Monday, 6 May 2013

A Fabulous Buddist Retreat - Updated

More about Buddism

I went to see a friend on Sunday who was staying for a few days as a guest at a Amaravati Buddist retreat in Hertfordshire.

Amaravati is a Theravada Buddhist Monastery
Address: St Margarets, Hemel Hempstead HP1 3BZ
Opened: 1984

More details here

Now I am not religious having been to a Catholic school I reckon I have spent enough time on it. This place though is very interesting it looks a little like a holiday park.

Me in the Gardens - by A. Reid

Here I am sitting on a monument in the gardens dedicated to a past important Buddist monk. The grounds are a mix of children playing in the sunshine and people wandering around chatting. Scattered around the large grounds are workshops, gardens and a library. The Temple is very serene and invites you to come and wonder at the origins of this faith. Just like you would in any cathedral or church.

Prayer mats and candles give a quiet peaceful air to the temple and the Buddha sits elevated and dominant surveying the view.

Pretty side altars look important, the statues are obviously old but gleam with loving care.

Side alters in the Temple

Everywhere is beautifully minimal and because of this the statues seem even more striking.

The Temple is a modern building seen here just behind one of the garden spaces.
 There is a feeling of tranquillity here that is enhanced by the design of the place. I felt like I was walking through an out of season exclusive holiday park.  

The large bell which is rung at 5am is outside the building where the guests sleep. No chance of not hearing that alarm then. The monks and nuns who live at the retreat are well used to the 5 am wake up.  That`s a little early for me I thought only birds woke at that time. Obviously so do the dedicated.

Statutes sit amongst the benches.

It is a large place and anyone who wants to bring some food as a contribution is welcome to join the daily meal at 11 am. The evening meditation session in the Temple each evening is also open to anyone wishing to attend. 

My friend says it is very popular. People come for the 11 am meal and stay for hours often until the evening worship. At weekends families come and the place seems very lively then. I left feeling very honoured to have spent some time there.

Gardens and flowers amid the lines of accommodation chalets and study areas.

Staying at the Retreat

My friend says first you need to apply and ask what dates are available. Telephone number is at the top of this post.

You are expected to help with general tasks around the grounds or in the dining room during the morning.

You should make a donation of food on your arrival and the set donation for your stay. People often bring fruit, rice, biscuits etc.

If you are on a low income you can donate what you can afford.

You can attend any of the services you wish.
You have plenty of free time to do what you want. Read in the garden or go for long walks in the beautiful nearby Ashridge National Trust Estate.

You will be not be woken early, most people go to breakfast around 8 am. The dorms are single sex and have showers and toilets. They seems to be very popular.

Families can stay by special arrangement.


The BodyGuard Musical Review

A Very Large Clock In Leicester Square
What was that all about then? The Premier of Star Trek no less. My daughter Katrina and I were walking from Oxford Street to The Strand to watch The Bodyguard and suddenly crowds were surging across the road in Leicester Square.  Three very posh cars slide into the slipway outside the cinema. Out came the star studded cast but taking a photo was impossible a very stern security guard pushed us on saying you can`t stand there.

Fine then I hope everyone had a nice time and that the over zealous security guard missed the last train home.

The Bodyguard

We paid £26 each for a ticket in the upper circle on Thursday 2nd May for the 7.30pm show with Saga theatre ticket site.. The Adelphi Theatre which is on the Strand is a large theatre and had plenty of empty seats in the upper circle. The show although full of amazing songs, is very slow in the first half it needs a bit more  dancing.  I did wonder if it was ever going to liven up. 

 The second half was much better with more lively scenes and a generally faster pace.  The final `I Will Always Love You` was extremely emotional. The stars were exceptional and the final scene song `I Wanna Dance With Someone` had everyone standing and singing.

That is exactly what a good musical should do. Worth going to see just don`t pay £70 or £80 to do so.