LONDON – With a change in hotels and structure, we began our day at The Royal National in the cafeteria-style breakfast hall, but to no surprise, the food was the same.
I was finally getting tired of the English breakfast because I usually do not even eat breakfast back home.
We headed off for an early tour at Westminster Abby, which I had been to about three times already, but this time it was with a tour guide who was very knowledgeable about the site.
One of the interesting points to our tour was looking at all of the graves and sites of remembrance for famous people or those who served in the church.
Around the most important one, the tomb of the unknown soldier, where red poppies. Even during visits by the queen or anybody else that is the only grave nobody ever walks on.
While there I began talking with some of the flower arrangers who had gotten the opportunity to decorate all of the flower vases for Pentecost.
“We have never been privileged to do this before,” one of the florists said. She was nervous and even asked for my opinion.
I was surprised to learn that they had put their names on the waiting list 10-years ago and finally gotten the chance to finally do it, even though they never expected to be given the opportunity.
We went through all of the different chambers and areas which were well built and had the most amazing architecture. The vaulted ceilings in the Henry VII chapel were some of the most impressive.
Afterward, we had lunch at the Central Hall, a Methodist Church, before heading off to a tour at Parliament.
While there everybody was watching the Royal Wedding.
I am not very familiar with the British political system, but that was good going into the tour with more of a fresh mind.
Having University of Central Oklahoma Alumnus Leroy Coffman with me allowed the two of us to skip the line and go through back channels to get to our destination.
While doing so our escort took us by cigar lighter used by Winston Churchill, the former prime minister of Britain during WWII, which was a neat experience to see something the public usually does not.
Our tour guide David Thompson was a nice man who was well versed on the building and what happened there. I asked him questions about how certain things worked and some architectural pieces.
We all made our way through the Royal Robing room, where the queen gets ready for an event. It was amazingly decorated and literally fit for a queen.
There are three main colors to Parliament, symbolizing blue for the monarchy, red for the lords and green for the commons. Which were a distinct symbol for everybody to understand their place in the government.
The rules are endless on where a lord and commoner can go, including the queen who is not allowed in the House of Commons.
It was a fascinating tour of Parliament, but both Coffman and I were getting tired. So, I took him back for a nap at the hotel, but for me there was no rest.
I traveled back to meet the group at the Imperial War Museum and got there just in time for the group photo and then began looking throughout the museum.
There were many great exhibits, with the WWI and Holocaust being some of the most intriguing ones for me. The exhibits ranged from WWI to modern day terrorism.
It was nice to have a wide range of history that explored both sides of the issue at many points, along with a heavy focus on women during the war, which surprised me.
After the two-hour tour, I went back and got Coffman before we went out for dinner. We tried to find a new seafood restaurant, but after a short tour of the ever-so-expensive Piccadilly Circus area, we came back to the North Sea Fish Grill.
When we got back to our hotel, I put my head down on the pillow and immediately fell asleep. Too many late nights and early mornings can catch up to a person.
A holy experience, day fourteen
It is Pentecost Sunday and Coffman and I had to go to church during our multiple tours that morning, but beforehand we made a trip to Churchill’s War Rooms.
We had not budgeted enough time and Coffman was getting anxious about getting to church, so I missed a great portion of it. But, we can always go back.
It intrigued me that an entire war campaign could be run from those small offices, but I guess in certain terms things were easier back then.
We went to Central Hall for church where we joined the congregation in praising the Lord. The service was amazing, and it was good to see other students there for a portion of it.
During one portion the preacher asked where people were from and Coffman said Oklahoma, which got the attention of several people in the audience and one lady remembered us when we came back that evening.
However, we all had to leave early due to time constraints and went downstairs for lunch.
The café in the basement is rather nice and has a good selection of sandwiches, which are nice for a lighter lunch. I have been trying to cut back on the amount of heavy foods I am eating over here.
Once we finished I took Coffman back to the hotel and then headed over to the Victoria and Albert Museum, which was a treasure trove of amazing artifacts from across the globe.
I enjoyed the Iranian collection with its intricate tapestries and fine ceramics. There was too much to see in one day and I would go back again to see more of the paintings and other pieces of art.
I had to leave early again to go and see former King’s Cross Planner Michael Parkes and return his books.
It was good to see him again and we got distracted on other topics. I ran out of time again and finally had to leave before I was late picking up Coffman for a church service turned revival.
At church they had told us that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, was going to be there that evening, so we went.
When we got there, I thought I was back at Waterloo with modern music and a more upbeat service. Coffman was thrown off, but I had a great time.
Welby spoke about the Royal Wedding which he officiated and how American Episcopal Bishop brought new life into the British preaching style.
I had not seen it, so I watched it and it was American preaching at its finest with arms in the air and went way over on time. But, with around a billion-people seeing the wedding, God was the one in control Welby said.
The service that evening with Welby went for two-hours and afterward we went to dinner around 9:30 p.m. which was rather late on a Sunday, but we were able to get some grub before heading back to bed.