Although there's a lot of putting away to be done, I've finally got all my belongings (except for my cross country skis and snowshoes) into the apartment. It was quite an undertaking and just barely accomplished the transfer before I left for a trip to the UK and the annual gathering of the Society of Ordained Scientists.
My first stop was York. This is one of the most charming cities in England. I love the old streets and ability to see so much by walking. Although very tired from my flight I walked over to the minister and wandered around, guidebook in hand. I realized I had left my camera at home, so I took no pictures of the place. They were getting ready for a concert that evening, but I was way too tired to even contemplate buying a ticket. I went back to my hotel, ordered tea (sandwiches and sweets) around 6 pm, took a bath and crawled into bed. I know I was asleep by 8 pm and slept until 8 the next morning.
After breakfast I bought a camera, all the while listening to the York town pipers practically outside the door of the camera shop. So, of course, that was the first picture I took.
After that I walked through the city park and then along the city walls.
|You can walk on top of the wall in York.|
The hosts at The Willows B&B in Whitby, suggested that I take the bus rather than the train from York. It was fascinating going over the moors and through little villages. It was a long ride though. They made me a pot of tea when I arrived and I sat and watched a steam-powered bus go by, shooting flames as it came to a stop. Took a walk through the town to orient myself, but saved going up to the abbey and its 198 steps until Sunday, the next day. The ruins are not of Hild's original abbey, but much later.
|Ruins of Whitby Abbey|
It was blowing gale force winds on the headlands, but it was sunny and warm enough. I went to church at St. Mary the Virgin which is just outside the abbey grounds. It was Morning Prayer, led by a lay person since the clergy, we were told, were off at Oberammergau. The church itself is very strange. The arch into the choir and sanctuary is cut off by white-painted pews which form a sort of balcony around the church. It is very difficult to see the altar. There is one of those three-tiered pulpits in the center of the church, with the clerk's desk on the lowest level. Reminded me of colonial-era churches in the US where preaching rather than communion was considered to be most important. The people, however, were very pleasant and the coffee hour nice. The view of the town on the way down from the abbey is quite impressive.
|Old Town of Whitby from Abbey Steps|
After a rest I walked over to the West Cliffs (the abbey is on the East Cliffs), another headland and peered down on the bathing beach below. The brightly painted cabins are quite a treat to view. Since it was fairly late in the day on a Sunday there weren't many people left enjoying the sunshine (and wind). Off in the distance was a replica of Cook's sailing ship.
|Whitby, West Cliffs Bathing Cabins|
The next day it was supposed to rain, and it did. I had decided I wanted to take the North Yorkshire Moors Steam Train. It was lots of fun and the scenery fascinating, especially going through deep valleys in the moors. The line is run entirely by volunteers and I was told they have no problem getting them.
|Steam Train from Whitby to Pickering|
The next day I met some colleagues at the bus station and we were taken to Sneaton Castle (a former school) where our gathering and retreat of the Society of Ordained Scientists was held. I didn't take any pictures there. Whitby Abbey was visible at a distance when the fog and rain didn't hide it. Walking the grounds of the Castle was pleasant. The place is run by sisters of the Order of the Holy Paraclete, who are basically a teaching order. There is no longer a school, but a lot of their work in done in Africa. What was a school is now a conference center, and quite well run. The chaplain, new to the place, was originally a scientist and decided to join us for our meditations and at the admittance Eucharist, became a member along with four others. One of the new members is Moira, from Scotland. She and I both studied chemistry and math. Since she offered me a lift to Edinburgh, I accepted. That was my next stop, where I spent the night with Fiona, a friend from long-ago time in Vienna. Her condo overlooks the Firth of Forth and this is the view I woke up to in the morning. I sat and watched the fog lift a bit while I sipped coffee.
|Firth of Forth|
It was then off to Oban and Iona. I booked a tour across the Isle of Mull. The bus driver gave us a great history of the place as we went along. It was about a two-hour ride. The scenery was beautiful—high, green, rounded mountains with waterfalls coming down from great heights; shaggy highland cattle and of course, lots of sheep of all sorts. The little ferry to Iona runs every 15 minutes, but the big one to Oban, not so often. Because the weather had been so bad, the last ferry of the day had been canceled and we needed to be sure we caught the three o'clock one off Iona. It was raining when we arrived, but the sun was out when we left.
|Oban to Mull Ferry|
|St. Colomba's Shrine|
|You can read the words.|
|Iona Abbey Buildings|
|Nave of Church|
|The Cloisters at Iona|
I really did get steeped in the early saints of Ireland and Britain. First Colomba, then in Durham, Cuthbert and Bede. I loved the Norman towers of Durham and the history is fascinating.
|Duck in St. James' Park|
|Flowers, St. James' Park|