Considering Wells is such a small town, and our purpose here is a pretty singular one -- we came to sing, and we're doing so several times every day -- I'm surprised by how very much I am compelled to sit and write down about my time here. Perhaps it's because the week has just begun, and so every experience is monumental, a first. But it's only 3:00 and I've already had my first "Full English" (well, the sausage-free version); we've had our first rehearsal at the Cathedral (we stood at tall wooden music stands in a back room in a newer part of the church that looks more like a Swedish spa than a medieval English church); I walked through the astonishingly peaceful and beautiful Bishop's Palace and Gardens (I took LOTS of photos, so this will likely merit a full post of its own in the days to come); I enjoyed a "Ploughman's" lunch in a similar vein as my breakfast; walking out of lunch I felt I had to sneeze, and realized that this feeling meant I HADN'T felt like I had to sneeze for long enough that the urge was novel again; and we are about to rehearse again, this time IN the Cathedral for the first time, followed by our first evensong service.
A lot is happening. I want to write more about all of it.
Instead, I'm going to write about dinner last night.
It was Sunday, and after the choir met for drinks for the second night in a row, and surely not the last, on the ridiculously scenic patio, some of us went looking for dinner. Thing is, Sunday night in Wells, few places are open past 5, and the pubs that stay open are no longer serving food. It was nearly 8pm when we rolled into The Globe Inn, and it was the third place we tried. The menu looked good, and we had a seat at a large and empty outdoor patio. But just as we got settled, we learned that it too was a bust -- they'd stopped serving hours ago.
Our whole party -- nine of us in all -- stood up to leave, hungry and wondering what our options were. But then the proprietress came rushed out to the back patio. She told us that they would reopen the kitchen and cook from an abbreviated menu especially for us. Not merely because we asked them too, but because they knew that once we left, we would not find any other place open in town either.
It was such a relief that if felt like a blessing. I had overheard an older fellow saying "Oh no...(something something)...Americans" when we walked in. But despite being a group of naturally loud young strangers who rolled in after hours on a day of rest, we'd been offered radical hospitality by these strangers. Later on, when (much to my mortification) I shattered a nearly full pint of Guinness on the stone floor, before I could find my voice to ask for help, the barman was there to clean it up, sweeping the tiny shards of glass into a neat little pile and making sure we all had shoes on.
These are just a couple brief moments in a day that was full to bursting with new experiences. But I want to remember these gestures of hospitality and fellowship as much as anything else I do and see here, and I can't take a picture of it.