My London Semester Journal II: Saturday, March 16, 1996

Saturday, 3-16-96
4:32 PM Ely/London
10:32 AM E-Town

Right now I am sitting on a coach bus in the English town of Ely. This was the last ISA Excursion of the semester. This morning we went to Cambridge. It was a beautiful college town! When Lori, Mel, Rachel, Josh & I got off the bus a young man flagged us down & talked us into going on a “punt” (boat) ride on the “Cam River!” It was £5 each & well worth it! As he paddled us along the river we passed all the town’s famous colleges that are a part of Cambridge… He told us a great deal about the town’s history & many funny stories of college students doing silly things like jumping off bridges naked!

After the ride Lori, Mel, & Rachel went to a market. Josh & I were more into the whole college town thing & so we walked through the streets & by many of Cambridge’s colleges’ campuses. Then we got lunch & ate it at the Queen’s College Campus, despite a sign on the gate that said “private!” We even went through another gate which said “no picnicking” before we settled on a park bench w/ a nice view of the river. As we ate many punt boats passed & a little bird & 2 ducks came right up to us w/ out fear!

At Ely we took a tour of it’s famous Cathedral. It was beautiful, the tour guide was a real character — an older man who babbled a lot & told us everything we’d ever want to know about the church & more! Lori, Mel, Rachel, & Josh left the tour after about the 1st 10 mins., but I stuck it out… I was amused by our guide, who seemed to so enjoy his job & often shared with us his favorite things about the cathedral & even theories he had about some of its contents…

As w/ many of the churches in England, much of the original carvings, painting, stained glass, & architecture had been defaced & torn down, after Henry VIII began the Church of England and ordered Anglican churches be stripped of their Catholic decorations… It is sad that the works of many great builders were ruined for that.

At the gift shop I bought a nice copy of a poem called “The Difference.” Gramma Mite & Grampa Robert had it hung in their bathroom next to the toilet, for as long as I can remember, in every place they lived in my life… I used to love reading it, each time I would visit them! So I will save this copy & put it in my bathroom some day.

I also bought a pocket card laminated w/ the poem “I said a prayer for you today.” I believe I will send it to Lloyd Bradford when I write back to him after I receive & read his letter. I got an e-mail from Jacquie yesterday saying he had written me a long letter on Wednesday night… I am really looking forward to reading it & also to rekindling our friendship…

Yesterday morning Lori & I both slept in! It was nice & relaxing… Then we both went to work out. After working out I checked e-mail real quick & got the message from Jacquie (it is great to be back in touch w/ her more so now too! ☺︎) I also had a sweet & fun one from Dad! He is home alone cuz Mom is at a teacher’s conference in Springfield. He said he had gone to Popeye’s for dinner! (He said he goes there & to White Castle once a year ☺︎) He also said Mom had left him a note on the fridge that said “Cherry loves Junyer — 10!” They are so cute! I hope someday, if, & when, I get married that my hubby & I are like that…

But, the HIGHLIGHT OF YESTERDAY’S EVENTS WAS… ☺

High Tea at “the Ritz!” Lori, Mel, & I got all dressed up in our black dresses! Then the ISA office staff called us a Mercedes car to take us there & Corrine, Patricia, & Garth took a ton of pictures of us! The pictures & luxury car ride there was half the fun! ☺


When we arrived we checked in w/ a cute older man & were seated in the beautiful tea room. All of the waiters were dressed in tuxedos w/ tails! I felt very important & proper & beamed the whole time! I was so amused by the decor, other patrons, & the experience as a whole! The 3 of us all ordered peppermint flavored tea! Then a 3 tiered carousel was brought out for us & refilled 3 times… it held: at the bottom yummy finger sandwiches (my fav was the turkey ones…), in the middle scrumptious pastries, & at the top tasty warm scones! We all filled our tummies w/ at least 3 cups of tea each & stuffed our faces w/ all of the above mentioned goodies! ☺︎ We had a fabulous time! All & all High Tea was a blast & especially Lori & I, being easily amused, as we are — will especially remember it for a long while!

Lori & I don’t know who else, if anyone, are going dancing tonight! I am excited! Now I believe I will sit back & enjoy the ride… CHEERS! ☺

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Note from Present Day Kathy: Time continues to fly… It’s been 3 months since I last shared one of of my London Semester Journal entries and so much has changed in our country, as well as our world, in that short time. First and foremost, we’ve been practicing social distancing/sheltering at home for over a month now, because of a novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). Not being a medical professional, an epidemiologist or infectious disease specialist, and not having paid enough attention during previous disease outbreaks (that were different then this one in various ways, including how contagious and/or deadly they were) in recent years, the possibility of something like this happening ever, let alone in my lifetime, was very far off of my radar. And yet, here we are.

Like so many experiences in life, it is incredible and bittersweet how quickly we can realize what we take for granted. We are still getting used to not being able to gather with family and friends in public places (including restaurants, theaters, sports venues and houses of worship), not to mention going to work and school. My family and I, along with so many of our loved ones, fellow Americans and global citizens are doing the best we can to get through this difficult and uncertain time. We are incredibly grateful for/to those who work/serve on the front line/in essential services. Our hearts break more everyday as the death toll, which didn’t have to be so high, continues to rise. This is in large part because those who have the power to be prepared and take action sooner, chose not to do so, especially the federal government/executive branch here in the US.

This was another fun and interesting entry to return to, as I have such happy memories of the ISA Excursions I got to experience, especially with this being my last that semester. I am glad that at times I splurged on things like the punt boat ride, knowing I was on a tight budget. I also find it amusing that my friend (not his real name) Josh and I went through a gate that said “Private” and ate lunch in an area that had signs with “No Picnicking” on them. Though for the most part I’ve been a rule follower throughout my life, I definitely pushed boundaries (by my standards) and took more risks (as I did that day) during my time abroad. I also like remembering that when most of my friends decided to go a nearby market and I was more interested in checking out the Queens College campus, that I did what I wanted to do. Likewise, I appreciate that I stayed on the tour at the cathedral in Ely, when I was enjoying the guide, even though my friends bailed.

I loved remembering where I got our copy of “The Difference” poem, which is so meaningful to me, because of the connection with my paternal grandparents. It is wasn’t currently hanging in one of our bathrooms, but this entry/post made me want to find and make it so. I am pretty sure we did have it hanging in our powder room/first floor bathroom in our old house on Claremont. We moved to our current home on Oakley 9 years ago in July and never got around to putting it up here. Today I changed that and it is now on a wall in our powder room/first floor bathroom.

The other poem about prayer, that I reference buying a pocket card copy of in this entry, is also special to me and I can see why I wanted to send it to my friend, (not his real name) Lloyd, as we were reconnecting. I remember Lloyd and I really liked discussing philosophy, God and our faith.

I enjoyed reading about the email from my dad, in which he shared about going out to eat at Popeye’s, as well as the note my mom left him (before leaving for the teachers’ conference she was attending). Bob and I don’t tend to leave each other notes like that, but we do have other fun/cute/thoughtful things that we’ve done for each other over the years in our marriage/relationship.

Finally, it was awesome to revisit (not their real names) Lori, Mel and my outing for High Tea at The Ritz! Again, my budget was not big that semester, but I am glad that I allowed myself treats like hiring a fancy car to ride in with friends for such an iconic experience!

When I was back in London, in November, for the first time in almost 24 years, my English friend (not her real name) Ginny and I went to Dalloway Terrace at The Bloomsbury Hotel for tea, near where I went to school at Birckbeck College in 1996. It was really nostalgic to revisit that area/neighborhood after all this time. Our tea was super yummy, as well as cozy and relaxing, as we had done a lot of sightseeing/walking around London that day and it was a nice break.

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Reminder: Unless I’ve been given permission to use people’s actual names, in most cases I’ve removed or replaced the names of the real people who were part of my journey/experience there, in effort to protect and respect their identities/privacy in my London Semester Journal entries. I will also not share details that I think and feel are too personal for anyone I interacted with, my loved ones, and me.

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Here’s the back story of My London Semester Journals from 1996, including what prompted me to revisit and decide to share them here in 2018. And here’s a list a list of the entries, which I will update as I share them.

Source: chicagobensons

My London Semester Journal II: Saturday, March 16, 1996