Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer Solstice!

So, since the last post, lots of adventures!

Sunday was fun! I got to go up in the organ loft during Evensong at Westminster Abbey. I talked with Jamie, the Assistant Organist that recently graduated from Cambridge, and the other organists at the Abbey. I learned a lot and had a good time. One of the fun parts was seeing the scrambling for the Psalm of the day; the music was nowhere in the loft, so Jamie ran to another building to get a copy. Of course, this was during the service...but then again, no one could see because of the choir screen. Another fun bit was hearing the duet organ recital in the evening. The finale was "The Stars and Stripes Forever!" It was really funny hearing that piece played in the heart of England, right in the center of government!

The evening, however, was when life really picked up! I met up with Heather and Emilie at the Waterloo station and we grabbed the train for Salisbury. There were A LOT of people getting on the train, and more got on with each successive stop. Between all the clues, we figured that most of the people on the train were headed to Stonehenge for the Solstice. We were right. When we got to Salisbury, we took the bus out to the site. There were tons of people there, and more kept arriving as the night wore on. We saw an interesting sculpture made of metal that appeared to represent a man praying, towards the stones. Then we got talked to by two men (named Jonathan and Jonathan) that were at the event to talk about Christianity with people searching for answers. There were lots of people there who need such help, but many were in...less than good states at the time. We saw lots of people drinking and smoking and cheering and having a good time. We saw some druids, and people having a good time dressed as druids. We made it to the central area of Stonehenge once in the night and decided that was enough for then, we had touched the stones. We settled in, talked, and people watched for a long portion of the night.
About 3 AM, the sun's first light was beginning to appear. We got up and grabbed some hot chocolate. We then found the charcoal heaters that were set up and warmed for a bit. As the light was getting stronger, we wandered over to get a spot on the ridge behind the stones. Everyone was waiting, waiting, waiting. We had a woman behind us that had a microphone and a small speaker that was presenting herself as the Stonehenge Center Stage, or somethingorother. She kept having people come up and announce things and got people playing music to step up to the mike. Such comedy! She also kept discussing the history of the summer solstice festival...according to her account, there is a colorful past! It didn't help that there were lots of clouds just on the horizon. However, the sun peeked out from the clouds just after sunrise and there was a loud cheer (after the many false alarms people gave). I got some good pictures (check them out!), despite not being in the perfectly aligned place. We were close...
Afterwards, we wandered into the circle, as people dispersed. Our tickets were off-peak, so we couldn't catch the train until 9:45, anyway. We got some better pictures and were able to see the middle. Of course, we touched the stones again. And our friends that led the Center Stage now were in the middle, discussing anti-government things. How fun!
We made our way back up the hillside to the bus and made it into town. I slipped off to a few seconds of sleep on the bus, but not much. We sat around the train station, with a growing crowd of people in similar situation to ourselves, waiting for 9:30 when we could even enter the station with our tickets. By the time we made it in, there were TONS of people waiting for the train. We got packed in (people standing in all the aisles and in the areas by the doors) and still not everyone made it on. Then we began the ride into London. I was standing, so much for my dreams of a nap! The most interesting part was watching people try to get on at each station we passed through. Obviously, hardly anyone was getting off, and you could see that every space on the train was filled with a body...but they still tried to get on. It was a tight squeeze, at times. Even better was the people who tried to move down the aisles to see if there was room in the next car... Some people!
Once we made it to London, Emilie and Heather ran off to get things done before their flights home tomorrow. I came home and got some things done (including, of course, a shower) before taking a nap! It felt great to get about 6 hours of sleep after not sleeping for 27 hours. I'm sure I could've kept going, but I would've been miserable and not enjoyed anything at all. Since then, I've been getting stuff completed...I leave in the morning for Oxford!

Other News:
-my supervision seems to be worked out for Cambridge
-I have an organ to practice in Oxford
-my honors thesis was (finally) approved
-world cup...

I'll try to post the pictures tonight. If the internet here is too slow or refuses to do so, I'll be sure to do it tomorrow at the Oxford library. Their internet will be able to handle it, I'm sure.

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