London and Paris 1985, Part 2

Sunday, January 6, 1985

The alarm went off at 6:50 AM. Not a good thing considering we didn't get any sleep. We looked out of our bleary window to find that it had snowed and, in fact, was still snowing. We heated our wonderful continental breakfast. Margaret decided to try the croissant instead of the usual roll.

We went down to the lobby to wait for the sisters so we could go to Mass. As usual, they were late. They complimented us on being on time and in control. Ha! Ha! Glad we gave that appearance. We all bundled up and headed out into the Antarctic. At least that was what it seemed like! Even Londoners are not used to snow.

The Church we went to, and we can't remember the name of it, was very small, but pretty, decorated with a lot of gold. It was very cold inside. The Mass was like our own at home, but the Mass booklets were just for the day and contained only one Eucharistic Prayer. The altar boy was an older gentleman also. We're used to seeing school boys. The collection was done with a red pouch which was taken up to the altar with the other offerings. The service lasted for an hour, beginning at 8:00.

Then it was back outside into the snow. We wanted to get to the King's Cross station to catch the tube, or subway, as we know it. However, the sisters were not sure of their directions and wouldn't listen to us. We ended up going in circles and finally ended up back at the hotel. We eventually made it to the station. Sister Edward Therese tried to convince us to buy a four or seven day pass for four pounds instead of paying as we went along. We decided it was too much trouble. We weren't going to be in London that much longer. After purchasing regular tickets, we went down to the platform to wait for the tube for Westminster. Of course, we got on the wrong one, the Central Line, and ended up at Aldgate. Wrong! Margaret wanted to push the button that said "push to open," but Sister Edward Therese said, "No, don't touch!" Ugh! We finally got off the tube at Liverpool. The sisters told us to tell the ticket agent that we accidentally got on the wrong tube so we wouldn't have to pay again. We had already paid the forty pence. We just read the signs and found out we could cross over to the other track without handing in tickets. We finally got on the right tube, the Circle Line, and got off at Westminster.

Westminster Bridge - yes, it was snowing! It was the snowiest winter in London in 20 years!

We ended up taking the long way around to the gate at Westminster Abbey. Sister Edward Therese bumped into the sign for it and then went the wrong way! Ugh! We arrived during a service and couldn't walk through. We stood around in the back feeling like idiots, trying to thaw out. After a while, we decided to leave and try to find some lunch. Margaret and I had turkey soup and bread and a couple of Pepsis at Grandma Lee's Bakery and Restaurant. Not bad. At least it warmed us up!

The sisters couldn't decide whether to try to go to Hampton Court (it was rumored to be closed) or go to Petticoat Lane for shopping then the Victoria and Albert Museum. Margaret had been looking at our map and read that Wimbledon was closed on Mondays, so if we wanted to see it, we had to go then. So we said good-bye to the sisters and set out on our own.

It turned out to be quite an adventure. We stopped to get some postcards at a little shop near the restaurant, then headed off to find the tube station again. For forty pence, we made it all the way to Southfields Station where the
Wimbledon museum and courts are. When we arrived at the station, we didn't think it would take too long to walk to the museum. We were wrong! We stopped at an ESO gas station to ask for directions and the guy there said it was a ten-minute walk down the road. We walked and walked and walked. Then we asked a man on the street and he told us it was about 500 more yards away. We walked and walked. Finally, we asked a couple across the street and they said it was down the hill and up the other. We walked and walked through the falling snow and finally arrived - to find that the museum was closed for renovations! You've got to be kidding! We were ready to scream - at least our feet were. We looked around a bit and found that we could at least see Centre Court. I'm a big tennis fan. It gave me goosebumps, even with the snow covering it.

Center Court at Wimbledon covered in snow!

We made our way back, which seemed a much shorter distance for some reason. We took the tube all the way back to King's Cross for 90 pence. Then we asked for directions to the Royal Scot after doing some shopping. I bought a magazine featuring the rock group Duran Duran for my friend Colleen and one on Princess Diana. Margaret bought a Kit Kat since she was pretty hungry. We ended up lost several times before finally finding the hotel. We made it back about 4:00, frozen and sore!

We wrote out some postcards, watched American football on TV. The Redskins were playing. Then we changed for dinner. We found someone else who had an electric converter - Lynn Bittenbinder. She said she would let us borrow it the next day.

We left for the medieval banquet at 7:30. Hurray, the sisters finally left on time! We arrived at the "castle" - the Beefeater at 8:00, after a treacherous walk over ice. The banquet was fabulous! Once inside, we checked our coats and found King Henry VIII and a beefeater ready to greet us. Once we were seated at tables, we were served honey wine - yuck! - and some other drinks. The ale wasn't too bad. The meal included six courses: pâtè (not so good) and bread, cream of celery soup with potatoes (which we had to drink from the bowl - no spoons, of course), fish, chicken and spare ribs with a sweet and sour sauce served with carrots and russet potatoes, peach pie, and sherbet, which was delicious! The courses were served in crocks and we drank out of tankards, but the wine was served in regular glasses. We had knives and forks and finger bowls. The salt was in a wooden holder decorated with carved circles.

Before each course, the lights were shut off, and we had to call out "Bring us the next removed," whatever that means. Strange. Every once in a while, King Henry told us to "Drink ale!" And everyone yelled, "What's ale?" We went through this three times before we were finally told to drink. After the pâtè was served, a man from our group, Raymond, was asked to be the lord of our house. He and his wife agreed, so he was given a golden cape to wear. King Henry introduced him and the other lords. Then we gave a toast to Raymond and the second course was served.

We met Natalie and her boyfriend, Dave, Nancy, and another lady, whose name we can't recall. During the meal, we sang different Irish tunes including, "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" and "My Wild Irish Rose." We also sang, "What Do You Do With a Drunken Sailor," "Viva l'amour," and "Battle Hymn of
the Republic." Sister Edward Therese wanted them to play "Yankee Doodle." We toasted different countries and shouted for the USA. The entertainment was interesting. A guy named Samson drove nails into boards with his forehead and hands and pulled them out with his teeth. Ali Baba swallowed flames and a sword. There was also a magician moving around the tables. His name was Abi and he was doing card tricks. Then a black knight (for our side) and a white night dueled. The black knight won. The wenches danced for us. A man from another table joined in the dancing. That was hysterical! We had our pictures taken individually, which were put on key chains. After dinner, everyone got up to do the Conga. We went around and around in a big circle. I was right behind Sister Marian William, our college president. Everyone had a great time.

We collected our coats and started back to the hotel, arriving about 12:30 AM. We went straight to bed and had no trouble falling asleep.