Monday, June 20, 2011

2011 Tour - Day 2: St. Augustin's Church Service and The Priory

How refreshed everyone felt after just a short night of sleep! After a 7:00 AM breakfast at the hotel (the rooms meet our needs very well), the buses brought us back to lovely Bournemouth. We attended the Sunday morning worship service at The Church of St. Augustin's, which is part of the Bournemouth Town Centre Parish. The church building is considered Victorian, built in the early 1900's with a barrel vault ceiling offering wonderful acoustics. The church is beautiful with exposed beams, wood carvings, and brilliant stained glass windows. Our youth sang two songs - "If Ye Love Me, Keep My Commandments," and "One Faith, One Hope, One Lord" with trumpet accompaniment by RossThompson. They truly sounded amazing, and this was their first performance in England! An elderly gentleman jumped to his feet, excitedly clapping his hands. Barbara, a church representative, expressed heartfelt thanks, and the congregation responded with a standing ovation. This church felt very special to us, particularly as Cameron directed the second number. In 1995, Cameron was a Page Boy in the wedding of his aunt and uncle in this very church.

A short drive away, lunch was served on two floors at the historic Riverside Sopley Mill Restaurant. Aptly named, this was once a mill with a water wheel to grind grain for the local farmers. We enjoyed a light buffet of sandwiches, quiche, and chicken. Today is Derek Klahre's 16th birthday, and we celebrated his milestone with a rousing chorus of "Happy Birthday." Outdoors on this pleasant afternoon, we saw the restaurant sits astride the River Avon, with a gurgling stream running under the mill structure. Families of ducks were swimming in the calmer waters above. This was a lovely and quaint scene with speckled chickens near the river and a view of green fields dotted with red poppies.

As we left the restaurant, we began to notice the many houses with wonderful character due to their darling thatched roofs. The ultimate statement that spans centuries was a sign advertising a company that builds thatched roofs. Their internet web address was prominently posted.

Back on the buses after lunch, "Fork Stories" were shared and voted upon. Peggy Edmonds won her first-ever Fork Award in over 40 years of tours, for frying her hair AFTER burning a towel using a USA curling iron in a British wall socket. She was proud to receive the award, saying she was just glad she wasn't trying to curl her bangs!

Having driven to the town of Christchurch, we spent this sunny afternoon at the Christchurch Priory, a Church of England with amazing history. First built as a Saxon church in the 7th century, the original church was demolished and replaced by a great Parish Church in 1094 using the Norman style with heavy columns and rounded arches. The structure has been expanded through the years and is now 300 feet long. We saw the "Miraculous Beam," a huge wooden beam that was accidentally cut too short to serve its intended purpose. Overnight, the beam lengthened and a carpenter who had been very involved in the work disappeared. With the hand of God so clearly and directly a part of the construction, the church was renamed Christchurch Priory. It continues to be a living church, evidenced by a baptism service being held at the back of the church while we toured. A handful of lucky people from our group were led up 176 tiny circular stone steps to the top of the bell tower, seeing ancient bells that weighed over 1000 pounds each. The view from the top on this blue-sky day was spectacular of the comminity below and the English Channel.

Dinner was "on your own" in the town of Poole, which made for an adventure in exploring and spending British pounds. Afterwards, all came together to attend a symphony concert of the "Rusty Musicians" at the Lighthouse Theater. This is an annual summer project that combines professional and amateur musicians, and they are over 150 stong. Their youngest member is only age 12 and plays percussion. At 86 years, their oldest musician plays viola. Our clarinetist Brian Simon was thrilled to feel the personal connection of learning their 1st clarinet player is one of his favorite musicians. Pieces from Fantasia and other familiar works were played beautifully, but many in our group were lulled into a drowsy state after such an active day. We felt God's blessings upon us as we happily headed back to the hotel.

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