When I went to the Big City recently to do some shopping, it was an interesting experience.
First port of call was a craft shop to get DD3 some beading supplies, as she goes to a jewellery-making class in school. I was utterly spoilt for choice, and in the end I stuck to buying beads from a pink/purple colour scheme and hoped she would like them ! I also bought a secure storage container, which will stop the beads from falling out of their individual colour compartments if the box is tilted, which seemed like a good idea.
I visited a few bookshops, but found nothing that I really felt warranted blowing all of my birthday money on, so I was disappointed about that. I had really hoped I would find something really interesting.
Next stop was a religious items shop, in order to stock up on 5-day votive grave candles, as the following day was the 22nd anniversary of my father's death and I wanted to put a candle on the grave for the anniversary and get some more candles for other anniversaries throughout the year.
Whilst I was there, it was quiet in the shop and I was chatting to the lovely shop assistant, who asked if I had seen the grave lanterns which they sold. I hadn't, and was thrilled when she showed me a superb decorative metal and glass old-fashioned lantern, with glass panes and a little door to place the candle inside. It was exactly what I needed, and would look nice for a long time. I have found that the lids of the vented grave candles tend to corrode and look awful even if it rains for only a short time, which means that the container is then too tatty to re-use, which seems very wasteful...... the grave lantern was very reasonably priced, and it really made my day to get such a bargain !
On a whim, I decided to go and have a look at the cathedral next door.
Oh dear. Oh dear indeed.
The stunning Cathedral -designed by Pugin originally - was completely destroyed by enemy bombs during the Second World War, and an internally stark and modern but externally quite traditional Cathedral was built in its stead.
There are multiple side chapels, one with a very nice reproduction of Michelangelo's Pieta, before which many votive candles were burning. Another statue of the Mother of God had votive candles burning before it, but the majority of the side chapels were obviously never used, and the marble tops of the altar mensae were left quite bare, not even dignifed with a plain white linen cloth on their tops, not even in the Chapel which housed the relics of two local saints who were martyred for their faith in Tudor times.
To me, this was profoundly disrespectful to those Saints whose relics were enshrined within the altar stones........
There was no immediately obvious atmosphere of respect or reverence, and I didn't get the impression of the building being truly loved and cared for. It seemed very dusty and still dark, even though there was a service due to start there in a short period of time - no lights were on, and there weren't even any sanctuary lamps burning in the Altar area.
I left the building feeling very sad indeed. From my conversation with the staff in the Shop, it seems to be a busy and vibrant parish but the Cathedral seemed a little neglected.