EFFIGIES and MARKERS

Monday, September 5, 2011

William and Mary Barrett Dyer, 400 years later

I've opened a new website specifically for William and Mary Barrett Dyer (<--- click that text to go there), which carries articles about the Dyers and their culture of the 17th century. You'll find articles about Mary's "monster" child, something fishy about Admiral William Dyer, Mary's stand for freedom of conscience, why they named one of their children "Mahershallalhashbaz," and other unusual subjects surrounding the Dyers.

Most of the articles will come from me, but a number of people have agreed to write guest posts in their areas of knowledge, such as: boating and small-craft travel in Narragansett and Massachusetts Bays; commentary on Isaac Walton's Compleat Angler book published in the Dyers' time; history of religious freedom and the legacy of Roger Williams; soap-making and other handicrafts of the time; etc. Basically, items about the everyday life experienced by William and Mary Dyer and their community.

You're welcome to visit the site, bookmark it, become a follower, and comment on the posts. Here's the full address: http://marybarrettdyer.blogspot.com.  

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The real roots of our ancestors


Thanks to social media and our mutual friends and interests, I was introduced to the works of artist Martin Williamson. Martin has graciously agreed to allow the reproduction of his beautiful paintings in this Rooting for Ancestors blog. What follows each image I’ve chosen is his description of the painting, and my commentary as it relates to genealogy research. At the end of the post, I’ll provide contact links for Martin, and link you to his online gallery.
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Bolton Castle, Wensleydale, Yorkshire
Martin: Bolton Castle, Wensleydale.
This imposing castle was built between 1378 and 1399 by Richard le Scrope, 1st Baron Scrope of Bolton. What is quite staggering is the fact that the castle has never been sold and is still in the ownership of the descendants of the Scrope family. The massive outer walls of this very well-preserved site dominate the hamlet of Castle Bolton that lies at its feet. In its dominating position overlooking the valley, the castle is now a well-established major tourist attraction in the area. Painted on location. Pen, brush and ink with wax resist. 22" x 15"

St. Oswald's Chapel at Castle Bolton
Christy: The Scrope family were Normans who lived in Herefordshire decades before the Norman invasion in 1066. Richard’s Castle, near Ludlow, was built about 1048-1050, and was their administrative center for the Welsh border area. Four generations and about 75-80 years later, my branch of Scropes moved to Yorkshire, to Flotmanby Manor south of Scarborough. Another three generations lived at Flotmanby and all were buried at Wensley Church. Finally, there is mention of Bolton, Yorkshire, with Sir William Scrope, 1259-1312. He is the father of (Lord Henry) Scrope of Bolton and (Sir Geoffrey) Scrope of Masham (14 miles away), both branches of which are my ancestors because their descendants married as second cousins twice removed. Henry Scrope, 1271-1336, married Margaret de Ros (see Helmsley Castle in this article). Their son Richard Scrope was 1st Baron Scrope, Treasurer, Keeper of Great Seal, and Lord Chancellor until 1382, under Richard II. Richard Scrope was the builder of Bolton Castle, and the grandfather of another Richard Scrope, who married Margaret Neville, daughter of Margaret Stafford and Ralph Neville, 1st earl of Westmorland. Bolton Castle’s subsequent history may be found at the link below.

Helmsley Castle, north Yorkshire   
 Martin: Helmsley Castle from North Gate 
This medieval castle ruin is located in the market town of Helmsley, North Yorkshire. Originally it was built in wood around 1120. Now in the care of English Heritage. Painted on the spot. Mixed media. 15" x 11"

Christy: Helmsley Castle was begun by Walter d’Espec (“the Woodpecker”), a prominent military and judicial figure in the reign of Henry I. Walter also founded Kirkham Priory and Rievaulx Abbey. Because he was childless, upon his death Helmsley passed to his sister Adeline d’Espec and her husband’s hands, the powerful de Ros (Roos) family, who were barons, the progenitors of Scottish and English royalty, ancestors of the Neville family, and were Templars and Crusaders. The castle was improved by the de Ros’s succeeding generations, and was “slighted” (destroyed) by Parliamentary forces in England’s Civil War.  

Peveril Castle, Castleton, Derbyshire
Martin: Peveril Castle, Derbyshire.
The imposing ruins of Peveril Castle overlook the village of Castleton in the Derbyshire Peak District. The keep was built by Henry II in 1176, making the castle one of the earliest Norman fortresses in England. Now in the care of English Heritage. Mixed media. 15" x 22"

Christy: The earliest-known ancestor of the Peverel name, William Peverel the Elder, born 1043 in York, came from a long line of Welsh people on his father’s side, and a Saxon mother. His patrimony seems to have survived the Norman Conquest, which is quite unusual for Welsh or Saxon landowners, so one might suppose that he fought on the Norman side at Hastings and thereafter. His grandson William Peverel the Younger committed the poisoning murder of Ranulph de Gernon, earl of Chester and had his lands seized by Henry II; and his granddaughter Margaret Peverel b. 1114, married into the de Ferrers family, earls of Derby. Margaret's tomb effigy still exists at the gatehouse chapel for Merevale Abbey in Warwickshire. Margaret Peverel Ferrers’ son William Ferrers, 3rd earl of Derby, rebelled against Henry II and in 1155 lost his title and claim to the lands of Peverel. Two hundred years later, that William’s eighth-generation descendant was Mary de Ferrers. Ralph Neville, second earl of Westmorland (son of Ralph Neville the first earl and Margaret Stafford, married Mary de Ferrers, granddaughter of Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt, and daughter of Joan Beaufort and Robert de Ferrers. It’s all quite complicated, but I had to work in the Ralph Neville name to pump my blog hits—aren’t I shameless!

Middleham Castle, Wensleydale, Yorkshire
Martin: Middleham Castle.
Middleham Castle in Wensleydale, North Yorkshire, was built in 1190 and was once the home of Richard III. The extensive site includes a massive Norman keep surrounded by a curtain wall. The ruins are now in the care of English Heritage. Painted on location. Pen, brush and ink with wax resist. 22" x 15"

Christy: Robert Fitzralph 3rd Lord of Middleham and Spennithorne, 1110-1185, has a long line of ancestors back to the ninth century and beyond. Genealogy sites list his death as 1185, but every site also says that Robert Fitzralph built the castle of Middleham “commencing in 1190”—apparently five years after his death. (This looks like a job for the History Police, unless you attribute the work to his wife, Helewisa de Glanville and their young son.) Robert also founded Beauchief Abbey in Sheffield—luckily, though, while he was still alive! His and his son’s (Ranulf Fitzrobert) tomb effigies were dug from the rubble of nearby Coverham Abbey and their photo is contained in the header of this blog. Robert Fitzralph is the great-great grandfather of Ralph Neville, 1st earl Westmorland (Ralph Neville again?? He gets the most hits on this site!).

Clifford’s Tower, York Castle, Yorkshire
Martin: Clifford's Tower, York.
Clifford's Tower is actually the remains of the 13th century keep of York Castle, sat on top of a motte, or defensible mound. The keep is of unusual design, being quatrefoil in plan (four overlapping circles) and is the only example of this kind in England. Today it is a well-known and instantly-recognizable tourist attraction, often photographed in the spring with the motte ablaze with daffodils and the Tower set against a clear blue sky. I have portrayed the Tower rather differently, perhaps hinting at its more brutal past: the name 'Clifford's Tower' comes from Roger de Clifford who was hanged there in 1322. Clifford's Tower is now in the care of English Heritage. Pen, ink, wax resist and chalk. 15" x 22"

Christy: Roger, second Lord Clifford, who was hanged in 1322 by Hugh Despenser the Younger, was my “uncle,” so all Roger’s ancestors are also mine. His sister, Idoine de Clifford, was born c 1300, married Henry de Percy, 2nd Lord of Alnwick, 1st Earl Northumberland, and died 24 Aug 1365. Clifford’s Tower is the keep for York Castle, which was a royal fortress established by William I, and rebuilt in stone by Henry III.    

Dolwyddelan Castle, north Wales
 Martin: Dolwyddelan Castle near Betws-y-coed.
This is s very striking ruin commanding a wonderful position on top of a ridge with stunning panoramic views. Dolwyddelan stands alone in a country of castles as it was built about 1210 by the Welsh princes, not by English or Norman forces. Painted on the spot in mixed media.

Christy:  Dolwyddelan Castle was a native Welsh castle located near Conwy. It was built between 1210 and 1240 by Llywelyn the Great ap Iorweth, Prince of Gwynedd and North Wales. The Welsh castle functioned as a fortress. On January 18, 1283, it was captured by Edward I of England (“Longshanks”) in his conquest of Wales. The castle was then modified and strengthened for occupation by an English garrison.

Chirk Castle, Wales
 Martin: Chirk Castle.
Completed in 1310, Chirk Castle is the last Welsh castle from the reign of Edward I still lived in today. Built by Roger Mortimer, Justice of North Wales for Edward I, the castle commands a prime position overlooking the Ceiriog valley. The castle was sold for 5,000 pounds to Sir Thomas Myddelton in 1595. Sir Thomas's descendants continue to live in part of the castle today, although the National Trust now care for the property. Mixed media on 230gsm paper. 14.5" x 10.5"

Christy: Some reports say that Roger Mortimer (one of many “Roger Mortimer” fathers, sons, and cousins) built the castle of Chirk on land he had been granted in 1282. That Roger died during lifetime imprisonment in the Tower of London in 1326, and his grandson John Mortimer signed over his rights to Chirk Castle to his cousin Roger Mortimer 2nd earl of March (brother of my ancestor Isabella Mortimer Fitzalan), in 1359.  Another version has it that Roger Mortimer 1st Earl of March (rebel against Edward II and one of the regents to Edward III before Roger’s execution in 1330) built the castle in 1295 as part of the Edwardian chain of Welsh castles.

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Thank you again, Martin, for being so agreeable about sharing your fine art. Readers, if you enjoy his paintings, please observe international copyright laws and contact him for permission to reproduce the images—or perhaps to enquire about purchasing a print, or commissioning a canvas depicting your ancestors’ landscapes or edifices. Remember: images ©Martin Williamson 2011. This is the link to his contact information. Martin welcomes friends to his Facebook pages, and you'll find that link in his website. 

I've selected a few of Martin's churches to feature at another time, which connect with ancestors or their burials. Are you interested? What do you think of this blog post? Leave a comment below!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Celtic Britain travel journal part iv


Britain TRAVEL JOURNAL--part 4 (England tour extension)


Monday, July 2, 2001, Kensington, London
Good thing I don't gamble. I didn't find any tombs or stones. Please! They must have thousands of graves around there, at York Minster. Where were they moved? Are they covered by a plaza?
Well, let's do it chronologically. As a group, we hiked through the medieval streets to the Yorvik Viking Museum. It was probably close to two miles, some of it uphill. I fell behind, and stopped for a public restroom, so I was separated from the group, very early on. The museum was a multi-media presentation, a ride through a real archaeology dig, populated by animatronic humans and animals. It was dated ca 975 AD. The fossils and finds were interesting.
 I'd heard (well, overheard) about a York Castle museum in the gift shop, so I inquired. It was three blocks more, which I walked, of course. "It's only a five-minute walk," was the response everywhere I went. When the castle (Clifford's Tower) came in sight, I totally blew off the museum idea! I climbed steep concrete stairs up the motte, the keep's bank, paid a £2 admission, and was in the bailey of my ancestors' castle. Eventually, I climbed the steep and uneven spiral steps up a tower, to get to the top battlements. I had a stranger take my picture up there on the battlements, with the Minster in the background. He didn't seem to know English, but he could press the proper button on the camera! The man was tall and Nordic looking. The castle was built by Henry III and named Clifford's Tower (I have Cliffords, Marcher lords, back there, too). By the time I got down all those steps, there was no way I could walk the 1.5+ miles back to York Minster, where everyone else was, so I called a taxi from a nearby hotel desk.
I got into a group tour after photographing the carved stone statues of my ancestors from William I to Edward III. I visited the crypt in hopes of finding tombs, but it was actually Roman remains and the Norman foundations of the existing gothic cathedral. I walked the half mile back to the hotel and waiting bus.
We drove for five hours to Central London, with me in the jumpseat taking pictures, again, and here I am!
A tour guide met us and rode along for 90 minutes while pointing out sites I've read about for years. The guide reminded me, in a subtle way, of a person I loved very much, for a long time.

Tuesday, July 3, 2001, Kensington
It's 90 degrees in this hotel room, with no fan. The window opens eight inches at the bottom. No breeze. This sucks. Actually, it was hot all day. This was the day our tour group split. Some went walking and shopping; others took a city sightseeing tour. All who were flying back today met at 1 p.m. to shuttle to Heathrow. But I wouldn't know about that.
I was on the sightseeing double-decker bus. Included was a 50-minute cruise on the Thames. That was a cool and breezy oasis in the warm day. I had a fish-n-salad (substituted for chips) at an outdoor restaurant in a small park on the Embankment, and listened to a live jazz band and watched pigeons. The pigeons know when diners are finishing up, and start flying in closer, like short, fat vultures.
I shopped for an hour in the very hot Picadilly Circus area, and at Victoria Station. I got back to the tour bus and saw another loop or two of London. I was making my way back to Kensington, where my bags were stowed at the Hilton, but the traffic out to the West End was gridlocked. Took two hours to crawl from Baker Street station out to Holland Park. I was the last person on the bus, and I told them I'd walk the last two blocks, which thrilled them. Would have been another 30 minutes in the bus! Then I waited a further 90 minutes, 'til 8:30 p.m., to call a taxi, so I wouldn't have to pay to sit in traffic on the transfer to my hotel reservation in South Kensington. I was hot and gritty from the bus rides, my feet are sore and swollen. Finally I got here, to the Kensington Edwardian, and had to schlep my own bags to the top floor, via the lift. It's now 11 p.m. and still 90 degrees in here. I've had a cold shower, and begged for a fan, but it's unavailable. I've got a wet hand towel over my shoulders. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2001, Kensington
Right. My patriotic American-versus-British revolutionary act, this Independence Day, was to get my hotel room changed. Told the manageress, very politely and quietly, that a 90 degree room and bad mattress left me in agony, that my attempt at makeup had melted off, that I needed better accommodation and a fan, and that their two lifts were not working, and I wasn't willing to climb up five floors in an airless stairwell to boot. They moved me to a first floor (actually mezzanine) corner room with cross ventilation, and brought a fan. It's still not exactly cool, but 15 degrees off, plus moving air helps a lot. I was finally on my way at 10:30.
I have to walk about half a mile plus a block, to get to the Tube at Gloucester Road Station. So I'm hot and footsore before I'm started. I got off the airless train at Westminster Station, and came up right at the Thames River, with Boudicca's monument above me. Big Ben was ringing Westminster Chimes (natch) at 11, as I walked to the Abbey church.
Tons of people had the same idea as I did, and Westminster Abbey was very crowded. I rented the audio guide and made my way through all the side chapels. Thousands of monuments, graves, wall plaques, floor stones, etc., honoring the dead. I was touched by one eighteenth century monument to a young woman. It extolled her Christian virtues in beautiful prose, and actually made me wish to have known her. Now that's good writing! Eventually, I got around to the back sides of the ancestors' graves around the chancel, and close to the Edward the Confessor shrine. I caught glimpses of the sides of the effigies, but the place tourists could stand was much lower than even the bottom of the sarcophagi. Also a strict policy on photos (as in, NONE), but no books or postcard photos have pix of what I want: overhead shots of the burial effigies of my forebears. The chancel was roped off, so no access to the sarcophagi that way unless I was an on-staff Anglican priest.
I stopped several times to rest my excruciatingly painful feet. At 12:30, I took Anglican Communion in the far west part of the nave. The prayers and parts of the Protestant "mass" were really beautiful. I visited the undercroft and museum (cool: I'd read about the undercroft treasury/exchequer in Sharon Kay Penman books), the bookshop, and the evensong service. Only no song! Just prayers. They only sing every other Wednesday, and I was there a week too early or a week too late.
I stopped at a restaurant for tomato basil soup, and bought grapes and a bottle of milk in the Gloucester Rd Tube station, and walked by the McDonalds and Texas Lone Star Grill, Burger King and Starbucks.
Hotel room is much cooler than starving-artist garret of last night. Wrote postcards this evening.
I keep wondering, Could I be more tired? And then I answer myself, Yes, I'm more tired and in more pain than the last time I asked myself that question. 

Thursday, July 5, 2001, Kensington
Oh, my burning and aching ankle stubs. Have worn off original, God-given feet issued at birth. It's so hot and humid, too! OK, enough groaning.
Walked through hot, damp haze to Tube station, rode Picadilly line to Great Russell Square. Then it was at least three-quarters of a mile to the British Museum. (Another "five-minute walk.") Must say, however, that anyone I ask for directions, including Tube personnel, are very helpful and friendly, despite that Five-Minute Walk they keep telling me.
Anyway, at the British Museum, I walked up the front, outside stairs. Then after buying my special exhibit ticket, up two more flights to the Cleopatra show. This is six stories so far, if you're keeping track, not even counting the many flights in the Tube stations. After seeing Cleo-baby, Julius Caesar, Octavian Augustus, Marc Antony, and lots of naked Egyptians, I had to leave the blessedly air-conditioned exhibit. Probably the only a/c in the British Isles.
I had to go down four stories to get to the other halls, and then up four stories plus a long gallery walk, to the Celtic and Roman Britain displays. I was following directions in the Visitor Guide. It was hot and airless in the display rooms, and no benches or chairs to sit on, either. A security guard let me have his chair and fan for about 20 minutes until my soaking wet hair dried off, and my body temperature came back to normal. Have I mentioned that nothing in Britain is air conditioned? (Oh, I have. Sorry.) My makeup had of course melted before I got halfway to the Tube, and my hair was dripping with perspiration.
But for all my aches and pains and fever, it was worth the effort. I saw so many artifacts I'd seen in history or art books. In fact, every time I saw something amazing and beautiful in a picture, the photo credit always said, "The British Museum." So here I was, seeing Lindow (peat bog) Man, Sutton Hoo mask, Rosetta Stone, Easter Island Head guy, Elgin marbles, Cleopatra, Ramses II, the Ram in the Thicket, mummified people and cats, Assyrian winged beasts, etc. So impressive.
I had lunch in the nice restaurant: cran-blueberry sparkling mineral water on ice, and strawberries with clotted cream. Took Tylenol several times to little effect. After begging a warden, I was shown the well-hidden and discreet lifts! They'd been holding out on me.
At 5 p.m., I changed into my gold metallic top and black jacket I'd been carrying in my bag, and walked a few painful blocks to a bus stop. Caught one to the Strand, and then tanked up on bottled water and skim milk from a market, then a mocha frappucino at Starbucks. Man, I was dehydrated after all the heat, perspiration, walking, stair climbing, etc. Finally, though, I was feeling better (probably the caffeine and sugar). I walked around the corner to the Lyceum Theatre and picked up my ticket to the show, Lion King. (Up stairs, down stairs, up stairs once more.) I shared a box in the baroque theater with a Kentucky university student. When the show started, an actor in full costume came into our box, and I involuntarily whispered, "All right!" So he bent down and kissed me on the lips! A spotlight was shown on him, and he started singing across the theater to his counterpart in the opposite box. It was over in a minute, and the show started on the stage. The choreography of the dancers, dancer/puppeteers, and people who played scenery (trees and grass) was very creative and so beautiful. Genius, really, to conceive of it.
After the three-hour show, I was told to walk for "five minutes" to Charing Cross Station for the Tube. Wrong station, but I did snap a photo of Eleanor of Castile's Eleanor Cross, recreated after Civil War dismantling. (Yes, Eleanor's another ancestor.) After another Five Minute Walk (sure, sure), I got to the Embankment or Strand Station, whatever. There had been a rain shower during the show, but now it was cleared off, cooler, and there were puddles. Took the Tube back toward the hotel, and walked here again. I can't write this without dozing off again and again.

Friday, July 6, 2001, Kensington
I'm actually writing Friday's entry on Saturday morning, but DEAL WITH IT. I'll write as if it's still Friday:
By 8:45 a.m., I set out for the Tube station, took the subway as far as it went, at Ealing Broadway, then bought a £3.40 round-trip train ticket via Slough to Windsor/Eton station. Walked up the slight hill to the castle ticket office, and was there at 10:40. Then I hiked up a steeper hill, around the castle keep, then down the hill to the castle's lower ward to watch the changing of the guard at 11. No short cuts in England. The fife and drum band was good, but there sure was a lot of fuss and ceremonial slapping of guns and stomping! Took half an hour, too. Guy stuff. If they were women, they'd do it faster, more efficiently, and there'd be more music and no stomping.
Scoped out the St. George's Chapel, where some of the English royalty were buried. None of mine, however. One of the exterior gargoyles or grotesques was a cow. Go figure.
 Much of Windsor Castle was built by successive generations of my ancestors, so I was eager to see it. We weren't allowed in the oldest part, the round tower, and the private apartments, of course. Still, it was gratifying to see the Norman Gate, the stonework of the walls, the hilltop view of Berkshire, and — kind of bizarre — 747s taking off from Heathrow, over the Norman round tower. What would Henry I or any of them have thought of UFOs in their view of the sky? Demons? Angels?
Then I climbed back up the hill to the entrance to the State Apartments. I climbed lots of shallow steps. The first couple of large chambers were very crowded with tourists. The rooms were lined with lit glass cases of 200-300 year-old china. One that I liked very much was a set of wild flowers, a different flower on each piece. My 20 year-old flower pattern mixture back home seems like such good taste now!
The next rooms, up another flight, were martial in nature. Lots of spears and armor and swords. Couple of spare crowns, too, from Thailand (King Mongkut of Anna and the King presented gold crown looking like Thai temple to Queen Victoria), and one from Ethiopia. There were notations that certain items were "taken" at the Battle of Wherever. (In the name of the British Empire, I demand that you hand over your ancestral lands, keys to the treasure, your government, etc., at once.) There were jeweled swords and daggers, covered in emeralds, rubies, maybe diamonds.
Then we continued through dining and reception rooms, bed chambers and "closets," etc. I expected to see great art, and I really did. The three faces of Charles I (so a sculptor in Italy had an almost 3D model), the Holbein paintings of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, Rembrandt self-portrait, fresco ceilings, huge tapestries, sculptured busts, silver furniture, gold-leaf woodwork, etc. The carpets we walked on were tourist ones, and the lanes were roped. The carpets the Queen and guests walk on are huge room-size Persian ones. (I think Bernard Brandstater's carpet, maybe one-eighth the size, but still really large, took seven years to weave and knot.)
Finally, one of the last state rooms was the Knights of the Garter guard room. I was limping and hurting badly despite the Tylenol at 11:30 a.m., so I asked a guard if there was a bench or chair to sit on for a few minutes, "obviously not the throne," I laughed. He brought a red side chair for me and I massaged my foot through the sandal.
When I did make it to the throne, in blue velvet over polished dark carved wood, the appliqued embroidery said "E III R 1350." Hello, grandfather! Edward III, whose 6'8" steel sword I'd seen in St. George's Chapel earlier in the day, founded the Knights of the Garter. No pictures were allowed, but I had my camera around my neck. I put it on wide angle, and from tummy-level, I aimed in the general direction and snapped a couple available-light photos when the guards were far away.
Well, there was a lot more walking and hiking. I went to an Internet café for half an hour, hoping for a cold drink, but the cooler had just been stocked with room-temperature pop. Forget it! Checked my e-mail, though. Got directions for the inevitable Five Minute Walk down to the Thames River for a £4, 35-minute cruise. That was nice: although we didn't see anything important, it was good to sit and enjoy the cool river breeze, and watch swans and blue dragonflies. A piece of fried fish (no chips) and a 15-minute walk of pain brought me back up the hill to the train station. Two trains and two subways later, I was back here at the hotel. That half-mile walk hurts more every time! 

Saturday, July 7, 2001, over Arctic Circle, maybe
I'm miserable. Not as miserable as the screaming toddler only 8 feet away. Not as comfortable as the idiot teenager who sits in front of me, reclining his seat into my space. I'm so sick of being pressed on every side and bumped on the aisle. My knees hurt, my head hurts. Had an argument with the bloody teen's mother, who said if I didn't like it I could call the flight attendant. So I did. She asked him to move up and he did, microscopically. We boarded the plane before 4 p.m., for 4:35 takeoff, but didn't take off 'til nearly 6:45. When my seatmate, a Danish-born Egyptian, came back from his walk, I got up to let him in and OOPS— jolted the teen's seat back.
You'd never know it by my mood now, but I actually had a pleasant morning. Woke around 6, and finished organizing my bags. Then walked to the Tube and took two different subways plus walked about 2 blocks, to get to St. Paul's Cathedral, in the City of London. Got there at 8:07; unfortunately, Communion mass started at 8:00. A deacon showed me to a seat in a chapel to the rear left of the nave. There were only about six of us there, but the priest and a robed helper read the prayers from the missal, leading up to Communion. We took the bread (papery wafers) and a sip of wine from the chalice, kneeling at the rail. Ow. Then I stayed and prayed silently in the large nave, under the famous and massive dome, for about 30 minutes.
About 9 a.m., they let the tourists in, and I tailed along on a guided tour. Aside from the gold ceiling mosaics, the fact that Charles and Diana married there 20 years ago this month, the beautiful architecture, etc., I guess the thing that was important to remember was: During the WWII London Blitz, men risked their lives to save God's house. I'd rationalize, myself, that God lives in my temple, me, not one made by human hands. But these men saw beyond themselves, to the greater community and the symbol of hope that St. Paul's was to them. They'd go up the roof during bombing raids, and if something fell and didn't explode, they'd pick it up and heave it away. I think just the east chancel was destroyed, and of course was rebuilt after the war. That was my Saturday morning in London. It was both inspiring and instructive.
After a couple photos on the plaza outside St. Paul's, I walked and Tubed and walked again back to my hotel. Checked out. Waited for the Heathrow transfer van. When the driver got there, he pulled down a seat for me, and its metal bar fell on my right toes. "OW!" I yelled involuntarily at the other 14 passengers, then apologized for my outburst. But my face must have shown the pain, because a British lady said, "You're putting a brave face on it, dear." If by brave, you mean strained and white.
I walked a lot in the airport terminal, was not impressed by duty-free prices, and then got on this excruciatingly crowded Air New Zealand jumbo jet. Doesn't feel at all jumbo. In fact, they should take out a row of seats at the back of every section, and install treadmills and exercise bikes, and sign people up for 5 or 10 minutes each. It is unconscionable that they cram 450 people in here elbow to elbow, with nowhere to walk except to the tiny toilets and back. We'll be on this plane for 13 hours. They did call for a physician over the speakers, but I don't know what for. Probably for the nervous breakdown of a passenger crammed between a sleeping seatmate and a beverage cart. Oh! That was me! Sorry.
I've read countless pages of the sequel to Bridget Jones's Diary (very funny), and am worried that I'll run out of book before I run out of plane. I mean, it's been seven hours already, and we're only over the Labrador Sea. Not even Canada yet.
Somewhere over Wyoming, 3 a.m. London time, 7 p.m. LA time.
Managed to doze between screaming baby bouts and sore knee. Foot swollen, not recognizable as human appendage. If this flight was on time, we'd be flying over the Colorado River right now. My seatmate was leaning on my shoulder to sleep, and I was hanging into the aisle with a back ache. The crew are serving hot sandwiches that smell of ham and spinach quiche. I guess they don't know if it's dinner or breakfast, either. Combined with slight turbulence, makes me queasy. Finished the book two hours ago. Now what do I do? It's the same in-flight movie they showed three weeks ago on my way to London.
St. George, Utah, 8:39 p.m. LA time — Almost there. So exhausted. Been awake now, 24 hours. The sun's finally gone down. This day was almost 31 hours.
LAX airport international terminal, arrivals, 11 p.m. — My "friend" Mr. P was supposed to be here about 9:00 to pick me up. We did get in 90 minutes late, but I'd built that into the pickup time. I was out at the curb, and no Mr. P. I started trying to call by 10:25, but no luck, as I don't have the correct number for him and the phone is in his girlfriend's name, and I'm pretty much brain dead so can't remember her surname. Finally called collect to Richard Tinker in Yucaipa, and he's coming to rescue me. Probably be here after midnight.
Sunday, July 8, 2001, Redlands, CA
10:15 a.m. So good to be home. Richard and Colleen dropped me and luggage at about 1:40 this morning. I greeted the cats and was in bed by 2:20. (Had been awake more than 28 hours.) Cats plastered themselves to me. Major purring.
Back and front yards have huge weeds. The peaches are nearly ripe, and have more tomatoes and squash. Today I do laundry (first time in 3 weeks), get groceries, and check mail. Mundane ending for great trip, but I can live with it.
Saturday, July 14, 2001, Redlands
Worked every day this week, and when I'd get home in evening, all I could manage was to feed cats, have a bowl of soup, and a little bit of pasting photos into album, but had to sleep by 9 p.m.. That is so not me. Afraid I spaced the pastor's sermon as I could barely stay awake. At Cross Culture service, we had many technical problems owing to absence of several key team members. While they worked on solutions, I took a mic and told of my Lindisfarne experience, when God spoke to me. They "amen-ed" heartily. This afternoon I slept three hours. I think this is the end of the jet lag, though. My body is back on Pacific Time.
Been gluing pix into scrapbook. At it for a week, but have barely made a dent.

Random observations
Sheep and cattle and horses in Britain are happy, content critters. Ours must be stressed to stand in muck in feedlots. Here, they graze and wander and ruminate, and nap actually stretched out in the sun.
Music: most shops have music playing. Really annoying techno-pop, mostly. In Starbucks on the Strand in London, I heard (the first and only time) British superstar Sting. Found a couple CDs of his in Picadilly Circus that aren't available in US. Heard jazz in the park on the day I went on the London City Tour and Thames cruise.
Clothes: would pay any money for a laundromat. Nothing. Michelle and I went through half a bottle of Febreze fabric deodorant spray! People here dress the same as in the US. No special trend that I can see. Love to see men in Shetland sweaters!
Tans: the Brits are known for their pasty white complexions. Yet I've got a tan since I came here. Every park you pass, there are many people sitting on beach towels or blankets, just sitting and doing nothing. No urge to be productive during lunch or break. Just go outside and SIT.
Food smells: Dublin and Edinburgh smelled divine. Until you realize that the smell is malting barley, destined for whiskey! Oh, man, everywhere I went, the barley smell was there. I craved a good barley stew, but never found one. I think I also enjoyed the smells of bar food in Dublin. If you could get past the vile cigarette smoke, the fast-food or bar pickup stuff smelled wonderful. But oh, the barley — it's enough to drive one to drink!
The telly: Hey, no problem with saying the F-word or showing uncut R-rated movies on regular broadcast TV. The prime-time has soaps, game shows, etc. They have BBC 1 and 2 morning news, and also a Good Morning news/chat thing. One station was sports-only. And it was Wimbledon time. I watched a two-part detective show that I suppose will turn up on PBS Mystery, soon. Looked in vain for a "British comedy," but maybe they're not on in the season or time of evening that I watched. Hardly any commercials, and never during a show, but they were pretty funny. The hotels only have five or six channels. It was funny to see 500 year-old stone buildings with 18-inch satellite dishes mounted on the sides.
Exercise: I deserve a huge medal (ala those wrestling belt buckles) for all my walking and stair climbing. When I ask for directions, the people say, "Oh, that's just a Five Minute Walk." Maybe for them! But I was fooled every time. What a sucker I am. I trudged miles, every day. Stairs everywhere, always. No escalators, either.
I'm proud that I've done so much, though. I kept going even when the young and fit 20-somethings were dragging. When the group was climbing up to Durham Cathedral, although I was tired, I wasn't out of breath. When I asked to stop for a moment to rest, everyone else stopped, too — not out of pity for me, but because they were also beat! With all the exercise, one needs hydration. I haven't seen one drinking fountain or water dispenser anywhere, but plenty of people haul sports bottles around. They seem to prefer mineral water to "still" spring water. However, it finally occurred to me that spring water and mineral water were synonymous. The drink coolers are set at about 55 degrees, I think, because stuff is just barely cool, never cold. Never ice!
Restaurants: Do these people ever eat at home, or cook? Every block has many restaurants and pubs and deli-type shops. The supermarkets aren't really very super. Everyone must shop a little each day and carry it on the Tube. No station wagons or mini-vans backed up to a Costco loading dock! Even the lower-priced restaurants use tablecloths and cloth napkins, and serve the meal in leisurely courses. Wish I could have my tea/coffee with my meal instead of after. When I ask, they seem surprised! The servers don't come around very often, and that's a plus. Aside from "the frozen kind" of fried fish, which was perfect, the other fish-minus-chips I've bought had skin on, which was gross! So I ate the top layer, but threw away the skin and attached batter. I also bought sandwiches or a pasty, and soups, and once just ordered strawberries with clotted cream. I'm always on the run (almost literally) so I don't want anything to slow me down. What kind of foods on the menu? (Not saying I ate these, just that they were available.) Pork (sausage, bacon, ham), seafood (salmon, shrimp, tuna), beef and lamb practically non-existent because of hoof-and-mouth disease outbreak, eggs (fried, poached, scrambled), various cheeses, beverages (hot tea and coffee after meal, wines, hardly ever water and never glasses of milk or iced tea, cola and other sodas), breads (baking-powder biscuits, croissants, scones, sliced white and brown and rye bread, pita), breakfast cereals (Special K, Cornflakes, muesli that looked like lawnmower outflow, oatmeal), vegetables (potatoes, carrots, zucchini, etc.), fruits (melon, strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, same as at home), dessert (almond or Bakewell tart, strawberry/ rhubarb pie, strawberries and unsweetened cream, ice cream, trifle, etc.). The vegetarian offerings weren't very good. No meat analogs. Either eat strange vegetable medleys in pasta or buried under crumbs, or go for the cheese/egg thing.
Flowers: The foxglove and lobelia and iris flags and many other flowers are blooming wild, everywhere. In the cities, I see buckets and buckets of cello-wrapped arrangements. They'd be $15-20 arrangements in the US. Lots of people buy flowers, men and women, and carry them with the shopping. Home, presumably.
Ancestral ties: Early on, I sensed that my tour mates wouldn't share my fascination with the ancient and medieval history of Great Britain, nor in such a personal way. How many times could I crow, "My ancestor, King So and So, built this castle or commissioned this cathedral." (But he did!) Well, it slipped out a few times, but I decided to keep most of it to myself. There were many, many times when I COULD have said something about the ancestors! The docents at Windsor/St. George's Chapel, Durham Cathedral, etc., though, were pretty excited to talk about (really, really) old times with me. They were interested that a descendant of the Angevins and Plantagenets would be living in California. I suppose I have lots of distant cousins all over the US, and probably many of the Commonwealth countries, but one doesn't really think of it. You think of the current Royal Family as being the only real descendants that count! Dorothy and Robert knew of ancestral ties in Ireland, and John and Carl are of Welsh descent, so I wasn't the only one feeling the sense of deep roots.
Alone in a crowd: Even though I was part of a 22-person group, somehow I managed to be alone in most places — alone to meditate, pray in the holy places, appreciate the quiet or the memory of someone's loved one encapsulated on a tombstone. Maybe this was anti-social, but while others were figuring out where to go and what to do and how to do it together, I just took off and got started! While others were getting ready to explore Bath, I was on the tour bus, then exploring the abbey church during organ rehearsal, and then dipping fingers in the hot pool. At Edinburgh on Saturday afternoon, I did my own exploring, and at Iona, while the group walked to the abbey, I was hiring a bike. At York I was entirely alone. How slippery of me. But it's hard to pray, or soak in beauty when you're surrounded by others. I suppose it could be considered selfish, but I doubt anyone paid their bucks to be entertained by me, anyway! 


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If you enjoy life sketches, anecdotes, and historical details like these, you can find them in the book Effigy Hunter, by Christy K Robinson. It's available in print from CreateSpace, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon

Celtic Britain travel journal part III

Celtic Britain TRAVEL JOURNAL--part 3 (Scotland, Northumberland, Durham, York)

Wednesday, June 28, 2001, late night, Edinburgh, Scotland!!!
We drove out of the Irish ferryboat and onto Scottish soil, port of Stranmaer, at around 7 p.m. We drove about three hours, and passed through Ayrshire ("Haste ye back," said the road signs at the village borders), Strathclyde, Midlothian, and whatever we're in now. Irregular fields of hay and barley, and the odd potato farm. Cattle, a palomino horse or two, sheep, a donkey. Views of the sea off to our left, with a sugarloaf mountain island out there. All beautiful, the whole way. The buildings don't seem as old as the Irish ones, though.
Since it's summer time and we're far north latitude, the sun goes down really late, after 10 p.m. We got to Edinburgh while there was still fairly bright twilight, after 10.
Oh, man, you can see the Edinburgh Castle across the street from our hotel on Princes Street. The tour mates were squealing with delight at our posh surroundings and address. Although our hotel faces the Royal Mile and the Walter Scott Memorial, etc., our room faces an alley and fire escape stairs!
After getting our bags into the room, six of us went out for a walk, and bought super-cheap paperback books at a nearby store which closed at midnight. Back at the hotel after midnight, I did laundry in the bathtub, and hung it on the heated towel bars to dry. I've fallen asleep multiple times trying to finish this entry.

Thursday, June 29, 2001, Edinburgh
Today was great all day, but I had my really special moments before noon.
Cobbled plaza at Edinburgh Castle, Firth of Forth
 After the hotel breakfast, we were taken to Holyrood Castle, which was unfortunately closed as of today, to prepare security for the Royal Family's visit on Sunday night. Holyrood was famous for its later occupants, Mary Queen of Scots, etc., but was started by David I, my ancestor, to memorialize his mother, St. Margaret, as the guest house for the nearby Holyrood Abbey, now in ruins. We drove through the medieval streets, up the Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle. We bought admission for £7.50, took a 30-minute guided tour, and then at leisure, we toured the crown jewels and Stone of Scone ("skoon") exhibit. My ancestors sat on that stone to be consecrated or crowned king, from Kenneth MacAlpin in the 800s, to 1299, when my ancestor Edward I of England swiped it and carried it off to Westminster. Then every monarch since has sat above it. Just a sandstone rock, but it's seen a lot of royal arse. Oh, sorry, revered ancestral spirits.
Then I went to St. Margaret's Chapel, a barrel-vaulted little stone building, whitewashed inside, with small stained glass windows of St. Margaret and St. Columba (1800s). There were fresh flowers in the roped-off chancel. I could almost pray to the sainted ancestor, as millions have believed is right. As it is, I thanked God personally, with no mediator, for allowing me to visit this place I've wanted to see for 20 years. It was a moving experience, and I was able to block out, for a minute, all the other tourists.
Our bus took us away at 1 p.m., after the cannon was fired as a time keeper for the harbor. Walking from the hotel, I took 13 rolls of film for processing, got a sandwich in a department store café, took a narrated bus tour of Edinburgh, and shopped or browsed near the hotel. My feet are soooo bruised from walking the cobbles and the pavements. Ow, ow, ow. I wanted to shop in the touristy places in the Royal Mile, and see the mews and closes, but just couldn't. Too painful!
Our tour-mate Dolores has a single room on the seventh floor of the hotel, with a balcony that faces the whole west front of Royal Mile. Edinburgh Castle is lit with floodlights, and there was a break in the clouds so you could see the half moon shining over the castle. Took a picture of that.

Friday, June 29, 2001, Edinburgh
What a long day. We had to be ready for the day and on the bus at 6:20 a.m. We drove about four hours northwest of Edinburgh to the west coast port of Oban. We were the last group to catch the ocean ferry to Craignure, Mull. Our bus drove off the ferry there, and we went another hour, the length of the island, to a passenger ferry at Fionnport, which took us a mile or two across the strait to Iona. While everyone else walked to the abbey, I rented a bike and got up there that way. With my knees to my chest, I chugged up the path. It was my first time on a real bike (not the stationary kind) in some years. Pretty fun! I parked it on the shoulder outside the several churches, and prayed at the altars.
I stopped first at a ruined stone church, and saw some ancient unmarked grave stones that might have been monks, priests, or my MacAlpin ancestors (or not), then rode along the blacktop path to the newer church down the road. I looked all over the churches and graveyard for the ancient kings of Scotland said to be buried there. There were some uncarved or eroded tombs that looked ancient, but no modern plaque to identify.
 The day, which had been drizzly on the drive and first ferry trip, cleared up miraculously while we were on Iona. Two hours later, after unmitigated gorgeosity (breeze, puffy clouds, warm and bright sun) just when it was time to head back, a few drops from a squall started hitting, but not really raining. It was exhilarating to ride the bike lickety-split downhill, into the teeth of the wind! Wheeeee.
I stayed out on the ferry deck again, and watched a castle, a lighthouse, and sailboats pass my view. Donna and a cute kid (with an even cuter father) were feeding shortbread to a seagull as he floated in the boat's slipstream.
We reversed the ferries and bus rides, along the same roads to Edinburgh, and were back by 9:30. I walked to Hard Rock Café and had soup, came back here, and then Michelle and Jimmie and I went to an Internet shop three blocks away, to do two hours of e-mail and web surfing. In case you're keeping track, it's now 2 a.m. Saturday.
My impressions now: Everything is as green, or greener than, the Emerald Isle. On the morning drive, it was raining in places and misty drizzle in others. As we drove through Perth and Crieff, and into the highlands, we saw much heavier runoff than we could account for by rain. Must have been pouring at the mountain tops! We saw hundreds, maybe thousands, of considerable brooks and waterfalls. They'd just appear at the top of the crag, and within a few feet, were strong enough to be seen for miles. Inevitably, the creeks and waterfalls became burns and flowed into the lochs. A couple of really large and beautiful ones were Lochearn and Lochawe. Near the latter, at about the mid-journey point (if you count the long drive on Mull Island) was the mountain, Ben Cruachan. My map says 1100 feet (must be meters); the guidebooks say 3600+. Coming from the mountainous US southwest, I wasn't expecting it to look like much. But I was impressed! It's all basalt covered in greenery, with shreds of mist for a crown, and waterfalls for a necklace. Puffs embroidered on its finery were thousands of sheep and lambs.
The first ferry ride, we barely drove on, and the boat took off. It was a bit rainy at first, but soon it was just damp and cold. Didn't keep me off the decks!
The island of Mull was 40 minutes off the mainland, and looked similar. This time, we had only a single lane, and we had to pull over for oncoming cars. The sheep and lambs walked through downed fences and grazed or ruminated on the shoulder or even on the road. We saw highland cattle, which look like a devolved, retrograde breed. They're a pretty red color, with horns, and their hair is all shaggy, with bangs on their foreheads. Really interesting! Yak-ish. At the end of Mull is a broken-off island with two volcanic humps, Iona.
As the legend goes, St. Columcille/Columba came to this wild place, maybe on a day like today, with 12 disciples, to found a monastery. When the guys decided this was too ascetic, treeless and rocky, and suggested going home, the future saint told them to burn the ships. The conquistador Cortez in 1519 did the same thing, and I used to think: what a waste of good transport, and how cruel. But the Steven Curtis Chapman song analogizes it to the Christian experience: we've come too far to turn back now, our goal is still in front of us, Satan may block our paths, but we still have a victorious leader, Jesus. 

Saturday, June 30, 2001, Edinburgh
It was so sweet to sleep 'til almost 9 a.m. The bus took us to the Adventist church in the Royal Mile, where our group took over the service. I played Brother James' Air for offertory (it is Scottish!), and O Love that Wilt Not Let Me Go for a piano solo. To precede the solo, I explained that the tune is called St. Margaret, and here we were a few blocks from St. Margaret's memorial chapel at Edinburgh Castle. I said I'd play to God's glory, and to my ancestress' memory. Kit, Robert, Donna, Nancy, Dorothy, and John also contributed heavily to the service. There was a three year-old girl there who was so beautiful I could barely keep my eyes off her. She belonged to the organist, Audrey. After the service, Audrey and granddaughter took me up to the balcony to let me play the old pipe organ. The keys were stiff and uneven to the touch, and the pedals seemed spaced slightly different than modern ones. The "presets" were three sets of levers you pushed with your foot, which unstopped certain voices. When Audrey played the prelude, though, it was beautiful, so she's found a way to overcome, maybe even exploit, the handicaps of the old instrument.
The church members served a delicious lunch in their basement. The soup was pea and mint! I'm not sure if I would choose that one again, but it was delicious for the once. I sat with some Scottish ladies for lunch, and we chatted about their grown children and grandchildren. At 2:30, we were taken back to our hotel, as our Scottish "sistern" and brethren waved from the front steps of the church.
In the afternoon, I walked all the way to, and on, the Royal Mile. I poked my head in the closes and listened to a piper. Tried to get into St. Giles' Cathedral, but it was closed. I had a pint milk carton to discard, but could find no trash, so I talked to a policeman. "Your city is really beautiful and clean, but I don't understand how that's possible when there are no rubbish bins for blocks around!" He smilingly responded that today was the Opening of Parliament, and the Queen was coming tomorrow night… "Ah! No trash cans for security reasons," I said, and he nodded.
I was at the entrance to the Castle by about 5:30, but took a taxi back to the hotel because I was meeting Dorothy to taxi up to the bagpipe concert. However, she'd discovered there was no seating available, and we'd have to stand for a couple hours, so she decided to miss the concert. Michelle and James, those young whippersnappers who had walked as much as I had and seemed just as exhausted, taxied with me instead.
The concert started at 8:00, and we were there at 7 to get a good place. A security guard saw me leaning on my cane, and brought me his chair from the guard shack! So I got to sit, which was a blessing. (I'd never have made it back to the hotel later, otherwise.) We heard the rehearsals behind the castle walls, the pipes and the military band. Even though a bit muted by the thick stone walls and distance, it was beautiful. When they emerged from the gate and crossed the bridge, you'd get goosebumps even if there wasn't an extremely frigid wind off the Firth of Forth/North Sea. (And there was.) What is it about bagpipes?
Instead of taking a taxi back, I strolled with Robert and Janet back down the mountain with its curving canyons of old buildings. We stopped for supper in a café. I had broccoli/asparagus soup. It tasted great, but it was pureed or strained, so no chunks. Then we continued our long walk back to the hotel.
After a long, hot foot soaking in the tub, bedtime.

Sunday, July 1, 2001, 11:30 a.m., Holy Island, Lindisfarne, England
What a bucolic spot. I'm sitting on a grassy bank at the harbor. To my right are two boats, keels up, with double doors at this end. Either they're boat houses or sheds for equipment. Three fishermen just walked by, and in their Yorkshire or Northumbrian accents, said, "It was six feet long." The guys chuckled, and one said on a gust of wind, "Yeah, right, and 150 pounds for sure." Fish stories.
There's a blond retriever running around with a big doggie smile, and he met up with two friendly beagles who bayed happily at him and wagged tails all around. There are sheep in a pasture behind me. They were grazing quietly, but suddenly started doing the baa-thing and moving en masse. There are some pretty sea birds who spotted my lunch bag and are squawking angrily at me. One flies over, and you see an expectancy of chips or bread crusts in his beady eyes. Sorry. I have crackers, but I'm not sharing!
We drove south from Edinburgh this morning, along the coast route, with the North Sea on our left. What pretty country. Fields with red poppies, barley, or grazing sheep. Hilltop farmsteads. I was sitting in the jumpseat, as I've often done on this trip, snapping pictures out the front and left windows. We stopped at the Scotland/England border to take photos, but by then it was too late to see if we'd passed over Hadrian's Wall, because it was behind us. I never saw a sign for it, so maybe it doesn't reach the North Sea coast. Saw the sign for Thirsk, James Herriot's headquarters, and expected to see steep hills and deep valleys like the All Creatures movie and TV show. However, it was just a gently rolling landscape.
Later: Here in Lindisfarne, I bought a piece of fish (no chips) from a vendor in a roach coach. This guy could have been a Herriot character if he' been born 70 years ago! I asked where he was from, and he answered mostly monosyllabically, Yorkshire. Had he always lived around here? Yes. Do you have tartar sauce? No. Brown sauce. (Tasted like barbecue plus ranch.) What kind of fish is in the filet? (Cod? Perch? Whitefish?) He opened the freezer and brought out an 8 x 12" box. "This kind," he said, and returned it to the freezer. So, the UK version of Gorton's or Mrs. Paul's. (Unless they drop a net and the boxes float up from the deep.) Oh, well, it was crispy and delicious. Best I've had in years. I took my paper plate of fish up the road to the little village, munching all the way.
 Found the museum to look at the Lindisfarne Gospels on a computer (because the real thing is in the British Library in London), but decided to buy the CD rather than take time to look at it on their computer. Walked on to the priory, and paid admission to the museum and ruins. The apse was a semi-circle in which St. Cuthbert was probably buried at one time. I sat for awhile in the chancel, built in a semi-circle, on a block of stone, enjoying the perfect day: not too hot or cold, fluffy cumulus clouds in a pure blue sky, birds fluttering between the arches of the crossing, and the sun spotlighting me from a gothic stone arch. A golden moment. I was sitting at the place where the high altar had been for 700 years, and bare stone had been for another 600 years since. Then I heard God speak to my heart: "Present yourself as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship." This moment was very powerful for me, there in that quiet and holy place. God spoke. I was a living sacrifice on the stone altar of a holy place.
The puffy clouds scudded by peacefully, but it was nearly time to go. Back through the museum and gift shop, I found Lisa looking for gifts for Dorothy and John, in appreciation from the group. She'd picked out an assortment, and asked my opinion for the final decision. I thought John would like the Chi-Ro illumination because of the Greek letters that begin Christ's name. Dorothy had told me months before that her house, like mine, is all in blue and white, so I thought the blue Celtic-design plate would be a nice choice for her. Apparently, Dorothy and John had already been in this shop, and had salivated after the very things that we decided upon, but we didn't know that until later!
When the bus got underway at 2:30 p.m., the causeway was still wet, and the tidal flats still held a lot of water. We just got to the island in the nick of time this morning, and then we had three and a half hours to relax before we could leave. Time and tides wait for no one. How profound. Wish I'd made that up. I'd have been as famous as the guy who really did make it up. Born too late, I was. Oh, yeah, and in a land-locked desert city. So I doubt I would have thought of it anyway. 

Durham and Yorkshire — About an hour or more down the road, we hit Durham. The coach wasn't allowed in the medieval, twisty streets, and had to park at the bottom of the very considerable hill. We started walking: up a hill, up stairs, up a small street, across a square, up a curvy street, up and up, and finally, there was the gigantic cathedral. Just massive. We got a tour from a soft-spoken woman who showed us the tomb of St. Cuthbert, the nine chapels or altars, took us into the chancel, and explained about the Caen limestone in the Neville Screen. HUH????
Neville, you say? I knew the Lords Raby (Nevilles) were buried at important sites around Northumberland and Yorkshire, and I remember there were several Ralph Nevilles, Lord Raby. I told our docent/steward that I was descended from Nevilles and Percys and Ros, etc., and she got very interested that this American chick knew the ancient names and places. She's a medievalist, and lived in Alnwick Castle one summer, she said. That's a Percy place, and some are buried near there. (We'd passed the turnoff in our bus, and I only got a picture of the Alnwick sign.) The docent said that there were two Neville tombs in the cathedral, and then showed them to me while the rest of the group went with the guide. Photography is prohibited, and there were no postcards or guidebooks with pictures of the tombs. I asked if I could make a donation as I did at St. David's in Wales, but apparently, that too is out of the question. The docent whispered that she could just disappear and I could snap the picture, and if the verger came around, she could appear to scold me. So I got my shot and no one noticed anyway. Yea! I did buy postcards of the chancel and the Neville Screen, though.
We then hiked back downhill, over cobbled streets. Those things kill my feet. I can see how they'd be good traction in rain or snow, though. Janet and Robert had bought McDonald's ice cream sundaes for the whole busload. Really hit the spot. How did they haul 23 cups of ice cream all the way to the bus? 

11 p.m., York, Yorkshire, England — Wow. Ancient city walls. York Minster. Funny streets like Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate. Cobbles, bricks, stone buildings and sidewalks. Our hotel room looks right out at the north city wall. We had the group dinner tonight, and presented the gifts to Dorothy and John, who were thrilled with the choices. The hotel restaurant served this great soup, and I asked if I could just have another serving of soup instead of the entrée. They looked at me strangely, but said okay. Crazy American, only eating the potato/leek soup.
Even though sore and tired from all the walking already today, I convinced Michelle and James to go walking into the old city, only a block away through the Monkbar Gate. We saw the east face of the Minster, the largest medieval building in the UK, then we walked down a few streets looking for a convenience market. Nothing but pubs after 10 p.m. on a Sunday night. Finally found a roach coach with bottled spring water. Then we turned to come back, and we'd gone really far! Maybe a mile each way. And we were tired to begin with. Now I ache. Probably will tomorrow, too. I just BET I'll find more graves or mentions. My families ruled York for hundreds of years.
All the blue blood in my veins is throbbing in my feet and knees and hips. Must soak and medicate! 

Read on to Celtic Britain part 4


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If you enjoy life sketches, anecdotes, and historical details like these, you can find them in the book Effigy Hunter, by Christy K Robinson. It's available in print from CreateSpace, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon