London Calling

Sunday was my last day in London, and it was just about the first day that I felt human and well rested when I woke up. (The irony of finally getting the better of the jetlag the day before I incurred it again wasn’t lost on me.) I drank tea in my hotel room – my hotel room had a kettle and teacups rather than coffeemaker and mugs, examined my map, and finally decided that I would just wing it. Just let it happen. I would get on the bus, and I would just… go. Wherever the bus went, that’s where I would go. I put Β£50 in my pocket, armed myself with a sock to knit and an apple to eat, and bravely went forward. What happened for the rest of the day, I’m not even sure how to describe. I wandered, I had good luck… I had strange happenstance and lonely moments. I had so much, that I’m not even sure that I can give you a blow by blow of every moment, so full was that day. I’ve struggled with how to write about it for two days… (though not really yesterday, when I was so jetlagged that I scarcely worried about personal hygiene) and I’ve decided you’ll have to live with highlights. That day was mine, and there are parts of it that I’m just keeping.

Highlight One:

I attended St. Paul’s Cathedral for the Sung Eucharist. Many of you will know that I often say that I am a godless heathen, which is to mean that I do not keep with any particular church, and that I am (gasp) an atheist. This doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t respect or enjoy religion in general, and as a matter of fact, there is a very great deal I find my personal moral code has in common with much of organized faith, particularly when it comes to the basic rules that almost all faiths…. and all good people, have in common. (It is the interpretation of those rules that defeats me. Stuff like “Thou shalt not kill” or “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”being interpreted as “Thou shalt not kill unless you happen to think that the other person isn’t really a person because of your own rules” or ” do unto others as you would have them do unto you unless you think that simply being a human isn’t a good enough reason to receive human rights” is a problem for me. I would have been invited to no parties at all during the Crusades.) I loved the sermon (topic involved how being a good Christian must include being an environmentalist, should you respect the work of God at all) and was profoundly moved by almost all of the sentiment. When I was offered a sign of peace, and made that same sign to others, and the organ swelled and the choir sang, I was filled with an enormous feeling… A respect for the monumental force that is human faith. Although I don’t place my faith in a supreme being whom I believe to be sentient, I am faithful. I have faith in the goodness of people. Faith in the love I have for my friends and family, faith in the love they have for me. I have faith that people will almost always do the right thing, especially if they are not hungry or poor or homeless, or worried about becoming hungry or poor or homeless. I have faith that most poor human behaviour is driven by ignorance, not cruelty. I have a mountain of faith, and that was what I had in common with everyone else in that church. Faith. Different sorts of it, but faith nonetheless, and it was a very human and binding experience.

Highlight Two. (Click to embiggen stuff)

Londonbridge0708Warandpeacest0708Queenannstp0708

Dragonstat0709Overthethames0709

Architecture and statuary. Love it. Enough said.

Highlight Three.

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Standing at the Tower of London and thinking about Anne Boleyn actually being imprisoned and executed there.

(I have recently read The Other Boleyn Girl.)

Highlight Four:

Muslond0708Archlongonm0708Archolond0708

More stone stuff, randomly found and devoured like treasures. (As Ken said “London certainly does not lack for “big and old”. )

Highlight Five:

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My previously unknown superpower for finding marching bands instinctively. (This is lucky, considering that I love parades and anything at all the has anything to do with one.)

Highlight six:

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Walking in Chinatown, lunching in Soho.

Highlight Seven:

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Randomly being found by a knitter and blog reader as I watched The Tour of Britain.

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Hi Jennifer! (I asked her how she reckognized me, and she hedged. I asked her if it was the hair, and she said “I’m not going to tell you what you already know.) I loved the look of the people nearby as they clearly thought she was absolutely nuts when she asked me to hold her sock for a picture, then the way that they just about dropped dead when I produced a sock from my bag and asked for the same. I love messing with non-knitters.

There was more, so much more.. but I can’t tell you all of it. You’ll have to go see for yourself. London is an incredible place.

PS:

Knitheathhome0708

I totally knit on the plane all the way home. No problem.

PPS: Ignore that wine. It is a very long flight.

228 thoughts on “London Calling

  1. I know what you mean entirely about your St. Pauls post. I was there in June- but didn’t attend a service. I have a very similar view (and am a Unitarian Universalist- you’d fit right in!)
    And I am totally not surprised that you found someone to take sock pictures with on your travels! That cracked me up.
    Thanks for sharing with us!

  2. Everyone who is in the right frame of mind can’t help but be moved by the majesty of the buildings and traditions of those who build monuments to their faith.

  3. Thanks for all your London posts, your musings on faith (not actually so different from the folks in many mainstream Canadian congregations), and for your blog and books in general. I spent my 20s in London and even though post-Thatcher the UK is in many ways a different country, London town endures. So glad you got to go. Welcome home.

  4. It’s not so much that there’s wine as that there appears (no doubt it’s the yarn’s ballband, and yet…) to be an entire bottle sitting there. (Bamboo circulars. Good lass. There’s a time and a place for principle, and eight hour plane rides are not it.)

  5. Wow, that’s is SO cool to meet another knitter. Oh, and the rest of the highlights are grand. But to freak out the non-knitting public around you in another country. Uber-points for that one!

  6. Faith in the goodness of people. In the face of what feels like constant evidence to the contrary, I’m with you on that one.
    And I’m green with envy. London is just gorgeous.

  7. Thank you for your London posts. Today’s is particularly wonderful. I would love to go to sung eucharist at St. Paul’s, although I’m also a “godless heathen” in the same way you are! It’s too bad you couldn’t spend a couple of weeks once the jet lag wore off!
    Blessings on you, Godless Heathen, and thanks again!

  8. I knew I liked you, but knowing you’re an atheist just seals the deal. A lot of knitters do tend to be rational thinkers, don’t they? πŸ™‚

  9. Wow! I would have loved to be at that service. Sounds like it was a good one. I also liked the (gasp) part of the post in reference to your personal beliefs. I get that a lot too (being a Unitarian and living in the Midwest–It’s all “gasp” if you’re not part of the “big two”).
    So, did you LIKE The Other Boleyn Girl? My friend has my copy and though she claimed to have hated it, she still hasn’t returned it.

  10. So glad you got aboard with your knitting needles!! No need to knit with coffee stir sticks! I imagine that if you hadn’t been able to knit you could have started your next book!

  11. Congratulations on your new-found courage and freedom when travelling. Reminds you of the saying “Not all who wander are lost,” doesn’t it? Wandering in a new place, especially one as visually rich as London, can be such an amazing experience, as you have happily found out.
    Thank you for sharing your trip with us!

  12. I’ve so enjoyed this (vicarious) journey, and thank you for sharing as much as you have with us.
    What you said about the ‘amendments’ HUMAN BEINGS make to certain commandments? Yeah. God hates that, too. Especially when the atrocities resulting from such amendments are done in his name. Hates. It.

  13. I am glad to see that you had a wonderful time in London. I would love to have visited too, so thank you for showing us so much of your own discoveries and moments of awe.

  14. So glad you enjoyed your last day in our Capital and good for you for keeping some bits just for yourself.
    Hope the jetlag doesn’t last too long and pleased to hear you were able to knit the whole way home…woe betide your fellow passengers had you not been able!
    Again, it was fabulous to meet you, you made my week! xx

  15. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Us less-worldly knitters are so pleased to share in your journeys. And your thoughts are so good — I almost cried in sympathy with your art post a few days ago, and this one about the sung Eucharist was just as beautiful. What gifts your writing and you are.
    Glad your home safe, with wine, and sorry you didn’t find buttons.

  16. I love St. Paul’s and wish very much that I’d decided to attend a service there instead of at Westminster. They were much more free and groovy about things at St. Paul’s I think (picture-taking aside). Also, awesome awesome awesome on the inside. Westminster might have Darwin, but St Paul’s has the dome, so…
    Knitting + wine = awesome any day, especially on a plane!

  17. This may be your best post ever. I loved the description of the service you attended. Thank you for coming out. I agree with Kate that we can often be a rational lot.

  18. Thank you so much for all your London posts; they’ve sparked in me a feeling akin to homesickness, even though a) I am a Canadian born-and-raised (albeit with an English mum), and b) I haven’t been to London in more than 10 years.
    Fortunately for me my sister and her family are emigrating to the U.K. next month…no more excuses for not visiting more often. πŸ™‚

  19. I love that you got on the bus and let it take you away. This is my fantasy kind of travel. However I would like more than 3 days to do it in.
    To me atheism does not preclude religion and faith. I see no contradiction as a Unitarian Universalist. There is a human longing for transcendence.

  20. I am new to this site though I’ve been knitting obsessively for several years now…This is my first posting, spurred on by our mutual love of London. I am so happy that you had the experience you had. My dear aunt, whom I visited in London frequently (i.e. each year) died this past spring, and while I’m missing her, I’m also missing London, knowing that my other “home” is gone to me as well. When I next return, it will be so different. But, was it Samuel Johnson who said, “When one is tired of London, one is tired of life”? Not tired of London yet!

  21. Just wanted to thank you for describing your feelings about faith the way you did. It exactly matches my own philosophy and I so seldom get to hear it from others…often feeling like a freak for my (non-) beliefs. I tell people that my religion is The Golden Rule.
    Thanks for the London experience, too, and good on ya for declining to share your all with us. We are pleased and entertained when you do, but by no means entitled to it.

  22. What a wonderful day! I loved reading about the parts you shared with us, and imagining the parts you kept to yourself. You also summed up beautifully my own thoughts on religion and faith. While I, too, am a “godless heathen,” some of the most beautiful and meaningful experiences of my life have been in churches, where I felt something akin to what you described, an amazing sense of connection to all of humanity. Thanks for another memorable post!

  23. Thank you for making me laugh on Saturday at I Knit, probably more that I have in ages! As a novice knitter I am even more inspired.
    So what did the security guys say about taking knitting needles on a plane?
    Loved your words about St Pauls and your sharing where your faiths is. Thank you. It was moving just reading what you put! Is being an atheist as irrational as being a believer?
    Come back to the UK soon.

  24. Your journey home was obviously safe, but I’m sorry to see you go. Please come back soon? Maybe next time you can stay a bit longer and see something more than just London – and since I’m from there originally – the North of England is beautiful – Holy Island and Bamburgh Castle are a must.
    I also love the Other Boleyn Girl. I really don’t think the recent film does it justice. In fact I’m reading it (for the 5th time) at bedtime.
    Your knitting on the plane gives me hope for the next time I take a trip. Must remember to get bamboo circs though…

  25. welcome home. I am very happy for you that you could knit on the plane. I am very proud of you for wandering about London on your own. I am very envious of you for this trip. (although I have much to be thankful for myself!)

  26. You noticed there are LOTS of pigeons in London. Just how did “they” keep 6 million them off the steps of the church where P. Charles and Lady Diana were married? You gotta know they are not going to let her enormous dress train drag along in pigeon poop, right? BTW, one can have great faith and not be the slightest bit religious. One can appreciate thought provoking words and marvelous music as an atheist tourist. Our needles and almost knitting was taken away returning from France in August. Boo-hiss.

  27. great pictures from London & great description of an atheist moral code. One of my big pet peeves is the way some “Christians” think that atheists are all a bunch of immoral heathens – as if not believing in god gives one license to behave in the most evil fashion! Makes me wonder about them – do they behave in a moral, kind, ethical way only because god will punish them if they don’t? If left to their own devices would they behave in the most immoral selfish manner possible? Do they not believe that one should do the right thing just because it is the right thing to do? Does religion mean believing in the innate evil of humans, believing that people act in a moral fashion only if coerced into it by a vengeful god? And what about all the evil done by those who think they have god on their side

  28. Hi, Stephanie…. I always knew there were many reasons I liked you…. not just the knitting. Your views on religion are so close to mine. When our youngest was 7, I overheard a conversation he was having with a friend::
    Friend: “God tells us to be good and not to lie and to be kind to other people, so that’s why I do that”
    Son: “I’m just kind to other people and don’t lie and because it makes sense.”
    I felt vindicated in my parenting.

  29. I’m glad you loved London. I lived there for 3 years when I studied for my degree and love getting back when I can. I bought myself an A-Z and used to just wander looking at stuff, when I was ready for home I’d look to see where I was and take myself off to the nearest tube. I found some great places like that!
    One year I made it to St Pauls for the sung eucharist service on Christmas day. I’d worked overnight Christmas eve and needed to do something to keep myself awake ready to work a day shift on Boxing Day. It was just lovely. We did have a couple of tourists wander in and start taking picture before they were ushered out. I don’t think they’d worked out that a service was going on.

  30. Your faith and my faith are the same. I teach my son to be a good person because it’s the right thing to do, not because a “higher being” says it’s so.
    London looks lovely – I must get there.
    See you Saturday?

  31. How terrific that you were able to knit coming home! I can’t imagine how you would have relieved the beauty and wonder of your trip without it, not to mention how much alcohol you would have to have consumed.
    With regard to your observations on faith – yours and others’, too – I say a rousing, “Amen!” As a Christian I am as often as not distressed by the negative impact the actions of groups and individuals take based on their so-called faith (which I would term religion – possibly fanaticism – and not faith at all). Depth of faith has nothing to do with labels, nor even necessarily religion as you very well state. Choosing to have faith based on the best that human beings can offer, and acting upon that faith, is the greatest we can offer to each other on this earth. My religion is important to me, but not so important that I can not recognize the beauty of your faith and be grateful for it. Peace to you and yours!

  32. Wow – you did such a lot!
    Really glad you enjoyed yourself in London – and had some time to see the sights.
    And the comment on pigeon crap earlier on – the Houses of Parliament employ a falconer (with the most gorgeous Harris Hawk) for the purpose; maybe Charles and Di borrowed him for the day…

  33. It’s funny how similar our philosophies are– while I’m still hoping for a supreme being, as you said, I find that faith is a totally different thing than religion. I have SCADS of faith–but religion, not so much. I would have loved to have been in that church.
    I would have stayed in the background… “Is that? Do you really think? Should I go ask? I mean…it’s GOT to be… DUUUUUUDDDE, look at her HAIR!!!”

  34. I must admit that when I was staying in Toronto for a wedding I kept my eyes out for a certain knitter on a bicycle!

  35. And yet again I realise that what I call Christianity is so much closer to what a lot of people call atheism than what they think Christianity is.
    And as a Brit I am SO jealous of your wanderings round London. I simply don’t have the courage.
    Thank you yet again for taking the time to come and see us – last Saturday was a red letter day – and one I will remember for a very long time.

  36. Come to Scotland next time, okay? (IKnit is on my son’s birthday weekend.) We have men in kilts wandering around the streets here. And lots of sheep. Better than London any day.

  37. Glad you had a wonderful trip and great experiences on your walk about. Hope you get more opportunities to travel abroad because of you writing and knitting. Maybe next time you’ll luck onto the Tour de France! Or some of those amazing castles in Germany or Spain. And anywhere you go knitters will find you. Let’s see height, hair, sock, voice any of those might be the clue that tips the scale. Happy you’re home again with Joe and the girls. Hugs, Alice

  38. Stephanie, I wish I had remembered that you were speaking in London…I was there after a tour of Scotland but flew out Saturday. I would have done anything to change my flight and get tickets to see you.
    When next you are back in London, as I’m sure you will be, get a ticket to go into the Tower of London and if you do nothing else, spend some time in the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vicula [sp?] on the Tower grounds. Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard are both buried there, on either side of the pulpit. It was a very moving experience for me to be in the presence of these two beautiful, sad, doomed ladies. I’m sure you will find it the same. Cheers!

  39. It sounds like a magical day in London. You found so many amazing buildings. Would you like a useless but interesting fact? The arch in your picture with the big statue on the top is the Wellington Arch, it is hollow and up until 1992 it contained Londons smallest police station.
    Love Saira.

  40. Welcome home Stephanie. Thank you for all the wonderful posts about London. I lived and worked there for 6 months over ten years ago and what you did is what I loved to do – just wander around, try interesting places for lunch, see where the bus would go, etc. I’m going to print out and keep the paragraph where you speak about your personal spiritual beliefs as I have never seen my own put into words so clearly before. Thank you very much – for everything.
    Leah in Atlanta

  41. Oh, we went to England, Scotland and Wales on our honeymoon last month! It was a similar experience the first day – couldn’t check in, got lost, wandered around before the shops and museums opened. Loved re-living the trip through your blog.
    I may have to quote your atheist sentiments, as a kindred spirit. It takes a brilliant writer to express it so eloquently

  42. So, I read your post and then (because apparently I am responsible for every single bad thing on this planet, I worried that some Ugly American from the Rigid Right might show up and leave something ugly on your blog) I read through the comments with trepidation.
    I should have had more faith, of the kind you describe so well here.
    (But seriously, what is UP with my need to feel guilty for the bad behavior of OTHER people? As if I didn’t have enough bad behavior of my OWN to feel guilty about.) (Not to mention my CHILDREN…)

  43. I have to go back later and biggify when I have a wee bit more time, and savor all this.
    But I too, with another commenter, wonder:
    Did you ever made it to Button Queen when it was open, or Liberty’s, and find British Buttons for Hey Teach? It’s hard to stand the suspense!
    : )

  44. Welcome home!! Thanks for the lovely tour and the pics. How fun that you got to meet a fellow knitter like that and take pictures with your socks. I’m sure you turned London on its ear. Now I have a hankering for a cup of tea…

  45. The highlights were wonderful Stephanie. Thanks for sharing part of your day in London with us. I was there in 1975 and reading this makes me want to visit again soon.

  46. Oh you were able to knit!
    Please please tell me what needles you used and how much you tipped the screener? I’m likely flying back to the US twice within a month (10 hour flights each!) and so desperately need more than ‘in flight entertainment’!

  47. No way!! You got to knit on the way home! Unbelievable! The last time I flew to London (from the states) I was able to knit gloriously the entire way but I had to pack them in my checked back for the way back home.
    Did they change the rules in Heathrow?
    I’m heading to London next month so it would be wonderful if I could knit on the plane there and back!

  48. I loved what you wrote about your faith as an athiest. And as a Unitarian Universalist minister, I was THRILLED to see three of us responding to you. I totally agree that one can have deep faith and be deeply religious without believing in God.
    Thanks for the musings and the travelogue.

  49. I had totally missed the detail that you were a gawdless heathen! May I say how wonderful! It always entertains me when the most kind thoughtful moral (pick some more) individuals are gawdless heathens atheists and truly human. Thanks some more for sharing so much.

  50. You make me DESPERATELY want to win the lottery so I can go to London.
    And Ireland and New Zealand, and Scotland and France, and Switzerland and lots of other places.

  51. Thanks for such a lovely post. I live in London & was just happily cycling home from my yoga class feeling all very om, zen, etc, when I somewhat nearly got squidged by a taxi. I was feeling quite angry with London and its cab drivers in particular but your post reminded me how lucky I am to be able to whizz about the city on my bike every day. It’s pretty cool here. Thank you for hopping the pond to see us!

  52. Oh lucky you being able to knit on the flight home. Last time I flew out of London, they made me check my carry-on bag because it had knitting in it. (It was an AirCanada flight.)

  53. It was a lovely day – thanks for sharing. I remember being amazed when I was there by the age of it all. I live in a New England town in a 120 year old house, but London has it all over that. Next time I hope you get out a little more – there are things even older out in the countryside.
    And I will be sending that bit about faith to lots of folks – you have said it all.

  54. Oooo, I’m looking forward to seeing the dark thing in the last picture, when it’s done.
    Funny story, about the mutual taking of sock pictures. Knittery seems to be its own complete subculture, as much as hippies or science fiction fans. No offense: I was married to one of the former, and count myself as one of the latter.

  55. Wow, you really covered some ground in one day!
    I feel absolutely desperate to revist London now – I am tempted to go this weekend, except that I have already promised myself that this weekend is for staying home and knitting, not gadding about and spending money on yarn (there is the lure of the Knitting and Stitching Show very close this weekend – I can practically feel the gravitational pull of the yarn already…) But I think what I admire most is the spirit of your trip to London, the way you were open to seeing and enjoying whatever you came across. So what I should really do this weekend is see what my home town has to offer me (I know there is one free art gallery that I have never been in, and some very interesting old buildings).
    I hope you enjoy being home and get over the jetlag soon!

  56. You’ve summed up nicely why I go to church regularly. Even when it’s all messy and I disagree violently, we’re all human after all and it seems like a good place to remind myself of that.
    I’ve loved your forays into London on your own. I handled many of my days in NYC like that, and wish fervently I could do the same in such a grand old city. Being rather shy myself, I’m aware of how very brave you were! Way to live the moments!

  57. Thank you for sharing your London. It’s one of those cities that makes you homesick, even if you’re not from there or have never been there.

  58. Thanks for sharing! Ah London! Your description is brilliant! It made me feel a wee bit homesick πŸ™‚
    We lived over there few years ago (now we in Cape Town) and when we just moved there I used to go often for discovery tour just like you- never met a marching band though- so you do have magical superpower πŸ˜‰
    And i loved the knittersphoto session- hahaha those noknitter dont know what they missing

  59. Glad to hear you had a wonderful trip and last day. Thank you so much for a wonderful talk at I Knit day, it was an absolute pleasure to listen to you.

  60. Echoing what others have already said, more elloquently than I could, thank you for writing on faith and religion as you have. You put into words the same feelings I’ve had for years. Thank you.

  61. You are such a gifted writer! I am so touched by all I read in your blog. I am the Head of a Jewish day school in Milwaukee and LOVE knitting and crocheting (is that blasphemy?).
    I have always wanted to visit London and now I feel even more excited to see it. Your words truly made it all come alive. I know what you meant about the visit to St Paul’s, too. Spirituality lives in every knitter..I am certain of it!

  62. OK, you’ve almost convinced me with your description of London that it’s acceptable for my oldest son to move there and work. (He’s 25 and has been on his own and working for several years now, but I like to think I have some say in his life. I gave birth to him after all.) London is very far from here, but I’d rather visit him in London than in his present home in NYC, which is much closer. Thank you for sharing your amazing trip.
    And if it’s any consolation, my children used to find me in stores by looking for my “fluffy” red hair.

  63. I’m not an atheist, but not particularly religious either, and I love what you said about the St. Paul service. Faith in humankind is a beautiful thing, whether one believe in a supreme being or not. (I grew up going to church in the American South, so I know a thing or two about all these points of view…)

  64. thanks so much for the London highlights…I am off to Boston next week, my hubbie is working the whole time, so I will try your ‘get on a bus & see where I land’ tour guide suggestion!…thanks for the idea!

  65. I’m an Anglican priest (Episcopal, in the US), so I’ll admit a bias toward what you experienced at St. Paul’s… But I also believe that more of that sort of gentle welcome and generosity of spirit from people of ALL faiths (and I include atheism as a faith system), would make the world a better place. Thank you for sharing.

  66. Thanks for sharing the wonderful architecture, statuary and other London-ish things! I will likely never get to London, so I appreciate being able to “share” your visit.
    It is *so* cool that Jennifer found you and that you were able to shock the non-knitters by taking sock photos!
    What is that lovely lace that you are knitting on the plane?

  67. I totally agree that the only way to survive the long flight across the ocean is to knit and have wine…maybe more than one. πŸ˜‰

  68. Sometimes you are more aware of everything around you when you are on your own. Cathedral music in England is wonderful. One summer when I was a student in London (over 40 years ago!) I sang the Sunday services in St. Paul’s with my university chapel choir. It was a marvellous experience. I’m also a fan of marching bands and the National Gallery!

  69. Thought it was not about London per se thank you for speaking so eloquently about the respect, and faith those of us feel who are of the atheist persuasion. Your trip to London sounded wonderful!

  70. Oh, frabjous day! I’m soooo glad you just struck out and explored and had so many joys.
    Thank you for sharing (and not sharing too! wise choice, I think as we all need our own private, joyous moments of wonder) – and your lovely words on faith. So well expressed.

  71. Thank you so much for sharing. I don’t travel much and I loved the pictures and commentary. As for faith, you have much of it…

  72. Love what you said about faith. One can be a godless heathen and a good person.
    Glad you had a day just for you to enjoy London.

  73. on a family trip to austria in the late 80’s our superpower was finding Peruvian pan pipers…for three weeks in every major city. for me the soundtrack of austria is not mozart, it’s pan pipes.

  74. Stephanie, do yourself a favour, since I think you live close to U of T, and go to evensong at Trinity College on a Wednesday afternoon (fivish, I think). My son, a former chorister at Washington National Cathedral, now gets his Anglican church music fix singing bass at Trin. Although the incense is a little on the heavy side, the music is first class. I predict that you’ll love it. P.S. This is my son who has requested the fair isle sweater currently advertised on Elann.com. I’ll probably give in and make it for him.

  75. After all you’ve said about it I was expecting huge hair on Saturday (a la Crystal Tips and Alistair for anyone around in the 1970’s) but it was surprisingly normal.
    You’ll go far with those superpowers, the ability to find Trafalgar Square (repeatedly) and that marching band detection thing – I can see they are going to come in really handy.
    Come back soon Stephanie, I owe you for two things now.

  76. The only thing I ever found disappointing about the UK was the fact that my husband was not there to share it with me. He just doesn’t like to travel. You had an amazing trip.

  77. As much as I enjoy your knitting writing, and the writing about your family (which gives me hope that my own daughters will not necessarily turn into Evil World Overlords despite current indications to the contrary) what I enjoy most of all is your travelling. And these last three days have been bliss. I travelled to London as a teenager and my parents let me loose (in the late 80’s) with a Travelcard and an evening curfew (hindsight suggests they were either insane or sick of the sight of me. Maybe my daughters take after their mother more than I realized!) I spent many happy days wandering around London and I have many of the same photos as you have shown. I spent hours in the galleries, sat by statues and took magical mystery tours on random red buses. It’s been like reliving those times (minues the blue eyeshadow and raspberry beret) – an utter joy. Thank you.

  78. I’ve had a wonderful day or two like that myself. Paris in December of 1984 comes to mind.

  79. I, too, am a knitter and an atheist, and also a professional singer, and although the sermons had a tendency to leave me cold, some of my most profound spiritual moments were singing with an 18-voice, all-pro choir in a very high Episcopal church. Those Anglicans, they know from choral music.

  80. Dear Stephanie
    Thank you for your blog – the comments on faith were encapsulated in an inspiring way. Did you like the ceiling at St Paul’s – I though it was marvellous. I loved that you stumbled on Chinatown.
    I think that wine in plastic doesn’t count – it may have the same alcohol content, but the ambience is lost; a bit like food being ‘mere fuel’ or a social gathering when one eats.

  81. Some, having read the Book, hope to warn you gently, even now: God exists and He has an agenda! There is no room for our own random, feel-good beliefs about the universe, nor can we make excuses for disbelief in the creator based on some church, event, or the Christian down the street, although each is super easy to do. Ask why, read. (From the soapbox in the unpopular corner)

  82. Thank you for writing on faith. While I count myself a member of a Christian denomination, I often find myself incredulous at what other “Christians” say and do in the name of God. Or those that claim to have “THE TRUTH” on their side. Sigh. Often it seems to me that organized religion is one of the greatest barriers to a sincerely religious life.

  83. Isn’t solo travel just the best sometimes? Lovely as it is to be able to share with people, there are times when it’s even more lovely to experience new things all by yourself. (IMHO.)

  84. Stephanie, thanks so much for sharing your experiences and thoughts with us. It must sometimes be a fairly large burden, but we all really enjoy it and it gives so many of us a chance to travel vicariously through you!

  85. I’m terribly jealous – what a wonderful trip. And the most amazing thing of all was not that another knitter found you but that her hair and scarf matched your sock so perfectly.

  86. I’ve enjoyed your posts from London. I didn’t get to attend service at St. Pauls’s, but I do remember just dropping to the floor (it was our 2nd stop after landing at Gatewick at 8 AM local time and I was simply overwhelmed by it all) and thinking “I’ll never fully understand the Catholic religion, but when it comes to building monuments to God, they’ve got everyone beat, hands down.” And yes, I realize the current St. Paul’s was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, but still it was originally a Catholic church and it’s amazing. There’s no way we can recreate all of that now.

  87. Thank you for taking me along on your trip. As an Episcopalian, I thank you for sharing your experience at St. Paul’s.
    Peace be with You, Stephanie.

  88. Hello, I cannot believe you actually saw The London Tower where Anne Boleyn was executed. I just finished reading the book and just seen the film. Amazing, if you do not mind I will have the picture of it. Great. I love the olden times, I think my past life. have a great day. πŸ™‚

  89. I’m glad that you had a good time in London. Especially since you just totally winged the entire experience. It’s a good thing.
    I totally agree when you say that there is just something moving about human faith. It’s glorious and it’s magnificent. I’m glad you had a good experience. ^_^

  90. I wonder how come when I went to St. Paul’s they wanted twelve pounds to let me through the door. Was it my jeans? No hat? Did they know I wasn’t Anglican? And yet they let the Harlot right on in. Hmmmm. They made me go to Westminster Abbey.
    Your posts about London were wonderful.

  91. Next time you go, try London Walks. They do Paris too. Walks with a guide. Meet at Tube Station and spend two hours walking a section of town with a really knowledgable, entertaining guide. Beats hoping that you have the right page of the guidebook open and don’t accidentally miss something fascinating. King Charles’ head glaring at Cromwell for example!
    Have devoured all your books, stash is, well, stashed for the moment. New knitter..what should I do with 14 scarves?
    Also, what should I do about bad habit of knitting late at night until I discover a ghastly error and then going to bed. Bad for sleep, bad for morale … Good for yearn shops. Yes, I meant to spell it that way….

  92. Oh man, you got the circs on board! I am about to get on a flight to Europe and I decided it was a good time to learn to crochet since all the warnings about London airport and knitting needles. You are right, so much of your trip was faith and luck. Thanks for taking us along.

  93. thank you for shareing your trip
    with all the hurricanes whirring
    round me here in florida ike passed by
    breezeing his way on to texas
    one needs faith hold out helping
    hands a whole lot of faith after a storm
    life changes us in many ways
    i hope your life changes are hopeful

  94. Thanks for sharing your travels with us. I love the description of your thoughts and experience at St. Paul’s. Very eloquent. I’m also glad you feel comfortable keeping some thoughts to yourself. Now, put up your feet, pull out your knitting (or not) and take a few days to rest and reconnect with your own family. Jane

  95. I have been holding this in since I started reading about you getting to London.
    YOU. LUCKY. DUCK.
    For some reason I’m hugely interested in contries OTHER than Canada and the US(seeing as I live there/halfly come from there). London is interesting to me, so getting to see some pics of the YARN HARLOT there. . .that just makes me want to go.
    Actually, that made me wonder about if you’ll be at the NYS Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck. . .
    One question though; DID YOU GET THE BUTTONS?

  96. Your post today was lovely-it made me give a big sigh!! I too have faith-but find the organized religions I have been exposed to to be lacking. I feel much more “faithful” when,like you, I hear the beautiful music from a choir and an organ. I feel enriched by it and peaceful…
    I tend to tell people when they ask my “religion”, and around here in rural Michigan
    they do, that I am a Buddist. I’m not -but think I might enjoy being one. Raised Episcopalian(which is a church whose roots lie in the fact that King Henry the 8th wanted a divorce from Catherine of Aragonne(not spelled correctly) and
    the Pope said no) I early on went “HMMM” to the whole idea of “organized religion”. But I am glad I live in a country where religious freedom abounds and I wish all of them well.
    When my husband and I were getting married,our Priest at St. Lukes(the family church)asked my husband why he (as a Good Dutchman) didn’t attend church. He said(before I could wrestle him to the ground) that he felt most people came to church to show off their new hats rather than as an act of faith. Boy,oh Boy, my Mom had to do some fast talking to convince Father to marry us! She was not happy. By the way, he told us we would be divorced in a year. In November we will be happily married for 37 years. Now, while our wedding was beautiful ,I think getting married at the Justice of the Peace would have worked just as well.
    Anyways, thank you for sharing your trip to London with us. It was wonderful and you did a great job showing us the sites!
    Did you ever find a button shop??

  97. Eloquent thoughts about faith and atheism, Stephanie! Thank you from yet another Unitarian Universalist. I, too, read all the comments with some trepidation and was happy to find that knitters are indeed the most wonderful people in the world! Generous and rational and open-minded/open-hearted. What a world! In the face of sometimes staggering bigotry, there is kindness, love, and hope. Thank you.

  98. Wow! Your pictures are always so beautiful!
    I’m especially intrigued by the Tower. I recently went back to college and obtained my BS (no comment please) with a minor in history.
    For my English History class, I wrote a paper about the Princes in the Tower. This (http://www.crimelibrary.com/notorious_murders/famous/the_princes/1.html) is a good synopsis of the mystery.
    To see your picture of the actual place where the princes were held and quite possibly murdered and buried…
    Sigh…
    I hope you’re feeling better now and that you have made your presence known to your family (as opposed to hiding out in your room and sleeping for a few days straight).

  99. Thank you for taking me along on your trip. It was an amazing vicarious experience. I believe that your religious affiliation would be referred to as humanist. I find it comforting to belong to a congregation and count myself among the humanists of the world. Thanks again for a thrilling ride where I didn’t have to get wet.

  100. They don’t card on airplanes. How do I know this? Well, they simply offered me a complimentary wine or beer with my dinner. I don’t look old… I’m 22.

  101. You like parades? And marching bands? I know where you should come on your book tours! You should come to New Orleans! For reals. I hear there is a yarn shop a block from the cathedral? And you like cathedrals! (Confession: I have not been there yet. I’m going this weekend. There was a hurricane, I haven’t had an entire weekend to do whatever I would like yet.) (That is, I have been to the cathedral, but not the LYS.) (Whatever. Come to New Orleans. It is awesome.)

  102. Welcome home, Stephanie!
    Thank you so much for the wonderful pictures and your commentary about your travels in London. As a divorced mom with grown children, I totally relate to the traveling alone thing. Hard to do, but I’m getting used to it-and find I enjoy the freedom to do what I wish (just miss having someone to share the “highlights” with….sigh).
    I’ve been reading your blog for about 2 months and am now immersed in Yarn Harlot. I just bought some lovely rose alpaca/silk blend and have a wonderful cardigan pattern from Green Mountain Spinnery I can’t wait to try. Your knitting inspires me to branch out- (I’ve been on such a sock jag since I learned the magic loop last year!). It’s getting cold in New England, and I need to warm more than my feet!!
    Glad you were able to take your knitting on the plane-I would have thrown an absolute fit if someone tried to prevent me from knitting on such a long flight!

  103. Dude, my own godless-heathen heart fills with love for you. My brand-new knitter 7yo who came to see you and made the blog earlier this year just got a big grin when I told her about your godless-heathen-ness. And *gasp* human kindness too. If you will be coming to Madrona this year, I will totally buy you a glass of wine. No whining, promise!
    Tracy whom you like. I think we should switch to godless heathen Tracy, which shall be shortened to GHT, if you like. πŸ˜€

  104. I am very happy for your amazing London trip (and just a bit insanely jealous ^_^). Also, messing with non-knitters is the best kind of geeky knitting fun!

  105. What a lovely day in London, especially when another knitter spotted you. Back in the hippie days we enjoyed the same freaked out reactions of bystanders. I am so glad to read your points on faith and religion, since you say so well what I feel. It is sort of a white-knuckle tension issue to express these views where I live, so for a long time my mouth has been shut. Doesn’t change my mind, though.

  106. I’m glad you got home safely. An outstanding post. What a wonderful explanation of your faith. (I frequently enjoy choral evensong at St Paul’s. A marvellous opportunity to contemplate).
    If there is one thing I wish I’d asked you at Iknit London, its whether you have plans to publish anything ever on aspects of life like parenthood, religion…. etc. You truly have some amazing things to say.

  107. Wow! The next time you go to London I want to go too LOL! Your pictures are lovely and I must admit they give me serious wanderlust. The only thing you didn’t tell us for sure was what you are knitting. Is it the Peacock shawl? (yes I followed the previous link and looked up the other name of your yarn.) It’s lovely. Thanks for sharing all those great pictures and your trip with us.

  108. I’m glad you enjoyed your last day in London and got to take in so many sights.
    Re St Pauls and religion, like many other readers here you have expressed the way I feel although I still consider myself a “believer”. I’m a Jew, but I have attended more church services than I can count and sung more church-music than most Christians. At the core of Judaism is a personal relationship with God and I figure that, if there is a God, he doesn’t care how I get to “good person status” as long as I consciously make the journey. (If he has a problem with that, he hasn’t told me yet.)
    Incidentally, my most frequently uttered prayer: “God, save me from the fundamentalists!”. Why? Because fundamentalists of any stripe don’t care about others. They only care about those who fall into their narrow definition of “worthy”, requiring everyone else to be hated/abused/purged from this world.
    – Pam

  109. Darn it! Darn it, DARN IT! I knew you’d be at The Tour of Britain. I was the other end (start/finish line, Embankment Tube) of it as my son’s team was in a warm-up competition there. Mind you, I was feeling torn at a would-be sighting as, on one hand, I’d love to say hello, but, on the other, I LEFT THE KNITTING AT HOME BY ACCIDENT. It was a frustrating/nervewracking afternoon I can tell you. Delighted to see Jennifer represented so brilliantly … her matching colours were the icing!
    Thank you again for iKnit talk and coming all that way. Next time, can there be a website where we can all add tips for your timetable. All those I’ve spoken to thought you got a crucifying schedule. Next time, you could have more than one day post-jetlag to enjoy yourself, yoga classes squeezed in for sanity breaks, brewery/river trips, breaks to go around the stalls, even button hunting, breaks in the signing to get a cuppa (with beautiful tea cosies provided of course. They’re my latest love affair). None of us wanted such a punishing schedule for you.
    There will be a next time, right? Right! That’s a date then.

  110. I too, as a follower of no particular religion, still relish in going to beautiful church services and visiting mosques and synagogues. Thanks for your beautiful words on this.

  111. See, this is why I moved from Germany to London. I’m now crossing Tower Bridge twice a day on my way to work, and am still grinning at the sight of it.
    Thank you for coming to talk to us, you helped with me with my knitting coming out! πŸ˜‰

  112. I do so enjoy reading your blog, but was saddened to read that you are an atheist. I really do not have any words for the deep loss I feel right now.
    Wanda

  113. Perhaps your experience at St. Pauls will stay with you long after your other visits will fade to memories or a photograph.
    There is a book entitled “Take This Bread” = about a women who had the same experience you did and it changed her life. I think that the author is Sarah Miles. Awesome book…..

  114. Stephanie, I read your blog daily and enjoy it so much. But like Wanda, I am saddened to learn you are an atheist. I’m not criticizing your beliefs, for that is a very personal thing with each of us. I believe that “enormous feeling” you experienced at St. Paul’s was God speaking to your heart. I hope someday you come to know Him.
    And as the bumper sticker says “Christians are not perfect, just forgiven”.

  115. I totally agree with you on religious philosophy. I remained “unchurched” for many years although, like you, I enjoyed the ccasional church service for the hymns, thoughtful sermons, etc. Nearly two years ago I decided I needed a “community” (I’d had a personal loss and felt rather lonely). I started “church shopping.” Lo and behold, I found a Unitarian Universalist congregation right near my home. At least half of the members are atheists like me. They care about all the social justice and environmental issues that are important to me. It’s a win-win situation.

  116. I have a Catholic upbringing which pre-ordains me to go only to Catholic churches, fast during Lent, give during Christmas and be very very quiet during Mass. For most of my childhood, I had to endure kneeling on a cold stone floor at 6pm sharp every night to say the Holy Rosary. The tradition was all drummed into our heads without giving way to reason. No one told me why I should say the Rosary or go to church every Sunday and on special days. Naturally as a rebellious teenager I hated God and told everyone who would care to listen that I didn’t believe in him. At least the God that my parents introduced to me. I don’t pray regularly now, I just utter quiet thanks for the kid being healthy and safe and for me being still here but I don’t do Mass or church or prayer meetings. I believe that the Catholic church is the reason why the Philippines has not developed in line with other countries in the Far East. Up to now they have a a strong presence in every way of life of the Filipinos and more recently still rejects the Family Planning Bill being discussed in both houses of Congress. If only faith can feed all those hungry mouths and give jobs to every father.
    On a lighter note, I adore your photos of London and makes me even more determined to go see it for myself.
    I hope you got home safe.

  117. I was once in London for one day, and the only thing I had time to do was visit the Tower. It was TOTALLY worth the price of admission. What a fascinating place.

  118. I adore London – my husband and I went there on our honeymoon in 2001 (most people go to exotic, beachy islands – we took our best friends with us to a rainy, foggy, FREEZING one) and I’ve been trying to figure out how to get back ever since.
    They had to DRAG me out of the Tower of London after I saw the Crown Jewels. I am a magpie when it comes to sparkly stuff and that stuff? SPARKLES! A lot.
    We also spent two lovely days in Edinburgh, and for the wool-obssessed, there is no better place. There is wool everywhere – almost as much wool as there is whisky.

  119. I am so envious – I haven’t been to London for 20 years, but it is one of my most favorite places in the world. “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” Samuel Johnson – maybe someone already posted that in their comments, but it is one of my favorites. Thank you for allowing me to “experience” London through your eyes.

  120. You sure know how to cram in a great London Day. So glad you had time to wing it, in our lovely capital. The plane knitting looks lovely.
    PS Will your buttons or lack of buttons for Hey Teach remind you of this trip?

  121. Your visit to St Paul’s brings back memories – we went to London for Christmas and New Years last year – highly recommended – we went to Westminster Abbey for Christmas Eve services – beautiful! Then we went to St. Paul’s on Christmas Day for a service. We had been there before but I forgot how gorgeous it is – another ‘sitting there with my mouth open’ moment – add to that the choir singing – sensory overload! I’m so glad you had a wonderful time and are home safely! Thank you so much for sharing your adventures!

  122. Wow! You sure did pack a lot into your vacation! I’m happy for you that you overcame your fears and got on the bus. With money in your pocket, there’s always a way home. And the pictures are lovely!
    Did you ever get your buttons?

  123. Wow! You sure did pack a lot into your vacation! I’m happy that you overcame your fears and got on the bus. With money in your pocket, there’s always a way home. And the pictures are lovely!
    Did you ever get your buttons?

  124. Although I am a practicing Christian, I was really moved by what you wrote about your experience at St. Paul’s. After all, it is our actions towards others that are important. Thanks for sharing.

  125. Stephanie: I’m so glad you had a good time in London. It is a rich city, and you found the treasures. Photos are excellent. Thanks for the travelogue.

  126. Thank you for expressing those views so articulately! I share your views! I’m also a *gasp* athieist, though I have always lived in the conservative US “bible belt” where I rarely find people who agree with me (luckily I did find my wonderful husband) and often find people who judge different belief as bad. Feeling kind of down with the current and constant election coverage in the US, I am so grateful to read your beautiful post today. I also LOVE to visit London, and have traveled there with you vicariously. Thank you! I’m so sorry I did not brave the traffic to see you when you visited Houston on a work day. I hope you return so that I may correct that mistake.

  127. When (not if) you get back to England, if you can, manage to get down into Kent and go to Hever Castle. It was the home of the Boleyn family and much of the drama of Henry and Anne is centered around it. It is also a beautiful little jewel, a castle small enough that you can imagine real people living in it. The general area is crammed with wonderful places, Churchill’s Chartwell, Sissinghurst, Knole, etc. Of all the grand houses and castles I’ve seen in life as a milbrat, I think Hever (pronounced heaver) has stuck with me as the most interesting.

  128. Since some of us have been lucky enough to attend one of your talks and most of us have at least one book with your picture on it, I would be willing to be that there were scores of reserved British knitters who recognized you on your wanders around London and didn’t step forward. Good on you, Jennifer, for not being so shy!
    (I would totally say, “Aren’t you the Yarn Harlot?” if I were ever lucky enough to spot you away from an official venue! If it were you, yippee; if not, it would be either a knitter who already knows how much she resembles you and would be flattered or a muggle who would think I’m an idiot but would have no future contact with me any way, so who cares!)

  129. PS. I consider myself a nondenominational believer (not an attender), and the most stirring religious moment I’ve ever had was standing behind the altar of the Canterbury Cathedral (the chancel? the ambulatory? darn that French architecture class) with a friend when the cathedral choir burst in to song somewhere in the church. Surrounded by angelic voices from an invisible choir and the light of the setting sun streaming through the stained glass, I certainly felt a Presence.

  130. Cassandra (the one with the washcloth AND 1st socks on Saturday) was lamenting that she hadn’t invited you to explore the Victoria & Albert Museum (Textile rooms) with us on Sunday. We sat in the cafeteria eating, drinking coffee and knitting. We met up with the Dutch Knitters, too. Sounds like you had a wonderful time without us, though!

  131. I really enjoyed your writting about faith. It captures some of how I feel, and when I finally get a chance to write the blog post about faith, on my non-knitting blog, I will certainly link to your post.

  132. I could visit London just for the simple joy of finding tea in the hotel rooms!!! I get so frustrated here with the American emphasis on coffee (nasty stuff!). It seems that anyone here who does not drink coffee does not matter.
    Beth

  133. Oh, Steph. The comment, “I have faith that most poor human behaviour is driven by ignorance, not cruelty”, really says it all. Thank you.

  134. Thanks for a most moving and eloquent post about atheists with faith. It expressed exactly how I feel. Puzzling to religious folk and many atheists.

  135. In the Tower of London large as life…
    Not only comedy, but also history, often = tragedy + time.
    I like your attitude toward religion. I was even today contemplating a post entitled “values voter,” in which I would muse on the fact that by using that term to refer to voters with certain opinions on certain sexual/medical matters, US residents tend to 1) imply that those of us who vote based on other, or additional, issues lack values 2) imply that values are related only to those specific matters rather than to a much larger moral universe.

  136. thank you for the colorful conclusion to your travels. i may not get to england but i enjoyed seeing it through your eyes.
    thank you for your thoughts on faith. as a Christian i’m always interested in “what the other side thinks” about morality and faith, and it’s nice to know that there are others out there who think the same way i do, just in a different way. thank you for being respectful.

  137. London, and those of us in the UK who were fortunate enough to see you on Saturday, is richer for your visit.
    Thank you for sharing your memories of your trip with us. My son lives in London so I am a frequent visitor, however the city never ceases to surprise or inspire.
    Chinatown is fab, isn’t it.
    Curiously, we spent our Silver Wedding day at the Tower of London – was my husband trying to tell me anything I wonder πŸ˜‰

  138. Hi, I’m glad you enjoyed London so much but a bit sad that you were left on your own to sightsee. Maybe it was your choice? If you ever make it back, drop me a line and I’ll happily show you round!!
    Saw you from a distance on Saturday and loved the cardi, in fact I sneaked round while you were signing to look at the back. I liked it on the blog but it looks fab in the flesh!!
    Hope you catch up on the jetlag soon.

  139. Faith, and belief, and experiences such as yours are where you find them.
    ‘Once in awhile you get shown the light
    In the strangest of places, if you look at it right. …’ The Grateful Dead

  140. So glad to hear you filled your day with more adventures (and thoughtfulness) on Sunday, and that you are now home again. And I knew that if anyone could get past the knitting embargo at Heathrow it would be you – well done!
    Just one thing though (to go off-subject)- did you realise that when you were in London you were further north than when you were in St John’s in Newfoundland? On Saturday you briefly mentioned it being “north of here” (see, I was paying attention and everything) which is true in Toronto but not London. It’s the Gulf Stream – it keeps us warm and, unfortunately, wet – but you may have noticed that…

  141. Are you an INTP (Myers-Briggs)? I am and we love anything architectural, socks, houses, buildings, statues, sweaters. We’re also pretty content being on our own, hence, perfectly happy sightseeing solo! Love your blog!

  142. I know this was mentioned before, but I’m going to do it again. You sound like a UU (Unitarian Universalist) If you ever have a desire for a religious home that is just as you described your faith, look us up. I think I’m going to crib part of what you wrote about faith today to use when I need to explain to the uninformed what a UU is in future. Thanks,
    Melissa

  143. I totally agree with you on the faith thing. I’m also an atheist but I would have to call my personal philosophy and ethical code “Christian” without the actually believing in Jesus part. And church music is wonderful to listen to no matter what your spiritual leanings. Plus.. St Pauls was a real trip for me when I was visited – so many famous people buried there!!

  144. There’s a philosopher I like a lot who said that that longing for the transcendent we all have is akin to hunger, or the sex drive: If there’s a desire for something, there must be something out there to satisfy it. I wonder if what happened to you in St. Paul’s wasn’t a taste of that…I hope you find a place where you can drink deep of it.

  145. I totally share your views on faith and religion and am so glad that you aired them on your blog. Incidentally, I thought you were great at IKnit although I gave up on the book-signing queue because I had a train to catch and didn’t like the idea of pushing to the front – too English for my own good! And I really wanted to show you a pair of socks that I knitted with yarn I bought in Canada whilst on my honeymoon there two months ago. Next year maybe?

  146. Ditto on the faith thing. And very well said.
    Come back to London! We want to see you for the next iknit Day! And I’m sure you won’t be wanting for people to show you around…or to hold your sock!

  147. Welcome back. Glad the trip was a private success. Glad to know you actually are as astute as I guessed. Next, try China.

  148. I adore reading about your travels and although I haven’t picked up my sticks for over a week, you always inspire. When are you coming to Australia?

  149. …”strange happenstance and lonely moments”…although I have great memories of traveling alone in europe, your comment stirred up forgotton feelings of those times and yes, there are moments where one feels strangely out of place and alone. I felt least alone in Scotland. Good job in London tho!

  150. I’m glad you had such a wonderful time. I’m terribly jealous and happy for you at the same time. Thank you for sharing your marvelous trip with us.

  151. I agree, this may have been your best post ever. I too enjoy religious services from time to time, even though I am a heathen as well. I love that someone found you in the crowd. Your blog has touched so many people round the world and brought us all closer together. Thank you.

  152. Yay, London! I was lucky enough to live there for 4 years while growing up, and have been back to visit my relatives (my mum is British) several times. Yet somehow, I have never run across a marching band… I’m so glad you had the opportunity to go and explore!

  153. What you say about religion really resonates with me. I am not religious, do not believe in any kind of higher power, but consider myself to be as good a person as most by living my life to the one code of ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’. I think that’s the only one you need really! It really hacks me off that all around the world people use religion as an excuse to behave badly and persecute other people and believe that what they are doing is right and good. Why do people always pick and choose the bad bits, rather than the ‘love thy neighbour’ bits? gah! (rant over… sorry!) Love the sock.
    πŸ˜€

  154. The little dragon on the pedestal that you photoed is one of the group of dragons scattered around the city of London (or the ‘Square Mile’) facing outwards to mark the boundary – in between the boundary is marked by specially logoed bollards. The city of London is the ancient city and now the financial/business area I think. I remembered the dragons from a trip to London and checked my facts on Wikipedia!

  155. I’ve been thinking for hours how to phrase this, and even now I’m not sure it’s going to come out right, but here goes anyway!
    First, I was very moved by the sincerity and depth of feeling in your comments on faith. I believe in God, and in Christ, but otherwise I am with you on the difference between faith and religion, and have much, much more time for the former than the latter (as did Christ, BTW!). I can’t help feeling, though, that anyone who puts their faith in innate human goodness is in for a rough ride. Millenia of human history do tend to show that at base, humans aren’t fundamentally good, or kind, or unselfish, when push comes to shove. I’m not saying Christians or those with any other kinds of religious belief are any better – just that by building your faith on humans you may be on shaky ground. But for your sake let’s hope I’m wrong, eh? πŸ™‚
    The other thing I have to say is in response to some of the other comments posted: I had to stare in disbelief at Kate’s comment which was basically saying “atheists are rational” and by implication “those who believe in a deity are irrational”. Whoa, horsey!!! I’d agree that knitters are rational, of course! πŸ˜‰ But let’s make that knitters of ALL beliefs, not just some.

  156. London is a wonderful place! I want to go again!
    The faith you described is much like my own. I do not believe in a supreme being – I believe in humanity. The magic of Santa turns into our parents, and I think the magic of a god turns into humanity. As Patricia said above me, it might make for shaky ground, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. My life has been filled by the kindness of strangers and that gives me hope beyond measure.

  157. I had a similar opportunity many years ago, to go to London for work. I had to work for 2-3 days with little opportunity to see much, but I stayed an extra day on my own time and money just to have the chance. I walked so much, my feet have never hurt more, but saw so many wonderful things.
    I know just how you feel. So glad you enjoyed your trip.

  158. This post was wonderful, from the terrific London photos to your thoughts on faith. I’m not an atheist but organized religion turns me off, as there is too much of the ‘our religion is best’ mentality, as if there is some kind of competition, as in sports, to be declared number one for the season. I always looked at God as like a really good parent, He doesn’t have favorites, He loves us all and wants us to behave nicely to our brothers and sisters and to this beautiful earth and all its creatures. As we are all on this ‘road trip’ together, we should help each other to have a wonderful journey. Rather than focusing on buying stuff at the gift shops, (McMansions, expensive cars) we should be enjoying on a daily basis those we meet (my wonderful elderly neighbor)even briefly (the tiny child I glimpsed today walking with his mom and carrying a much-loved teddy bear under his arm) and the beauty of the world (sunrises and babbling streams) and its inhabitants, large (trees, just to stand under a large one and look up) and small, (the grace of dragonflies, industrious ladybugs) as we travel along. And how He would want us to leave the world in good shape for the next generations of ‘travelers’. Peace.

  159. There are many of us who do believe in God who might define God not as a sentient being, but much more as the sum of all goodness that people do. I suspect that your views are not so far removed from those of many theologians as you might think.

  160. It looks like you found the very best of London! St Pauls is wonderful and I’m so glad you got to hear an English choral service because there’s nothing like it. I used to work just down the hill and if it was all getting a bit much I’d sneak into the side chapel at lunchtime or go to evensong after work to get a bit of perspective and food for the soul!
    Oh and to Anne Boleyn add Katherine Howard and Lady Jane Grey – there’s a good collection of Tudor Queens met their end on Tower Green

  161. I think you and I have similar feelings about spirituality and religion, from what you write here. I was raised Quaker, and there is a huge emphasis in that religion on living what you believe (and vice versa), and also on finding God within. Integrity is key.
    I’m so amazed that they let you knit on the plane! I went to Germany this spring, and the airline told me that I couldn’t knit (I called). I was SO BORED on the plane. My fingers were just itching. Maybe I should’ve tried to sneak on project on anyway…

  162. I pray that Atheon delivers your soul from your evil wickedness! May he smite the demons that have turned your mind away from his glorious truth!
    Oops…I mean…I give praise to Atheon for bringing you into his marvellous light. He has blessed you with a mind clear of the Virus of Theos. Praised be Atheon! Blessed be his servant, the Yarn Harlot! LOL πŸ™‚

  163. been to England 5 times now, and will NEVER see all of London. Been to Whitby, Towersey, Wakefield, Beck’s Hole, Carlisle, Portmerion and neighborhoods, and other odd bits while doing English morris and sword, and still want to see London again. Maybe next year with teenager in tow – your visit is so inspiring!

  164. It is SO COOL to be reading your blog, and recognizing so many place – I had the pleasure of visiting London for a second, brief (3-day) stop in June, in between Glasgow and Cambridgeshire visits to family. Isn’t it like stepping into a fairy tale when you see some of those things? As a New Worlder, when someone asked me what the most impressive thing about the British Isles is, I had to say the oldness of it. In Canada, a century-old house is a heritage monument. There – it’s a “new” subdivision!

  165. Stephanie, if we’d gone together to St. Paul’s Cathedral, we would both have been moved by the service, but some (not all) of our reasons would be different. Thank you for explaining what you believe in a way that doesn’t insult me for believing in God or calling myself a follower of Christ. Not everyone is so respectful.
    I’m sure I’d have a ball of fun at a knitting group with you and your readers. And if Rams is on one side of Patricia at 6:28, that leaves the seat on the other side open for me!
    I’ll probably never see London with my own eyes, but I am so very glad I got to see it with yours. Thank you for bringing us along. And remember, those of us traveling with you through the blogosphere don’t have to worry about getting our needles confiscated!
    ~ Dar

  166. As a former Londoner and a fellow atheist, I loved this post! Nothing like a good shot of humanism to brighten up ones day.

  167. What a wonderful post. I have been reading your travels around London with awe. I live only an hour away and regularly visit the big smoke, yet i haven’t done HALF the things you did in your short time here! i am very jealous. To just get on a bus and see where you went – very brave! I dont’ don buses in London! Though I do try and walk as much as possible rather than get teh tube. Glad you had a great time.

  168. I hope that one day the truth will come in to your heart. the Flying Spaghetti Monster is real and he want to touch you with his noodly appendage (but not is a gross way). We have Beer Volcanos. You like beer. I’ll pray for you. Ramen.
    In all seriousness,thank you for speaking out on your atheism. We’re glad to have you in our ranks!

  169. Thanks for going to St. Paul’s for all of us. THe only place better in the world to feel the eternal love of spirit is Canterbury Cathedral with the sea gulls constantly calling. Did you see the woman cannon there. Her name is Lucy and she is the first woman cannon there. I have missed London. It was nice to go there with you in words. I have been to the castle in Maidstone where Anne Boylene hid out under a window seat while on the run. It is an amazing story.

  170. “That day was mine, and there are parts of it that I’m just keeping.”
    Yeah. I have some memories like that, too, from traveling. When I was much younger, I used to think that traveling alone made me grow up a little. I still feel that way.

  171. Stephanie, how the HECK did you get knitting needles on a plane out of London????
    I’m there yearly and I can tell you, British airports are positively RABID abut not letting any knitting needles on board at all -not wood, circs, DPN’s – anything.
    I have had many serious conversations with many British security guards, had numerous anxious perusals of the variety of needles and projects I brought as samples, including PLASTIC circs I went out in London and bought at THEIR request (upon arrival), which they then denied (at the very same airport) upon departure.
    Please, please, tell me your secret. I’m too afraid of getting them nabbed and lost at Security to even try sneaking them on board in my carry-on!
    Merry

  172. It’s good to discover another person who has an almost identical view of religion as I do. Doesn’t happen often! And I’m incredibly envious of your trip to London. I spent a year there when I was 10, but didn’t get see much outside of school so someday I’d really like to return and actually look around!

  173. WOW! I feel like I was tucked in your knitting bag (hmm, what’s this down here, feels like….oh, wait, nevermind). What I mean is: I will likely never get to London in the for-real, but if I DID, I would SO want to see exactly what you took pictures of! I was away too (cabin in northern Michigan, nothing big OR old, except trees, which are almost as good but different) so I had a lot of catching-up to do; of course I started with YOU. HOW WONDERFUL! And how happy your UK fans must’ve been, I’m SO glad you got there! Thanks for all the pictures, now I’m happy.

  174. I took the exact same picture of Chinatown when I was in London in March(except without a sock.) The Other Boleyn Girl has inumerous falsehoods. Don’t take any of it seriously. Lady Antonia Fraser is an extremely knowledgeable, notable and highly respected historian who always does extreme research for her books and doesn’t base her “facts” on common gossip.

  175. I returned home from Heathrow yesterday, and a nasty man made me put my knitting in my checked baggage! I complained that the TSA allowed knitting needles on planes. (I don’t know what I was thinking to try to argue.) He told me that they are allowed on planes but, “You can’t carry them though the airport. It’s your choice, love.” Grr! Three hours to kill at Heathrow and eight more hours on the plane…

  176. Umm, if you liked the choir, there’s a possibility there is a church with a choir that you like in your town. I know that the enumerations of what one must believe to show up in the choir is ” The Choirmaster/mistress is right and knows what s/he is doing.” You could get to be a part of a group of people creating something wonderful- or not- with what abilities they have. I know you are up to your ears in creativity- between your knitting and spinning, your children’s creative arts, and the knitting community- so I don’t think you’ll have time to, but I did want to point out it is an option.
    The choir I was in when we lived right next door to a church had non- Christians who just liked the choir. They came to practice, but not to services. ( Me, too) It was like being in eighth grade again, complete with eighth graders, cool high schoolers, and passing notes. The music went from traditional to modern electronic, in English and swahili and german. I don’t know if this was an unusual choir.
    You might like getting wrapped in sound you make with others.
    You don’t really have to consent to that enormous laundry list of beliefs that you listed. You are complimenting an anormous number of believers by assuming they do.
    I am so glad that you had such a lovely trip, and so grateful that you shared it with us.
    sincerely,
    ari

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