Friends and lunch in church crypts

The forecast was for rain, but luckily it changed. A perfect day to meet up with friends and have a lazy day. Before that, a quick stop at The Royal London. There is some refurbishment work going on at the Hospital and the boundary fence is all covered up, so I had to walk around it to get to the entrance. Instead of it looking like an ugly deterrent, it is covered in photos and the history of the hospital from the 1700s. All of this information is from the hospital archives. If only I had the time and the inclination to stand and read it, I would have done so, but maybe not today.

Soon I’m on my way out and back to the tube station to make my way to St Paul’s station where I’m meeting my friend. She texts me the place where we are to have lunch, but not the postcode. At the station, I don’t have a clue as to which exit to take. I’m hopeless with directions. I walk in the direction of St Paul’s cathedral and come to a lovely square where the office workers are sitting out in the sunshine and having a leisurely lunch. I wait for the phone to ring for further directions. Sitting on your own people watching is not awkward anymore, with most heads buried in their phones, it’s actually quite easy these days.

My friend arrives and we walk to the lunch place she has found for us today. It’s in the crypt of a nearby church. The original church was destroyed in a tornado, but the crypt survived. The church which stands at the site now was rebuilt after the great fire of London by Sir Christopher Wren, the same architect who designed St Paul’s Cathedral. Dating back to the 11th century, the crypt is in the basement of the St Mary-le-Bow Church. The famous Bow bells, the bells of the church are mentioned in the story of ‘Dick Whittington and his cat’. The bells were destroyed during the Blitz and has since been restored.

We walk down the narrow winding stairs to the basement and is seated in one of the few nooks of the restaurant. We can just about squeeze in, but it gives us some privacy to catch up on all the news since our last meeting. The food is delicious and the dessert heavenly. I’m saddened to hear about the death of one of our colleagues who used to be our junior when we were at Kings. However bad life gets, I do not think that suicide is the answer.

After lunch, we make our way back up the stairs and decide to visit the church. The stained glass windows and blue ceiling are pretty impressive. Next we walk all the way to Liverpool Street station, past the Guildhall art gallery and Finsbury Circus. My feet are killing me. Although my shoes are comfortable and flat, there are not meant for long walks. I need to sit down somewhere and take them off. We find a patisserie and a hot pot of tea each later we were suitably revived. Next stop was the Spitalfields market, another historic landmark.

Although I’ve lived in London for over 30 years, there are still lots of places I haven’t seen. If it wasn’t for my friend, I would not have done this today. It’s been a wonderful day. As I find more time these days to spend with my friends, I realise how much friendships matter. As a friend recently reminded me, friendships need reviving from time to time and mustn’t be allowed to wither away.

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