Jul 1, 2014

Churchyard and Cathedral

Anne and Mick spent many years driving back and forth to Norfolk to take care of Nicole's grandparents Olive and Stuart in their fading years and to their credit stuck with them through thick and thin, staying with them and helping them through the most difficult parts of their lives.

I wouldn't want to speak for her but I think Anne was quite pleased when Eloise said that one of the things that she wanted to do while we were in England was to visit Granddad Stewart's grave in Necton and to help her to clean it and put some flowers on it.

I remember that we went up last time we were all in England together and Anne and Nicole paid their respects to Olive by cleaning her gravestone back then and now Stewart has been buried with her, so it was a nice thing to do to go and see the church and the graveyard.

We got there on an archetypically English afternoon, with the sun shining and a gentle breeze ruffling the oaks and a ride-on mower attending to the graveyard lawn.

Mick and the Infernal Hound retired to a respectful distance while Anne, Nicole and Eloise attended to the gravestone and Lyra attempted to frustrate them.

I had a look around the graveyard, at the new gravestones, perfectly typefaced, and at the very ancient gravestones with their carvings all but invisible through time's weathering, and felt the history of the village there written in stone underneath trees as old as the oldest carvings there.

After all that mooning around I had a look at the progress made, and there were soap suds and Lyra was trying to sabotage the flowers. I had a look at the church. It had a nice ceiling.

Afterwards we went to the pub and had a nice pub lunch thingy. And then to Ely.

We happened upon a car park which was astonishingly free of charge. There were people in the car park, just standing around, wondering how it was that this car park was free. It was as though it had been transported from the distant past where every available inch of land wasn't exploited and taxed and owned.

We looked at a map and struck off in what looked like the right general direction, with Eloise walking Beppi the Astronomical Mutt and the rest of us following on. Needless to say with my navigating skills we were soon at the Cathedral.

Both grandparents elected not to enter the Cathedral ostensibly for dog-care reasons, arguably in fact to go shopping.

Us tourists though felt compelled to enter the hallowed halls of the Cathedral, a huge edifice standing like a huge edifice that stands over the surrounding countryside like a really finely architected aircraft hangar.

We wandered around the collosal Cathedral after negotiating our entrance and looked up at the ceiling so far above and ambled down the aisle, our footsteps echoing amongst all the footsteps and intermingling with the floating phrases that wafted around as someone in some dim recess played upon a keyboard we couldn't see and made his music on organ pipes that we couldn't find.

At the centre of the Church we craned our necks at the octagonal tower, buttressed and hollow, its collonnade of stained glass letting in the sunshine, colouring it as it lit the stone beneath, as we walked round the roped off area surrounding whatever it was that was roped off which we frankly we didn't really give a monkey's about.

Lyra however, naive, unformed, innocent, impish, cannot look a rope in the eye without appreciating that the area inside is somewhere that she ought to be, and chose this moment to begin a concerted campaign of being where she wasn't supposed to be on an epic scale.

And while she was it she thought she might, what with all the gentle sounds of footsteps and music echoing about, take advantage of the interesting acoustics of the place by making as much noise as she possibly could.

We went to visit the Lady Chapel, a side-church that was in use while the Cathedral was in disrepair (or something) which was much smaller and more acoustically interesting, being totally unencumbered by soft furnishings of any kind.

A security guard poked his head in, probably imagining that some ultraviolence was being perpetrated in this holiest of holy places, but it turned out that it was just a little girl making a lot of noise. A lot of noise. He retired, shaking his head.

We left the chapel and headed out into the transept  (which almost certainly isn't the right word for the area of the church surrounding the bit in the middle at the far end where the choir is, and the altar, and all that.

Eloise and I  found the organ, and even saw the organ grinder make his way through a little mini-person sized dwarf door and climb up a little stone spiral staircase into the secret organ room. We went looking for the pipes, but got waylaid on the way by a lady sitting at the back, appreciating the music. We got talking and it turned out that she was an off-duty guide with all sorts of interesting facts and knowledge.

After a while an official rector/proctor/verger type guy sidled up and said that we should leave now because they were closing up the back end of the cathedral for evensong. We talked a little more then left, only to find - horror of horrors - that the heavy iron door was closed and we were trapped in the back end of the church! Eloise was to put it mildly a little concerned and I was having a little laugh about it, thinking someone official will come along and let us out..... won't they....

It turned out that a good tug on the door opened it perfectly well. It hadn't been locked at all. Eloise however was discouraged and we left the Cathedral to go and see how Beppi was getting on.

Mick was outside with the dog and we waited for a while for Anne, who was shopping. I enticed Eloise back in for Evensong, which was beautiful, but she didn't appreciate it, the little Philistine, so we left and that was that.

We rounded off our trip to Ely with a walk up by the river and an ice cream.

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