Beginning of spring and Southwark Cathedral

I pick up Piero from the tube station and take him to the gym. He is my new personal trainer. I wasn’t looking for one, but he showed me some exercises at the gym one day and the gullible me booked him. Alcira and Maxwell swear by their personal trainers and I have decided to give it a try as well. Piero’s bicycle had a puncture and he desperately needed the lift. 

At the gym Piero takes me around the gym floor and makes me try out different equipments. Lifting different kinds of weights, resistance training, sitting, lying down, standing, the lot. Muscles which have never heard the word exercise before were woken up and put through the mill. My sorethroat and runny nose was completely ignored. I hope I don’t make it worse. 

The gym is busy. Pregnant women, elderly men and ladies, fit young ones and not so fit people. Everyone has to start somewhere I guess and I think it is great that people are giving their bodies and health the priority it deserves. 

We have an evening dinner reservation in a restaurant near London Bridge. The sun is still hiding but the weather is much better than it was over the weekend. With the spring equinox here, it is officially spring time. There is colour everywhere I look. The pink magnolias, yellow daffodils, lavender crocuses and white snowdrops brighten up the green fields and gardens. 

At Borough market we walk around the stalls. Closing time is not far off and some stalls are slowing down while others are still trying to make some end of the day sales. Even with my blocked nose the smell of spices that fill the air is hard to miss. I get a warm mulled ginger, lemon and honey drink to soothe my throat. We walk around tasting some of the samples on offer, the goat’s cheese, cooked paella and mussels look inviting but we are due for dinner soon. 

Around the corner from the market is Southwark Cathedral. It is the oldest gothic church in London, dating from around 1220 and with a reference in the Doomsday Book. We’ve been around this area many a times but have never been to the cathedral. Today we have plenty of time and I need to get out of the cold. 

Situated on the south bank of the river Thames and overlooking the London Bridge it must have been an imposing structure over the millennia but now the nearby Shard stands not too far looking down on it. A cheerful lady welcomes us at the entrance and points us in the right direction. A place of worship, but everyone is invited to walk around, enjoy the architecture, stained glasses and history that comes with the building. At five thirty this evening there is a choral evensong and the nave will be cordoned off at that time.

In the cathedral there is the Harvard Chapel dedicated to John Harvard of Harvard University who was born in the parish and baptised here in 1607. There is a memorial window with a monument of Shakespeare who used to work and live in the church’s parish. His brother was buried here in 1607 in an unknown grave. Charles Dickens attended the bell-ringing practice here in 1869 and wrote about it in the weekly magazine.

The church was severely damaged in the Great fire of 1212. Further work and restoration took place in the nineteenth century . It was again damaged by bombing during the Second World War. A part of the Roman road running beside the cathedral found during excavations has been preserved giving us a glimpse of life in medieval London.

Another interesting fact that I found out as I looked into the details and did a google search is that the Cathedral Choir performed the theme song to the television series Mr. Bean. “Ecce homo qui est faba” – “Behold the man who is a bean” and at the end of the show, “Vale homo qui est faba” – “Farewell, man who is a bean”.

We wait for the service of the Choral Evensong. At the alter candles are lit in memory of those who died in Christchurch. The evensong starts, a sense of peace and calm takes over. I find myself drifting off. We do not stay till the end. It is time to make our way to the restaurant. 

London Bridge
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