito Burritos (sans Fritos) and a “real” Dr. Pepper from Taco Hell Bell. Parliament has apparently successfully passed a sugar tax (which led to a revolt by certain Colonies when they tried it on us) on high sugary drinks which has led soft drink manufacturers to cut the sugar -with Stevia, leading to a less than stellar taste sensation. Saralyn, though, says she liked the 7-Up just fine because it was less syrupy. Actually there are a lot of preservatives that Britain (and Europe generally) leave out of their food that we put in for no apparent health reason other than the bottom line of the marketing companies.)

There are many other things we could learn about social cohesion from Great Britain (not least the attitude toward public transit) for all the occasional Islamist scares we hear about, but I suspect that we would need to lower our shell of inflated individualism that so often overshadows our claims to Christian compassion, which for geographical and cultural reasons, I don’t think is going to happen.

And this was how we ended our trip, snuggling with the dogs.

Walsingham at last, Again

Perhaps the culmination of our vacation, certainly the spiritual highlight of the trip, was our visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, on the 10th. So important was this visit that I gave it its own post.

As I wrote previously, our airBnB host from the night before graciously offered to drive us to Little Walsingham, which was about 15 minutes by car.

So, truly I can say I have trod upon the Walsingham Way, or at least ridden upon in within a horseless carriage.

The village was as breathtaking as ever, for all that we came in by another way, basically driving around the back of the Shrine, through Knight Street. We were let our by the Main Gate

We arrived a they were serving up for the brief service to follow the Archbishop’s time of prayer in the shrine. (I did mention the Archbishop of Canterbury’s being in Walsingham that day, yes?)

There was to be a choir of school children from two local CoE schools, but as people were asked, if they took pictures of the children, not to post them on social media, I elected not to take any. Well, the weather outside was a little chilly, but not cold enough to see your breath, so we were fine.

We wound up standing on the path perpendicular to the direction the service would take as it was situated before the great Calvary Crosses in the garden, which meant we had a perfect view of the Archbishop and the ecumenical partners who were participating in the prayer service, including a Minister from the local Methodist Church and the Roman Catholic Shrine (and possibly the Diocese) a well as the Bishop of Norwich, Bishop Grahamn under whose jurisdiction the Shrine sits, though designated an “Ancient Peculiar” (though for the life of me I have not been able to find out what such a designation means, canonically).

It was a brief service that consists of a welcome, a set of prayers, hymns set to canned organ, bible readings, responsory Psalm, and an address by the Archbishop (for which I took notes, but think it best to share under separate cover, though I will note that he spoke of the inner life of the Church beginning at the Foot of the Cross when John the Beloved Disciple made room for Mary in his house, and how this is how we should care for one another as believers).

This was followed by intercessory prayers read by members of the Anglican, Roman Catholic, Methodist, and Orthodox congregations,and an offering of song “On a hill far away” by the choir. A final hymn and a Blessing by the Archbishop completed the service. Afterwards he made the rounds to greet those of us at the service, beginning with the school choir.

Proving that I was there and not just a man behind a camera, I made a selfie.

And then it was *my* turn, a moment I had hoped for, -but had not expected to actually occur- I got to shake the hand of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and introduce myself and my wife. Inside I was flapping like the ecclesiastical fanboy that I am, but exteriorly of course I was all proper.

Then we began our slow, if abbreviated, tour of the Shrine Church and grounds itself.

The Chapel of St. Michael and All Angels belonging to the Guild of All Souls was unfortunately closed for (repair and/or renovation), so we merely peeked in a window -there was not much to see.

On the side of the chapel though is a [now apparently] restored lifesize Crucifix.

The feet at the bottom of the Crucifix has moved me more than any aspect of the crucifixion; but that, as well, deserves it’s own post, so I will say nothing further for now.

Perpendicular to the Crucifix on the wall is an inset statue of St.Therse the Little Flower [not pictured]

We went in by the Pilgrimage Entrance, where the first chapel is of the Annunciation itself, still one if the most beautiful parts of the Shrine for its simplicity. Sadly this time around I did not actually take a picture as I already had one in a previous collection, and did not have the time to set it up properly.

One thing you will note about the Shrine is the exorbitant riot of color everywhere, in the chapels (with inset reliquary of the True Cross at the bottom) and on the walls,

on the painted statues,

on the effigies of persons associated with the Shrine’s restoration, including Father Alfred Hope Patten, below.

Another thing you will note (alongside the many chapels, 15 side chapels, one each for the [then] 15 Mysteries of the Rosary,

though an Altar of the Mysteries of Light has since been erected in the garden, showing above;

is the presence of light, and candles. This particular day there were not many candles in evidence, true, but many people were still attending the Archbishop outside. Regardless, prayer is at the heart of the Shrine -prayer as the expectant waiting on the Lord that is the hallmark of all authentic piety, devotion, and service- and the air of expectant stillness that is the sweet odor of God was all around us.

The Shrine itself is built as a House, small and humble, having two side entrances and a window with a triptych-like shutter.

The odd-shaped stones set in the walls come from the many monastic and church foundations that were pulled down at the Reformation.

Inside the House are two rows for candles. Above the racks are emplacements for permanent candles on behalf of parishes, cathedrals, and other organizations. Against the [liturgical] West Wall is the Altar within which rests the Image of Our Lady (commissioned by Fr. Patten in 1922 and carved from a Priory seal found in the British Museum). Here in the physical focus of the shrine, we spent some moments in prayer and personal (and in my case, matrimonial) rededication to Christ through Our Lady.

For Saralyn, our visit to the Russian Orthodox chapel held a significance that I can never fully appreciate, as I did not attend an Orthodox high school as she did, which did much to prepare her for the gift of faith later in life.

Nevertheless, the Icons never fail to raise a prayer to my lips.

This last Icon pictured was actually the entrance Icon, sort of the “Icon of the Day” set up for initial veneration Other furnishings in the Chapel include the lectern (at top),

and a marvelous view of the College grounds through this window.

Now there are a few oddities about the Shrine Church (as with any place of worship, especially one that appears to be making up for a 400 years absence of devotion) such as this Intercession box,

The Sacred Heart statue in between two Confessional rooms just underneath the Orthodox chapel,

A dual tone Statue of S. Joseph and Child,

and this Statue of the Royal Martyr, on the steps.

Just to round things off, the plaque before the Holy Well (with its claims for healings,

and other assorted photos that did not make it into the narrative proper, but are memories all the same.They represent as well connections that have yet to be made between what I saw, what I know, and what I was meant to see, so I leave them here as a reminder that nothing exists in isolation, that everything has a place and a purpose, even if in the moment we can not or do not see that connection and plan (as Boethius was taught to see by Lady Wisdom in his The Consolation of Philosophy).

Though I will say that the brightly painted Cross, evidently the work of a school group evidences the continuing vitality and work of the Shrine today.

As is my want, apparently, we did things a little backwards, only finding the Welcome Centre after we had completed our tour. It contains a reconstruction of the original shrine as it might have looked before the Augustians enclosed it, with a set of comparative foot and shoeprints of the many classes of people who have visited Walsingham through the centuries and an introductory video.

Before we left the Shrine proper though, one final statue caught my eye, one restored in memory of a faithful pilgrim, that of Mary, Queen of Martyrs

who is a reminder from one who was herself a martyr to love her entire life, that in this world, tribulation, misunderstanding, and outright rejection (as 1 Peter 4 tells us) to say nothing of daily minor disappointments and annoyances is more to be expected in this life than comforts and conveniences with adulations. And in fact, we should fear the latter more than the former, because they are what will bring us closer to God.

We topped off our visit with souvenir shopping at The Shrine Shop, where among books, stickers, and a bottle for Holy Water to bring back, I acquired a Walsingham Shrine and Pilgrimage jacket [my designation], perhaps the greatest souvenir (apart from the road gravel from Sculthorpe) I brought back. The pictures -though (potentially) physical- and stories I count as memories, not souvenirs.

As to the meaning of it all, that too belongs to a separate essay.

And now we begin The Road From Walsingham. A journey that is for the rest of our lives.

With one final glance toward the Shrine grounds entrance.

[Special Note about the pictures. I took all the ones here posted, and have reproduced them in nearly the order they were taken, with a few exceptions, when the narrative called for it.]

A Day of Unexpected Gifts

From November 9 2018

We woke, eventually, and had some breakfast. Saralyn finally got her crumpets (like I had finally gotten my fish and and chips with peas (non-mushy thank you very much). One of our hosts had previously offered to drive us to Walsingham, as he did not work that day. It was a pleasant drive of less than 20 minutes, and we arrived with time to spare to participate in a Service of Reconciliation featuring the Archbishop of Canterbury.

He is the one on the left with the more subdued episcopal purple. As I took some 60 pictures of England’s Nazareth, I will provide a separate post to begin making sense of that spiritual experience including my notes and commentary on ++Cantaur’s address (that’s right, I was privileged to see him twice this week).

Our gracious BnB host picked us up about 1:30 And brought us back to his home for our luggage. As the next -posted- bus for King’s Lynn was at 3:07, he offered to being us to the bus stop, a newly constructed covering on the other side of a grassy triangle from the stop for the bus that goes the other direction, with instructions to call him if it didn’t dove up in a reasonable time. Which in point of fact didn’t, it didn’t. As it turns out the entire Friday run of the bus only occurs on school holidays, but the the posted sign only showed two stops as not running on Fridays. Only a webpage gave the whole story which we only found out when comparing notes. Our over-the-top host didn’t even blink, but offered to run us up to King’s Lynn, after picking up his partner (who serves as Acting Head-Teacher (sort of like a Principal) for two different schools) from work. So, for the cost of a few additional minutes waiting back at the house we received a 25 minute ride (and he even refused the offer of petrol money). Needless to say they got a stellar review from us.

Our train from King’s Lynn stopped at

as well as Cambridge, though I wasn’t able to get a picture because we were hemmed in by other trains. Beyond that we passed through or near such colorful villages as Waterbeach, Frog End and Hatfield.

Once arrived at King’s Cross-St. Pancras, we wasted no time (i.e. all but avoiding the famous Harry Potter Shop st Platform 9 3/4), but purchased a ticket to Vauxhall -a direct route via the Victoria Line Underground- trundled through the Subway system (which means a lot of walking)- popped on the one Tube train that was actually packed the whole week we were there, and arrived some 12-14 minutes later, passing through some familiar haunts of mine from years past.

We got to Platform 8 just as

perhaps the most colorful rail line in all our travels was closing its doors, necessitating a quarter hour wait for the next train, though it did allow me to snap pictures of an interesting feature of the railway.

No idea what it is for, by the way. Once on the train we spent another three-quarter ms of an hour traveling in the dark to get to another end of the line station via Norbiton which itself is two stops down from Wimbledon, home of that most bizarre of sports -Tennis.

Once arrived at the station, our noses were accosted by the smell of….dinner! So of course we followed our noses through the one and only rain storm we actually experienced the whole week to The Mumbai Star, an outwardly nondescript but inwardly hip and sleek Indian restaurant qhwere we gorged ourselves -again for the one and only time that week on aloo gobi, palak paneer (for Saralyn), Bombay potatoes, dal, plain and kenema man, plain rice and garlic rice, still water (what happens when you mean “tap water” but point to “water”) and more of their weird tasting Coke. This was plainly more food than we were used too after a week in England, but we left stuffed and pleased.

We waddled next door to a Minicab company (basically a for-hire taxi that was not the “official” taxi cab service, as nothing about the car said “taxi”; instead giving every appearance of a below-executive service), and got ourselves to Charlton Road (which I had earlier confused with Old Charlton Road for some reason). We had to backtrack a bit because street numbers were not prominent in the cold, dark, rain-swept night, but finally found the house, complete with Manure For Sale sign in the yard -apparently the property doubled as a business (dog and horse grooming).

We were met by our host who kindly passed our luggage through the main house, as he had not had shoes on when we arrived. After fumbling with the gate, we got around to the back where the detached unit that served as our last night’s rest awaited, complete with serviceable kitchen, which we were in no condition to use. Instead we suffered through some of the most abomnbile telly programming we have come across. Oh Great Britain, why? There was a show called “Naked Attraction” on Chnnel 4 where would-be celebrities looking for a date judged between 6 members of the opposite sex on, well, ascending parts of their body, In the Full Monty, with all the individual quirks that bodies can possess. At each of three stages, the number was whittled down. Naturally their faces were the very last thing to be seen. And then the eligible date-seeker bared all in turn to the final two contestants in a semblance of “fair’s fair” before the final choice. And then an update was provided two weeks after the date. Not what we expected in a dating game show, I assure you. An equal opportunity shows there was a segment with a Male selector followed by a Female selector. It was a train wreck of a program, we were so horrified we had to see how it ended. Only slightly better was “Married at First Sight” that followed three sets of American couples who got engaged basically on the first date. We get to see how they do -or do not work things out prior to the marriage and a little bit after the marriage, complete with helpful pastors and sociologists for advice. And that was all we could take of British sub-prime time programming. So it was off to bed, once we had chased the chill away with a nice hot shower apiece.

Sic transit gloria Britanniam

To Bed and Back Again

November 8 2018

Well, today was mostly spent in traveling and waiting to travel between our AirBnB locations, so not many pictures of English life. I won’t bore you (this time) with the 27 pictures of the Sculthorpe parish church I took while Saralyn rested from travel much as I would love to, so instead here is a single picture out of sequence

So we woke up, dressed checked out of

(so named for Queen Elizabeth I the Virgin Queen- thus Maiden (think Maid of Nazareth), or rather renamed from an earlier establishment. Incidentally, the night before we ate at a small chain, Weatherspoons, only this location was called the Glass House, so named because the building had once been inhabited by a famous medieval Norfolk stained glass school, bur well you about Henry and Cromwell (both of them, actually). Anyway, they were out of fish n chips [boo], so instead, I had

cottage pie (really getting used to peas and dressed salad with meals) while Saralyn had a burger of sorts, which she ended up deconstructing the better to eat it.

So, anyway, we walked to the bus station. While waiting for the bubus, I went fir water, and then a small snack, only to find that the bus had pulled up behind another one which had been shut down awaiting a change of shift , only to pull out straight away again without letting passengers on or off, so we had to wait an extra hour for the next bus, X29, a purple and pink double decker bus of the yellow line

Which was ok as it gave us time for a meal deal from Boots, and a look around the Salvation Army Charity shop.

Anyway, after some lovely scenery,

Showing here, inclincluding an unnamed house leaving Bawdswell, and -get this- a portable traffic light, we arrived at Fakenham, with enough time to get the bus numbers thoroughly confused. We ended up going out of our way to North Creake (site of a lovely parish church from my 1997 pilgrimage, but that’s another story for another set of posts). North, not West. We took the 27 bus when we needed the 36. But, hey, we had fun getting lost (again), and met a lovely local named Clare

who reminds me a lot of my high schools AP World Lit teateacher, Patricia Musgrove. She helped us secure a taxi (Tiny’s Taxis), that got us where we needed to be. Embarrassing, the AirBnB location turned out to at the bus stop for the bus we hould have taken, only Google Maps lied to us. LIED, I SAY.

But, like I said, we had fun getting lost. Here are more pics to prove it.

Behind that wall, by the way, is an orchard rensedrented by the aforesaid Clare, who now lives in her parent’s house across the street from The Jolly Farmers, the Free House we waited at for the taxi.

Anyway, we followed the instructions left by oirour hosts to get the key from the out house (with the blue door)

where the key box was. The first door went in that was blue, but on the opposite side of the buibuilding, really was an (out of service out house, complete with a toilet with a black seat. Anyway, we got in to the cozy house,

and Saralyn took a nap while I walked around the village for an ehour, taking these great pics.

When I got back to the house at 25 The Street and she woke, we went to the village pub, the Hourglass , where I finally had my

And it was yummy. And the local ale to boot.

No pints for me thanks, only a half- pint.

Along with our gracious mistress of all trades. So tomorrow, in Walsingham….