An old chap goes west … in England… (and the sun shone)
Last week, I wrote of a magnificent building erected by man to the glory of God – the Great Mosque of Damascus. This week, Mary and I have been in another magnificent structure erected in His praise, the Christian Cathedral in the English Midlands city of Peterborough.
As we entered, the first thing we noted was that all the seats for worshippers had been removed and in their place were about fifty round tables, each with ten chairs and settings for a banquet.
“It’s the 900th anniversary of the Cathedral this year”, a guide told us, “and we are having a fund-raising dinner. The guest speaker is Lord Archer”.
He would not estimate how much this “Blue Plate” would raise, but with the great and good of the area attending it would be many thousands of pounds.
“Lord Archer”, of course, is Jeffrey Archer, the British Conservative politician who was involved in a sordid relationship with a prostitute and lied about it in court. He was imprisoned for some months for perjury. Before that, he had written a number of best-selling action packed novels, and continued to do so during and after his incarceration.
I think my picture shows what a beautiful building it is. I hope it was a good dinner.
A long-time resident of Cyprus visiting Britain would be impressed by our history and our many fine old buildings. However, unless he or she had a great deal of money, I think amazement would be their reaction to our every day food. Menus in “pubs”, and restaurants frequently are identical or very similar and so is the food because it is “ready made” and comes in packets, simply to be heated and served. It is difficult to find local food and a chef preparing it. At one fine country house, open to the public, we did.
Near Telford in Shropshire, not far from the border with Wales, is Weston House and Park, the former ancestral seat of the Earls of Bradford, notable for a wonderful art collection and one thousand acres of land sculpted by the 17th century landscape designer “Capability” Brown. As well as superb walks, there is a miniature railway, children’s playgrounds, and some excellent food in a Deli/Café and a restaurant.
Close to our hotel is the little town of Ironbridge, a considerable tourist attraction because of its “Iron Bridge”. The first structure in the world to be made of cast iron (smelted in the town) which was opened in 1779.
Last Sunday evening, we strolled the streets empty of tourists, looking for a place to eat. How strange this would have been to a Cypriot! All the eating places were closed except for a grubby Thai restaurant, a small hotel and a Pub. We opted for the latter and enjoyed a “Ready Meal”, nicely heated up by the chef.
A half mile away from the iron bridge is a facsimile Victorian town, with streets of shops, businesses and industry as it all was in 1900. Fresh bread and cakes, pies, fish and chips… . All were readily available. Even an “old” branch of Lloyds Bank, where you could exchange the current British money for “old” Pounds, Shillings and Pence, which could be used for purchases in the “old” shops. This is a wonderful trip into the past a glimpse of what life was like 120 years ago.
… and so Wales and 150 year old steam trains! More next week!