Thu 26 Sep - Headcorn, England

Canterbury and Dover... And cats turned up twice today... And lots of photos yet again...

We were now sort of self sufficent at the House of Liley so we woke up to make and have breakfast by ourselves as the others go about their daily workings.

The two families (John in this wing, the others in the wing behind) have both a glass walled conservatory. Richard, when working, is doing so in their conservatory at the back of the picture which must be as nice a working environment as you can possibly get.

On our side, Di did some online research before we got moving...

A day trip to first Canterbury to check out the cathedral and then onto Dover to check out the white cliffs and the port was on the agenda.

Once we reached Canterbury, we parked the car at the first available "pay and display" off Castle Street and set off wandering. This is how our visit turned out, minus the time inside the cathedral when we switched off Runkeeper:

Di found a map...

Canterbury is of course not just the cathedral. It is a beautiful old town with a City wall just like Chester, but it did not feel as touristy as the latter (but of course it was early and a Thursday).

We decided to start off with the "big guy"... (No, not Hans, the cathedral)...

The Archbishop of Canterbury is head of the Anglican Church and the guy who crowns kings and queens. Very powerful figure - like the pope. Why Canterbury? A seat of the church has been here since before 600AD and the cathedral here for more than 1,000 years. We asked a chaplain later and he said it was a negotiated agreement between York and Canterbury in mid 7th century.

A couple of pics of Canterbury Cathedral from different angles...

This is where we had morning tea later, on the bench to the left behind Hans. Very peaceful.

And the cathedral up close...

This was kind of telling and reflective of the age and checkered history of Canterbury Cathedral and the people around it, I.e. those individuals who had ran foul of the current king at the time, or out of favour were "removed".

This guy had absolutely nothing to do with either royalty or the Anglican Church, but added another face to the crowd...

The ground surrounding Canterbury Cathedral is enormous and includes the Archbishop's residence, known as a palace, when he is in town (not today though we were told). The area unfortunately was out of bounds for us simple commoners and this was as far that we dared to go (we had already trespassed a tiny little bit).

We heard that the ongoing expenses to keep Canterbury Cathedral "in business" is something like £18,000 per day, never mind improvements or ongoing repairs and of course we contributed our small part by paying nearly £20 to get in.

Note the middle blue sign below. Does the cathedral really need a human resources entity? Has it become a small bureaucracy?

That headgear looks familiar...

We seemed to go through the cathedral in the reverse order to everyone else. We started with the cloisters, having snuck into the driveway of the archbishops palace. The cloisters can be see on this diagram as the big square.

The cloisters were lovely and we had them to ourselves.

Very detailed and beautiful ceilings...each shield was different.

Then into the chapter (meeting) house. This glass panel showed kings and queens of the past. We could see a young Queen Victoria on the bottom right and good ol' Henry VIII among others.

This guy though is king of... well, nothing really...

We don't know the story behind this "memorial", but there appears to have been a "cathedral cat" called, erh, Laptop. The cat card said RIP laptop. Moving in a strange kind of way.

Then into the Martyrdom room which is where in 1170 Thomas Becket was killed by 4 knights of King Henry II who was unhappy with the church trying to tell him what to do. St Thomas (as he later became) and his bloody destiny featured prominently within the cathedral.

This is the room where he was murdered - they have put his name in the floor recently.

A sort of shrine for Thomas Becket.

And in the main hall there were further references to Thomas Becket. This single candle represents the spot where his remains were kept.. For about 400 years... Until Henry VIII ordered for it to be destroyed because he too was annoyed with the church trying to tell him what to do.

Looking the other way within the nave of Canterbury Cathedral.

Then we stumbled onto a bell ringing ceremony which commemorates fallen soldiers around the world, and in particular the regiment of the cathedral known as the "Buffs". It was held regularly each day and time was now approaching 11am when it was due. We kept bumping into the older chaplain pictured here and Di even shook his hand at one point.

The bell came from a decommissioned light cruiser called HMS Canterbury, which saw action in WWI and in the Russian civil war.

Ha, an Australian link within Canterbury Cathedral. This guy, Sir George Gipps, was once the Governor of New South Wales according to the inscription. Perhaps the Gippsland area in the southeast is named after him. Unfortunately if you read the full detail, apparently the colony made him sick and he died a short time later in England.

After a tea break within the tranquil gardens surrounding the cathedral, we did a stroll through the old centre of Canterbury. Quite a few of these very old buildings remained. But wait, what are those figurines underneath the eaves of the first floor...?


Why, oh why was Hans not allowed in here... What's wrong with a vagabond...?

Di is strong... Very strong...

This funny leaning house was a bit of an institution in Canterbury, heavily photographed and with a Charles a Dickens quote replicated above the door about a leaning house which bulged over the street to see the people on the narrow pavement underneath.

Suddenly, we saw a bloke advertising river "punting cruises". We didn't even know that Canterbury had a river, but we quickly tracked down Great Stour as it was called. "Great" may have been a bit of a push as the stream of water was very shallow but we could see that these entrepreneurs had a couple of flat bottom boats for that low budget Venice experience.

Our 3 hours parking time was up and it was also lunchtime so we moved on to the white cliffs of Dover, about 30 minuted drive away. Well, as per advice from John we actually went just north of Dover to a place called St Margarets at Cliffe. Why? Well, from there you could actually properly see the white cliffs without having to go out into the channel on a boat. Suited us.

We were on the outlook for a nice place for a seaside lunch and we found it in a pub called the Coastguard. The pub was in the brown building that you can see to the left of the picture.

Here is Hans outside sitting at the Coastguard's deck, enjoying a bit of autumn sunshine while waiting for his fish and chips to arrive. Yes, we managed to get a bit of white cliff included in the background.

The Coastguard pub had two "house cats". At least, the cats hang around the outdoor tables looking for friendly souls to give them a bite or five to eat. The couple at the table next to ours were very generous, with steak of all things, so generous in fact that one of cats even lay on their table for a while awaiting the next morsel.

We were not that compliant / suckers, preferring to eat our food ourselves.

On a clear day, you can see... If not forever, at least France. Yep, today from the pub decking you could see across the channel to continental Europe. Faintly.

We had a funny moment where Hans mobile phone beeped and Lycamobile (our provider) said "Welcome to France" - what???

After lunch, we took a wander up and down the short promenade to check out those legendary white cliffs a bit closer.

While the above photo was looking north, below is the promenade looking south meaning that the flats where the pub and parking was is between white cliffs.

Hmm.... The white cliffs had been eroding and falling down onto the beach in places.

The beach consisted of both medium sized as well as small tiny round pieces of pebbles. It actually made it a bit tricky to walk in places as the feet sank down through it.

OK, the white cliffs looked good...

There were signs of human activity everywhere at the cliffs. Dug out caves etc.

This looked like some leftover observation post, probably from World War II.

The white chalk is very soft...

...and very easy to break apart.

Superstitious British people. This row of 14 bath huts had no number 13. After 12, it was 12A and then 14... The bath huts looked great though, freshly painted and well maintained. A sign advised to any interested parties to contact the local council, but we couldn't really see a huge demand for beach huts in this area. It means you would swim in the Channel water which is heavily trafficked by ships.

We moved on down towards Dover proper and passed Dover Castle on the way. Impressive, but we didn't go in.

Then onto the port of Dover, which is divided into a west and an east port.

Both sub-ports looked equally busy. This was the west port...

... And this the east port. Both photos are taken from the same spot.

Down by the water and between the two Dover ports, the sea wall was enforced concrete yet again. No beach here. Wonder why...

Busy, busy, busy...lots of trucks moving to and from the continent.

After Dover, it was home to the ranch for a rest.

Later, Richard (not Di for a change) was cooking up a storm. Roasted chicken with all the trimmings. Very good.

Check out the stove, this is of restaurant strength. Yes, Di was jealous.

As usual, we forgot to take photos during the social dinner session until Di recalled getting the camera out. She then quickly became the official photographer for the rest of us being Hans, John, Richard and Ruth who is John's daughter and Richard's wife.

After a most pleasant evening we called it a day (or night) just before 11pm. After all, both Richard and Ruth need to work tomorrow. Ruth has to go into London Town while Richard at least can work from home. Regardless, we were not jealous about any of that. Anyway, that's it from the road for today. Good night.


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