This will be my last post about our time in England. First, because London was the last place we visited! Second, because though I want to have a source of remembering the wonderful time we had there, I also want to direct my focus to more worthy subjects. Perhaps it's the time of year... perhaps my deep desire to do something worthwhile in life. I just want every moment of my life to count for something--and that includes this blog.
But for now, we'll finish remembering England...
We left Stevenage Friday morning for London. By the time we found our hotel, dropped off our luggage and decided a general direction to head, it was already after 11:00am. But we managed to fit quite a few things into that short time frame.
We first took a rather long train ride (like the metro in D.C.) to the Imperial War Museum. Most of the week was spent doing things I enjoyed... so I wanted Matthew to see something he would enjoy. Plus, it was free! ;) We spend quite some time there and it was amazing to see huge, ancient tanks, missiles and cannons, a replica of a WWI trench (it was dark and crowded; very realistic), the eagle that Hitler had placed above his headquarters (what a piece of history!), a display on spies throughout the years, and so much more. Of course, I think my dad and brother were much more interested than I was. But I still enjoyed seeing everything.
We really had no plans after that, so we started walking towards the Thames River, which was near many interesting sites. I was wanting to see the Churchill Museum and War Cabinets. I recently read a book called "The Spirit of Churchill" by Debbie Brezina that sparked my interest in the man who inspired a single nation to stand alone against Hitler and Nazi Germany. His strength, wisdom, insight and courage were astounding. The author emphasized many of the small events in his life... and how they eventually shaped him into the man he became. I hope that I allow the small events in my life to shape me into the person God wants me to be. Whether I become a player on the world stage or just in my own home, I want to be known as a person of strength and conviction--as Churchill was.
Anyway, all that to say, we did not see the Churchill Museum. :-) Though I wanted to, we did some other things instead. When we reached the Thames River, we saw the London Eye--the world's largest ferris wheel! I had heard of it from a friend and, of course, Matthew wanted to ride it from the moment he heard of it. I wasn't that interested (the height made me feel sick when I was still on the ground!) so while my dad and Matthew rode the Eye, I went to...
Of course, that was absolutely amazing. When I walked in, I literally took a step back. I had no idea where to even look first... a case of sensory overload, for sure. Many people think I am morbid because I enjoy walking through cemeteries and looking at graves. But the reason I like to do so is to see the history in such places and remember the significance of those men and women who shaped history.
Parts of the Abbey were built in the 13th century... that was amazing to see. I also was in awe of seeing where men such as John Newton, David Livingstone, George Friedrich Handel, Geoffrey Chaucer and others were buried. Unfortunately, the area where William Wilberforce is buried was closed by the time I reached that part of the church. But it was still a wonderful experience. I was especially moved by reading some of the engravings on various tombs. Some were merely monuments to power and prestige (mostly kings and queens). The ones that were most inspiring, though, were the epitaphs to unknown men or women who were honored for loving their Lord. There were a few that almost took my breathe away--things I want desperately to be said of me when my time comes. It was a wonderful reminder of how and why we should live our lives--for God and for others. Those are the lives that truly matter.
Once I was done with the Abbey, I met the guys in the gift shop (where they'd been waiting quite awhile). We bought a few gifts and souveneirs and then headed to Trafalger Square. I still do not quite understand the significance of that location... I'll have to look it up soon. We then saw the Royal Art Gallery was close by and... free! (We like free things). :-) So we went. That was an absolutely astounding experience. We saw original paintings by Rembrandt and da Vinci... paintings hundreds of years old that were still looked as bright as they must have looked when they were first painted. I couldn't fathom that they are truly that old; they have been wonderfully preserved. We also saw paintings by Monet, van Gogh, Picasso and so many more. I have a few new artists that I'm interested in as well. Next to Westminster Abbey, I think the Royal Gallery was the most excited part of London.
Well, by the time we finished touring the Gallery, we had been touring London for eight hours, with only PB&J to tide us over. Matthew was extremely bored looking at paintings, as well as hungry, so we headed out to find food.
We hopped back on the train and stopped at Piccadilly Circus (which seems to be London's equivalent to Times Square). It was very busy and high-end. We walked around for a little while, but didn't find much to eat in a reasonable price range. So we got back on the train to find something else.
We ended up eating cornish pasty's at a little restaurant in the train station. We had heard about them, but didn't eat one until our last night. I wish we had tried them earlier... I would have eaten one every day! I have been craving one ever since. :-) Cornish pasty's are basically like a hand held potpie. We learned the history of them--they originated in Cornwall, a mining town on the coast of England. The miners, who continually had dirty hands, ate them since they could hold the part where the pastry was folded over and eat the rest without getting it dirty. Anyway, I always love learning the history of things--though I feel certain Matthew only cared about the eating!
Well, there is the end of our trip to England! It was a fun and enjoyable trip... we learned a lot; it was certainly a new experience. But as much as I loved our trip, I was also glad to come home. The United States of America is a beautiful place to live and I'm so glad to be a citizen of this great country.