Ealing Quaker Meeting kindly hosted 24 young people and 6 adult volunteers from London Link Group during a weekend of glorious Indian summer sunshine. With the event hot on the heels of Southern Summer School and Senior Conference, many attendees needed no introductions to each other – but we played some name games anyway.
The meeting house garden at Ealing, equipped with swings of several varieties, a climbing frame and particularly climbable tree, has a wonderful lawn which suited us perfectly for games of football, Lazy Frisbee, and slightly less lazy games of Ultimate Frisbee. There was, of course, plenty of time for singing songs, reading books and playing other games.
Soon after we arrived we were split into cooking/clearing teams named after famous Ealing Comedies – the Ladykillers, Lavender Hill Mob, (Passport to) Pimlico and (Kind Hearts and) Coronets. We competed skilfully (OK, perhaps that’s overplaying it) through five rounds covering history, pop culture, current affairs, Quakers and general knowledge, for the title of LLG quiz team of the month.
Battling it out in the Quiz
After a sandwich lunch and some more time in the garden, we headed for nearby Walpole Park which has a museum, duck pond, and – crucially – an ice cream vendor. Well, those of us not requiring X-rays went to the park, anyway. The weather remained divine.
We were therefore in high spirits when returning to the meeting house for a talk and workshop from Crispian Wilson and Lydia Strachan of Ealing Meeting, both diplomats at the Foreign Office in London. We were able to think about and question the challenges and competing priorities facing British embassies around the world, using a fictional country case study that Crispian and Lydia had prepared.
In the evening, fuelled mainly by fruit, we played an epic game of ‘Empire’ and gathered for Epilogue before cups of cocoa and then bedded down on the meeting house floor.
On Sunday, some of us joined Ealing Quakers for their normal meeting for worship whilst the rest of us enjoyed a beautiful, sunny and remarkably still (other than the occasional passing 747 from Heathrow) worship-sharing with extracts from QF&P in the garden, serenaded by the birds. The meeting room was big enough to accommodate us all in the closing minutes of MfW, and the ministry talked about precious gifts of creation, conjuring up the image of a small and fragile bird being cupped by human hands and turning into a flower.
After more singing, swinging, eating, playing frisbee, football and turning the pages of our novels we said our goodbyes and returned home feeling spiritually nourished and having thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.