Saturday, July 09, 2005

Recap of the week

Ok, so here goes with a brief summary of my week in London, following on from my earlier reports on Monday and Tuesday.


Today was the day we were to find out who would be the host city for the Olympics in 2012. But in the meantime, there were the usual round of sessions in the conference, which were again very useful. Then at lunchtime, we heard the news that London had won! It was quite something being in the city when the news came through – and when we went to the Tube at lunchtime they already had the posters up celebrating the city’s victory!

The reason we had went to the Tube during lunchtime was that we were going to see the Metropolitan Tabernacle. This is the church that C H Spurgeon preached in for many years during the 19th Century, and it is huge! There was a conference on in the building, but the main reason we were there was to see the bookshop. It was rather large, but with the conference on, it was hard to see books and move about, added to the fact that we should be getting back to our own conference!

After we had finished in the afternoon, we went to the Protestant Truth Society shop on Fleet Street, and had a good browse in there until we were thrown out as they were closing! We then walked back to the tube and back to the hotel.

In the evening, we then went over to Piccadilly Circus, where we got our meal in a bar/restaurant called ‘Cheers’, based on the TV Programme. The food was very nice, and the Australian waitress was very friendly. From there, we walked back to the hotel, having first visited All Souls Langham Place at the top of Regent Street, then going via Oxford Street (where all the shops were closed) then Park Lane (where we saw the very nice and expensive cars) and past Buckingham Palace, which had projected images on the front of the Second World War, as this Sunday marks the anniversary of the end of the war.


This morning, we were late out of the hotel, and had reached the station when Stanley needed money… and as we were standing waiting for him, David’s ma rang, to say there was something wrong with the underground, that the trains were off. As we went over to the tube station, we realised it was closed, and headed out to the front of the station. Well… never have I seen such a big crowd of people and busses, no one really knowing where they were going or what was happening. We managed to eventually get on a bus which would take us to Waterloo station, where we hoped to then get another one on towards Borough High Street, where our conference was.

But as we were waiting on the second bus, we heard more news, via mobiles and the station official, who told us there had been an incident with a bus, and they had all been suspended. So we then started out on the trek of 2 or 3 miles along to the Conference, arriving about an hour and a half late!

When the conference had finished at lunchtime, we were kept in for a while, as Stanley and Andrew (from Scotland) were due to fly home that evening, and we didn’t know how it would all happen. We heard, however that the riverboats were still in operation, and were free, so we thought we would try that. But when we got to the pier, they weren’t taking any boats towards Millbank/House of Commons direction. So we were faced with the job of walking along the riverbank as far as the London Eye, then crossing at the Houses of Parliament, going past them and New Scotland Yard to Victoria. Poor Andrew, he was slightly nervous, whereas us Ulster lads weren’t too concerned, seeing as we were used to this sort of thing happening. But when we told Andrew we were coming past New Scotland Yard (Headquarters of the London Metropolitan Police), he was distinctly upset, and wondered at the wisdom of following us – as we had went close past everything he considered a target for terrorists and thus he wouldn’t want to be near at all!

Eventually Stanley and Andrew got a taxi – I don’t know how – and they set off for Stansted, being faced with a very steep bill. David and me stayed in the hotel room for the rest of the afternoon, watching the TV to try to find out as much as we could. The whole terrorist attack on the transport system was devastating, with 3 bombs on tube trains, and one on a packed bus – reminiscent of incidents back home such as Bloody Friday, when a series of bombs exploded across Belfast on one afternoon.

But in the evening, we went out for a walk, past Buckingham Palace, and through the Green Park, and up Picadilly, to the Piccadilly Circus, where we got some food, before walking back via Haymarket to Trafalgar Square and then up the Mall to the Palace again and round to Victoria. On the first night we had seen a bus which was a ‘London by Night’ bus tour, and as it turned out, the bus was sitting at Victoria, so we asked was he running that evening. He was indeed – even if we were the only customers, he would be going, because it was vital to get back to normal and to beat the terrorists.

The bus trip was very good, with plenty of commentary by the driver, and we were even joined by 2 Germans and an American as we went round the city.

Oh – one other thing about Thursday. I was overwhelmed by the number of wee texts I got from people just to check I was ok – thank you for them!


Today, the underground was partly back to normal, with some closures to some lines, but generally, we were able to get about on it ok. So we did some serious sightseeing! We started off at St Paul’s, having a look about the ground floor, then climbing up the 300-odd steps to the Whispering Gallery… that was not so pleasant! By the way – it seems like I walked miles and miles over the few days, as well as climbing and descending thousands of stairs…

From St Paul’s, we then got a tube across the city to emerge at Notting Hill. Form there we walked down into Kensington Palace grounds, where was saw the statue of King Billy. William and Mary had Kensington Palace and the grounds built for them, in the style of the Palace of Versailles. We then walked through Hyde Park, past the Albert Hall to Harrods, where David bought some chocolate.

Returning to Victoria, we got lunch to take with us, then set off on the train for Windsor. I had never been in Windsor before, but it is a nice wee town, dominated, of course, by the castle. We went in round the castle, and then in through St George’s Chapel, even seeing the Queen Mother’s Tomb. However, in the Chancel floor, there is a glaring mistake in one of the tombstones… It states that Charles I died in 1648. However, any astute student of history will know that it was in 1649 that Charles was executed! Whoops!

We then went back to Victoria, collected our bags, then headed out to Stansted and flew home.

And here we come to the end of the story of my time in London. The sightseeing was great, the walking was long at times but also good, and the craic was mighty. But the main reason I was in London was of course, to attend the Proclamation Trust Conference for Student Ministers. Will it make any difference to my preaching and ministry? Hopefully so, but we will see in the long term…

1 comment :

  1. Glad to see and hear that you are home!

    You caused havoc over here, peeps trying to get the hold of you and check you were still in the land of the living........