Weekend 510.2 (Wreck & Redemption)

I was in Plymouth last weekend and saw the place where the Sea Venture set sail from in 1609. It was supposed to bring relief supplies, etc. to the settlers in Jamestown but was damaged during a hurricane and run aground off the coast of Bermuda. The Sea Venture was helmed by the Admiral of the Company, Sir George Somers, and it was his decision during the storm to drive the ship onto the reefs in order to prevent its foundering. All of the passengers aboard the Sea Venture survived. His Admiralty Sir George Somers later died on the island and his heart was buried in St. George. There is a memorial in Somers Garden commemorating his life.

There is a plaque in Plymouth commemorating the 350th anniversary of the wreck in 1959 and in Bermuda there is a cross celebrating the 400th anniversary of the founding of Bermuda (The Somers Isles).

William Shakespeare purportedly used the account of the Sea Venture as inspiration for The Tempest.

Limestone Archive
Bermuda on Flickr
Bermuda Posts

Thanksgiving 2019

(1) American Interior (1935) by Charles Sheeler

(2) Game Over: How technology forced traditional toys to evolve (Vera)

(3) Great Western Railway: Adventures with the Famous Five (YouTube)

(4) A couple of quotes from British Rail Architecture 1948-97 by David Lawrence:

“Any designed object or space will have an appearance intended to attract the eye in some way: perhaps to impress or reassure, to demonstrate efficiency, or comfort, or progressive ideas.”

“Frank Pick (1878-1941), influential patron of art and design for modern transport, saw the potential for the railway station as an opportunity for architecture and design to come together in interesting an appropriate ways, and he knew that the station could earn money for the railway.”

“Only the concrete and brick stations built by the Southern Railway for routes converted to electric services during the 1930s provided a contrast to the varying levels of decrepitude manifested at the Region’s wayside halts and gloomy suburban stations.”

“Leslie (later Sir Leslie) Martin and his wife Sadie Speight, shared a background in architecture and avant-garde art. They were close to sources of modernity, not least because Martin co-edited the magazine Circle: International Survey of Constructive Art with artists Ben Nicholson and Naum Gabo, published from 1937. Sadie Speight was a founding partner of Design Research Unit, which would author the British Rail corporate identity of 1964. Together they designed a timber-frame school at Hartford Ch (1938), which used standard components to test building with ready-made structures. London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) architect WH Hamlyn created a Development Section concerned with the collection of data from existing buildings, to look at types of station, planning and production of buildings, types of structure and their performance, wear and maintenance of materials and finishes, lighting and plumbing, and furnishings. From this data specifications would be compiled to standardize design, materials and equipment for future architectural needs.”

(5) It Was Supposed to Be the Safest Building in the World. Then It Cracked.

How San Francisco’s Salesforce Transit Center went from the Grand Central of the West to a $2.2 billion construction debacle. (Popular Mechanics)

(6) The Festival of Britain 1951 (Historic UK)

(7) Quarry plan controversy (The Royal Gazette)

(8) blue cathedral (YouTube)

Weekend 430.0 (Drink up, dreamers, you’re running dry)

Cumulus IsobarA rainy day…a total wash out…it took me a couple of hours to realize there were no errands to run…no bike rides to be had…just the opportunity to listen to music…organize thoughts and exercise my creative muscles.

(1) Get ready for a commuter apocalypse (NY Post)

(2) Printmaking to Take Stage at New York’s Javits Center (Barron’s)

(3) ACORN All Purpose Vendor (almost like the mystery of the Sea Venture Building)

(3a) Bermuda (Devil’s Isle), Parts 1 to 3 (now in convenient .pdf format)

Christmas 2017 Sabbatical

A placeholder for all the stuff cluttering my mind and desk over this holiday sabbatical.

“Taming the heart requires a sense of place. It roots not just the mind to a set of principles, but also the body to a piece of land.” – Francis Kline, Lovers of the Place: Monasticism Loose in the Church

“If you live long enough you will eventually find yourself a stranger in the land you grew up in.” – Scott Stallard, Bermuda Back in the Day

(1) I am just a Boxer by Roger Crombie (Bermuda)

(2) Tube etiquette via Cyril Power and the British Museum

(3) Quote from The Man in the Castle by Philip K. Dick:

“Then he opened the bag and lifted out his new possession for inspection in solitude, here in this little grass and path park of old men.”

(3a) Quote from The Rule of St. Benedict:

“…without an order from the abbot, no one may presume to give, receive or retain anything as his own, nothing at all–not a book, writing tablets or stylus–in short, not a single item, especially since monks may not have the free disposal even of their own bodies and wills. For their needs, they are to look to the father of the monastery, and are not allowed anything which the abbot has not given or permitted.”

(4) Is this as good as it gets? (Fairfield County Catholic, Pg. 16)

(5) Quote from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig:

“In its place grew that old feeling I’ve talked about before, a feeling that there’s something bigger involved than is apparent on the surface. You follow these little discrepancies long enough and they sometimes open up into huge revelations.”

(6) Crowded House – Don’t Dream It’s Over Live (HQ) (YouTube)

Bermuda Redux

“As I looked at the glow, which I mistakenly thought had spatial boundaries, I was transported into an endless glossy sea with low clouds of gold on the horizon. Azure and gold, and all the sensations of warmth and ceaseless tropical life filled my brain. This was a place of rest, and, mysteriously, the source of all growth.” – Francis Kline, Lovers of the Place: Monasticism Loose in the Church

Bermuda (Devil’s Isle), Part 3 of 3

St. David's LighthouseDay 5
After a proper English breakfast in the clubhouse we departed for the Crystal Caves in Hamilton Parish. The caves were discovered in 1908 by two boys in search of a lost cricket ball. The guided tour is expensive, but the walk across Cahow Lake (at a depth of about ninety feet below the surface of the earth) is pretty memorable.

In searching for a description of the cave, this one from Beautiful Bermuda was particularly colorful:

“As we walk at ease upon a sturdy pontoon bridge, we behold the varied forms of nature’s tracery and marvel at the gleaming peninsula of purest crystal. Flashing, scintillating stalactite formations crowd together like vain beauty for a peep at their own charms in its smiling mirror. Stalactites and stalagmites, often suggesting the droll shapes of animals and plants, heighten the fantastic effect. Here and there, after centuries of toil, they have at last met and the columns so formed seem to support the natural roof. One stalagmite in particular attracts our attention, presenting as it does a great bank of snow. Each step we take across the pontoon bridge reveals some fresh object of delight.”

After the tour, we once again crossed the causeway on our trusty scooters, and made our way to St. David’s Lighthouse. This is the second lighthouse on the island and offers a commanding view of L.F. Wade International Airport. The property isn’t as well maintained as Gibbs Hill (there’s no gift shop, restaurant, and well manicured approaches) but it’s ridiculously raw and accessible. We spent a couple of hours on St. David’s Island also visiting the Lost at Sea Memorial.

For centuries St. David’s Island occupied a unique position in this little Colony…Seafarers they were, born with the taste of salt sea spray in their mouths and a barometer in their brains. They were proud of their homes…built by their forefathers…Suspicious of anything new, they…clung stubbornly to a tiny island in a changing world.

The rest of the afternoon was spent lazily on the beach. I haven’t written much about the beach, but the entire trip was punctuated by half-days on it (or in the infinity pool).

We had dinner at The Dining Room at Gibbs Hill Lighthouse and this is not a kitschy -or- touristy restaurant. The menu is incredible and the views are spectacular. The dining room is very small SO make sure you make reservations in advance. I had the stir fried sriracha jumbo shrimp & scallops and it was my favorite meal of the trip.

Day 6
Our last day. It was Sunday so we headed to Hamilton for mass at St. Theresa’s Cathedral. We arrived a couple of hours early to take some final photographs of Hamilton. We ambled along Front Street and snapped some shots of the Cabinet Building and Cenotaph.

St. Theresa’s opened in 1932 and is the Cathedral of the Diocese. Once again, the prose in Beautiful Bermuda is most illustrative:

“Gracing a promontory in the lower reached of Cedar Avenue, the chase loveliness of the church greets the eye with medieval splendor. Its Spanish architecture harmonizes gables, windows and doors, above which rises a newly constructed Tower carrying the inevitable cross so dear to the hearts of the Catholic people…A beautiful white marble altar, sentineled by the red lamp of the Eucharist, graces the tiled sanctuary and invites devotion.”

The Bishop said our mass and his energy/enthusiasm was a fitting exclamation to our week of restoration, recuperation, and renewal.

We returned the scooters after mass and spent our final afternoon on the beach. We had dinner at Coconuts Restaurant at The Reefs Resort and Club. Our flight was ridiculously early on Monday morning but we still managed to enjoy a couple of Dark N’ Stormy(s) as we packed furiously and watched the lamp of Gibbs Hill Lighthouse from our cliffside balcony partially light the dark horizon.

“This little life from here to there –
Who lives it safely anywhere?
Not you, my insulated friend:
What calm composure will defend
Your rock, when tides you’ve never seen
Assault the sands of What-has-been,
And from your island’s tallest tree,
You watch advance What-is-to-be?”

– Edna St Vincent Millay, There Are No More Islands, Any More

Notes & Sources
Beautiful Bermuda: The Standard Guide to Bermuda by Euphemia Bell
Your Bermuda by George Rushe
Bermuda Journey by William Zuill

Bermuda (Devil’s Isle), Part 2 of 3

Spittal Pond Nature ReserveDay 4
Our adventures started at the Bermuda Botanical Gardens. We spent a couple of hours exploring the thirty-six acres of flowers, trees, and shrubs. Make sure to visit the cacti / succulent hillside since most ascents in Bermuda are rewarded with a gorgeous vista (this one was completely unexpected and my plan is to build a café at this location after retirement). There’s a rose garden too.

Our next stop was Spittal Pond Nature Reserve in search of Portuguese Rock (formerly Spanish Rock). Bermuda Journey: A Leisurely Guide Book (1958) describes Spittal Pond thusly:

“The origin of this curious name is unknown, but there is a Spittal in Yorkshire, mentioned in Cobbett’s Rural Rides, which may possibly furnish a clue. The water of the pond is brackish, and at all seasons of the year wild birds can be seen resting there or hovering near by; the isolation of the pond suggests that it would make an ideal bird sanctuary. Between the pond and the shore are three curiosities, of which the best known is Spanish Marks. This was the cryptic inscription found by the first settlers, crudely carved in the rock, on a high bluff overlooking the ocean.”

The surge from Hurricane Jose made parts of the trail impassable BUT with shoes (and socks) removed we pushed on. There’s NO signage in the nature reserve SO finding the bluff (yeah, it’s a bluff) is a real true-life adventure. I’m not sure vacationers would choose this nature reserve in a top ten, but for bird watchers / birders and those seeking quiet it’s an incredible destination. The ascent to Portuguese Rock is a proper hike so budget time, wear appropriate footwear, and bring plenty of water to stay hydrated. This isn’t a stop you make in a bathing suit and flip-flops.

The view from Portuguese Rock is absolutely humbling. The site is marked with a sign that reads:

A bronze plaque near this sign records an early inscription believed to have been carved in the stone by survivors off a Portuguese ship wrecked on Bermuda’s reefs in 1543. The original carving has deteriorated but the bronze plaque was cast from a lead mould taken of the inscription in 1893.

The site was formerly known as Spanish Rock because the initials were mistakenly thought to be those of a Spaniard. Later research, however, interpreted the initials as R.P. (an abbreviation for Rex Portugaliae, King of Portugal) and the cross as the Portuguese Order of Christ.

The stranded Portuguese mariners did not stay long but built a new vessel and left the island.

After leaving Spittal Pond we drove west on South Road to Brighton Hill Road. We stopped at the Old Devonshire Church whose interior is entirely lit by candles. It wasn’t open, but we walked through the graveyard. Our approach to the City of Hamilton took us past the U.S. Consulate on Middle Road. We had two planned stops in Hamilton— Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity and the Historical Society Museum. Unfortunately, the latter was closed so we visited the City Hall and Arts Centre WHICH turned out to be serendipitous.

The Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity is an Anglican cathedral located on Church Street. According the Bermuda Journey: “Among the materials combined in the fabric of the Cathedral are Bermuda stone, quarried from the Parlaville property; Bermuda cedar; Caen stone from Normandy; freestone from Nova Scotia; stone and oak from Indiana; pitch pine, granite monoliths, and paving stone from Scotland.” The nave, pulpit, stained-glass, organ are all impressive. The altar screen is beautiful and features the sculptures of Byllee Lang (more on her shortly). We climbed the 155 steps of the tower and were once again rewarded, this time with an impressive view of the city and harbor.

The City Hall and Arts Centre contains the Bermuda National Gallery. It also has a slightly jaunidiced portrait of Her Majesty The Queen. The BNG has three permanent collections and my favorite was the wing displaying paintings of Bermuda from artists like Henry M. Gasser, Abbott Graves, and Catherine F. Tucker. There was a special exhibit (Celebrating Women Artists) that included a sculpture of the Virgin Mary in plaster by Byllee Lang and photograph(s) from Edith Watson.

Exhausted from our BIG hike and exploration of the City of Hamilton, we had dinner at the Village Pantry in Flatts Village. I had the special— Wiener Schnitzel & Hefeweizen Grapefruit Beer.

Weekend 403.0

“For more than a century the charred walls of Orval were at the mercy of the weather and of stone—and treasure seekers.”
– Spiritual Heights and Depths, 2011

(1) A quote from Trappist Beer Travels: Inside the Breweries of the Monasteries:

“This time of prosperity and celebration was cut short in 1789 as the French Revolution broke out, and Orval’s position along the French border made it a vulnerable and immediate target. On June 23, 1793, revolutionary troops under the command of French General Louis Henri Loison plundered and burned Orval to ruins. The monks sought refuge in Luxembourg, then at Orval’s daughter priory Conques—around fifteen miles north of the abbey—but the community was officially disbanded on November 7, 1795.

The once great Orval Abbey would have likely faded into the dusty scrolls of history if it were not for the de Harenne family, who eventually came to own the land containing its ruins. In 1926 the family made the generous decision to offer the plot back to the Cistercian Order so a new generation of monks could rebuild, live, and worship on this sacred grounds.”

Related
Weekend 158.0

Weekend 402.0

(1) Quality, variety and surprise. How Walt Disney created a very real fantasy (Blooloop)

(2) Quotes from The Man in the Castle by Philip K. Dick:

“They want to be the agents, not the victims, of history. They identify with God’s power and believe they are godlike. That is their basic madness. They are overcome by some archetype; their egos have expanded psychotically so that they cannot tell where they begin and the godhead leaves off. It is not hubris, not pride; it is inflation of the ego to its ultimate — confusion between him who worships and that which is worshipped. Man has not eaten God; God has eaten man.”

“‘All afternoon assorted officials examined the alternatives,’ Mr. Tagomi said, ‘This is the most authentic of dying old U.S. culture, a rare retained artifact carrying flavor of bygone halcyon day.’ Mr. Baynes opened the box. In it lay a Mickey Mouse wristwatch on a pad of black velvet.”

(3) On my desk…
(a) Trappist Beer Travels: Inside the Breweries of the Monasteries by Caroline Wallace, Sarah Wood, and Jessica Deahl
(b) The Thinking Fan’s Guide to Walt Disney World: Epcot by Aaron Wallace

(4) Proposed Bermuda City Hall* (Architect’s Plan)

On this site, the Corporation of Hamilton plans to build the new City Hall—as shown in the architect’s plan on this page. This hall, when completed, will provide adequate housing for the activities of the Corporation, more in keeping with progress of the city than the present City Hall, which is located on Front Street, East. It will provide a Council Chamber, Municipal Offices and an Auditorium seating four hundred persons. The funds for the erection of this building were bequeathed to the Corporation of Hamilton by late Miss Catherine Browne Tucker, who died April 14, 1933, and whose father, the Wor. George Somers Tucker, was for many years a member of the Corporation of Hamilton and Speaker of the House of Assembly. The funds now available for this purpose are in excess of £52,000 sterling.

*Scan and quote are from Beautiful Bermuda: The Standard Guide to Bermuda (1947)

(5) One of the most famous airport terminals in the world is about to become a swanky hotel (Business Insider)

Bermuda (Devil’s Isle), Part 1 of 3

It seems like 6+ months since our plane dipped from the clouds and glided along the turquoise waters and emerald landscapes of Bermuda on our approach to L.F. Wade International on St. David’s Island. A business trip later, and some massive changes at work, and the restorative effects of that special island have been reduced to a severe longing for a rebook.

It was a grand trip though and I’ve finally scratched out a day-by-day summary using the meta data from my digital photographs and a semi-permeable memory.

Before we begin…

Whenever possible I’ve linked to photos on Flickr from the Limestone Archives. In most cases, those photos have a description with additional details about the object or place.

»This symbol refers to a tip that follows the day-by-day entry.

Day 1
We stayed at The Reefs in Southampton which is marketed as a “beach front boutique hotel.” We’ve been going to The Reefs since the 80s and have watched it evolve into a “boutique” whilst retaining its rich history and tradition. The Reefs opened in 1947 and Beautiful Bermuda: The Standard Guide to Bermuda (1947) describes it thusly:

“The Reefs is Bermuda’s New Cabana Club, a Cottage Type of Hotel Living. The “Motor Age” has made it possible to develop “The Reefs” which is located on Christian Bay, Southampton Parish. This section is know as Fort Royal, and we find it so marked on an old Bermuda Map of 1626, also showing it as the location of one of the original Forts…Perched on a bluff, overlooking a private, secluded coral beach and protected bay. “The Reefs” combines the most modern conveniences with the charm of old Bermuda.”

There isn’t a bad view at The Reefs and my happy spot is from any cliff side balcony.

After exploring the hotel and surveying the beach, we »rented scooters for the week from Oleander Cycles. Our “orientation” ride was to Gibbs Hill Lighthouse. The cast-iron lighthouse is very close to The Reefs and some sketches (and photos) from the beachfront show the lighthouse in the background. We »climbed the 185 steps and were rewarded with incredible views of the island.

The Reefs (1947)

We had dinner in Hamilton at the Hog Penny Pub on Burnaby Street and the bangers & mash was Old Ship quality.

»Rent scooters for the entire length of your stay. The island is very expensive, and the flexibility of being able to shop at local grocery stores is a great way to save money. Also, the transit options in Bermuda are great (ferry, bus, taxi, etc.) but the scooter buys you time and access to parts of the island (e.g. nature reserves) that aren’t always convenient.

»Climb everything and anything you’re allowed to climb. This includes steps in historic buildings (Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity), trails in nature reserves (Spittal Pond Nature Reserve), forts (Gates, Scaur, St. Catherine’s, etc.), and slopes (Botanical Gardens). The vantage is always worth the effort.

Day 2
We drove west to visit Somerset Bridge— the world’s smallest working drawbridge. The bridge links Sandy’s Parish with Somerset Island.

I like to choose a place I would live wherever I travel (here’s an example) and I found my Bermuda home on our first full day. In this case, it was a little fixer-upper near the bridge. We also explored Scaur Hill Fort and Park on our way to the Royal Naval Dockyard.

We didn’t spend too much time in the Royal Naval Dockyard; we had an appointment at the hotel and were clock-watching (on vacation). It can be a little hectic too (this is code for touristy) since this is where the cruise ships dock. On the way back to the hotel, we stopped for a »Barritt’s Ginger Beer at RUBiS on Boaz Island.

We went to Hamilton again for dinner (all roads lead to Hamilton) and this time ate at trendy Bulli.Social. After dinner, we continued on to St. George for some day trip scouting. In transit, my brother did a good impression of Tom Cruise in Top Gun on Kindley Field Road with his scooter at max. speed. We were starting to lose sunlight, but did stop at Gates Fort for some photos.

»Drink Barritt’s Ginger Beer whenever you can.

Day 3
We spent our third afternoon in the Town of St. George. We visited Stella Maris Church (RC), the Unfinished Church, Somers Garden, St. Peter’s, and Bermuda’s 400th Anniversary Monument. We also walked around town to take pictures before our dinner reservations at Wahoo’s Waterside Bistro & Patio. The streets in St. George are tightly clustered and should be ambled.

Bermuda Fact: Sir George Somers was at the helm of the Sea Venture in 1609 and deliberately drove the ship onto the reefs to prevent its floundering. All 150 passengers survived. The survivors later built two ships — Patience and Deliverance — using cedar and remains of the Sea Venture to continue their journey to Virginia. You can see a replica of the Deliverance on Ordnance Island in St. George.

In Part 2, I’ll pick up with days 4.

“These little islands are thickly covered with cedar groves, through the vistas of which you catch a few pretty white houses, which my poetical shortsightedness always transforms into temples.” – Tom Moore