Rescue the weak and needy;
deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.
Yesterday I went on the Thames River Walk. This involves traveling down to Canary Wharf, then walking along the bank of the Thames all the way back to my dorm. I started at about 11:00 and arrived back at the IES building at 3:00, although a significant portion of that time went to seeking restroom (they’re very stingy about those in some areas of London) and taking pictures. My best estimate places the walk between 7 and 8 miles, although it may have actually been longer since my path did not exactly parallel the river and at times I deviated, whether accidentally or intentionally, from the Thames River. It must have been longer than that, or else my walking pace has drastically slowed down from my standard 15 minutes/mile.
When I came out of the Canary Wharf tube station and looked at the sky, my heart sank at the sight of low, thick, heavy gray clouds hovering ominously overhead. A brisk wind added to the rather foreboding scene. I wondered if I had picked the wrong day to walk a long, long ways; this worry increased as, an hour into the walk, rain started pattering down. Soon the pattering became pouring, and I mentally kicked myself for leaving my waterproof jacket in my room. Then suddenly the sun came out, and with the hard wind dried me off fairly quickly. The rain started again within the hour, but after that the sun shone and I was obliged to carry my jacket since I overheated while wearing it.
I passed the Tower Bridge – what many people mistake for the London Bridge – and the Tower of London. I went under the Waterloo Bridge, which is called the Lady’s Bridge because women built it during one of the World Wars. I was heartened to recognize the Embankment area Mike and I had explored a bit at Chris’s behest, about a week ago. At the Parliament Buildings I encountered an enormous crowd and had to veer away from the River to go around the buildings. At St. Katharine’s Wharf I had to pass over a footbridge to continue on the path, but the footbridge opened to let a sailboat through before I could get over. So a crowd of us got to see a sailboat go through.
When I arrived back at the IES building in the afternoon I just wanted to sit still without my feet touching the ground, but within ten minutes of arriving there Chris, Mike, and I had to leave to go to dinner with our advisor. I almost fell asleep on the train several times on the trip there, and over the course of that evening I sat very quietly, barely awake. Eventually I did stand up and tried to interact with our advisor’s very interesting friends. He had local friends over, one Englishman and one Scot (who had an awesome Scottish accent), and we actually met at another friend’s house because she had a small garden where we could have our barbecue. Addionally, Delorey’s niece and her boyfriend are visiting London for two weeks. I found Delorey’s British friends really interesting and amusing to listen to, but I didn’t like the niece’s boyfriend – he turned his nose up at Delorey’s amazing cooking, and he wanted to go to the Hard Rock Cafe. Chris described him as a tool, and I agree. I’m glad none of the guys in my group are like that; if they were, I’d spend all my time alone! The niece seemed alright, but not overly intelligent; she had enormous eyes that she widened at everything, and her makeup was too perfect.
We left and got back to IES just in time for me to fall soundly asleep. Although the dinner could have gone better, I really enjoyed the walk. It invigorated me and made me want to do more long walks like that. Also I liked having a specific destination, which sets this walk apart from many of my recent rambles.
We went to Westminster Abbey for Mattins service this morning. Mike and I arrived early, with Delorey joining us just in time for the gates to open. They do not allow the public in on Sundays, but we could enter for the service. It was, yet again, an amazing experience. Unfortunately they had a strict no cameras rule, so although I had my camera I took no pictures. Words really cannot describe the Abbey’s interior. I’d just encourage you to go if you can, and get there early so you’re seated in the inner sanctum like we were. We sat immediately behind the choir, which was divided into two groups, one one each opposite side of the central area. Our seats were really thrones carved and guilded, intended for the highest-up people in the government. (Click here for panoramic views of the Abbey. It only works in Explorer. If you look at the view point between the Sanctuary and the Choir, and turn it to face the Choir area with the little red lamps, you can see the seats we sat in. They are the ones carved into the wall, each with its own little golden roof.)
I couldn’t see the front because it was to my right, and blocked by the chairs’ carvings and other ornate decorations…but it really didn’t matter. Being so near the choir just did it because the entire service revolved around their singing anyway. Afterward Mike and I got to walk around the Abbey a little bit on our way out. It’s an incredibly place, founded in the 11th Century with those original buildings still around. The the primary cross-shaped part of the church being built in the 13th and 14th Centuries. It was the most beautiful of the churches we’ve visited so far. A wonderful start to the day.