Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Catching up: a weekend in London

It was a long journey from Aberdeen, in the somewhat northern bit of Scotland, back to London. A seven-hour train ride, to be exact, which surprisingly didn't feel that long. A highlight were the young boys who sat near us for part of the journey, who got very excited when the train crossed bridges along the coast: "maybe there are SHARKS!"

We were in London just overnight, staying with a friend, in order to take a train up to Oxford on Sunday, June 12. But we took full advantage of the brief stint in our favorite city. On Saturday evening, I'd gotten us tickets to see The Sixteen, one of my two very favorite early music choirs. It was a phenomenal concert, alternating Palestrina with James MacMillan, plus a few other miscellaneous works, including the new ornamented version of the Allegri Miserere. Unfortunately, our tickets were fully sight-restricted, but you didn't need to see the singers to enjoy their music.

We spent Sunday morning too with our friend, attending our London church, St. Bartholomew the Great, and then walking over to Lamb's Conduit Street for the celebrations. It was Sunday, June 12, after all--the day when England celebrates the queen's birthday. And the Persephone Bookshop was having a cream tea AND a book sale. How could I resist? My circle of book bloggers, folks who enjoy early to mid-twentieth-century domestic fiction by British women, all adore the novels published by Persephone Books. For us, it's like a literary pilgrimage to visit the Persephone shop. I'd never been there before, and I couldn't stop beaming. Yes, there was tea and scones, but more importantly, there was an entire shop full of the beautifully-produced, dove-grey Persephone books. They're nearly impossible to find secondhand in America. And now, having carefully thought through budgetary and luggage weight concerns, I had the freedom to choose any three I wanted, and start my Persephone collection!

(In case anyone's interested, I selected Mariana by Monica Dickens, and Someone at a Distance and Greenbanks by Dorothy Whipple.)

Me being ridiculously excited in front of the Persephone bookshop (and my awesome Husband, the one who has to carry my books home on the airplane)

The whole day felt very, very English. There was a high Anglo-Catholic Church of England Eucharist; there was tea and scones; there were Morris dancers. And then, our train up to Oxford (and when we arrived, it started raining).

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