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Day 6 - Canterbury - Where it all began

Grainne and I return to St. Thomas Church, where we were married 35 years ago

Today was back to where it all began for me in England.


I first came to Canterbury as an exchange student in 1980. I came back five years later to study for my graduate degree. It’s where I met and fell in love with Grainne. We graduated from here, got engaged here, married here.

It’s obviously a very special place to us. So we set aside a day of our vacation to come down to Kent with two of our sons - Garrett and Finn - to again walk the ancient streets and tour Canterbury Cathedral. And celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary (which was back in July)

First stop - Cousins’ Fine Jewellry, where I bought Grainne’s engagement ring, and where we purchased our wedding rings. Located in a 15th Century building and across the street from the cathedral entrance, Cousins holds a special place in our hearts. The Cousins family was incredibly kind to a couple of poor college students shopping for rings. They even attended our wedding and many years later sold our son Pierce the engagement ring he gave to Ghazal.

We had a great chat with one of the owners, Nigel, who told us the shop is now in its fourth generation. Long may it remain in the family.

It may say The Sun Hotel, but downstairs is Cousins Jewellers

Because we’re also celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary on this trip, of course we walked down to the church where we were married - St. Thomas’s Catholic Church. The lovely little church is just down the street from the Cathedral and Cousins’ Jewelers.

A lot of thoughts went through my tiny brain as I sat in that church after 35 years. A lifetime of ups and downs. Ecstasy and heartbreak. But the blessings far outweigh the setbacks.

Canterbury changed my life. And it’s great to see a new generation of students arriving to explore the winding streets and charming buildings. No doubt there are scores of young American exchange students finding their way around at this minute. Watch out guys, your lives are about to change - for the better.

I won’t spend any more time documenting my walk around Canterbury Cathedral. To me, it remains the most beautiful church in the world. Full of majesty and splendor. Grand beyond belief. Also, the site of one of the most famous murders in history. But also a place of grace and redemption, where a billion prayers have been offered and heard.

Enjoy the pictures.

The high altar of Canterbury Cathedral

The steps up to the alter of the cathedral, wore down by centuries of pilgrims.

The site of the martyrdom of St. Thomas a Becket

St. Thomas a Becket, memorialized in stain glass

The spectacular nave of the cathedral

The Old Weavers House on the River Stour


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