12th Apr 2009 - England 1
Canterbury and Hever Castle
Had a lot to pack in today so we needed to leave the B&B by 0900 as well as checking out. The lady was nice enough to let us leave the car there until lunchtime so we could walk to where we were going and not have to pay for parking (or to find it)
The first thing we did was go to a sevice at Canterbury Cathedral - yes I know a very odd thing for me to do but I still like to surprise myself and others. It was an Anglican cathedral if that makes a difference. It was also a matins whatever that is - mainly the choir singing and a few prayers and 2 readings and then we all got to sing one song and that was it. I do confess feeling uncomfortable as those who know me know what I think about very traditional religions like Catholicism and Anglicanism (is that a word).As a Christian I have no problem with religion and traditions but I dont believe that God has special people to represent him on earth such as the Pope. The same with baby baptism and other traditions. Pleased I didnt have to get on my knees although a few people did and it looked very uncomfortable. Anyway i got through it ok as did the boys although disappointed to sing only one song. I would have to say that the choir was magnificent.
Then we went to Canterbury Tales - a specifically touristy thing - displays inside that moved and told some of Jeffrey Chaucer's tales. Its was reasonably good but not long enough.
Then went on and did a Historic River Boat Cruise - were told that if we didnt enjoy it we wouldnt have to pay the 7 pounds at the end. It was 40 minutes of going up a canal one way and then back up the other way. The guy paddling told us a few stories about historic Canterbury which made the wee outing otherwise it was pretty tame but enjoyable enough. We all said afterwards that if we were asked to pay what it was worth we would have paid 3-5 pounds. Anyway they got 7 out of all of us.
Then we decided to go back to the pub where we had eaten the first night for lunch as they had very good home made pies. We were estatic to find out they were doing a Sunday Roast lunch - all bar one chose lamb and it was great - well apart from the roast parsnips (which I couldnt give away as no one likes them) Given this huge Yorkshire pudding and wondered about where this came from. My suggestions were to mop up the gravy and for the poorer people to get them more full up. There was about 20 guys at the next table dressed up as gay bikies - drinking heaps - we hoped when they left that they didnt have bikes and were goig to ride them.
Back to the car and drove to Hever Castle which we worked out was a 45-60 minute drive on the way back to Gatwick to drop the car off. After 1-2 wrong turnings - the fault of the GPS - we eventually got there. A bit of a dilemma and indecision at the gate as it was 1500 and the guy said that the line to get into the actual castle was 50 mins long but we could still view the gardens etc. After a lot of discussions decided that as we were there we may as well do it and we would take turns to wait in the line. It was a lovely place and I think my favourite castle if I had to pick. Built about 700 years ago and was the childhood home of Anne Boelyn who was of course the second wife of Henry the 8th and mother of Elizabeth 1st and was the cause of the advent of the Church of England so that henry could marry her. We walked past the gate nd turned the corner - a magnificent lake and gardens spread out in front of us - boats for hire on the lake and looked absolutely idyllic. Shame the weather wasnt slightly better. It is a 35 acre lake so quite large. Walked past a very old open air theatre and then thru some lovely gardens - the ttype you are tempted to go bak to in a couple of months when it is summer and more flowers are out. Took lots of photos as I walked thru the Italian and Tudor gardens. Then arrived at the Castle - not as big as the other two - but more homely looking but still with a moat and a drawbridge. We all lined up and cahtted and it was only about 30 minutes in the end. the inside was the most interesting castle i have seen. Very heavily biased towards Anne Boelyn and Henry the 8th but extremely interesting - shame about the other rude tourists though. We all met at the other end and then went and looked at the Castle shop - there is always one of them. Nancy is in to paper tole and found some great sheets of paper - I am not quite sure what this is so will have to get her to show me. She says she has great stashes of paper in Australia that she couldnt part with - now that i can understand. She also loves knitting. Liz is into scrapbooking but a bit different to me as she puts postcards and all her ticket stubs and everything in. We are quite a crafty group and if any of us had our 'stuff' here we would get together for afternoons etc - although no ones place is really big enough. Then onto the Water Maze which the kids would have loved. You have to jump from block to block to get to the centre of the island but you never know when the different fountains will come up. No wonder we saw so many wet children as we were arriving. Then walked back through the gardens as it was 1730 towards the car. A truly lovely place to spent an entire day and take a picnic lunch (2 cafes there). Hope to go back there on a beautiful summers day.
Then the drive back to Gatwick - had to go around twice to get to the petrol station - only spent 25 pounds on petrol for the 3 days. It was easy handing the car back in. Very impressed with Avis (as I was in NZ) and will use them again. The whole process was easy. Scott did all the driving in the end which I was happy with. Back on the train and after 30 mins back in Clapham Junction. Decided to have one final meal together which we did at a local pub - excellent food and will go there again as they have 50% off Mondays - near to my work (well a 20 minute bus ride) so easy to get to on the way home.
Then on the Overground with Nancy and Andrew and left them at Willesden Junction to catch a bus the next 30 mins home and then a walk down the hill at 2230 at night and rolled into bed - very tired but having a had a lovely Easter weekend.
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