Hello, dear readers! Benedict Ambrose and I returned from our travels on Friday afternoon, and I plugged in my dead phone. Soon after, my phone began to buzz and I found out about the shocking murder of British Catholic MP Sir David Amess and, the next morning, the horrid revelation that a priest who knew him had rushed to the site to give him Last Rites and the police wouldn't let him in.
That was the end of my news-free peace, but for once this was news the public (or the Catholic part of it, anyway) really needed to know, so that we could do something about it. The more useful thing I did was shoot off Tweets about it, at least one of which got forwarded on to the police. The less useful thing I did was yell at B.A. for trying to calm me down.
But to lower my heart rate again, let us consider our lovely holiday down south. On Sunday we took a bus and a train, and then another train, and then another bus to the cathedral town of Ely, where a good pal of ours lives in a duplex originally built in the 19th century. We drank beer in a good old-fashioned pub decorated with horse brasses, picked up two pizzas, ate them and went to bed.
The next day I made soup and pumpkin pie, and B.A. and I went to Evensong at Ely Cathedral while our pal was busy in Cambridge. We had a lamb tagine for supper, and it was very good.
The day after that was Tuesday, the day we had designated observe Canadian Thanksgiving (which had actually been the day before). This was a lower key affair than I had planned, for B.A. is a big Evensong fan and the one Evensong he wanted to go to was that evening at Kings College Cambridge. We had a lovely afternoon in Cambridge, therefore, looking at painting is the Fitzwilliam Museum and scarfing Chelsea bun in Fitzbillie's across the street before queuing up by the College gates.
Cambridge was beautiful, by the way, despite the rain.
Then on Wednesday we all went to an antique market in Ely where I bought a number of Christmas presents, for I am avoiding the last minute Amazon scramble this year, and then my pal and I took care of a dog. I think it was a Labrador retriever of some sort, about 13 months old, and extremely energetic. We took it on two walks and played with it in the garden, and it was some hours before, tuckered out, he curled up beside me on the sofa and put his head on my knee. It was then that I realised that I really don't have time for a dog and will have to wait until I have retired before I can get one.
We had duck for supper.
Thursday was another Cambridge day. B.A. proposed visiting my childhood home which, incidentally, is probably one of only two of my childhood homes still standing. This time I sat down a lot to try to see the woods, the "field" (i.e. grassy square), and the duck pond from my earliest perspective. I'm afraid the woods and field were still weirdly small, but the view of the duck pond was correct.
Our next Cambridge port of call was Our Lady and the English Martyrs Catholic Church, which is a beautiful structure built in 1900, very much in the face of disapproving non-Catholic Cantabs. There's a whole row of windows dedicated to Cardinal John Fisher, and you can tell who Margaret More is because her handbag is embossed with MEG. The high altar is still intact, for when Catholics who hate Catholic tradition try to destroy such things in Britain, the government says No. Ah, irony. Irony is not just a course I took in grad school, but a living, breathing thing.
Next we went to Heffers Bookshop to buy more Christmas presents and a new Italian textbook, for I love to buy language books even more than I love to study languages. B.A. mostly sat quietly in a comfortable chair and read. He carried on this activity in the Cambridge University Press bookshop, where I was almost afraid to breathe, so rarefied was the air inside. I looked for friends in Theology and family in Linguistics, but found only our enemies. The top-of-the-line language books in CUP were too expensive, and they didn't have Polish in their "Using..." series, so I wasn't TOO tempted. (The Italian "Using..." books were less tempting for I had already bought an Italian textbook.)
Then we went back to Fitzbillie's to meet our pal and have a snack before we all went together to St. John's College to hear Evensong. We sat right behind half of the choir in the choir stalls, and B.A. liked this Evensong best. One of the readings was from the writings of Sr. Joan Chittister, which was a surprise, but the main thing was that the music was Elizabethan, just the way B.A. likes Evensong to be.
Dinner, I see, was leftover duck with ginger and spring onions.
On Friday, we all got up at 6AM so B.A. and I could catch the train to Peterborough, where we caught the train to Edinburgh. I read a pal's manuscript all the way home.
So those are the highlights of our travels. My primary thought was that I will not spend retirement (when it comes) reading Twitter but doing the kinds of things I do on holiday: visiting friends, going to religious services, cooking, going for walks with a dog, staring at paintings with B.A., correcting manuscripts, studying languages, and spending money in bookshops and tearooms.
By the way, we went to the Vigil Mass at St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh on Saturday night, and I felt a bit teary singing "One Bread, One Body," for it reminded me of when I was a child. This, I realised, was that nostalgia people who dislike people who love the Traditional Latin Mass keep accusing us of. It is a bit silly, really. I'm no spring chicken, but I started going to the New Rite the Sunday after I was born. Of course, I also felt a tad teary because when I was a child, I thought all Catholics really were "One Body in this One Lord," but now I can't imagine a Mass celebrated by Fr. Martin, say, in which Massimo Faggioli shared a hymnbook with Peter Kwasniewski. So that's a bit sad.
But the plus side is that I didn't feel at all uncomfortable in the Anglican Evensongs, possibly because the buildings were so old all yr cthdrl & chpl really belong to us. Also, I was with B.A., the ex-Piskie, and he knows his way around a choir stall. In the choir stalls of Ely Cathedral, I thought how nice it was to be totally ignorant of contemporary Anglican politics--with the exception of Michael Nazar-Ali swimming the Tiber, which B.A. told me about during my internet fast.