Tuesday, 24 December 2019

DoubleTree by Hilton – Westminster (London, England)

This morning I decided to take the train to Windsor and see the Christmas decorations in the town and throughout the castle. I was a little late getting to the nearest station and even if I had been earlier, I saw that that the earlier train was cancelled. I knew St. George’s Chapel was closing at 1:00 today and wondered if not seeing the chapel would make purchasing a ticket be worthwhile. I decided to wait until I arrived in Windsor to make up my mind to tour the castle.

When I arrived I only had 30 minutes to get to the castle ticket office, buy a ticket, then walk down to the chapel. I know I wouldn’t make it so decided to visit the castle after Christmas. The decorations will be up until after the first of the year.

I did have my niece’s Christmas card with me to mail so I walked to the town’s post office. On the way I saw a Carphone Warehouse (same company that sold me my phone on the 14th). Going on a hunch I walked into the store and asked about my phone. I’m not happy with the quality of the pictures it takes. Since I was the only customer I immediately got their attention. They concluded that I had a faulty phone and ran some test to confirm that I should get a replacement.

They had phone in stock that was the same model and offered to process the warranty claim through their store. An hour later they finished with the paperwork and transferred my applications and everything I had in storage. Nice guys! Glad I followed my hunch. While they were working on my phone I walked down the street to mail the card to my niece and her family.

After looking around through a couple of stores it was time to return to London. The train trip gave me time to work on my new phone to get it configured to my liking. On my walk back to the hotel I picked up a few sandwiches from Sainbury’s since I knew many places would be closed tomorrow and a Amazon package at a pickup station. I bought a bracelet with magnets that are supposed to relieve pain and help me sleep better, and since it was less than $30, I thought I’d give it a try.

I was able to take a nap when I got back to the hotel, then finished getting my phone configured, talked to a friend in the U.S., and published a travel blog posting. At 10:00 I left for the service at Westminster Abbey. In the back of my mind I remembered that Paula and I went to a free service there but had to print out tickets beforehand, even thought the concert was free. I checked the listing again and it didn’t say anything about printing out the free tickets and left for my walk to the Abbey.

When I arrived at the Abbey I was told I needed to have a printed ticket. They pointed me to the line for non-ticket holders where I stood with the others in hopes that there would be room for us. I checked the website again and still didn’t see anything about having to print a ticket. I did stand next to some interesting people, one couple from France and another from India. Sure makes the time go faster when you have someone to talk to.

While in line I also called Cousin Donna to wish her a Merry Christmas. I had another hunch that I should call her. While she gave me news that there was a new baby in the family she then said since we last spoke a couple weeks ago her sister Mary Kay passed away. We both agreed that it was for the best since she was bedridden and hanging on by a thread. It was her time. Glad I followed my intuition today so I could talk to Cousin Donna soon after her sister’s passing.

Our line started to move slightly as they let a few people from our line into the Abbey. At about 11:20 we were asked to follow a woman who would take us to another entrance into the Abbey. Those of us who were near the front of the line were now at the end. I mentioned a saying, to one of the couples, that I say to myself when there is a change of plans: “This, or something better.” This little phrase keeps me calm and centered. Somehow I had a feeling that I’d see a Christmas miracle tonight.

There might have been nearly 100 of us who were being ushered to the alternate entrance. As we entered the Abbey an usher came forward and asked me if I was by myself, and when I told him I was, he showed me a seat that was near the alter and directly in from where the Dean would give the sermon. And I was only 10 rows away from the aisle. And there was my Christmas miracle.

The service was very formal and we were given a little booklet that contained the order of service, including the songs we would be singing. This service was for the First Eucharist of Christmas. The service also included communion.

So glad I went to this service. I felt very “Chistmassed” if there was such a word. It had crossed my mind that Christmas this year would be very different since I was mostly alone, but this service reminded me that my phrase “this, or something better” really does work.

When I returned to the hotel there were a number of messages on my phone. I have so many thoughtful friends and family who take the time to reach out to say Merry Christmas. I didn’t get to sleep until 2:00, which was okay since the only thing I had planned for tomorrow was to see Star Wars at 3:00 in the afternoon.

“Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.” 

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