Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My Canterbury Tale

Spent a lovely day in Canterbury yesterday.  I knew I'd like Canterbury, but it really exceeded my expectations.  Lots of great 'old' things to see, a completely walkable-and easy to navigate-city, and the weather fully cooperated!  I was also fortunate enough to be at a few sites, and due to perfect timing, I guess, have the entire place to myself.

Canterbury is a 90 minute-ish journey from London, and given the size of the town, is do-able in an easy day trip.  I arrived at the Canterbury East station at 12.02p, and by 12.05p was at the Norman Castle.  It's almost literally right next to the station.  Built close to 1000 years ago, the Norman Castle is one of the three original royal castles in the area.  And, for the most part, I had the whole place to myself!  It's not huge by modern standards-nor is it the size of Windsor-but, it was impressive nonetheless. Next to the castle is an old graveyard and church.  So, I took a wee wander off the trail.  I have a thing for graveyards.  I don't know why-perhaps I got it from my mother...I just find them so darned fascinating.  So, I had a little wander around there as well.  Completely alone.  I felt so lucky!

By now, it's pushing 1p, and my tummy is starting to rumble, so I take out ye olde trusty map and make my way to Cantina.  Mexican food.   Random, I know-but it looked like a nice place from the Canterbury website-and it was open on a Monday.  I initially wanted to go to a place next door called The Farmhouse, but they're closed on Mondays.
Nevertheless, Cantina did not disappoint!  Homemade nachos and calamari with lime, garlic-and peanuts were my two dishes.  The chips for the nachos were fresh, and the calamari was so tender I almost didn't need to chew.  I don't think I'll return to Canterbury any time soon-but if anyone else is headed there, I'd cerainly give Cantina an A+.

After lunch, I decided to make my way over to St Augustine's Abbey and St Martin's Church.  By arriving at Canterbury East station, I was able to plan my day basically starting at the station and working counter-clockwise around the city-via City Wall to see the sights.  So, the abbey and the church were next on the rotation.  Unfortunately, The Abbey was closed on Monday as well (drat), so I carried on to St Martin's Church.  Along the way I passed a prision.  Across the street from a primary school.  Am I the only one else that thinks this a bit odd?...

Anyhoo, the actual church at St Martin's is closed on Monday, but the grounds (read: cemetary) at the church is open.  And, I had the entire place to myself!  St Martin's is the oldest church in England still in use-since c.580.  Wow.  The sun was out, it was a beautiful cemetary, and no one was around.  I spent about 45 minutes there just wandering, reading, sittinging and taking it all in....just 'being.'  It was fantastic.  For me personally, that was the hilight of the day. 

When I first entered the church grounds though, I was struck by this sign:

So, does that mean that if you're not warned-or if the officer isn't in a uniform-it's not an offence?...I just thought it was funny.

Anyhoo...After St Martin's, I headed into city centre to the big daddy:  Canterbury Cathedral.  It did not disappoint, and at £7.50 for entry-the only entry fee I'd pay all day, I felt like it was a steal.  The place was a mob scene with school groups, so it was a bit difficult to navigate, and after the peace I'd had at St Martin's was a bit jarring, but the Cathedral itself-and the history-was quite stunning nonetheless.  The Cathedral dates back to 597, is the seat of the Archbishop, and for me personally, has the most amazing undercroft I've ever seen in a church, and the cloisers were just stunning:

But, just like with St Martin's, I saw another sign that struck me as funny and I had to take a photo:

From the Cathedral, I had a wander around city-centre.  After 20 minutes though, I realized that a)this place has the same shops as London (Highs Street, mostnd b)it's mobbed with school groups.  No bueno.  So, I high-tailed it out of the centred headed west to the West Gate for a quick peek at the Towers.  Unfortunately, the Towers Museum closes at 3.30p, and it's pushing 4p by now, so I decide to carry on along the city and head to The Millers Arms for a pint of ale.  Afterwards, I have one more little wander-to the Stour River park-literally next door to the pub-to enjoy the scenery:

And, then had a final wander back to the train station and headed home.  Oh, but here's a few shots of the cemetaries that I saw during the day:

No comments:

Post a Comment