Our last day - Cambridge and Oakington
Today was a sad day, but a great day! We started off with something sad, which was Kayla leaving us early. She left very early in the morning in order to catch her flight home, and most of us were still sleeping at the time.
Once everyone woke up, people split up and did all kinds of things around Cambridge. A large group went punting on the canal in the morning, which was apparently a highlight of the trip for many of them! Around noon, quite a few of us got some lunch and headed to the market place in the city center to eat, buy various food items and other neat things, or just to look around. After spending a while at the market, Grace, Heidi, and I heard some drumming coming from what seemed quite close by. We headed down the street and found out where this awesome noise was coming from…two guys were drumming in the middle of a walking street, and they were amazing!!! One guy had a real drum set with additional percussion instruments attached to it, while the other guy sat on a pail and played on other pails, pots, pans, and cymbals which were lying on the sidewalk all around him. They had a laptop set up, so a song would play, and they would drum along to it and improvise by running around, drumming on the buildings, garbage bins, each other, benches, etc, and pretending to sing along with the songs. They were quite the performers, and were not only very talented, but super entertaining. That was actually one of the highlights of the trip for me - absolutely brilliant!
At four fifteen, we were once again gathered on the coach, ready to head off to our final performance of the tour! We arrived at the church in Oakington, and had a warm-up/rehearsal, and then ate a fantastic meal that was provided by the church. After supper, we had a little bit of time to relax and look around the vicar’s garden, where we eventually gathered for a formal group (minus one) picture…we miss you Kayla!!
At seven thirty, our final concert began!! Unfortunately, I was sick and couldn’t join the choir for this performance (although I did make a special appearance for one song). However, this may have been a blessing in (a rather unfortunate) disguise, as I was able to listen to the choir from the audience. Wow. I don’t have words to describe it. Absolutely amazing!!
On the coach before we started driving from Oakington back to the hotel in Cambridge, we presented our awesome coach driver, ROB!!!!!, with a Winnipeg Jets jersey as a thank you and appreciation gift for his work during our tour! Without him we would have still been at the airport in London… We will miss you, Rob!! Once we were on our way, Randall began to hand out his choir awards, some of which are hilarious, while others are quite serious. We got back to the hotel before the awards were all handed out, so we finished up in the hotel before everyone headed off to their rooms to pack and get to bed.
Tomorrow (actually today, as it’s almost 1am here), we will be leaving the hotel at 7:45 and driving to the London Heathrow airport. It is at this point that the rest of us split up and some people head home, while others continue their adventures in the UK or head over to the mainland to explore some more of Europe. It has been a fantastic day, but, like I said at the beginning of this post, a sad one as well. We have all enjoyed the tour so much, and being the last day, it’s been one full of stories, memories, laughter, tears, and, of course, singing! It’s an experience that we will never forget, and are thankful to have had.
Please pray for safety for all of us, whether we are continuing our travels or heading home tomorrow, and praise God for the health and safety we’ve experienced thus far!
PS. Stephanie’s temporary passport was awaiting her at the church in Oakington, so she will be heading home tomorrow!
We left York at about 9:30 this morning and drove to Cambridge, where we arrived in time for lunch. At two o’ clock, we had an informal concert at the Round Church, and the acoustics in that church were absolutely amazing!!
After the concert, we headed to our last home for the tour, which is a nice little hotel in Cambridge, called Hamilton Lodge. Shortly after we arrived, we all got together in one room and talked about the tour, thanking various individuals for helping out before and during the tour, telling stories about favourite memories, and praying as a group. It was a really good time for us all to just be together and talk about the past two and a bit weeks we’ve spent together.
We have all had an amazing time, and despite the hard times that come with every large group trip, annoyances with people and busy schedules, tiredness, sickness, etc., we have all been greatly blessed with the opportunity to come over to the UK and sing praises to God in some of the most beautiful cathedrals and churches I have seen! We have met some amazing people, and have hopefully been a blessing and encouragement to those who have heard us sing. I have definitely been blessed and encouraged, and I’m sure that is true for many of the others in the choir as well!
After our group meeting, we were given the evening for free time, so we scattered and went to various locations for supper, went to evensong at King’s College, went to classical concerts, hung out at the hotel, etc. It has been a fantastic day, and we are looking forward to our final concert, which will be held tomorrow evening in Oakington.
Kayla will be leaving us early tomorrow morning, as she is heading home for a wedding, and we will all be missing her a lot on our final day in England, and at our final concert. We pray for safe travels for her as she heads back home to Canada, and we ask that you would do the same!
This morning, we had breakfast and then we had a rehearsal for a while before heading off for some free time in York. The choir split up and did all sorts of things, including the Jorvik Viking Museum, walking the city walls, the cat trail (you walk around the city of York and follow clues to find porcelain cats), boat tours, the market place, antique stores, walking around the town, visiting the Roman Baths, eating at pubs and restaurants (ex. The Slug and Lettuce), having picnics in the park, visiting old bookstores, and Barley Hall.
After a bit of sight seeing around York, we gathered together at Yorkminster Cathedral for an informal concert at two. The acoustics in that cathedral were absolutely amazing, and people came from all over the building to hear us sing. Sometimes I think it would be nice to leave the choir for a little while and just stand out in the audience and listen, because it would sound so much different than just standing in the choir!
Following our concert, a few of the students went up to the top of the Yorkminster tower, many of the students who hadn’t gone in the morning went to the Jorvik Viking Center, and others just wandered around or did some of the other activities listed above. The viking center seemed to be a highlight for a lot of those who went - it was very interesting and informative, and included a ride through an ancient viking settlement!
In the evening, everyone returned to the hostel and sat around talking, playing games, reading, relaxing etc. Then suddenly, a few of the guys decided it would be fun to jump into the River Ouse (the river that was running past the hostel). They weren’t in for long before they ran out screaming from the cold, but we did get a few pictures of them while they were in the river!
Today we had about a four hour drive from Edinburgh to York, so we stopped for lunch on the way.
On the drive, we had a talent show, where people came up to the front of the coach and performed their various talents for the rest of the group. It was called a “bad talent” show, but most of the talents were pretty good. Notice that I said most…some were actually fitting for the bad talent show! The performances included a Russian adaptation of the French classic “Allouette” by Dr. Schell, song covers by various choir members, a full vocal and instrumental cover of “Folsom Prison Blues” by Will (he performed the vocals and instrument noises himself), a dance by Heidi, a poem by Jeremy, and an original song to the tune of a Bob Marley song by Sam. What a fun coach ride!!
We arrived in York just before three, and quickly checked in before the coach headed to the city center. Most of the group took the coach into the city, while others walked in, and others stayed at the hostel for the evening. The people who went to York enjoyed activities such as walking the city walls, walks along the river, the York Museum Gardens, various museums of castles, vikings, and the history of York, and much more.
I stayed back at the hostel with a few other girls, and we walked to a nearby grocery store where we picked up some food and had a picnic in the lovely warm outdoors! It was absolutely beautiful, and only started to get cool by the time we were done eating. At the moment, I’m sitting in a lounge in the hostel, and Grace is reading a book while Esther, Ingrid, Kayla, Mel, and Zach very loudly play some card games! When I say very loudly, I mean…VERY LOUD!! At least they’re having fun!
So, today was a completely free day/day off in Edinburgh. We could wake up when we wanted, go wherever we wanted, and enjoy our time here in Scotland!! I think it’s safe to say that most of us used this free day as an opportunity to sleep in! before heading off to various activities around the city.
There was a free walking tour offered, and quite a large number of the students took part in that. I went in a group with five others from the choir, and we all enjoyed the tour very much! Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and provided us with interesting and entertaining information about both Edinburgh and Scotland, as well as various people, animals, and events that had to do with the city. He was also very funny, so the tour was a blast! On this tour, we saw many places in the city, including the Writer’s Museum, Greyfriars Kirkyard and Greyfriars Bobby’s grave, Edinburgh Castle, Mercat Cross, National Museum, National Art Gallery, and much more! There are quite the interesting stories about Greyfriars Bobby, so, should you be interested, you should look them up online! The only thing you need to keep in mind is that most of the stories you will read are not true…it’s still a fun story to hear about though, so I would encourage you to look it up! Greyfriars Bobby is a cute little Skye Terrier…I’m sure some of you are very curious now, so check him out online!
Other things that were done were things such as visits to Edinburgh Castle, visits to the Museum and Art Gallery, hop-on/hop-off bus tours, hikes up Arthur’s Seat (a big peak overlooking Edinburgh, visiting family (Mel’s brother lives here so she was able to spend some time with him), shopping, walking down the Royal Mile, and probably a whole lot more that I just didn’t hear about!
I really enjoyed this day, as it was very relaxing, and the tour I took part in was so much fun! Overall, a successful day! (for me, anyway!)
This morning we were up early and on our way to the Carrubbers Christian Centre, which is just a few minute’s walk from our hostel. We had a rehearsal at the church and then performed for both of the church’s services. We sang just a few songs, but also had some of the choir members leading the congregational singing.
Joel was sick, so he was unable to attend the morning services, and we missed having him with us. Thankfully he was feeling a little better in the afternoon and was able to get out of the hostel to have some fun with friends! Along with Joel, there are quite a few people on the tour with colds, so the coughing and runny noses are hard to get away from. It’s a miracle that some people still haven’t caught anything!! Please pray for healing for those who are sick, and continued health for those who haven’t gotten colds or flus yet!
After church, we had the rest of the day off, and we enjoyed various things, such as touring the Edinburgh Castle, walking down the Royal Mile, seeing movies, shopping, listening to/watching street performers (including bagpipers! the first ones we’ve heard so far!), and taking naps!
Tomorrow we have a full free day in Edinburgh, and as it is a bank holiday, we are hoping things will be open! Regardless, we are looking forward to another day of free time, and hopefully the weather stays nice! We haven’t had rain for the past few days, but apparently it’s supposed to rain tomorrow. We’ll be praying for good weather so that we can walk around and not get more sick!
We left Ayr a little after nine this morning and had a “long” drive to Dunnottar Castle, which is located on a peninsula on the North Sea. By long drive, I mean about two and a half hours…which is apparently long in the UK! Dunnottar Castle is now in ruins, but it is an amazing site to explore. It is up on a huge hill, with cliffs stretching down into the sea, and it is absolutely beautiful…also, a very smart place to build a castle as far as defense goes! In order to visit this castle, there are a lot of steps to climb, but it is definitely worth it! While we were visiting the castle, there was a wedding happening in the grounds, so we were unable to visit the ruins of the Great Hall, and it was also quite busy (which apparently it usually isn’t), but it was still a lot of fun to run around the ruins, climb on the deteriorating walls, and look out over the cliffs to the sea! Outside the castle, there are some beaches and lovely green hills, so the area is extremely picturesque! Many of us spent time in the castle and down by the beach, and some went for short hikes on the hills as well. I, along with some of the other staff and students, even stepped into the North Sea, and let me just say…it was cold. Actually, though, it wasn’t as cold as I was expecting it to have been. We all had a fantastic time, but when it was time to go, we made the hike back up all the steps (128, I think…Will counted but I can’t remember the number that he said) to where the coach was parked.
The coach ride that followed (from Dunnottar to St. Andrews) was one of the quietest we’ve had. Most of us were quite tired from running around, climbing walls and towers, hiking, and climbing stairs, and over half of the staff and students were sleeping!
We got to St. Andrews and were given some free time to see the St. Andrews Cathedral, St. Andrews Castle, St. Andrews golf courses, or to go shopping. St. Andrews is where Prince William and Kate went to school, so some were interested in seeing the various colleges and the quad, while others were more interested in the history of golf, which St. Andrews is famous for. The town is quite nice, and it was fun to have a relaxing time looking around. The town is also located on the coast of the North Sea, so many students took the opportunity to go for a walk on the beach, as well.
After some time in St. Andrews, we headed south to Edinburgh, where we will be for tonight and the next two nights. Once we arrived here, most of us just stayed around the hostel and a lot of us are planning to go to bed early, as the past few days have been quite busy and tiring. Others will go out in the city for a while. I, however, am one of the ones who is sticking around the hostel and going to bed a little earlier!