Saturday, 17 November 2007

a day in London

Started with an early morning prayer meeting with people from Cherry Hinton Baptist church who are down the road from our new church plant - praying for the area, for our outreach and for unity among us. Cold, but inspiring!

Then two piano lessons postponed from yesterday (when I was in Sheffield for the second seminar day with Northern Training Institute), followed by a dash to the station in time to stand in a queue and miss the train we'd wanted to catch.

Got a faster train and then some underground shenanigans to Highgate to meet Nick (best man best friend at Cambridge) and Kate (recently married). We stepped off the Northern Line train to find Nick and Kate stepping off the same train a few carriages down!

After a walk up a hill (something of a novelty for us) alongside the barbed wire security fence protecting Highgate Station and an intriguing adjacent cottage hunger overtook us and we stumbled into an odd pub, with remarkable speed for a party of 4 boasting three indecisive people (and me!)

Long pub lunch (The Woodman) - entertained by the chef, Xavier ("I try to cook a different menu every day... You must finish everything... I don't wan to see any food on the floor...") and sated with his excellent food. More meat in a meal than in a normal fortnight (wanted to alliterate with 'month' but it would have been something of an exaggeration)! Cambridge pub prices in London, and incredible quality - a rare treat. Pint of IPA and then farewell to Kate who was off to China for a 2-week holiday to see her Mum and some friends.

Then a wander round Highgate cemetery with Nick, stumbling across Shura Churassky, Douglas Adams and a cosmopolitan cram of corpses from across the world. Notable numbers of Chinese and Poles, but more other countries than I can remember. We missed Karl Marx, but then had a guided tour of the restricted side of the cemetery with another colourful character (a volunteer with the Friends of Highgate Cemetery) who spun a lot of good stories and gave us some intriguing Victorian social history and an explanation of the art of grave sculpture.

Always rewarding to walk round graveyards, this one no exception. Huge variety of sculptures, lots of plants interwoven, bits of biographies... But I am always astounded by the amount of money spent on these monuments. (The many immigrant families represented here were not the poor ones, let me tell you!) And the pathetic - in every sense of the word - sentiments on some of the tombs and headstones set the mind a-spinning.