Thursday 13 August
Today we left Paris Nord at 9.15am on the Eurostar (which is distinctly showing its age!) for London to arrive at 10.30am having gained an hour on the way. It was rather chilling to see the “war ” frontier at Calais with high fences absolutely everywhere and military vehicles patrolling the whole countryside. We have not experienced the refugee crisis directly even in Greece because it is concentrated on the islands. Calais was quiet at 10.00am this morning but no doubt hots up at night. The truth is that with international communication now allowing everyone to see how everyone else is doing lots of third world folk imagine that a European lifestyle is far preferable to the poverty and lack of opportunity they currently experience. This time around it was interesting to see so many begging for food and money in France and so far, admittedly only one half day!, no one begging in England.
We spent the day nesting in our Barbican apartment which is rather cosy but has a stove top, dishwasher, reasonable size refrigerator and three chairs, a luxury for us. We shopped at Tesco and I quite enjoyed cooking lunch today and dinner this evening for the first time in six weeks! The Barbican is an interesting area..theatres, art, housing estates and right opposite accommodation for those who can least afford to live in modern British society. It is an interesting mix.
Our apartment is 15 minutes walk from St Paul’s Cathedral, arguably the finest neo-classical building in the world and surely Christopher Wren’s most significant achievement. It is also in Aldersgate St …the very street in which John Wesley in Volume 1 of his Journal wrote that he felt “strangely warmed” and encountered the reality of the Holy Spirit in his life. Wesley became such an extraordinary preacher, churchman, New Testament commentator and missionary that it is fair to say England and its people were genuinely changed because of his dynamic ministry and mission. His brother Charles wrote some of the hymns which will surely be sung in heaven and are still sung today 250 years later. “And can it be that I should gain an interest in my Saviour’s blood…i rose, went forth, and followed Thee.” Words many of us will never forget.
This end of London on the other hand is full of young men in the law in suits strutting their stuff, being busy and hitting the beer hard at 5,30pm in the many bars. All standing, all talking! Even the occasional woman! We noticed the lack of smoking, the lack of tourists! and the smart outfits because the weather was distinctly cool (19 degrees) after all the European heat and we had a significant amount of rain (for which we were poorly prepared) and Kent had flooding. We ventured out to buy our Oyster card, get the week’s groceries and find some medical advice for Ann we could understand.
We are looking forward to wandering the streets of London and catching up with Ann’s niece Naomi who is currently living in Surrey and working in Windsor.