Our group got off smoothly this morning, destined for an active day outdoors with a serious forecast for rain. We went to Lulworth Cove further west along the southern coast than Bournemouth and Poole. Described by Cameron as a "nice hike with a natural arch towards the end," we set off at a fast pace. Very soon we could see this was no ordinary hike. We were on a path that hugged the coastline, following a cliff to a great height, affording us incredible, breath-taking views of the English Channel and the countryside. The trail went from Lulworth Cove through fields of Queen Anne's Lace and blooming buttercups west to Durdle Door. By the grace of God, we had no rain all morning. With a fairly steep climb, our mass of hikers soon thinned into a broken stream, with the youth leading the way. After hiking to a point with dramatic views of high, chalk-white cliffs, the trail went down, down to a beach where the natural arch stood as a formidable structure in the channel waters. Many of us went down to play in the salty turquoise water and enjoy the sandy beach where we found snails. In the distance we could see Weymouth Bay where the sailing events for the 2012 Olympics will be held. We would love to have lingered there all day savoring the majesty of our creator. Too soon we had to hoof it back to the buses for lunch, but what memories we took with us!
Nearby Harry's Bar was our spot for lunch, where we had reservations and had pre-ordered from a menu of chicken pot pie, fish & chips, beef burger, or vegetarian lasagna. Today is Matt DeHoff's 16th birthday, and we honored him by singing Happy Birthday!
Our next stop was Corfe Castle, whose ruins sit prominently on a hill. As with everything in England, there is an interesting past to share. The castle was started in 1086 and took 199 years to build. The architecture transitioned from Norman to Early English during that time. The castle was well built at high elevation and situated between two rivers, beyond which were hills framed on three sides by water. This was a royal castle used by medieval kings. With many attempts at attack from the outside, the castle never fell to enemy hands until treachery within the royal family caused a civil war within the castle walls. In 1646 the castle was intentionally demolished by order of Parliament to eliminate the possibility of further conflict. We climbed through the ruins, which clearly outline the foundation of the castle. Many partial buildings still stand with high stone walls. Terry, our guide, pointed out locations of water wells, stables, dungeons, terraced vegetable gardens, and even the toilets. The castle is complete with a pair of ravens, who are raising three babies born this past spring in a nest the size of a cubic meter. Split into two manageable shifts, we enjoyed tea and scones with traditional clotted cream and strawberry jam in a tea shop near the castle ruins. This was delicious and cozy, especially since it was lightly raining the entire time we were at the castle. We must be feeling at home in England, because the rain didn't dampen our fun at all!
We rushed from the tea shop to yet another meal. Dinner was served in shifts for the orchestra and then the choir to support rehearsals to follow immediately afterwards. At Cafe Rouge, a hearty Spinch or Minestrone soup and hot dish of chicken, potatoes and green beans was put before us. The chaperones have decided our weight gain on this trip may just set an all-time record for tour!
This evening we gave our first concert, held at St. Peter's Chuch, which is one of the finest Victorian buildings in England. Erected in the mid-1800's in Bournemouth, this large church is filled with wall paintings, excellent stained glass, fine carved alabaster, and one-of-a-kind needlepoint kneelers. The churchyard has a tomb containing the heart of poet Percy Shelley and the body of his wife Mary Shelley, who wrote "Frankenstein." Many people attended the performance, with some coming from St. Augustin's where they heard the youth sing yesterday morning. The theme for this mission tour is Peace In Our Time, which demonstrates our commitment to unifying different cultures, beliefs, races, and ages. St. Peter's has a tradition of promoting young musicians, and our group was blessed to perform in this setting. The cornerstone piece of our program is "Mass In Time of War" by Joseph Haydn, and this was performed beautifully with solos by Madeline Waters, Katherine Williams, Dan Krotz, and Matthew Miante. The choir and orchestra lifted the audience with their message through music. The program included some of our favorite anthems with solos sung by Ben Constantindes and Carly Colborn, and instrument solos played by Robert Williams and Ross Thompson. The final piece played was "Bugler's Holiday," which features our trumpet players Matthew Fitzsimmons, Jesse Boulden, and Ross Thompson. In closing the event, the priest described the program as "not to be missed" and encouraged word to spread to friends and family who are near our future performance sites. This wonderful evening ended with much conversation and a friendly reception of tea and biscuits (cookies) to honor our youth. We've already formed the beginning of a lasting relationship with a woman from the audience asking for a copy of the youth CD with the promise to write. God is good!
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