Monday, May 29, 2023

Winchester Cathedral

You know, I groused in yesterday's post about our meal, but I don't want to leave you all with the impression that we're not enjoying ourselves or that things overall haven't been going well. This has been a fun trip and it's been great to get away. I also want to make clear that I am perfectly aware that my lack of a decent martini is a minuscule problem in the grand scheme of things, so minuscule as to not even be worthy of the word "problem," and that I recognize how remarkably lucky I am to be getting a new bathroom and to be able to take off for an impromptu long weekend. Not everyone can do these things. I get that.

My mom used to joke about our family being "grumbly." It's basically how we make light of things -- it's our sense of humor, and it goes back generations. My great-grandmother was super-grumbly, so much so that she was a little scary to me as a kid, but it isn't ever meant very seriously. I hope in my writing here it's apparent that when I'm grumbling -- about the Russians, about Mrs. Kravitz, about my job -- I'm mostly just trying to be wry or funny. There is an edge of real annoyance sometimes, don't get me wrong, but I try to turn it into humor.

And yes, I am grumbling from a very privileged perspective. I don't want to seem so clueless that I don't realize that.

So, with that long explanation/apology for my tone out of the way, let's talk about yesterday. First of all, an amazing thing happened -- I GOT MY MASSAGE! I went to the spa and told the guy at reception that I'd like to go on a waiting list if anyone cancelled, and darned if he didn't call me about an hour later with an immediate opening. Yay!

Dave and I had already planned to go into the town of Winchester at noon, and the massage was at 11 a.m., so when my 50 minutes on the table was up I had to high-tail it to the front of the hotel and jump in the taxi with Dave and Olga. But it was worth it, and at least I was relaxed!

Our first stop: Winchester Cathedral. I've known the pop song for years, so how could I not seize the moment to see the real thing?! (Incidentally, the week I was born, "Winchester Cathedral" was climbing the pop charts and holding the No. 24 spot -- way behind the Monkees' "Last Train to Clarksville," which was the top hit of the week.)

Olga couldn't go into the cathedral, so Dave and I did it in shifts, with one of us dog-sitting in the park outside while the other looked around.

Look who's buried there -- Jane Austen! This was a complete surprise to me. Funny that her gravestone, while making reference to the "extraordinary endowments of her mind," never mentions that, oh yeah, she wrote novels.

There were plenty of interesting and beautiful memorials, such as this one to Francis Thomas MacDougall, a cathedral official who served as bishop in Malaysia, and to his wife Harriette, who "first taught Christ to the women of Borneo."

This opening in an interior wall is known as the "Holy Hole." Apparently pilgrims would crawl through it to be closer to the bones of Saint Swithun, some of which were kept there.

But the best part of the Cathedral, I thought, was the medieval flooring. "These mainly 13th century tiles are the largest and oldest area of tiling to survive in England," said a sign nearby that also requested we "walk on them with care."

Here's me doing just that:

The variety of patterns is pretty amazing.

After we'd both seen the cathedral, we went for lunch to a nearby pub, where we sat in the sun and split a plate of fish & chips while listening to a very good guitarist on a nearby plaza play "Here Comes the Sun" and other mostly '60s and '70s hits. (But not "Winchester Cathedral"!)

Then we couldn't find a taxi so we took an Uber back to our hotel, and it was a bit of an ordeal because we had the dog and some Ubers didn't want to take us. Even the guy who showed up gave us the impression he might not have if he'd read the dog note on our booking.

We took it easy in the afternoon -- Olga was exhausted -- and last night we let her sleep while we went back to Winchester to Rick Stein's seafood restaurant. I had Dover sole -- a whole fish, which was pretty large -- and although I probably could have had a real martini there I opted for a safer gin & tonic instead.

Back to London today!

(Top photo: Street art in Winchester.)


River said...

Wow, that is so beautiful, the Cathedral and the tiles. I'll ad it to my list of "Places to see when I win Lotto".
Glad you got that massage :)

Moving with Mitchell said...

I never get the sense from your posts that you're actually grousing... nor ever ungrateful. It's always commentary and entertaining. Great news about the massage. The wall art is excellent. The year you were born, my best friend and I were pretending to be cousins to one of the Monkees (Davy Jones). His idea, not mine.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

I loved the walk over the medieval tiles but I think your sandal style would be improved with the addition of white ankle socks.
P.S. Please consider changing your surname to Grumbly. It would fit you like a glove.

gz said...

It is a fascinating building

Rachel Phillips said...

It did come across as a bit grumbly yesterday, cancelling the dessert, the food described as "meh" although I have to admit I did not know what that word meant in English but took it as negative not positive, and half an hour when no meal orders were taken etc. and no spa slots. It all added up as not at all perfect. However, glad you have explained yourself; the internet is a difficult place to get across exactly what one means as I often find to my downfall, misunderstandings and misinterpretations abound. I like the look of Winchester Cathedral. If you ever come to Norwich,the Cathedral does allow dogs in, and even has a cat sometimes, the Cathedral cat.

Marcia LaRue said...

Thank you for the stroll through Winchester Cathedral ... it's the only way I would ever get to see it!
I don't think you come across as "grumbly" at all!!
A day of remembrance! 🇺🇸

The Bug said...

I was mesmerized by those tiles - very cool! And you were in a church on Pentecost - ha!

Debby said...

Oh how funny. Aril over at Gnatbottom Towers posted that very same mural on HER blog. Perhaps you passed each other in the street.

That is a magnificent cathedral.

Grumbly? GRUMBLY?!!! My gosh. You're obviously an amateur.

Ms. Moon said...

Grumbly? Oh please. I just admit to being bitchy myself and get over it. It's all about the humor.
Wow. I have to say I am most impressed with those tiles. Just incredible. Thanks for taking the time to share them.
I'm really glad you got your massage. Pronounced "MA-sage," I presume.
I must tell you that Winchester Cathedral (the song) ear wormed me all day yesterday and NOw IT IS BACK!

Pixie said...

I don't think of you as grumbly at all, nor do I think you see yourself as entitled.

The cathedral is beautiful. I'm not religious at all but I do love a good church.

ellen abbott said...

no pews? did the attendees to the services have to stand the whole time? I think that's so weird that people are buried under the floor. I wonder what the rhyme or reason is behind all the different tile patterns, did they just use whatever they could get at the time?

Boud said...

Rows of chairs, Ellen, shown in picture. Not unusual in ancient cathedrals. Chartres has them. That's why I never saw the labyrinth -- all chaired up for Easter when I was there.
I wonder if they bought up tile remnants, all the different styles!

It sounds like a great trip, grumbling or not.

37paddington said...

What a beautiful cathedral! Thank you for bringing me along on your tour of it. As for your tone, I don't ever think of it as whining. The way I see it, we get to show up however we want to on our own blogs, we're all just recording and processing our lives anyway, and if we're from grumbly families (love that) then that's how we process. Carry on!

NewRobin13 said...

Winchester Cathedral is so beautiful. I love your walk video along the changing tiles. I always appreciate when you show us places that I know I will never see with my own eyes. It's always such a beautiful perspective through yours.

Sharon said...

That sounds like a perfectly wonderful day right down to the fish and chips and the Dover sole. I love all the patterns in the tile floor.
And, I really like that mural in the top photo. What a clever piece of street art.

Blondi Blathers said...

Grumbly, you say? This is the first time I've heard anyone mention this particular "family trait" outside of a branch of my own, the Bartleys -- they were known (I mean, some of them were) as being "cranky" as well as for the gap between their top two teeth.

I have neither the crankiness nor the gap, but have written at least one obituary including them, and the mourners at the funerals have chuckled in affectionate recognition when they were read out.

Your family grumbling came with humour, which is better than just being owly -- another word often used to describe my grandmother, her father, and one of my uncles.

As always, I am amazed by the things you find to take photos of, Steve.


Blondi Blathers said...

I happen to be finishing a biography of Jane Austen (by Carol Shields) this morning, so what a treat to see her burial place! Thank you. -Kate

Ellen D. said...

Are you grumbling about the fact that you might have been grumbly!?!
Now you know I am just teasing you, Steve! You are just letting us know when things bug you a bit and that's normal for everyone!
Glad your trip is turning out to be so great! Hope they are getting lots done on your apartment!

Kelly said...

Cathedrals are such interesting places, filled with beauty! Those floor tiles are incredible, especially considering their age. As far as modern stuff, I love the wall art with the bricks!

Thanks for the ear worm.

Beth's Patio Chit Chat said...

The Cathedral is just gorgeous and I love the tile flooring. I was somewhat surprised at the chairs. I was expecting ornate pews but never the less, it is still beautiful.

Nice that you and Dave took shifts with Olga. It is so weird here in the U.S. because so many places do not allow dogs or cats or any other support animals or not.
There was a big story about a emotional rabbit that caused a huge debate not long ago. Miss Edna would not go anywhere that Pogo was not allowed to go. I don't understand why so many people have an objection to animals. They are truly a part of our families and if they don't bother others then they should just live and let live.

I don't ever expect any get away to be 100% perfect so I never think of anything that you write as grumbling. Besides it is your point of view at the little things that mean something to you that is real life. Food can always be a little better, a mixed drink could be a little better etc so it is just a part of life. Grumble on my dear man!

Be safe on your journey back to London. Give Olga a hug for me.

Allison said...

Grumble on! I didn't really pick up that tone yesterday, all observations were warranted. The cathedral is truly lovely. Have you been to Germany? The non-Catholic churches paint their interiors, and they are quite spectacular. The Frauenkirche in Dresden is particularly amazing.

Jim Davis said...

You sounded neither grumbly nor entitled, just an opinion on the quality of the service, beverages and food.

Damselfly said...

Thank you for sharing the lovely photos of your weekend away. Yesterday's photos of Olga were wonderful and smile-inducing! Today's photos of Winchester Cathedral are incredible, especially the floor tiles.
Haven't ever considered you to be grumbly or entitled. I appreciate your candor.
Safe travel back to London. Looking forward to seeing what the workmen completed over the weekend!

Colette said...

I think of you as more discriminating than grumbly. Grumbly is a good word, though.

Andrew said...

It is a sweet little mural.
It appears you've had excellent weather. £12.50 to visit the cathedral is somewhat less than the £16 to visit York Minster.

Catalyst said...

Perhaps that was "another" Jane Austen.

Oh, and BTW, not to be snarky but just to let you know: your video apparently shows that you forgot to get dressed after your massage. Just sayin'.

sparklingmerlot said...

Sounds like a wonderful day complete with bonus massage.

Margaret said...

That's great about the massage--after you'd already written it off. I'm a Jane Austen fan girl. So, I love seeing that plaque. None of us can express ourselves exactly on our blogs; the written word is imperfect! I feel like I sound a lot more negative and whiny on my blog than I am in real life. Most people consider me cheerful and fun--yet I end up unloading and venting a lot (too much?) on my blog. Just keepin' it real. ;)

Margaret said...

P.S. I've never considered you grumbly at all! Just open and real.

Steve Reed said...

River: Well worth a visit, especially when funded by Lotto winnings!

Mitchell: I remember pretending in the mid-'70s with my cousin's friend that she was dating K.C. (from the Sunshine Band). My cousin was her mother and I was her disapproving father. Of course I wanted to be dating K.C. myself!

YP: You may laugh, but I do occasionally wear socks with those sandals! (Not white ones, though.)

Rachel: "Meh" is Internet-speak for "nothing to write home about"! Yes, my grousing must always be taken with a grain of salt.

Marcia: I'm glad you don't think I'm grumbly! Our holiday wasn't remembrance -- that comes in November here in the UK. But yes, remembrance in the states, certainly.

Bug: Purely by accident!

Debby: What are the odds of that?! I'll have to go check out that blog.

Ms. Moon: I imagined someone sitting out there saying, "Oh, CRY ME A RIVER, you're lucky just to be on vacation!" Which would be a justifiable response.

Pixie: I do too. It's a shame many of them aren't really functioning so much as churches anymore -- more like concert halls and community centers. Or maybe that's not a shame, actually.

Ellen: The chairs are actually known as cathedral seating, if I'm not mistaken. They're meant for maximum flexibility of space!

Boud: Some of those tiles surely must be modern replacements. Some of them look much newer.

37P: Thanks for the affirming words. I guess I just want people to know that I'm aware of my grumbliness and to tell them not to take it too seriously. :)

Robin: I'm glad you liked my little mini-tour!

Sharon: I liked that mural, too. So colorful!

Blondi: "Owly" is a great word! Maybe we're related? I don't have a gap, though. :)

Ellen D: I believe that would be known as META-grumbling. :)

Kelly: Cathedrals are amazing. Some people think they're "all the same" but that's so not true.

Beth: A lot of smaller churches have pews, but I'm not sure cathedrals ever have them, at least in the main spaces. Maybe in the side chapels and in the choir.

Allison: Yes, I went to Germany in 1997, but not to Dresden. I do remember some colorful churches, particularly one near Lake Constance in the south.

Jim: OK, that's good! I just don't want people taking it all too seriously.

Damselfly: I'm so glad you're enjoying the Olga photos. I am completely aware that I blog her way too much. :)

Colette: Isn't it a good word? LOL

Andrew: The weather this weekend was nothing short of spectacular. Like, absolutely perfect.

Catalyst: Nope, same one! I didn't show it but she also has a brass wall plaque and a memorial window, both added later.

Caro: It was indeed! The massage was the cherry on the sundae.

Margaret: It's funny how we may come across as whinier than we intend! (Or that we simply fear we do.) Sometimes I go back and read a post and think, "Oh, STOP already!"

Moving with Mitchell said...

Oh, Steve, I loved the music of KC and the Sunshine Band, but KC himself never did a thing for me. Maybe it's our difference in age (yours and mine).

Jeanie said...

The tiles are fabulous -- I'm glad you did the movie of them. And that's a remarkable church -- Jane A. is a nice bonus!

You know, I never thought of you as being grumbly -- some things just have to be vented. And yes, we are privileged and we have talks with ourselves (you don't? Oh dear...) and say "At least no one is bombing my house" or something equally out of our realm. And then it's done. No worries!