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Archive for July, 2012

The past few weeks England has had some of the worst rain storms of this summer season. In fact a month’s worth of rain fell in a 24 hour period in parts of the UK causing horrible floods and creating a number of problems in those places. But today, here in Lincoln, it is clear blue skies, sunshine and warm weather (20C / 68F) giving me that “Naturally High” feeling and lots of positive energy ready to enjoy this beautiful day.

The Friends’ Meeting House

I walked downhill through city centre to my first stop – The Friends’ Meeting House – where the Quakers meet. The Lincoln Interfaith Forum, an organization that I belong to, has an event there once a month, but this week I missed it. I went to pick up a book written by my friend who was speaker for the evening, that they put aside for me. When I arrived there was a small group of people sitting around a table casually talking and drinking tea. It was their weekly open house. They asked me to stay for a cup of tea and join in the conversation. It was so awesome to just sit down with a group of people that I did not know and have a lively discussion about all sorts of things – many of the same issues facing both the USA and the UK healthcare systems, taxes and the economy. The conversation ended on a happy note – today’s beautiful weather.

John, the Dean’s Verger, and Maxine

I left ready to tackle the walk up Steep Hill to the Cathedral – It is one of the steepest streets in England. As I entered the Cathedral my friend John, the Dean’s Verger, sees me and welcomes me with a kiss on both checks. We commended each other on how well the Olympic Torch photo of the two of us turned out. Then off to the Cathedral’s Wren Library, where I volunteer as a steward, to meet with Joan who is stewarding today. Joan offered to have a look at my cross-stitch kit to see if she will be interested in doing it for me. I bought it four years ago when my friend from America, who was living here in Lincoln, said that she would do it for me. She wasn’t able to, and eventually moved back to the USA. So now I am in search of a cross-stitcher.

While I was in the Cathedral I went over to the Chapter House to see an exposition by a local photographer. He had his photographs hanging all around the circular wall. I stopped to speak with him and tell him that I am also into photography and how much I liked his work. He smiled and began to talk about the different techniques that he uses. After learning a new photography tip it was time to head home.

A Beckoning Door

On my walk home and of course with camera in hand, I stopped to take a picture of a church. Now I have taken many pictures of St. Peter in Eastgate but all from different angles and during different seasons. However today I noticed that the gate was open a crack so I slipped inside into the garden area to get it from another angle. A couple walked up and saw me and asked if I had seen the inside of the church. I explained that I pass by this church regularly and take pictures of the outside of it but I had not been inside, so they invited me in. As we entered they turned on the lights to show me the beautiful sanctuary and told me that I could take some pictures.

The Sanctuary

Stained-Glass Windows

They took me into a small room where there were five round tables of senior citizens sitting around talking and being served fresh strawberries with cream and tea and coffee. Dorothy introduces me and asks me to join them for refreshments and conversation. So again I say yes and end up staying for dessert and tea. It was their “Over 60’s Strawberry Tea” that I was now part of. I met so many nice people including Jane and her uncle John who came to sit at our table.

The Over 60’s Strawberry Tea

Dorothy told me that the “Over 60’s” meet once a month for tea and that she realizes that the people in this group are much older than me but still wanted to invite me to join them again next month – I think that I will drop in even if to just say “Hi” to all of them.

My New Friends

There is so much to learn from senior citizens, or OAPs (Old Age Pensioners) as they are known here. Many of these people have been around 75 years or more, and most have incredible stories to tell about their life experiences. Since I was a young girl I have always had a respect for older people and enjoyed having conversations with them and appreciate what I have learned from them. Remember to respect your elders – hopefully one day you will be one too.

St. Peter in Eastgate

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We were so excited when we heard that the Olympic Torch was coming to Lincoln. It was carried through our city on its way to London for the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics next week.

I immediately went online and found the websites that would show me the route and the schedule. I looked at the viewing points along the route to make sure that I would be just in the right place at the right time. I did not want to miss a “Kodak” moment.

After looking at all of the website information, Steve and I decided that we would walk the part of the route that surrounded the area where we live. We even had a print out of the route to follow along the way. I decided that I would choose a place along the route that was close to our house so that I would not have to carry all of my camera equipment too far on my own.

The night before the big event, I prepared by laying out all of my camera equipment. I packed my camera backpack with my full size Cannon SLR, both the regular and telephoto lens, extra batteries, a monopod and my pocket size point & shoot Cannon for back up. Oh yeah I threw in my coin purse with some money just in case someone came along with souvenirs to buy. I included my lip gloss and a compact with pressed powder and a mirror to freshen up during the waiting period. You never know who you might meet at these events. Time for bed to get a good night’s sleep to be ready for an exciting day tomorrow.

I woke up rested and refreshed and with high energy ready for a wonderful day. I got through the tasks of the day and continued thinking through just where I wanted to stand to get the best pictures of the Olympic Torch bearer as they go by. Backpack in hand, I walked the three blocks to the intersection of the Lincoln Cathedral and the Lincoln Hotel.

Closing the Roads

I called Steve and he told me that he was at just getting home as they let people leave work a bit early due to the fact that many of the roads in the area, including the one leading to our house, were being closed for the event. He changed his clothes and walked down to meet me. When the cathedral bells signal 4 o’clock there are just a few people starting to gather along the streets. I asked the police officer what time the torch bearer is due to arrive and he says between 6 and 6:15. He then tells me that this is the intersection where the torch handover will take place. Having this information gave me an opportunity to position myself for just the perfect pictures.

The Priory Gate next to the Lincoln Cathedral

Steve sees me at the corner and walks up to me and gives me a kiss hello. I am so excited that he is joining me in experiencing this special event. I shared with him the details that I learned from the police officer and we both began looking around at the four corners to decide on the best place to stand for taking pictures. We chose the side that the Lincoln Hotel is on. That allowed me to face the Priory Gate where the torch bearer was going to come through. I stood by the light pole and took a few test pictures just to make sure that I was in the right position. There were no people in front of us at that point and I had a clear and unobstructed view to take pictures. Now that we were settled on the position, Steve sat on the small wall near the curb to hold my camera backpack and keep our place while I went to see what was happening on the other side of the street where the Coca Cola Olympic Bus had pulled up and parked.

The Coca Cola team were taking pictures of people in front of their bus. I walked up and there was my friend John, the Dean’s Verger, ready to have a picture taken with two ladies from the Cathedral. He invited me to have a picture with him.

John and Maxine

After the photo, I began to walk back to the corner where someone was handing out Frisbee-shaped drums to pound on to build excitement for when the torch bearer was arriving. He handed me one as well as a souvenir bottle of coke.

Holding Souvenirs for the Photographer

Suddenly a man carrying flags in one hand and small medals in his other appeared on the street. He saw this as a business opportunity and he filtered through the crowd selling them. I did not buy anything but many others did. By the time the torch bearer arrived he had sold out of everything. Entrepreneur or just taking advantage of the situation?

Business in the Streets

At 5:45pm I am resting up against the light pole getting ready for the big moment. Next to me is a man that arrived at same time. He had an even bigger lens on his Cannon camera and he was also propped against the light pole. We stood there in position so that we could both get great pictures.

Waiting for the Moment

All of a sudden this large family with lots of kids that was sitting on the curb now all stand up and – you guessed it – are now blocking all of our views. They turned around and saw all of us but ignored the fact that all of them were now blocking our view. Even the little lady in the wheelchair next to us was now surrounded by all of these kids and could not see a thing. We were waiting in this spot for over two hours and they just showed up and obstructed the view.

I am a very patient person but my patience was running out with the parents of this family. However Steve suggested that I just keep my cool and not say anything and focus on the picture taking even if it was through the heads and waving hands of this most inconsiderate family. Just as I point my camera towards the Priory Gate the torch bearer runs through the crowd so fast that we almost missed him. Luckily I snapped two pictures of him as he passed by us. Whatever happened to the handing over of the torch to the next torch bearer in this intersection?

The Olympic Torch

The moral of the story is: Remember the preparation and the buildup, and the excitement and the energy that we felt as the torch bearer ran past us holding the Olympic Torch.

As we walked back to our house surrounded by crowds of people we realized that we were part of history. We are so grateful for the experience of another one of those magic moments as we continue our adventures of living in England. I call them Maxine’s Magical Moments.

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