July 2013 visit to the UK

Phillip outside the 'Trip to Jerusalem' © Ricky Yates

Phillip outside the ‘Trip to Jerusalem’ © Ricky Yates

On Tuesday 2nd July, Sybille and I returned to Prague from our eight day holiday in the Orlické hory. The next afternoon, having managed to wash, dry and iron all our dirty clothes, I was off on my travels again, heading for Václav Havel Airport, as Prague Airport is now officially known, in order to spend the next five days in the UK – only my fourth visit there since moving to Prague nearly five years ago.

As on my previous visit just under a year ago, I flew with the budget Hungarian airline Wizz Air, from Prague to Luton Airport. Having landed at Luton on time at 15.30, collected my bag, got through passport control, remembering to say ‘Good afternoon’ and not ‘Dobrý den‘, I set foot outside the airport terminal, to once more experience a country in which I feel less comfortable, the longer I am away from it.

Before I fell asleep that evening, I had three ‘I know I’m in the UK’ experiences. The first came once I stepped aboard the shuttle bus to take me from the airport, to the car park at Slip End where I was to pick up my hire car. I had to listen to a long announcement all about what to do, should the bus be involved in an accident or catch on fire. All this for a five minute bus journey! Sadly this is health and safety gone mad, coupled with lawyers who offer to sue anyone you can think of to blame, for anything that might ever happen to you.

The second experience occurred that evening, after I had driven from Slip End, up the M1 to Nottingham, and met up with my son Phillip and his girlfriend Lisa. Whilst we were sitting in a pub restaurant around the corner from where Phillip lives, I overheard a bit of the conversation taking place on the table next to us. “They’re talking in English”, I thought to myself. It took a few seconds before it registered with me that this should not be surprising as I was actually in England 🙂

The third experience was a very positive one. Having finally worked out how to log on to the wifi network at Phillip’s current home, I accessed the BBC News website, to catch up with the day’s news events. It was a great pleasure for once, not to have any advertising anywhere on the site, because I was accessing it in the the UK, rather than in the Czech Republic.

Me sitting alongside Castle Lock on the Nottingham Canal © Ricky Yates

Me, sitting alongside Castle Lock on the Nottingham Canal © Ricky Yates

Phillip kindly took Friday 5th July as a day of his annual leave, and spent it taking me on a walking tour of Nottingham. In many respects, it might be better described as a pub-crawl of Nottingham, though it was a very warm day so we did have a good excuse 🙂 We visited the ‘Trip to Jerusalem’ which claims to be the oldest inn in England. And we had lunch in a most pleasant location, sitting alongside Castle Lock on the Nottingham Canal, outside ‘The Navigation’, where Phillip took this picture of me.

A heron looking expectantly for his lunch! © Ricky Yates

A heron looking expectantly for his lunch! © Ricky Yates

After lunch, we walked along the canal towpath to where the canal rejoins the River Trent. On our walk, we passed this heron, sitting on the base of a bridge parapet, no doubt on the lookout for his lunch!

The Trent Bridge Inn © Ricky Yates

The Trent Bridge Inn © Ricky Yates

We then walked across the main bridge over the River Trent to the Trent Bridge Cricket Ground and the neighbouring world-famous Trent Bridge Inn. Banners were already out on nearby lamp posts, advertising the commencement of the Ashes Test Match series against Australia which was due to begin here on the following Wednesday. But as we enjoyed a pint sitting in the TBI, the sport on the TV screen was tennis, as we watched Novak Djokovic win his Wimbledon semi final match against Juan Martín del Potro.

Myself, Phillip & Lisa © Ricky Yates

Myself, Phillip & Lisa © Ricky Yates

Later, we joined Lisa and some of hers and Phillip’s work colleagues, for another cool beer/glass of wine outside in the Friday evening Nottingham sunshine. My thanks to Natasha, (I hope I remembered the name correctly), for taking this photo of the three of us.

Myself, with Ian's mother & step-father © Ian Margieson

Myself, with Ian’s mother & step-father © Ian Margieson

I spent the weekend of 6th -7th July, staying with my daughter Christa and son-in-law Ian, at their home in Daventry, Northamptonshire. Christa did ask me not to post a photograph of her here on my blog, so instead, here is a photograph taken by Ian, of me and his mother Eileen and step-father Barry, sitting on the decking at the rear of Christa and Ian’s home. The reason for the computer on my lap was to show some photographs – I wasn’t working, honest!

Having said that, I did have somewhat of a ‘busman’s holiday’ on Sunday morning. I preached at two services – in St. Mary the Virgin, Wilby and St. Nicholas, Great Doddington, on behalf of the Intercontinental Church Society (ICS), who have financially and prayerfully supported the Prague Chaplaincy since 2000. These two parishes on the outskirts of Wellingborough, in turn, support the work of ICS. It was wonderful to meet people who faithfully pray for us in Prague. In turn, they enjoyed meeting and hearing me in person, rather than just knowing of me through a photograph in the ICS magazine.

The Cathedral & Abbey Church of St. Alban © Ricky Yates

The Cathedral & Abbey Church of St. Alban © Ricky Yates

With a few hours to kill before my flight back to Prague on the evening of Monday 8th July, I revisited somewhere that has a special place in my own spiritual journey – the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St. Alban, to give what is commonly known as St. Albans Cathedral, its correct, full name. Here, just over twenty-four years ago on 2nd July 1989, I was ordained deacon, and a year later on 1st July 1990, ordained priest.

The original Abbey Church was built on the site of where Alban, the first English Christian martyr, was put to death for his faith. It is quite a number of years since I was last here and it was wonderful to be able to both pray privately in the Cathedral, as well as to attend Evensong, before heading back to Slip End to return the car, and then to Luton Airport to fly home.

5 comments to July 2013 visit to the UK

  • Hi, Rev. Yates,

    Glad to hear you were able rest and recover (albeit, busily!) in the homeland with family. That’s so neat that you got to visit “Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem” inn. I assume that’s a reference to the Crusades?

    Nice blue heron snapshot! We have quite a few blue herons in our area also, as we have a pond right behind our house, and they like to make it their landing ground. When they swoop down, they look so much like the flying dinosaurs from LotR films, it’s a little scary!

    You were received Anglican ordination at St. Alban’s Cathedral??? That is too cool! I am a great devotee of St. Alban, and submitted a post on his life for publication on Open Unionism in June. I have also incorporated his story into a British history book I am in the process of piecing together for future publication (I hope!). It must have been quite moving for you to be able to revisit such a sacred spot after a number of years.

    I hope you are well, and if I ever wind up in the UK in 4 to 6 years (which I’m hoping for!), maybe we’ll cross paths during one of your summer trips.

    God Bless,

    • Ricky

      Yes Pearl – I’m sure the pub name would be a reference to the Crusades. Knowing your interests, if you ever get to the UK I’m sure you too would enjoy visiting the Cathedral & Abbey Church of St. Alban. The Abbey Church, which was raised to Cathedral status in 1877, has an amazing history & a variety of architectural styles and holds a very special place in my own spiritual journey.

  • You obviously had an enjoyable and refreshing trip to the UK, Ricky. 🙂 I’ve visited St Alban’s Abbey several times, the last time in the early 1990s for the ordination to the diaconate of an old friend of ours who is now an NSM in the city itself. It’s a small world…..

    • Ricky

      Thank you Perpetua – It was good to be able to spend time with both of my adult children, although as I indicate in my post, I do increasingly get a bit of what is best described as ‘reverse culture shock’, when I make my occasional visits the UK, having not lived there for nearly five years. Small world indeed, with regards to St. Alban’s 🙂

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