2022: Year-in-review

A couple of paragraphs to close out 2022. This is the year I said goodbye to London and put an exclamation point on Kingdom Hearts. I spent a night in Gettysburg and a couple more in Paris. I crossed the English Channel via the Eurostar. I read the Brothers York and Faith of Our Fathers. I saw the Wilton Diptych at the British Museum and watched the Southampton Saints WIN under the lights against the Norwich Canaries. I tracked down stained-glass in Hereford from a Christmas card given to my mom and dad by our parish priest. I hiked to Towton, outside York, to visit a battlefield that was pivotal in the War of the Roses. I toured all of the northern cathedrals- York, Durham, and Lincoln. I also travelled to the very edge of Empire for a weekend in Penzance and Lands End. There were a couple of more Saints matches, including a memorable one in Cambridge for the Carabao Cup. There were three Championship League matches in Stoke, Norwich, and Sunderland. I hosted my brother in the spring and we went to Southampton, London, and Ramsgate. I also caught Football: Designing the Beautiful Game at the Design Museum before it closed.

My last couple of weekend trips in England were to Coventry, Exeter, and Bath. One of the highlights of the year was mass at the Cathedral Church St John the Baptist in Norwich.

My BIG birthday was at PNC Arena to see my beloved NY Islanders put a hurt on the Hartford Whalers Carolina Hurricanes and I was at the Bridgeport Islanders home opener. I also went to a Bridgeport Islanders game to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the NY Islanders.

Thames River Ride (1986) by Harper Goff. Scan is from The Art of Walt Disney World Resort

Old Southampton

“In God is my hope. RB. 1605”

Quotes from A Walk Within the Walls (The Story of Old Southampton) by Elsie M. Sandell:

“Through the Bargate archway, too, went most of our monarchs on their visits to our town. Henry II passed through it on foot in 1174 when starting out for his walk of penance to Canterbury, to the tomb of Thomas Becket.”

“His son, Henry VI, was also frequently at Southampton Castle, and there he met his bride, Margaret of Anjou, for the first time, on April 14th, 1445, she being then only fifteen years old.”


Hotels in England

A quick list of my top five. Here’s a link to a previous post with the different cities visited during my two-years in the UK.

(1) The Midland in Morecambe – Art deco hotel with a link to the railway (and the golden age of rail). The restaurant is top notch. It makes me pine for a revitalization of domestic travel.

Limestone Archives: Midland Hotel Flickr Album

(2) The Telegraph Hotel in Coventry – Themed hotel in a space once occupied by the local rag. In terms of theming, it’s only rival is the TWA Hotel. They have done a brilliant job preserving the interior features as well and objects that once served the newspaper are marked with QR codes (clever).

Limestone Archives: Telegraph Hotel Flickr Album

(3) Moxy Southampton – The place to either celebrate or commiserate a Saints win/loss. Southampton is my second home (and maybe where I’ll retire).

(4) Cambridge Central Station – Incredible views of the station, platforms, and railyards. The lobby displays all the rail departures / arrivals so there’s always the frenetic energy of travelers going to and from.

(5) Hilton Garden Inn Stoke on Trent – Modern and well-lit and close to the canals.

Other notable hotels include The Yarrow Hotel, Hampton by Hilton York, and the DoubleTree by Hilton Bath.

British Rail Corporate Identity from 1965–1994

Weekend 545.0

I was in Southampton this weekend for the Saints home opener. Mass was at St. Joseph’s. Used my train (and coffee) time to put a nice dent in Faith Of Our Fathers: A History of True England by Joseph Pearce.

(1) “True England” and the Faith of Our Fathers (The Imaginative Conservative)

(2) Atlantic op-ed claims Catholic rosary has become ‘an extremist symbol’ (Fox News)

(2a) The Rosary: Spiritual Sword of Our Lady | Fr. Don Calloway, MIC | Franciscan University (YouTube)

St. Joseph’s in Southampton

Weekend 544.0 (But if you’ll wait around awhile…)

I was in Southampton for the last Saints FC preseason match. It was a bit of a lackluster affair against Villarreal. They lost 2-1 but the atmosphere was great and the sun was out. Mass was at St. Edmund’s and on Saturday I finally got to visit St. Michael’s Church. St. Michael’s is the oldest building in use in Southampton. It was closed because of the pandemic and most recently because of a lack of volunteers.

I had dinner at Maritimo Lounge which took me past the South Western House. The historic building has a purported link to Winston Churchill and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

(1) Nine things you may not know about South Western House… (Daily Echo)

2021/22 Football Campaign: Season End Review

When you don’t support Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester, or Tottenham you spend a ton of time during the season biting your nails and speaking in tongues.

Saints (English Premiere League)
Saints avoid relegation with 40 points and look likely to finish 15th in the table. It was a wretched season for the Saints and I was at St. Mary’s for heartbreaks (plural) against Wolverhampton, Brighton, Watford, and Crystal Palace. The Palace match was the worst home defeat of the campaign and reflects their season in a nutshell- conceding late or not pressing for a second goal after an early lead.

The Saints were just wildly inconsistent this season and if it wasn’t for unexpected wins against Arsenal, etc. they would have found themselves in a proper relegation scrap. I only saw the Saints WIN at home 1 time this season and it was against a relegated Norwich in February under the lights. I had tickets for the Everton match but couldn’t get to St Mary’s after storm Eunice. The line ends 1W, 2D, 3L but if you include the pre-season loss and the missed match it was 2W, 2D, 4L. Ugly.

Morecambe (League One)
The mighty shrimps survive relegation and finish 19th in the table. I saw them win at home and lose twice on the road to Cambridge and Oxford. My friend is a Gillingham supporter and they were relegated to League Two. I saw Gillingham play at Portsmouth on April 23.

Metz (Ligue One)
Metz had a heartbeat until PSG thrashed them 5-0 last night. Metz is now officially relegated from Lique 1. I didn’t visit Stade Saint-Symphorien this season because of COVID-19 travel restrictions and scheduling. I can’t wait to see the Maroons again on the banks of the Moselle.

By the numbers…

  • 17 Matches
  • 7 Southampton Saints Matches
  • 5 League One Matches
  • 2 Championship Matches
  • 3 Non-league Matches (Hereford, Barnet, Poole)

I saw two Championship matches- Fulham and Stoke. Fulham WON the Championship and have been promoted to the Premiere League. I saw them play Nottingham Forest. Forest will play at Wembley on May 29 against Huddersfield in a play-off final for promotion to the Premiere League. The Stoke match was memorable IF ONLY because I’m still humming “We’ll be with you“.

Southampton Saints

Weekend 523.1

“Judica me, Deus, discerne causam meum de gente non sancta.” Psalm 42

Quotes from The Brothers York: An English Tragedy by Thomas Penn:

“Meanwhile, shortly before sunset on Thursday 18 July, a rider had arrived in Canterbury from the north with urgent news for Edward, there with Elizabeth on pilgrimage to the tomb of St Thomas Becket.”

“The English, he wrote, were great observers of protocol, always ready to genuflect to power and authority. But ‘no matter how they bend the knee’, he concluded, ‘they are not to be trusted.'”

“There were pressing reasons why he needed to do so, chief among them the fact that the Medici relied heavily on exports of English wool to fill the convoy of galleys that docked each year at Southampton.”

“Progressing through Kent, taking in the elegance of Canterbury Cathedral and the richness of Thomas Becket’s gold, gem-encrusted shrine, the saint’s hair shirt hanging above it, Rozmital and his party started to acquaint themselves with English customs, including a beverage drunk by the common people, which, one of the party noted, was called ‘Al’selpir’ (though he didn’t apparently realize that he was being offered a choice: ‘ale’ or ‘beer’).

“Noting Edward’s freshly minted currency, ‘nobles and other good coins’ changing hands, they quickly formed the conclusion that London – a ‘powerful’ city, they appraised, with its face turned outward towards the world and ‘rich in gold and silver’ – was England.”