Archive for January, 2008

Last week Sarah and I got back from a trip to England. To say that it was too short would be a gross understatement: we felt like we could live there. Having read a metric tonne of British literature in my life I was quite excited to see the places I had read about. Yeah I’m a bookworm like that.

This was Sarah’s and my first trip overseas. I’m a little ashamed to admit that until this trip the one solitary stamp in my passport has been for Canada, and it’s been taunting me as if to say, “That’s right, I’m the best you can do!” Well no longer, intolerable canuck stamp. My passport now has the stamp of the queen under whose thumb you abide.

When we got to our hotel in London our room wasn’t ready so we decided to do a little exploring in the rain. We realized instantly that English architecture is beautiful, that the streets in London are all kinds of crazy, and that it pays to get decent umbrellas.


It was a good thing that at nearly every crosswalk it tells you to either LOOK RIGHT or LOOK LEFT since the labyrinthine street-maze could have gotten us killed. At the end of our little excursion we came upon St. Paul’s Cathedral and felt like it’d be a good idea to come in from the London rain.


Now if you’ve never been to a cathedral of that size no amount of pictures will impress upon you the scale and lavish decorations you will meet. I’ve not been to many, so I was wowed not only by the dimensions and imagery but also by the amount of history that St. Paul’s contains. Everywhere you look there are statues of famous lords and military personages, plaques on countless walls detailing the contributions such-and-such has made to Great Britain’s people. It was dizzying. In spite of all this I felt like the place had been built and adorned not for God but for the glory of man. As impressive as all the tapestries and frescoes were, they seemed to point more to the achievements of the English than to the story of Christ. That was just how it felt to me. No doubt many come there as to a house of God: to me it felt more like a museum.

We went downstairs and entered the crypt keep. I had no idea that such as Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington were interred there, so from a historical standpoint I was delighted. There are as well many other famous people buried beneath St. Pauls. It was with a quiet reverence and knowledge of this that I entered a little chapel down there to read some of the plaques on the wall. Among these was one with an except from a famous William Blake poem:

To see the world in a grain of sand
And to see heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palm of your hands
And eternity in an hour

As I was contemplating the import of these words I took a step back to let some meaning sink in. What I didn’t know was that directly behind me, at an elevation of only a few inches or so, was a row of kneelers surrounded by chairs and worn masonry under which were buried many fine English persons. Stepping back I lost my balance on these kneelers, and what followed was one of the slowest, loudest, and most awkward falls of my life. It was one of those stumbles that takes you about 7-8 seconds to really hit the ground because you’re scrambling the whole time to keep your balance and to not look like an idiot. Not only did I fail in that but I also proceeded to test the acoustic reverb of the surrounding chambers. I guesstimated about a twelve second uncomfortable space where the echoes of my fall alerted every reverent person nearby to my blundering American ways.

Later that night I was again made painfully aware of my American-ness as I tried to order some English fare at a restaurant. A of all, the most appealing thing on the menu to me was a hamburger and fries, so I decided to go with that. Second-of-ly, when I tried to order and not sound like a tool, I asked for the Hamburger and Chips. The guy looked at me and said, “Ok, hamburger and fries,” and I know he wanted to add, “Don’t even try it, bloke.” Man! I wanted to order all English proper.

The next few days we spent walking around trying to see all the sights we could. We decided that the London Eye looked like it would be cool to take a ride in, but that on the whole it was more of an eyesore on the London skyline. Also the quintessential British phone booth is very red.


Big Ben and Parliament looked absolutely beautiful and intricate.


We walked by Westminster Abbey without going in, so that would be one of the things I’d like to explore on our next trip. The parks we walked through were all Englishy and great. Buckingham Palace looked just as it does on t.v., but I was most impressed with the guards. We didn’t get to see the ones with the red coats and tall poofy black hats that you can oogle and they’ll only stare straight ahead, but we did see some pretty impressive methodical, high-legged walking back and forth from the guards within the gates.

Trafalgar Square was amazing. As we were walking along and looking at Nelson’s Column, the lions, the fountains, and the National Gallery I had a bit of deja vu as I suddenly realized that I had done a puzzle of this scene when I was about ten or so. We went into the National Gallery and spent time looking at some Da Vinci’s, Raphael’s, and Michaelangelo’s, but sadly we didn’t find any Donatello’s. Three outta four ain’t bad.

We took a tube at one point to Piccadilly Circus to see what all the hubbub was about but decided that, in spite of the amazing English architecture, it was too much like Times Square for us to want to stay longer than fifteen seconds. We then got back on the tube (after minding the gap!) to go see the very touristy Sherlock Holmes Museum on Baker Street. Unfortunately we met with some trouble when we got there.


We stayed very near the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. Here’s a shot of the Tower Bridge at night.


Our last full day in England we spent in Oxford. The ride there was wonderful because it was our first chance to see some English countryside. It was just as I had imagined; very rolling and peaceful, but a lot more sheep than I had anticipated. Awesome. One of the first things we did upon reaching Oxford was to seek out the Eagle and Child, the pub at which C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, and their friends used to meet to discuss literature. After a while the room where they met opened up so I ordered a pint of bitter (a scene from a Lewis book) and sat down. I totally geeked out there.





It was funny, as soon as we left the bar and started walking toward the heart of the city I totally saw Thom Yorke from Radiohead as he walked by. I had heard they were from Oxford, so maybe I was subconsciously on the lookout for a short fellow with a lazy eye.

We then stopped for a tour of Christ Church, one of the oldest colleges at Oxford. It was stunning. After walking around for a bit we got to the dining hall where they film the dinner scenes for Harry Potter. Here is Sarah wishing she could cast some spells.



The next day we left our new home in London to come back to the States. Traveling with us on the flight was a band of gypsies who regaled us with both boisterous song and lengthy tale, allowing not the smallest bit of sleep. In spite of this, our trip to England definitely left us wanting more. In fact a few days ago Sarah started pricing flights for our next trip there. We’re planning on knocking down Stonehenge.

Listening to "In The Days To Come"
from the album Ah, Romance and Perspective
by Zoe Fitch

A few weeks ago I just played the last show with a good friend of mine. I’m really going to miss seeing him back there grimacing and making all manner of weird faces. I’m going to miss throwing Skittles and Combos bags at him during a song to make him angry. I’m going to miss watching History channel shows with him, playing poker, getting coffee, and a myriad of other things. But I’m also happy to see him go. He made a choice to follow God’s call in spite of being in a comfortable situation and having the guarantee of a steady paycheck. He’s courageous, genuine, loyal, passionate, and I know he’ll succeed at what he puts his hand to.

I’m sad to see you go, Dave, but I’m excited for what’s in store for you.

Love you, dude.