August 6, 2023


Sunday was my last full day in London. In the morning I would head to Heathrow and board a plane for Charlotte. My tour bus ticket was also good for a single cruise on the Thames between the Tower dock and Westminster. London in particular can best be seen from the river. While this boat ride was a short one, it lasted nearly an hour and gave a view from the river of major sights of London.

After breakfast I decided to take the boat heading east, so I rode the Underground to the Tower and walked along its wall to its dock.

Along the way you see the juxtaposition of buildings from the eleventh and the twenty-first centuries.

Looking back from the boat of course there was our old friend, the Tower Bridge.

A reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Globe theater is on the south bank of the Thames, near the original site.

We docked at Westminster.

The tower that houses Big Ben has been named Elizabeth Tower, honoring her diamond jubilee. Big Ben itself sounds the E below middle-C. Four smaller bells play the familiar “Westminster Chimes” tune in various forms each quarter hour. They are tuned to G# F# E and B, so they play in E-major, ending on the dominant B half the time and on the tonic E the other half. Big Ben bongs out on the hour. The tune originated in Cambridge, so it is sometimes called Cambridge Quarter or Cambridge Chimes, in addition to Westminster Quarters. I have read that the E is really closer to an F by modern pitch standards, but have not had confirmation. French composer Louis Vierne’s most popular composition, “Carillon de Westminster,” is based on this theme.

(For you students of the Old Testament: No, a diamond jubilee doesn't mean you give diamonds back to their original owners.)

Statue of Winston Churchill

In the first block on my walk to the hotel from the train and Underground is a Methodist church. The Methodist Church in England grew out of John Wesley’s movement. While he nor his brother Charles ever left the Church of England, he set up a separate conference in 1784. Since the bishop of London would not ordain preachers to go to America, Wesley took it upon himself at that time to ordain and send some. The break from the Church of England was decisive in 1795. Methodists in Britain still seek to unite “knowledge and vital piety” and to follow Christ’s (and Wesley’s) example of social holiness and inclusiveness.

On my way back to the hotel after the cruise, I saw that the church was still open. A group of young people were finishing up some sort of group meeting or study, and they welcomed me in. They introduced me to the Rev. Tessa Bennett, who leads the English-language activities of the church. She made me a nice cup of tea and served me biscuits (what we call cookies), and we had a nice chat about her background and the range of activities and ministries of this congregation. She said that the building would be gutted and areas repurposed to allow for more room for the Chinese services. They were waiting for all the permits to go through. Apparently the missing number on the sign board was a ‘1’, so the Cantonese service was getting ready to start at 1:30.

The main entrance turned out to be on the other side of the building, so she took me to see the main sanctuary where people were assembling for that service.

And so we come to end of my trip, or at least the end of the photos. I heard from Lee that he would be arriving in London that afternoon and flying out on Monday morning. Even better news than that was his daughter would also be in London that evening. She is a pilot with United, also flying out the next day. So Lee researched for a restaurant for us to meet for supper, Chinese food for me and vegan menu for Chloe. He found what sounded like the perfect place, but it was not open on Sunday nights.

So we met at a fairly eclectic place with sort of island food, I guess. It was excellent, as was the company. I had not seen Chloe since she was 18. I had visited them in California when she and her twin were 2, 4, 6, and 8. In 2008 I was back out, and we went to Disneyland. Neither Lee nor I had the presence of mind to photograph the three of us together. It was a happy coincidence that were were all in London at the same time, and odds are slim that we will ever all three be together again at the same time.

So on Monday morning we headed from our separate hotels to different terminals at Heathrow airport. I had booked the flights as business class, so once I checked my bag I headed to the American lounge and had a surprisingly good breakfast buffet as I waited for my flight to be called. I got into my little cubicle on the plane and already knew how to work the seat controls and find things in the cubby holes. I did not put the seat into a lie-flat position, but like an easy-chair recliner. I still slept a good bit of the time. I took this selfie of my reflection in the video screen. I was happier than I look, and of course faced the end of my travels and my return home with mixed feelings, as always.


<- London, p. 5

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