This year Roshini and I visited Elishba and Joe, six years after our last visit in 2003. At that time they lived in Southampton. Now in Sheffield.
Elishba and Joe live at an apartment building called Chapel Heights. The girl who lived in a parsonage for 19 years had to find a home that put her in the church building itself this time. Their flat is on the ground floor on the other side of the building here:
While Joe continues to work for IBM, but from home, as IBM has no office in the city, Elishba is doing her third year of medicine at the University of Sheffield.
Dr Elishba needed practice taking the blood pressure readings on a few guinea pigs (I mean, make-believe-patients), and so for one evening her kitchen turned into a clinic.
Sheffield is the fourth largest city in England. It's in South Yorkshire, in the North of England. The weather is a problem because it seems to rain a lot gets quite chilly too. Sheffield, like Rome, is built on seven hills formed by the six rivers of Sheffield. The city is close to the Peak District national park. Despite the city's industrial background and heritage, there are many small parks and hidden gardens surprisingly close to the city centre.
Close to Elishba and Joe's home itself there are three parks. The following pix were taken at a park near their home
When I was a schoolboy, my mother had a pair of "Made in Sheffield" table knives. The blades were made of the steel that Sheffield was famous for and had ivory handles. We got rid of them when the handles had turned yellow.
That's what Sheffield was famous during the Victorian era for, the production of silverware, in particular knives. This was an outcome of the steel industry and continues to this day. Today Sheffield is most famous for its steel and is in fact the steel-making capital of the world.
When Sheffield developed as an industrial town a large number of back-to-back slums were constructed, which, along with severe pollution from the factories, inspired George Orwell (famous author of Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four), to write in 1937, "Sheffield, I suppose, could justly claim to be called the ugliest town in the Old World". That is no longer true. Sheffield is not pretty, but the countryside nearby more than makes up for this. With an estimated total of over two million trees, Sheffield has more trees per person than any other city in Europe: 61% of the city is green-space.
We’ve been attending Christ Church Central, a church that has its services in a pub and displays a signboard outside that reads “A Church for People Who Don’t Go To Church.” The pastor is Tim Davies and they have two services on Sundays, one at 4 and the other at 6. Communion services are held on the last Thursday every month along with extended prayer time that is attended by a good number of people.
Friday, May 29th evening Elishba and Joe took us to Wales. Joe navigated by using "GPS & Sat Nav" (Global Positioning System & Satellite Navigation). The bed and b'fast place was in an isolated area without any road signs, but with the SatNav, Joe reached us there so easily. It was incredible for us that he was able to reach the destination without going wrong once. Wonder if it could work in India where house numbering doesn’t follow any logical system in most cities.
Graianfryn in Penisarwaun where we stayed, is situated in the middle of farmland. It is a vegetarian guest house. I certainly enjoyed the b'fast (a very nice fruity muesli in yogurt made with some milk substitute), but we were out for other meals.
We went to Snowdon in Gwynedd, north-west Wales, and took the Snowdon Mountain Railway, that travels for 4.7 miles (7.6 km) to the summit of Snowdon, the highest peak in England and Wales
May 31 was spent in Chester on the way back to Sheffield.
Chester, a city on the River Dee close to the border with Wales, has a population of about 80,000. Chester is reputedly the "English medieval city par excellence", but many of its buildings are from the Victorian era. It is one of the best preserved completely walled cities in the British Isles.
On Sunday, June 7, as church is in the afternoon, we went to Chatsworth House
the home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire is one of Britain's best loved historic estates, in the Peak District National Park.
It has famous works of art, well laid gardens, spectacular fountains, and a working farmyard. The original house was built by Sir William Cavendish and his third wife Bess of Hardwick in the mid 16th Century. Sir William died in 1557. The first Duke rebuilt Chatsworth in Classical style between 1686 and 1707.
The movie The Duchess is based on Amanda Foreman's best-selling biography of the 18th-century English aristocrat Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire. Married at sixteen to the much-older Duke of Devonshire, young Georgiana Spencer finds herself trapped in a loveless marriage to a cold and unfaithful husband. Immersing herself in the extravagant world of the eighteenth-century English aristocracy, Georgiana becomes the toast of society, celebrated for her beauty and style, even as her conflicts with her husband escalate. The movie was shot partly at Chatsworth.
In addition to a room where clothes from the period are on display, there is a room where visitors could try on outfits and wigs.
On Monday, June 8, we had visitors. Melanie and Mike Cleveland came to see us, spending quite a few hours with us. After lunch we took a walk in the nearby park
Mike is a pastor in Coventry and Melanie teaches counseling.
When Roshini went to the UK in 1995 to speak at churches and institutions in the Coventry Diocese of the Church of England, she had visited and served at the church where the Clevelands have been ministering. Later, in 1998, when I was ministering in England, after speaking at the seventy-fifth anniversary celebrations of the mission group Crosslinks, I too went there.
The next visitors were my cousin Georgie and his wife Remani, who came from Lancaster on June 9. They urged that we should not miss seeing the Lake District, near where they lived, as it is one of the most scenic spots in England.
When we had visited Chatsworth House we were not able to see the gardens. The admission tickets were in three parts allowing visitors to return at their convenience. We went back on Thursday, June 11, to see the gardens.
At the end of our tour, we stopped at the sweets and ice cream shop. They sell a big cone with very creamy ice cream piled really high. Unlike India, they don't give one the option of having it in a cup. Because of my beard I had to be careful, but in the process the cone broke, when i had finished about two thirds of my ice cream, and the ice cream landed on the floor. Joe went to the shop and told them that their cone was faulty because it broke like that and I got a replacement—just as much as before. Obviously it happens often. Like I say, there's always room for more ice cream.
Fareeba Fassihi is a close friend of Elishba’s, who has been walking to classes with Elishba. But sadly for Elishba, Fareeba had to move just before we left the UK and now has a room further away and won’t be accompanying Elishba after the summer break.
On June 15th Roshini’s cousin Zarine came to see us along with Iwan.
Zarine is a personal friend I’ve known from the time she was a schoolgirl and attending Youth For Christ club activities in Madras. Later on when she was in boarding at the Bishop Cotton’s Girls’ School in Bangalore, I visited her and for a long time afterwards I kept in touch through letters. At that time she was known by her other name Jean.
One of the things we did was to go for a recital of Indian music played by a group called Indus, bringing together four instrumentalists
(Henrik Linnemann on Flute, Shahbaz Hussain on Tabla, John Ball on Santoor & Mohamed Assani on Sitar).
Not pure Indian classical, but a fusion of Indian with Western. It was really enjoyable.
Indus performed in the Cathedral. Nearby, there is another building that had the shape of a church building. It has stained glass windows and there is a sign that reads "The Sanctuary". When I got close to it, I discovered it to be a bar. Must have been a church once, but bought by the pub owner and he thought that it would give the drunks a kick out of using the old sanctuary like that. It is sad to see the state of the church in the UK
We also witnessed the staging of BFG ( "Big Friendly Giant") — a play based on a children's book written by Roald Dahl. Enjoyable performance, but I thought that one bit was inappropriate for kids (who were the majority attending). Except for the BFG, all the other giants were man-eating ones, and were shown decapitating and amputating dolls and pretending to eat body parts.
Joe was involved with a conference for computer professionals from Friday, June 19 to Sunday, 21. So Elishba took us by train to see the Lake District. While in Lancaster we stayed with my cousin Georgie (an eye surgeon) and his wife Remani (earlier a teacher in Nigeria, later an administrative officer in a company, when they migrated to the UK, and now a happy grandmother-on-call).
We were picked up from the station by Remani, but as soon as Georgie came back from the conference he was attending in another town, he took us for a drive around the small town, and to the seaside.
Saturday morning was spent in going around to the seafront at Blackpool and just viewing the amusement arcades (without doing any of the rides).
Remani is an amazing housewife. After going around with us sightseeing, she gave us home-cooked meals. Every meal she served us something absolutely different. When she goes to Kerala, she brings back stuff not available here, and straightaway cooks them and freezes them in meal-size portions, which she then warms up and serves her extended family (a son, and two daughters and their families, all in the UK). Touched, that she brought out all these goodies for us instead of taking us to fast food restaurants and saving it all for her children and grandchildren.
After lunch and a rest, Remani and Georgie took us to the Lake District (so called because of the 14 lakes there). Windermere—the largest lake is 10.5 miles long.
Before we knew what was happening, Georgie bought tickets for us to go on an hour-long cruise on the lake.
The words of the poem I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud by William Wordsworth are displayed on the board outside the Dove Cottage along with a description of the museum at Grasmere:
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
After Grasmere we drove through Keswick, famous
for the Bible-teaching Keswick Convention that has been running since 1875.
St John's Church, Keswick, built with a soft pink sandstone from quarries in the Eden Valley, was consecrated on St John's Day, December 27th 1838.
After that it was home to Remani’s special dinner of the day. It would be torture for you if I were to go into a description of everything that she served, so I’ll just leave out the details.
Sunday morning after attending church and having a terrific breakfast at home, Georgie took us to Williamson Park.
This park is situated at the highest point in Lancaster and commands a terrific view of the city. The Park occupies all of 54 acres. The imposing Ashton Memorial dominates the Park and can be seen from miles around.
A picture, they say, is worth a thousand words and here are three of them:
My caption: “Girls will be girls.” If you have a better one, send it in to take part in my Prizeless Caption Contest.
From the Williamson Park one can get a fantastic view of the city. At the rear is the Lancaster Castle, which is in use today as a court and a working prison. The tower next to it is that of the Priory Church which was built in the Fifteenth century. And the steepled church in the front is Lancaster Cathedral.
Alice Kinsella and Dejanira Araiza Illan, two of Elishba’s friends from the stitching club “StitchSoc” came for a meal on June 23 and stayed long enough for a board game.
Natasha da Silva, a friend from the University, visited one morning, to drop something she had for Elishba, while Elishba was attending classes
Sabreen Ali, a classmate and friend, visited on Thursday, twenty-fifth of June.
Megha Gupta, a University friend and member of
StitchSoc, came over for tea on 26th.
On 28th evening Elishba moved to Scunthorpe to work in the hospital there to fulfil her clinical practical work.
She has to work there for 9 weeks, but will return periodically to “refuel”.
On Monday, June 29, Joe took us sightseeing to York. We went to the JORVIK Viking Centre.
Thirty years ago archaeologists uncovered houses, workshops and backyards of the Viking-Age city of Jorvik, as it was 1,000 years ago. The York Archaeological Trust built the JORVIK Viking Centre the very site of the discoveries, and recreated what is best described as an experience.
We took a ride in a carriage that took us around in a small scale village where we got to see model houses, models of working craftsmen, recorded sounds of people speaking the language of the time, and the smells of cooking and even the cesspit.
A few of the Centre’s workers are dressed up like the people of that period. It was almost like travelling back in time to visit people of another era.
A Viking helmet wasn’t made of cloth, and wearing a cloth cap shaped like a helmet doesn’t make one a Viking warrior.
Now, if it had been long and pointed at the top I could look like the dunce I felt I was.
The York Minster
York has 32 active Anglican churches, eight Roman Catholic churches and a number of different Catholic religious orders. 75% of the population of York registers as followers of Christianity.
York's economy is based on the service industry with 88.7% of employment in the city
to get on to the remains of the ancient city wall
Clifford's Tower built by William the Conqueror, and rebuilt by Henry III in the 13th century, gets its name from one Roger de Clifford being executed for treason against Edward II.
We ended our time in York eating our supper at a quaint cafe called El Piano. The restaurant is famous for vegan food. Their corn fritters and the sticky date fudge are worth turning vegan. (But I would abandon the cause right after that).
Wednesday, July 1: We went climbing in the Peak District National Park. It was a hard climb, but we did reach the top and had a picnic lunch.
Elishba took time off from her hospital duty and came home to spend the last day with us. We met her in town, had dinner at a restaurant and saw the movie “Sunshine Cleaning.”
July 3 at 3.15 a.m: The taxi to take us to the Manchester airport arrived. We had a halt of three hours at Amsterdam, and reached Delhi by 10.30 p.m. The Swine Flu scare is on at Delhi airport. We had to fill out forms regarding our health before we were allowed to go through immigration.
After collecting our luggage we stayed on in the arrival lounge because our flight to Lucknow was only next morning. But we wish we had known that there is a very nice lounge (much cleaner, less noisier and with more comfortable seating) for passengers who need to wait for the shuttle to the domestic airport.
It had rained in the morning before we arrived in Lucknow, but since then there’s been no rain. It’s hot and humid.