Saturday, February 03, 2007

Barney Leith and the "Redoubtable" Bilo

In a recent post entitled "Bilo pays a visit" fellow blogger and newly acquired friend Barney Leith posted on our visit together a little over a week ago when I was in London. Another fellow blogger, Marco, commented on Barney's post asking for pictures, thus I decided to write something here and include some pictures of that encounter.

For some reason, Barney in his post called Bilo "redoubtable," an adjective that is generous and probably not deserved, but is humbly received. Over the past few months our friendship has gradually developed as result of our common interest in the Baha'i Faith, blogging and the crisis facing the Egyptian Baha'is. As I was recently in London for a visit, we were able to meet at the UK Baha'i National Centre where Barney, as member of the National Spiritual Assembly, directs the office of external affairs. We visited and planned to have dinner at his home in Welwyn (pronounced Welyn as I was kindly reminded) north of London.

The UK Baha'i National Centre is located in Knightsbridge, one of London's most prestigious neighborhoods, in a lovely home typical of an era long bygone. It reminded me with the London I had always imagined by reading its history and traditional elegance.

I was told that this is where the Guardian's funeral had left from after his passing in London in 1957, and that the property was purchased based on his advice. Also, the Universal House of Justice held its first meeting in the National Assembly's meeting room on the third floor, in which a chair used by Abdu'l-Baha holds a very special place.

On Friday after work we walked fast to Knightsbridge underground station next to Harrods. As the subway train is quite long, Barney knew exactly where on the platform we had to wait so that we can exit the subway car at our destination station in a precise location near one of the exits allowing us to run to catch the train from London's Kings Cross railway station to Welwyn, and it really works as if he had measured it to the centimeter. The scenery of the English countryside was serene and beautiful as we whisked through several mountain tunnels since our destination was a bit higher in elevation than the city of London. We arrived at Welwyn just before dark allowing me to soak in the picturesque tiny typical English country train station, and I was able to convince barney to pose on the bridge for a photograph.

As Barney commutes daily to London from this sleepy and peaceful rural town, he had his car waiting for him at the station's parking lot. We drove a relatively short distance to his lovely cottage style home and settled in enjoying some hot tea while waiting for Erica to come home with their daughter Hari who is doing her advanced studies in Astrophysics and their grandson Jake who was practicing his newly acquired walking skills! As we were having more tea made by Hari who is apparently another tea lover, dinner was being prepared by Erica.

Since I felt so comfortable just as if I was in my own home, we decided to have our meal in the cozy and warm kitchen at the typical English kitchen table. Our dinner included salmon, potatoes, carrots and other vegetables and for dessert we had a delicious homemade apple pie which soaked up endless servings of thick country cream.

After enjoying this wonderful meal we retired to the living room and Barney lit up a roaring fire in their recently acquired wood stove. As it was quite cold outside for the whole week, including a snowy morning in London, the fire was a welcome relief as we sat by it sipping some more hot tea. We had a wonderful conversation and sharing of experiences and we we able to solidify a friendship that will last a lifetime. Later on at night Barney drove me to the train station where he waited with me until my train arrived for my return to London.

Thank you Barney and Erica for a very special and unforgettable evening!


  1. dear Bilo& Barny
    Itr was a great experience between 2 well known blogger & good discripition of the meeting between friends & the lovely places you went in your visite to london
    . i am wondering how this world too small & how baha'u'allah made for his beilivers via the fast electronic way of people contact & comunication . Bilo i think this visit to ur friend inspired your spirit too much.

  2. The following was written more 60 years ago:

    "A mechanism of world inter-communication will be devised, embracing the whole planet, freed from national hindrances and restrictions, and functioning with marvellous swiftness and perfect regularity."
    Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 203

  3. Bilo, it was a great evening. I'm so glad to have met you and very happy that Erica and I were able to welcome you to our home.

    Keep up your excellent work!

  4. I would also like to meet Bilo, in person.
    And Dan (DobermanPizza) and George Wesley (Bahai Views) and Daniel (Unite dans la Diversite) and Sholeh (Sliding Thoughts) and Jere McKinney (BumpaStuff)...

    Someday I am sure I will.

  5. Perhaps we can have a bloggers' convention!

  6. Thanks for the lovely post Bilo. In the future, people all over the world to recognize how magnificent you and Barney are and this little meeting will be seen as "historic" as far as Baha'i blogging goes. I'm looking forward to the day when both of you break out into the mainstream of the so called "alternative" media. I hope to get there with you.

  7. Phillipe,
    You are very generous brother....

  8. I salute all of the Baha'i bloggers! You are truly making a difference!
    Thank you!


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