27 Jan

Kent, East Sussex, Surrey, Reading, Buckinghamshire

The helpful lady at our last campsite advised us that we MUST do two things.  One was to leave our vehicle at the “Park & Ride” place and take the bus right into the city of Canterbury.  We took her advice and just as well we did as there would have been nowhere to park otherwise!  The majority of streets were pedestrian only and the rest of them were not set up for large, tall vans.  The “Park & Ride”  scheme was great, parking for as long as you want and the bus fare for 2.50pounds per vehicle not per person!  And the second thing was to buy fish and chips from a particular shop in the middle of town.  This advice was just as reliable as the first.  Very yummy fresh fish – they were so busy the fish did not have time to sit under the heat lamps for any time at all.  This family had been running this shop for five generations!
Canterbury is beautiful, crammed full of ancient buildings as well as the Cathedral.    Friendly people, if you stopped and admired a building, etc. for any length of time a member of the public would generally acknowledge you and begin to tell you the history behind the building! They all seemed so passionate about their city.  We had noticed that the buildings were mostly made with a certain stone rather than the usual bricks.  These are flint stones which used to be plentiful in the vicinity, though not anymore.

Flint Stones, the same ones that you can light fires with, make knives, axes, etc

Shops still in use today but built in 1550!

Remains of the Roman Wall AD270

We just wandered around the town,  following one interesting sounding sign after another!  Unfortunately, the St. Augustine Abbey ruins were closed but we peered through the bars anyway. 

St Augustine Abbey AD597


Way back in 1550 they built shops with verandas, why don't they now? All through the towns and cities in England there are no verandas, just heaps of umbrellas!

One thing about touring around the UK at this time of the year, there are no queues!  That probably sounds silly when I am forever listing all the historical sites that are closed either during the week or completely until Easter, but when we do get to view a castle, cathedral, etc there are very few people around and we get almost a personalised guided tour with the staff!  And with a questioner along with you, as my lovely husband is, you get the royal treatment.  The staff really respond to an enquiring mind!  We finally made our way to Canterbury Cathedral, the main reason why we had come, only to find that the morning guided tour was in progress already and the afternoon session was a couple of hours away.  So we retraced our steps and continued exploring the city.  It is full of OLD houses, shops and other interesting things like the large remains of the Roman Wall built in AD270.  We found an old hostel (actually called a Hospital) for the pilgrims who came to pay homage at Canterbury Cathedral.  Thomas Beckett, Archbishop of Canterbury, was martyred in 1170 inside the Cathedral and pilgrims came to his shrine hoping for a miracle.  This hostel, Eastbridge Hospital, provided accommodation then and still does today, for 11 elderly residents.  They also have a small working chapel upstairs.  The two volunteers on duty were so enthusiastic!  What with Dennis full of questions and these two men giving thorough answers to each question we were just a whisker late for the guided tour at the Cathedral.  

Inside the chapel of Eastgate Hospital, built in 1180

Very chuffed with my birthday present! A coffee machine

It wasn’t really a problem as there was only one family  (Mum, Dad, and two small girls) listening to our guide, so she just started again. We were so impressed with this magnificent building.  I couldn’t imagine how they could have built it all in the first place!  Now the exterior is being extensively cleaned and repaired and the back half is covered in scaffolding, with lifts taking the workmen and materials up to where it is needed.  How the first builders’ did it must have been a sight to see, I was sure amazed watching the workmen today. $32millionNZ is being spend on replacing, repairing and cleaning the stonework with another $10million NZ on the stained glass.  

The Gatehouse leading into Canterbury Cathedral


Before cleaning and repairs

Cleaned and restored!

Plane tree planted in the Cathedral grounds

So nice to see NZ natives in Cathedral gardens! Notice the bare Wisteria behind. Every old house, castle or church it seems has a wisteria!

The Cloisters, covered corridors that link the various halls and rooms of the Cathedral complex

2nd from left bottom: Henry 8th 2nd from right 2nd row: Black Prince

"Monarchs" Top 2nd from left: Queen & Price Charles, top 2nd from right: Duke of Edinburgh & Princess Anne Bottom middle: Queen's Mum & Dad

Back section of church - this is reserved for clergy only

Along with many others, The Black Prince, Edward, Prince of Wales is buried inside the Cathedral

We carried on travelling to Crawley, near Gatwick International Airport, and stayed the night there.  Dennis looked up Crawley on Wikipedia to establish whether we would just keep on driving or if there was something to explore here.  He found out that Biggin Hill was near us so was keen to visit this airfield.  It was associated with the Battle of Britain as well, but it turned out to be within the M25 and we were prevented from driving there due to the new Low Emission Zone restrictions.  More interesting facts about Crawley: 30 miles south of London,  sits at 52 degrees North (Oamaru is 45degrees South, with the Auckland Islands, well south of Stewart Is, almost 50degrees South), average has only 16 days per year of a maximum of 25 degreesC, frost on 60 days per year with an average of -10 degreesC and a record of -16.7!  And it proved to be a good frost that day, puddles still frozen at two in the afternoon.
January 7 was to be the beginning of our first house sitting job, since our return to England.  We drove up to Chalfont St. Peter, going right past Windsor on our way and promising ourselves that we would return there to view the sights, but as we were due to meet the owners at 9.30a.m. we had no time to stop now.  Now that we have mastered the intricate process of the TomTom I really enjoy the driving around.  And I must commend my husband on his improved driving skills!  He is careful, attentive, sticks to our lane (mostly) and generous to other motorists.  I believe the very narrow lanes has focused his attention.


4 Responses to “Pilgrims…”

  1. Beaven and Viv January 29, 2012 at 5:03 am #

    Hi Dennis and Janette,

    We so love reading your news and it is reminding us so much of what we did over there way back in 1995!!

    So holidays are over and it is back to school tomorrow…..am all prepared. Had a good holiday…I have painted two bedrooms, made curtains for those rooms so have had fun redecorating. Plus a week blobbing at Castlepoint.:)
    Our house is being painted at the moment so that is changing the look of things –

    We are now gearing up for emma and henrys wedding 26th May so not long – actually
    just enjoying the build up emma and henry are doing all the organising. So much has changed since our day!!!!

    Cheers Viv and Beaven

    Had so much rain this summer beaven hasnt had to water his garden and ebverything is green

    OK take care – we have had so much rain beaveh

    • Beaven and Viv January 29, 2012 at 5:04 am #

      couldnt see what i was writing in the last couple of sentences !!!

  2. Chris and Yvonne Thomson January 29, 2012 at 6:13 am #

    Hi from Petone
    We are loving the trip. Recognising some of the areas and so pleased you two
    are still communicating. Navigation and TomTom did not go together when we
    were driving!!

  3. Marty January 30, 2012 at 7:28 pm #

    Hi, Maria told me about your website & so I checked it out. Very Interesting. Enjoyed the pics of Canterbury cathedral. Happy travelling. Regards, Marty Eldershaw

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