Bad News–Good News!

daffodilsThe Rideaway into Hemingford Abbots in March–my favorite country road

They say March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.  On the 1st day of March every year, I am done with winter.  The village lanes and riverbanks of the English countryside are spilling over with butter yellow daffodils and I am ready to welcome spring with open arms.  I splash bouquets of them around my house and inhale their fresh fragrance in eager anticipation of what they promise–a return of the sun, warmth, and light.

Then, the bad news.  March is an unruly bear (not a lion) because spring sticks it’s neck out, growls, and goes back into hibernation.  It is gray and wet and howling.  Temperatures plunge.  Pellets of ice rain down on me.  The hope and joy of spring quickly fades.

But bad news doesn’t win.  The daffodils reassure me of that.  Just hold on, be patient, and Spring will come.  Life always wins.  The bleakest winter can’t stop this renewable cycle of life.  Out of death and decay come green shoots.  It’s not always easy to hold on to that image, though.  This past week has been nothing but bad news and not just the unsettled English weather.  One dear friend discovered she has cancer and another  lost her father.  On the day I was due to fly to the States, I got stuck on the M25 and missed my flight.  And then there was Brussels.  Will the bad news of evil men never end?

Today is Good Friday, a day when other evil men killed an innocent man called Jesus.  There was terrible darkness in the world that day.  But bad news doesn’t win.  Good Friday is good because of what Jesus did for us.  The Good News is death is swallowed up in victory.  He died for our sins and rose again so that we might have life and have it abundantly.  He came in like a lamb led to the slaughter , but He goes out the Lion of Judah.  Bad news may overwhelm for a time, but I will choose to say, He is Risen!  He is Risen, Indeed!

Tea Bus Birthday


Tea on a bus?  Why not?  Especially if it’s London and the bus is a red double decker of yesteryear and it’s your birthday!  I couldn’t stop laughing with delight and anticipation as Suzanne, my partner in wackiness, and I raced through Victoria Bus Station (not the train station!) and out the door towards our prize vintage coach which looked for all the world like it had been transformed by our fairy godmother out of a tubular red pepper.  Like a couple of ninnies, we’d run right past the check in desk, the neatly lined-up queue of patient English passengers including a bridal party swathed in gold sashes, and had to be herded quickly back inside by a very worried looking, arm waving man in a uniform.  For all he knew, we were a couple of lunatics aiming to cause trouble with some seriously loaded handbags.

“Ladeez!  Are you going on the tea bus tour?” he called to us frantically in a thick accent of unknown origin.  “You have to check in pleez!”

“Oh, sorry!”  I was still laughing.  “It’s my birthday!  I guess I’m kind of excited!”

We happily joined the queue of patient English passengers who were giving us a very British “These Americans!” look.  Thank goodness for the ladies in golden sashes whose names were clearly splashed across their chests.

“Oh!  So you’re The Mother of the Bride!”

“And you’re Rebecca–The Bride!”

Obviously, everybody already knew who we were.

At long last, though, we were allowed to board our tea bus.  Our tables had been reserved when booking and the best ones are up top, of course.  So, Suzanne and I climbed the narrow winding stairs and found our Table No. 7 with facing seats.  And oh my!  The table was already laden with the most delectable of tea treats made by BB Bakery of Covent Garden who run the tea bus tours.  There were fresh finger sandwiches, mini quiches, tiny chocolate cupcakes, baby lemon meringue tarts, pistachio macaroons, cream puffs, and each one a mouthful of pure yumminess!  Drinks included bottled orange juice and a diverse selection of teas served in a lidded plastic cup due to health and safety regulations. Tea on a bus isn’t without its hazards.

I put on  my birthday princess crown and away we went, eating our way through iconic London–Hyde Park, Royal Albert Hall, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, Westminster–and waving royally to all our staring subjects below us.  If you truly want to feel like Queen for the Day in London, then climb on board your moving throne and get the wave going.

Our loyal staff truly made us feel like royalty.  They were wonderfully attentive without being obsessive about it.  Halfway through when we thought we’d eaten every last morsel, they brought out fresh hot scones and another chocolate cupcake with a pair of lighted candles.  As we rumbled merrily along, I blew out my candles while an entire busload of strangers sang “Happy Birthday” to one very happy American lady.  If I could have had a golden sash, it would have on it QUEEN JEAN.