Sunday, August 21, 2016

Mass in Battersea, Meeting a Friend in Maida Vale and Exploring Golders Green

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Mass in Battersea, Meeting a Friend in Maida Vale and Exploring Golders Green

      August is marching on. Speedily. I am amazed that we have only another ten days before summer is past and September rears its head to remind us to get seriously back to work. Since I am still technically on vacation (my Sabbatical Fellowship does not kick in until September 5), this is my last hurrah. This evening, I shall get ready for my trip to Dorset.

Another Early Start to a Sunday:
     This was the first time I actually set my alarm because I did not want to be late for 8.30 Mass at the Church of St. Mary at Battersea, where I was joining my English friend Rosemary (Roz).  But I need not have bothered. I was up at 5. 30 am today and though I tried hard to snatch a few more zzzzs, I couldn't. So I awoke and began blogging...
     I did prepare myself a toastie with Nutella and mixed nuts before I set out of the house at 7. 15 am. The area around Bethnal Green was still dead to the world, but I was amazed at how many people were on the Tube at that hour. I rode the District Line to Victoria (reached in exactly half an hour) and found the bus-stop right outside the exit. I was looking for the 170 bus to get me to Battersea Church Road for the 8. 30 am service. I realized I would be really early and I was; but within minutes of my reaching there, Roz arrived as she was on duty as meeter and greeter.

Mass at St. Mary's Church, Battersea:
     The Church of St. Mary's, Battersea (Anglican) is located on a really beautiful setting--right on the south bank of the Thames. I thoroughly enjoyed the bus ride from Victoria through Chelsea and across Battersea Bridge which, at that lovely opening hour of the day, was quiet and very peaceful. The tranquility continued by the church yard where I had a few moments to myself. Soon I was introduced to Roz's friend, Adrienne, and then to the priest, Simon.
     Equipped with a Guide to the Church. I used it to take in the interesting features of the church's interior: the terracotta monument to the War dead--supposedly the largest terracotta monument in London; four lovely stained glass windows to Curtis, Blake, Turner and Arnold (not Matthew Arnold, but Benedict Arnold); the contemporary triptyche used as a reredos in the same chapel painted by a parishioner in which scenes from the Bible are juxtaposed against a much closer setting--the Battersea Power Station is visible on Christ's journey!
     The Mass itself was a delight. There were precisely a dozen people in the congregation and there was no music as all--but the sermon was wonderful--thought-provoking and so well delivered (as only the Anglicans can do). There was Holy Communion and prayers slightly different from those in the Catholic Church (but, for the most part, it is was very similar).

Breakfast with Roz and her Friends:
     Roz led me after Mass to a sweet village-like square and to a little eatery called Queenstown where she was joined by some of her close friends from the church--there was Roz and me and Adrienne, Anne and George. We ordered Americanos (decaff for me) and then because the others did so too, I nipped across to Gail's Bakery across the street and picked up almond croissants for Roz and me--meanwhile, she ordered us coffee. The hour flew swiftly by as we chinwagged about everything from Pilates to church servers.
     An hour later, Roz took me with her to her car wash place to get her car done--which gave us another twenty minutes to chat. Then, she dropped me off at a bus stop that took me to South Kensington from where I hopped on the Tube to Maida Vale.

Meeting Raquel at Maida Vale:
     My next port of call was Maida Vale, where I was headed, after chatting with my American friend Raquel who told me to meet her at her place. Raquel has just moved into this new duplex apartment and was still surrounded by unopened boxes as she gave me the Grand Tour of the two floors of the place. It is a stunning place with a small terrace and a private garden downstairs that is open solely to residents with a key. Raquel's husband Chris and son Jonas share the home and after a lovely reunion with them and a bit of a natter, they invited me to join them for lunch as Raquel had eaten nothing all morning and was starving.

Italian Lunch at The Red Pepper:
     Subsequently, that was where I found myself--in their cheerful company at a small neighborhood restaurant called The Red Pepper where we ordered two pizzas (Margarita and Diavolo) and a plate of Linguine with Shrimp and Tomatoes. The meal was delicious but catching up with them was even more fun. Though they have a lot on their plate with their recent move and the need to feel settled, they spent ample time with me.

Off to Obtain a new SIM card:
     It was during lunch that Raquel said she could come to my rescue by helping me get a local UK SIM card for my I-phone as the Lebara Pay As You Go card I have is ideal for international calling (to my Dad in India, for instance) but hopeless (and very expensive) for local UK calls. Not long afterwards, we were at The Carphone Warehouse at St. John's Wood (to which we walked--a longish walk of half an hour or more) and I was the proud owner of a new UK telephone number. I can now make calls for a far more reasonable price, make unlimited texts and although I have a very tiny data allowance, I will be using wifi for most of my cyber needs. So there I was, all sorted--and thrilled with myself as this is the very first time I have been able to use my US I-phone in another country.
Off on an Excursion to Golders Green:
     When our phone errand was done, Raquel, Jonas and I went off on an excursion to Golders Green--a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in North London as Raquel needed to meet a lady named Adela. She roped me along--and so it was that I explored some hidden enclaves of an area with which I was never familiar. Raquel, who is Jewish herself and speaks fluent Yiddish--pointed out the mizuzas on the front doors which are a sure indication of a Jewish household.  
     We had a nice time with Adela who was Jewish herself and who served us a lovely tea with cookies and chocolates. She was joined, in due course, by her friend Louise and her husband, Lionel. And as we chatted, time flew.
     And then it was time for us to get back home. There were no trains from Golders Green station (a frequent occurrence and a true nuisance on the London Tube is the closure of lines at the weekend) , so Raquel hailed an Uber to take her back to Maida Vale and dropped me off at Finchely Road station from where I took the Jubilee Line down to Bond Street where I changed to the Central Line (which is infinitely faster than the District line). A quick hop into the 309 bus brought me home in less than 40 minutes.

Getting Ready for Dorset:
     I spent the rest of the evening informing my closest folks about the change in my I-phone number, blogging, packing and getting ready for Dorset and having my dinner.
It will be another fairly early start for me tomorrow and since I am, against my will, doing more walking daily than I intend, I am also spending a lot of time doing stretching exercises and keeping my legs stretched with a rubber band.
    I will have no blog posts for the next couple of days...I will be exploring Dorset and making another long-term dream come true. Be sure to catch up with me then...
     Until Thursday, cheerio...

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