Ramblings About Our Trip to the UK

Being home again from a fabulous trip to visit our family at Oxford, I can now settle into the fun of writing about a few of the highlights. Nothing profound, just a little chatty post about the last couple weeks. And since Doug and I both woke up way too early this Sunday a.m. due to our internal clocks still being on Greenwich time, I have leisure to blog.

We divided our time between traveling around the countryside and simply being together at Oxford. This trip we wandered through Merton College, which is one of the oldest colleges at Oxford (I believe) and was Tolkien’s college. We also saw Tolkien’s house one night as we were driving through his old neighborhood. After his wife’s death, he moved into Merton and lived there until his death. (Bekah stumbled across the mantel from his home on ebay, and it was selling for a ridiculous amount.)

But I digress. We worshiped on Sunday morning at St. Ebbes, and there is something quite otherworldly (for us Americans) about walking down old, narrow cobblestone streets to the sound of church bells ringing.

Ben is rowing for Christ Church (his college at Oxford), so after church we wandered along the Thames by the college boathouses and saw many of the students practicing. We had just gorgeous weather the entire time, and the daffodils are up and blooming.

We went on a few expeditions out of town: London to visit friends at Oak Hill Seminary, where God is equipping men for the ministry; Salisbury to meet more Merkle friends; Blenheim Palace for the Credenda Conference (which went very well with full attendance, for which we thank the Lord); and Stratford to see the Shakespeare sites.

On the way to Salisbury we stopped at Stonehenge, which is every bit as amazing as I had heard, and we stomped around Old Sarum, which is the site an iron-age fort with incredible earthworks. Salisbury Cathedral was fascinating as well. My favorite artifact in the cathedral was John Donne’s seal. Among the collections in the chapter house (where we saw a copy of the Magna Carta!), was his seal and ordination pin attached to a piece of paper where he had written a short poem with sketches of both his family seals: the first was a bundle of snakes; the second, an anchor with the cross of Christ over it. Wish I could remember the poem by heart, but the last line was about taking off his old coat to go to the arms of Christ. That was pretty thrilling for me.

Okay, so I’ve gone on quite enough no doubt. But I want to make mention of one more thing. We enjoyed warm hospitality at the Merkles’ farm house. God has given them a perfect set up for their sojourn. The children have room to run and play and ride their bikes, and Bekah is slowly accumulating furniture. In fact, she found a much-needed desk at an antique store while we were there, and her list of furniture needs is getting shorter. The children are great little travelers, eager to see the sights, wandering with us through cathedrals, museums, and down cobblestone streets. They are quite happy and always busy with some game or other.

We also enjoyed hospitality at four British homes on this short trip. Doug confessed that he is going to have to stop making jokes about British cooking, because it just isn’t true! We had lovely, delicious home cooking, warm and gracious hospitality at each home. We tasted lamb cooked two ways (one with mint sauce, the other with beans), both fabulous; shepherd’s pie (the children kept asking for more); and chicken curry with a yogurt sauce that I could have just eaten by itself! I’ve never cooked a leg of lamb in my life, but now I will just have to give it a go. Not only did this dispel the idea that the British can’t cook, but also the notion that in England a man’s house is his castle and the draw bridge is always up. Not so with these Christian households. And speaking of British food, three cheers for Bekah’s porridge! Nothing like the oatmeal (which they call gruel) that we cook with water.

Ben and Bekah’s pastor was able to join us for dinner in their home one evening, and it was a real pleasure to get to see and hear some of what God is doing in Oxford through his labor and ministry. God’s church in England is under assault and in need of our prayers. Please pray that God will give His ministers in the UK faith and courage to preach the Word boldly.

Separation is always hard, but what an encouragement to us to see our children and grandchildren and how God is prospering them, in both body and soul.

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10 thoughts on “Ramblings About Our Trip to the UK

  1. Okay, the porridge recipe. Well, I bought a box of oats (Scott’s Porage Oats) in the UK, but I don’t see why the ol’ American oats couldn’t work as well. The main difference is cooking the oats with milk instead of with water. The recipe on the box was for 45g of oats and 310 ml of milk. Luckily, I have a scale that I used to weigh the oats, and my purex measuring cup has a side with the ml measurements. I popped it in the microwave for 3-4 minutes, stirred, and presto! Then after scooping it into Doug’s bowl, I added brown sugar and a little half and half, and it was just like Bekah’s!

  2. I love the challenge of cooking lamb! I’ve never done a whole leg, but I’ve worked with smaller portions. I think its fun to try to infuse it with fresh, bright flavors to cut down the fatty taste. It can be so yummy!

    Glad to hear you had so much fun! Thanks for sharing!

  3. I’ve never posted here before but I love your blog and check it regularly! Welcome back.

    I don’t know if you can help me here but my brother is going to start in a master’s program at Sheffield University in England next fall and we are trying to do some research to find a good local church in which he can participate. Do you or Bekah (or maybe even their pastor) know of anybody in the Sheffield area, by any chance? It would be wonderful if he could make some connections there before he left!

  4. Okay, if you have never cooked a leg of lamb you must try it. It is wonderful! I started serving leg of lamb for Easter dinners about four years ago. Nancy, the C & L Lockers sells a really nice Leg of lamb around Easter, but Winco does as well. The C & L Locker sells the lamb on the bone and it did taste better, but it was a little morel $$$. ( I am sure you can ask them to de-bone it if you prefer.) I prefer it with the bone in because the flavor is better (in my opinion), but with or without the bone this is a good way to prepare it:
    Rub olive oil all over the lamb and cut slits into the lamb by stabbing a paring knife straight in point first. Make a stab hole 1-2 inches deep and stuff the hole with a pealed clove of garlic. Repeat this process at least 15-20 times. Then make a rub with 2 Tbls of Rosemary, 1 1/2 Tbls of Salt and 4 tsp of Pepper and rub this over the outside of the Lamb. This truly is amazing. Oh.. and the gravy….WOW! I bake the lamb in the oven @ 350 degrees until the internal temp is 140. Take it out of the oven and let it rest with foil over it for 10 minutes. This will bring the temp to about 145-150.(Medium done.) Make gravy from the dripping with cream and serve with sliced Lamb. I think lamb is best tasting when cooked to medium done,(145-150 degrees). If you would perfer for it to be well done, cook the lamb until the internal temp is 160 and then let it rest out of the oven for 10 minute. The temp will rise to 170 while it rests.
    This is a wonderful Sabbath meal or served for a Holiday Feast. This is well worth the work. Easter is a good time to buy a leg of lamb because it sells for cheaper, much like a Turkey for Thanks Giving. I usually buy two, I use one for easter and save the other one for another time because the price is so much better at Easter time. Easter is just around the corner, do you feel adventurous? Happy Feasting.

  5. We are originally from the South so we think all meat tastes best hot off the grill. Here’s a grilled lamb recipe. The citrus marinade takes away any gamey flavor.

    I buy an already boned leg of lamb from Costco or you can have your butcher take the bone out for you. *Note: one leg can serve at least 8 adults.

    To make the marinade:
    2 cups pineapple juice
    1/2 cup lemon juice
    1/2 cup honey
    3 crushed garlic cloves
    1 teaspoon ground ginger
    1 teaspoon dry mustard
    1 teaspoon salt

    Stir all this together well and pour into a very large plastic bowl with a lid. Put lamb in and refrigerate for 36 hours. I turn my meat halfway through the time.

    What you are doing is breaking down the meat with the acid of the juice to tenderize it and also adding some wonderful flavor into it. We have had many people, who don’t eat lamb, eat up heartily.

    Now just barbeque, on medium for 45 minutes turning and watching regularly. The sugars from the juices can cause the meat to burn.

  6. Welcome back, welcome home and welcome to lamb.

    Lamb is one of the mainstays of middle eastern cooking and is the traditional meat served on Christian holidays across the middle east. It is a meat that with the right herbs and spices can be given a different ethnic twist which will give it a different taste. Italian, Greek, Middle Eastern (Arabic and Jewish), French, Scottish, English, etc. etc.

    I’m so glad you’re back but it’s so WONDERFUL to hear about your trip. Please don’t hesitate to tell all about it. I love all things English!!

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