hello from jolly old england!
life is good on this side of the pond, and, while we still haven’t quite caught up from what amounted to a lost night of sleep on the plane, we are having a blast so far.
i didn’t have internet access last night, so this is the first chance i’m getting to catch up on what we’ve been up to since we left. i am feeling a bit overwhelmed about the prospect of doing a complete catch up, but i’m going to do the best i can with the limited energy i have tonight!
our trip got off on a dubious foot when shannon went to put her suitcase in the car to head to the airport, and the whole handle broke off. we quickly repacked, and hoped it wasn’t an omen of things to come. it seems that it most certainly was not.
we drove to philly, arrived VERY early, got through security in a manner of moments, and had a great deal of time to read and relax. after several hours, we finally boarded our plane, shannon with a window seat, and settled in for what we hoped would be a sleepy flight across the atlantic. but it wasn’t. we barely slept. we figure we both got about two hours of sleep, all told, marked by numerous interruptions from the flight staff (including serving dinner at 10pm!), a brief moment of strong turbulence (during which i couldn’t help but think about john wesley’s own 2-month trek across the atlantic, with some ‘turbulence’ of its own, as well as some moravian singing which seemed to calm his nerves quite a bit), and the complete and total absence of anything even resembling “legroom.” instead of sleeping, we pretended to sleep, hoping that we might trick ourselves into sleeping. but it mostly failed. and there were no moravians on board. at least as far as i could see. we arrived at heathrow without any incidents, other than sleeplessness, and, after passing through customs at around 8:30am london time, we were ready for a day of touring the city!
tuesday was indeed a london day, as we spent the whole day sort of gallivanting around this beautiful city, and trying to soak it all in. i feel like i could easily spend a month in london and not see everything i’d like (actually, i rather feel like i could happily live here forever and ever, amen, but that’s a different story, i suppose), so one day is hardly going to cut it. still, i enjoyed every second of it. we got to see buckingham palace, including the changing of the guard. lizzie invited us in for some tea, but we had to get going, so we politely declined. we headed over to the methodist central hall, which is sort of ‘headquarters’ for british methodism, and that was pretty cool. it is nearly next door to westminster abbey, so we got to see that, too. we ate lunch there and then headed over to st. paul’s cathedral, which was stunningly, breathtakingly beautiful. we got a full tour of the cathedral, including the crypt, which was fascinating. throughout all of this, we got a full driving tour of the city from our bus, including all the usual sites: the eye, parliament, big ben, picadilly circus, and so forth. i wish we could have stopped and toured them all!
we then drove out to our hotel, which was in kensington, in the west end, and got settled in there. we were so exhausted, but we didn’t quite want to go to sleep yet, since it was only about 6. so shannon and i took a walk over to the westfield shopping centre, thinking it was a small mall or something, only to discover one of the largest shopping centres in great britain! it was enormous! we ate some amazing indian food there, and then found the only store we were really interested in finding in england: lush. It is a soap/bath/smelly store, and has some of the most amazing-smelling products known to humankind. and it is much cheaper here than in the states. so we stocked up. and inhaled. a lot. after that we walked back to the hotel and instantly fell asleep for a great night of much-needed sleep.
we woke up this morning (wednesday), and had a delightful english breakfast, complete with black pudding and bangers. we headed out back through the west end, nottinghill, and other awesome parts of london, before finally landing on aldersgate street, where john wesley had his famous heart-strangely-warmed experience, and where (nearby) charles had his own similar experience only days before. in some ways, you might refer to it as the birthplace of methodism. we went from there to wesley’s chapel, which is where wesley built his meeting place in london city in 1778. it is also where his house was located, and it now houses not only a regular worshipping congregation in the beautiful chapel, but also the museum of methodism. there was a ton to see and learn, and we very much enjoyed our lengthy stay there. we also got to see wesley’s tomb and his mother’s burial site, which is across the street in bunhill fields.
from there we left london, and headed northwest towards birmingham, enjoying the views of the pastoral countryside along the way. we are staying in birmingham as our homebase for the next several days, as we tour some of the surrounding areas.
and so here we are, enjoying every syllable that any british person speaks to us (everything sounds better with a british accent!), and having an amazing time. we are still trying to make up for the lost night of sleep, so we are about to turn in early once again, and hope that we are back in the swing for tomorrow’s activities. thanks for checking in!
ps. i had several pictures to add, but the wireless here is giving me fits, so i'm not currently able to do it. you'll have to use your imaginations!