For England and St George! (III)

Thursday, April 23, 2009 7:20 | Filed in History, Life, Local Interest

England, my England.

St George flag by charrrlesss (flickr)

[Flag photo by Charlie Hawkins - follow photo link for more details]

As Jaybee said the other day, most people seeing the cross of St George flying probably associate it with football hooligans and racism. And that’s not right. The Scots are rightly proud of their flag, as indeed are the Welsh (and they should be, it’s got a dragon on it), so why shouldn’t we be?

Why shouldn’t we celebrate St George’s day? How come every year there are more English people celebrating St Patrick‘s day on March 17th than there are English people celebrating the birthday of their patron saint, St George (who incidentally is also patron saint of Aragon, Catalonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, and Russia — busy chap).

Oh, I already know the answer. It’s ‘cos Guinness put a lot of effort into their St Patrick’s Day promotions, because it sells a lot of Guinness…

But it is just as lazy to pretend that the English don’t care about their day as it is to assume that the cross of St. George is only associated with football and racism. Increasingly, more people promote events on St. George’s Day. Charles Wells have been promoting St George for some time, frequently associating it with their extremely pleasant pint, Bombardier:

Charles Wells wishes to encourage the English Nation into once again championing their sadly neglected patron saint. Wells Bombardier and The Royal Society of St George intend to spearhead a campaign to promote Englishness in all it’s glories be it from our heritage and history to new contemporary pursuits such as film and music. The long term goal is to make St George’s Day as big a celebration in England as St Patrick’s Day is in Ireland. Wells and Youngs [brewers]

Damn right. Sometimes it’s difficult to separate ‘England’ from ‘Britain’, particularly since England, Scotland and Wales have been joined together for quite some time now. It’s also difficult, as an Englishman living in England, to know whether certain sentiments are ‘English’ or ‘British’ as I don’t have a token Welshman and Scot I can use for comparative measurement.

However, it’s still appropriate and fair for us all to support our own country in sporting events — I couldn’t believe Andy Murray (Scottish) took stick for tongue-in-cheek comments about supporting whoever was playing England. What’s wrong with that?

Half the fun in supporting different teams is in taking the mickey out of your mates when their teams don’t win and yours does. Of course, as a Newcastle fan, I’ve not exactly experienced much of that this season…

In 2007 I wrote a St. George’s Day post called For England And St. George! In February 2008, I returned to the theme, inspired by a post on Britishness, with For England And St. George! (again). In these I talked about ten things I love about England and the English and I also talked about English/British values.

So this time, I’m simply going to list ten places in England that I think are beautiful, or stunning, sell nice beer, or are worth visiting for some reason or other… here they are, in no particular order

  • The Natural History Museum, South Kensington: dinosaurs, insects, lots of well, natural history and nature stuff.
  • St James’ Park, Newcastle. Home of Newcastle United, the finest football team to play at St James’ Park (even admitting I’m biased, I think we qualify as better than Exeter City).
  • Friar’s Crag, Derwentwater. Ideally watching the sun set.
  • Looking down towards Red Tarn from the peak of Helvellyn in the Lake District.
  • The Aletaster, Low Fell. Some good quality ales (if not as cheap as I would like), a friendly atmosphere, and quality conversation.
  • Warkworth Castle, Northumberland. There may be finer quality castles, and in better condition than this one, but I’ve always enjoyed visiting.
  • Hadrian’s Wall. It’s not often you get the opportunity to visit something built 1,850 years before you were born. Stunning, particularly if they are having a re-enactment or something.
  • Lancaster. It may be a small city, but it’s a city I grew to love when I was a student, and have been back a few times since. It’s maybe approaching time to go visiting again…
  • Crathorne Hall, North Yorkshire. As ‘stately homes’ go it’s quite a late-built one, but it’s really quite nice, with fantastic grounds. It also holds a special place in my affections as it was the site of my wedding and I had an absolutely fantastic day there.
  • Beamish Museum: an outdoor museum with different micro-sites from history: a small town shopping street from circa 1910, a farm from 1913, a colliery village from the early 1900s, a railway station from 1913, and a Manor house and a Waggonway from the early 1800s. Oh, and a coal mine (used between 1855-1958 and now set up to resemble the conditions of the early 1900s). In addition, you can travel between the different sites on trams built between 1900 and 1925. You can really step into history. See details of my visit for more gushing about it…

For those of you who remember, I would have obviously included The Mayfair (facebook group) — the planet’s finest rock club — only it’s not there any more, so I haven’t…

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9 Comments to For England and St George! (III)

  1. Mike says:

    April 23rd, 2009 at 7:35 am

    *lol* Your ten places in England are a tad “regional” don’t you think!

  2. Gary Miller says:

    April 23rd, 2009 at 9:02 am

    Bamburgh Castle and coastline, the view of Loch Lomond from the summit of Ben Lomond, the Clachan Inn (Drymen), York Minster, York itself (I was a student there), Aysgarth Falls (Yorkshire) in full spate, Ardnamurchan Peninsula (Scotland), Skye, Plockton (Scotland), my mam and dad’s house after a period of absence. OK, so I cheated and some are in Scotland – but very worthy of a mention!

  3. JackP says:

    April 23rd, 2009 at 9:49 am

    Mike, all but one of them are in the north, yes. Five in the NE, one in Yorkshire, four in the NW, and one in London. Four regions represented. (Yes, I know that adds up to 11 but Hadrian’s wall covers more than one region!)

    They are places that I like. Places that I know well. Places that I didn’t even say were “the best” or even “my favourites”, just “ten places I like”.

    Really, what’s wrong with that?

    I don’t understand why you feel the need to be anti-north, unless it’s just bitterness at your exile :-)

  4. Jaybee says:

    April 23rd, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    I could lend you a token Scot and Welshman if you need them. They’re pretty tame considering they come from the uncivilised parts of the Isles and they tell me that these days they even have this stuff called electricity. :)

    I have to say most of my favourite places tend to be in the South but that’s mainly because I rarely go North, being terrified of the ruffians wot inhabit them parts so for what it’s worth:

    Little used coves in Devon and Cornwall
    Leeds Castle in Kent (strangely)
    The Norfolk Broads
    Tower of London (when it’s empty)
    Kew Gardens
    unspoiled English countryside and river walks
    Salcombe in Devon (mainly for the pasties)

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