Art Passport #4: Savoring Precious Moments in England

Art Passport #4: Savoring Precious Moments in England

By Barbara K. Stump, MA

Is summer really coming to an end? Have you captured enough summer sunset photos to replenish your memory during the colder days to come? During my teaching years, as soon as the calendar hit the 4th of July, I would start to feel the door of summer begin to close. The feeling of urgency would wash over me, and when my own children were school-aged it only added to the frenzy. If you’re an educator reading this, I’m sure you can relate to experiencing this phenomenon. If not, well, perhaps you are starting to feel the end of summer right now—September is just days away!  It’s hard to pause things, especially summer. However, something I observed while visiting England seems helpful during this seasonal transition. The British have the ability to savor the moment, or as they say, “savour the moment.” For this Art Passport Journey, London is calling!

“Tea Time” in England is every day, and served like it’s an occasion whether you’re having it for breakfast, or in the afternoon. People slow down, so to speak, and take their tea with cream and often sweet accompaniments. A tea drinker myself, I was definitely a willing participant. My husband, on the other hand, had to be enticed with a high tea on our first day in England. He actually said, “You’re not telling anyone I am doing this.” Of course I went along with this, saying something like, “Why would I do that?” Haha. Well, let’s just say when the time came for our first tea experience in England, he was pleasantly surprised! It was a fun event for both of us! The delicious sandwiches, on the bottom of a three-tier plate, were prepared using colorful breads and cut into different shapes. The second tier included various types of scrumptious scones, served with cream and jam. Then the top tier displayed delicate and artistically prepared desserts and candies. I didn’t even have to twist his arm to participate after that. Any time we had an opportunity, in England, we seized on it to have a spot of tea and a treat. Not to say we didn’t try a few pubs as well, but there was something calming, and yes, sweet, about sharing afternoon tea together.

Besides enjoying the tradition of English tea, we were able to visit and see many lovely sights. Luckily for us, we happened to be visiting London, England, right before King Charles’ Coronation. To see the preparation for this major event all over London was pretty magnificent. The flower gardens around Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, and Kensington Palace were royally beautiful for sure! We were even “visited” by King Charles aboard our tour of the Thames River. Well, maybe it was just a replica, but you could not escape the Coronation was just days away from being celebrated.

Along with taking in the beauty of the castles and spectacular gardens, it was a joy for me to walk through Hyde Park. The park is so spacious, and peaceful for people to be fully present in whatever they like to do. Everyone seemed to be taking in the day. There were families having picnics, people roller skating, runners, and you can rent paddle boats. Bird watchers would take delight in seeing all of the different species there, and in their close proximity. I took several pictures of birds, and also of the flower gardens. Hopefully I can either frame, draw, or paint those when I return to my studio.

If you like attending plays, then I would highly suggest taking in the theatre district in London. We had the opportunity to see the play, Six. It is about the six wives of King Henry VIII, and the story behind each…divorced, beheaded, survived! It was very entertaining and interesting to learn about each of these queens and their historical significance. Everything is over the top and rich in tradition here. I’m not going to focus on the era of hung, drawn, and quartered, but one can find it in England if you want to learn more about it!

Say what you want to about the Brits, but they certainly know how to bring the pomp and circumstance to any event. This includes Wimbledon in the summer. The Crown may seem archaic, but the honor to feel like a King or a Queen at Wimbledon is an incredible feat. This year that honor went to the first unseeded player to ever become the Ladies’ Champion, Marketa Vondrousova from the Czech Republic. Winning the Gentlemen’s Championship was Carlos Alcaraz from Spain. The tournament concludes with the iconic photo shot of the winners on the balcony at Wimbledon—similar to the iconic balcony photo shots of royalty at Buckingham Palace you may have seen on television. As I mentioned before, tradition really is everything here, including wearing only white attire by the players. Spectators can indulge in the ever famous strawberries & cream, scones, and Pimm’s,the official Wimbledon cocktail. American tennis great, Chris Evert, commented on the ESPN network, “Wimbledon is always emotional. You always have sadness. You always have joy.”

That quote seems to apply to summer. We are joyful when it comes around and sad to see it come to an end. September is knocking on the door. School has already started for many, and for the rest it will begin after Labor Day Weekend. Despite the fact we are heading back to school and normal workweeks, what are some things we can do to pause and reflect during each season of our lives? What if we took the time each day for something like an afternoon tea with our significant other, a friend, or child? It doesn’t have to actually be tea at all, but the mindset in England to “savour the moment” is worthwhile. It’s those special times with the key people in our lives which bring us closer together. These little occurrences build and maintain relationships. You don’t have to “skip across the pond” to experience them. If we truly want to, we can find ways to also savor the moments back home, here in the USA. Hope you can make the most of these waning days of summer with the ones you love, and embrace each and every sunset!

Barbara is an art education consultant and G3 contributing writer.