Saturday, 19 October 2013

Canterbury Catherdral

Had my flu jab today and I think the nurse must have been in a bad mood. The way she hurled that syringe into my arm you'd swear she was practicing for an international darts tournament. Still it's all done and dusted now and with a bit of luck I will avoid the worst of the nasties flying around this winter.

So back to my trip to Canterbury.

This notice on the Bell and Crown Pub made me laugh.

After a good breakfast of sausages, beans and scrambled egg. Yes, I did managed to eat it all though of course with me it wasn't as impressive as it sounds. I'm talking about one sausage, a tablespoon of beans and the same of egg and I found even that a struggle. It was more than I usually had for breakfast though and I left the table feeling proud of myself if not a little nauseous.  The kids had left by then but their presence was still around in the piles of dirty plates and dropped food everywhere. Everyone looked a little sleep deprived and I'm guessing everyone was hoping they would not be returning.

A Beautiful view of the river

As promised it was dry and sunny when we left the hotel but blowing a gale and bitterly cold. Fortunately I'd predicted it would be a bit nippy so had packed my thermals and some warm jumpers for the trip. Wrapped up like Nanook of the North I ventured out and nearly got blown off my feet by a sudden gust of wind. We drove into the town center and found parking without any trouble at all.

Part of the old wall

Because rain had been promised later that day we decided to do the city walk in the morning and visit the cathedral in the afternoon. A plan that couldn't have worked better as it turned out. The city walk takes in some of the more noteworthy houses and landmarks and most of the city walls. You start outside the cathedral gate and you end there so pretty handy for us. I would recommend the walk but don't rely on the guide given by the tourist information place to tell you anything. All it does really is tell you where to go. We had to use our phones a lot to find out what it was we were looking at.

Canterbury Castle

We we not far into our walk when we came across the castle. Mostly gone now, and what's left in ruins, there was still enough there for some great pictures. I was absolutely delighted to find that wooden walk ways had been put up to make it easier for those of us on wheels. We spent at least twenty minutes there, probably longer and we were the only ones there. Clearly this place is not on the top of the 'things to do' list for most visitors, but I found it fascinating. I won't describe everything I saw but I've added as many pictures as I could to this blog. You can find more on my Flickr, link on the right.

Sculpture outside the Marlowe Theatre

They guide says you can do the walk in an hour but it took us nearer two with all the picture taking and Internet research along the way. I like to know what I'm looking at not just admire it because it's odd or pretty. So by the time we arrived back at the cathedral gate we were starving so went in search of lunch. You will not find any fast food places in the town center, thank goodness, but that doesn't mean you are going to starve. There are loads of cafes, pubs and restaurants offering up everything from Italian, Chinese and Thai to good old pub grub. Beware though, we went into one pub which was charging way over the odds. Six pounds for a bowl of soup and no main meals under twelve pound. A bit pricey when all you want is a light snack.

This oddly angled house is supposedly Mr Wickfield's
house in David Copperfield

In the end we settled on a small cafe called Brunch not far from the cathedral entrance and were so impressed we went back the next day. I got a big, and I mean big, bowl of delicious soup, and around half a loaf of brown bread to dip in it, for half the price the pub was charging. In the end with Peter's cheese and ham toastie and a lot of tea and coffee we spend around eleven pounds, cheaper than Burger King and much, much nicer.
Christ Church Gate, then entrance to the cathedral

We got another pleasant surprise when paying to enter the cathedral. I was charged half price and, as my carer, Peter got in free. I was so impressed by the help I got in the cathedral. There were people on hand to help me up and down stairs and basically they catered to my every whim. Anything I wanted or needed there was someone there to help, a lot of places could learn a thing or two from the people working here.

Canterbury Cathedral

The first thing we did was take a tour around the building itself. It was in the process of being cleaned and some of the most weathered stone was being replaced so some of it looked more like a building sight. However it was absolutely magnificent and the restored part was truly beautiful. However I'd run into a bit of a problem. The gale from this morning had gathered strength whilst we were eating and was now howling. I'd already had trouble keeping my camera steady in the wind during our walk, now it was being whipped around and shaken and there was very little I could do to stop it. I no longer have the strength in my arms I once did and find my camera heavy at the best of times. This situation wasn't helped by the fact the wind was getting through my layers and I was feeling very cold and therefore shivering. So I apologise in advance for the photos not being as sharp as they could be.

The clean bit.

Once inside, I had to enter around the back because of the steep steps at the entrance, I was entranced by the beauty and the size of the building. Now I'm not a religious person but there was definitely something special about this place. With help I got to see most of the interior with only a few places that were completely off limits and I was allowed to take photos everywhere except the crypt, which was a shame because it was my favourite part.

Some of the arches

The crypt is only lit by candles or very dim bulbs as it is here the oldest wall painting are found and they really are something special. I can't believe the colours are still so vibrant in places. You are not allowed to talk above a whisper either which adds to the sense of being somewhere very holy. It was in the crypt that I lit a candle for Anne, Kath and all those awaiting transplant, myself included of course.

The pulpit

At the back of the crypt there is one area of bright light which is where all the precious silver is on display. Again well worth seeing if you don't mind being watched by security the whole time. It is here that they display their most prized exhibit, a piece of bone believed to be from the skull of Thomas Becket. Don't get too excited though as it is so small you need a magnifying glass to see it. This sliver of bone was found under the alter where he was murdered so I'm guessing it's a good bet it really is his but I found it a bit weird. Even stranger was one of the guards/assistants sidling over to tell us that if we wanted to see more of Becket 'the Catholic church down the way has a whole finger'. Eww!

The one thing that did disappoint was the monument to Thomas Becket. It was so hidious I didn't even bother to take a photo. Really disappointing.

The chapter house ceiling

It was beginning to rain as we left the cathedral so we headed back to the hotel for a rest and a meds change before we ventured out to a lovely Italian restaurant called Posillipo. The food was absolutely delicious but by now I was feeling very tired so was unable to finish my meal. I would got back there in a heartbeat given the chance though. Highly Recommended.

Looking towards the Trinity Chapel

Thankfully the only coach party at the hotel was packed with OAP's so we fell into bed around ten and slept soundly until seven the following morning.

Close up of one of the many columns

I'll continue with my story tomorrow. I hope you don't find this account too boring and I hope you like the pictures. Again sorry for the quality of some of them. I'm hoping this time next year I can go back on my own tow feet and get some better ones.

Just realised it's Strictly tonight! Yay!