Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Winchester weekend part 1

I've run through vitamins A and C and I'm part of the way through vitamin E, so here's the first part of the weekend.

It's the tenth annual weekend the Lolas have done together, or the eighth if you don't count the preliminary two when D didn't come: Stratford, Birmingham, Brighton, Lincoln, Isle of Wight, Ealing, St Albans, Bath, Bristol, Winchester. That's a long time, and we missed one last year because of my broken leg. By common consensus, St Albans was the worst, not only because of the lack of attractions but because it rained all the time as well, and there weren't any good restaurants. Winchester was really good.

Cathedral close through an archwayI met Lola II at the B&B after a nightmare journey round Winchester, utterly trapped in the one-way system. I drove to the railway station more than once, just so I could set out again and be prevented one more time from turning down the road I wanted. The B&B was very nice when I eventually got there, and it turned out that the owner's daughter was singing in a concert that we had thought of attending at Winchester Cathedral, so she got tickets for us.

On Friday night the main highlight was Kevin and his dim sum trolley, which he offered to let us see, but we turned him down and ordered from the menu. D arrived on Saturday, and we embarked upon a city tour. Winchester's history includes King Alfred the Great, William the Conqueror and a mighty cathedral that was started before Norman times but took rather a long time to complete. It's built on water meadows and started to sink, but was underpinned with concrete thanks to a friendly-looking diver whose statue is outside the cathedral toilets. Another highlight of the city is a huge hall, with a round table in the style of King Arthur on the wall at one end, and some nice gates at the other end that commemorate the marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana.

Lunch was another highlight, at the Wykeham Arms pub. [Note to D: the beer was Fullers Discovery.] We went back to the cathedral for a tour, but it was delayed so we went and had a look at the crypt where there is an Anthony Gormley sculpture of a naked man sending a text message. Then Lola II and D had a rest while I wandered about. When the tour started, an organist had started practising, and the tour guide turned out to have a voice about as loud as a small mouse. The tour went something like this:

Buttresses of Winchester Cathedral"There's a very amusing story about this feature" [organ rises in volume] "founder of the cathedral" [another organ crescendo] "Bishop of Winchester" [organist getting into his stride now, very loud bit on the organ, rising to a splendid cadence and lingering finale] "so that was a very amusing story, wasn't it? Can you all hear me? No? I'll try to speak louder."

Her louder voice was about as loud as a medium sized vole, so after another five minutes we packed it in and went back to the B&B for a rest before coming back to the cathedral for the concert, which was choral music for Passiontide. The choir was very good indeed, but the music was the same all the way through, and I'd had way more than enough by the end.


aims said...

Oh dear! I hate tours like that - I mean really! Belt it out if your the guide!!

On a different note - the word of the day on my word of the day calendar is:


and I immediately thought of you.
Do you know what it is without googling it?

Lola said...

Fancy thinking of me when faced with the word 'alimentary'! Although the most commented posts in my blog are those on porridge, so perhaps I shouldn't be surprised.