We left Kendal early on Sunday morning and drove a very long way right to the very edge of Cumbria up in the Pennines. Alston has been a familiar stop off place on CMM tours of the past when travelling from Barrow to Sunderland - as you do. So this time it was great to stop and not go any further. It was a beautiful but long drive over - 1 hr 40 minutes of high moors and dales.
The reason for our travels was to take the service at Alston Methodist Church. But we were early so we had a quick coffee (and tea cake) in a cafe which was open half way up the main road through the town.
The Methodist Church in Alston is part of the only Methodist circuit in the country that has absolutely no buildings - they meet in hotel function rooms, schools, other church buildings. The minister says they have been 'liberated'. Alston Methodist meets in the Catholic church - it is a very small church with seating for about 30 people. We had hoped Roger could play keyboard, but when we arrived we discovered the keyboard wasn't very accessible - up in a minstrels' gallery at the back of the church. So Helen thought she'd have to play guitar for all of the hymns as well as the songs, but thankfully her bacon was saved by Sheila, their regular musician who was very good, and very versatile. Thanks Sheila!
Roger preached to the congregation, who included a couple of visitors from Haydon Bridge, and it was a really good service in an interesting location.
Our next port of call was Penrith, so unsuprisingly for lunch we stopped at the bakery at Melmerby. Mmmmm.