Canterbury & Kent – City, coast & countryside

So, where are we? Well, the title should narrow it down a bit. We are on the Camping & Caravan Club site about a mile and a half east of Canterbury. It’s Wednesday afternoon and the sun is shining. It’s been largely good fun, at least up to now, so here goes:

The sun was shining when we left home Sunday morning, turning – for the first time with Patsy anyway – left, instead of right, on to the coast road. The journey was pretty straightforward – for me anyway as Trev was driving – instead of going all the way along the coast, or up and around on the M25, we cut through Tunbridge Wells, arriving at the site around one-ish. It’s a large site, with some 200 or so pitches, parcelled in to smaller blocks divided by varying combinations of hedgerows and trees. Popular, no doubt with those going to, or coming from, Dover it was fairly quiet when we arrived. Pretty enough at the best of times I’m sure but with Autumn in full swing, the combination of colours was pretty special.

Having successfully sited and with tannins absorbed we put up the awning – only a small erection this time, but it is handy to keep stuff in and certainly helps to keep the van warmer. The sun was disappearing below the tree line as we finished and the degrees (Celsius or Fahrenheit, depending on your age) were doing their own vanishing act too. A cold night was in prospect.

 

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It was still early for tea, but we’d had nowt since breakfast and whilst Trev was willing to cook, I wasn’t willing to wait so we looked online for some fast food options, and headed out.

It was dark by the time we returned and extremely cold too. The freestanding halogen heater, although emitting a pleasant warming glow couldn’t shift the chill even with both bars going. The on board blown air system, not used since the early days of the ‘The Tour’ was pressed in to service and soon proved effective in warming up her ladyship.

It was equally as cold first thing Monday as we surfaced and availed ourselves of the sites facilities. Clean and tidy, but clearly getting on a bit, you’d have got wetter standing under a drooling Labrador than you would in the showers here. The water was at least hot  – reviews of the site suggest this has been an issue at times so maybe the flow rate has been tinkered with.

Many will know that I was waiting on the result of a job interview, so the mobile was never far away as we had our first look around Canterbury. It certainly is a charming city, compact enough to negotiate on foot and some lovely narrow streets to explore too. It has that ‘Oxbridge’ feel about it too. There is quite a large student population here, some of whom certainly add to the er, scenery. We paused by the Cathedral but decided to put it off for another day – to be honest my mind was elsewhere anyway waiting for the bloody phone to ring.

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We had an early tea and then finally the phone call came and I knew within a couple of seconds that I hadn’t got the job and  was pretty disappointed too – quite apart from the money – which was far from great, but that didn’t matter – it would have done wonders for my self esteem knowing that an employer had decided to put their faith in me .Still, there it is. Hopefully they’ll be others. The champagne, brought along especially, stayed in the fridge. The London Pride however, was brought in from the awning. With nothing taking our fancy on the telly, we span the hard drive in to life and watched a couple of old episodes of Rebus. Well, Trev watched a couple. I saw the first but snoozed through at least half of the second. We managed, most of the evening and all night, without heating, such was the change in the weather.

Tuesday, and having dealt, at least partially with the City side of things, it was time for the coast. Whitstable, just a few miles away was the first port of call. At one time, you could get train from Canterbury. Dubbed the ‘Crab & Winkle’ Line, for obvious reasons it was the third railway line to be built in Britain and the first to offer season tickets. Whitstable, as you may have guessed, or already know, is famous for it’s seafood. You can buy freshly caught oysters, crabs, winkles, whelks and much more from the quayside straight off the boats. Popular, according to my guide book, with middle class Londoners escaping the capital for some sea air it was understandably quiet on a cloudy Monday in November, but you could certainly see it’s appeal and I bet it’s buzzing in the summer. We parked in the harbour and had a trawl around passing the smartly painted beach huts by the er, beach.

 

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Next up was Herne Bay. Certainly not as pretty as Whitstable but pleasant enough. Attractive regency and Victorian seafront terraces are separated by a monstrous grey tower block in-between. Most of what remains of the pier here must be in competition for the most boring ever. A large section of it was lost in the seventies but the end still remains, way out to sea and stubbornly inaccessible.

 

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Ashford was to be our final destination of the day, for a visit to the cinema. The journey across county certainly demonstrated why Kent is called the Garden of England. It is beautiful, particularly at this time of year when all the leaves are changing colour. Autumn has got to be good for something I suppose. Anyway, famous mainly – well probably only – for a rather big railway station, we killed time in Ashford before the start of the film by wandering around the outlet centre. I tried on a couple of pairs of jeans – in black you may be surprised to learn – but came away empty handed. For the record, the film; ‘Argo’ was excellent and well worth a look.

Right, back to today. With the weather set fair, we headed back in to Canterbury to the Cathedral. I was here, many years ago as a kid and didn’t fully appreciate it’s majesty then, but it really is stunning. The sun really set off the outside and, from inside made the stained glass windows look awesome. I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking but will add that it’s a must see, it really is.

So, that’s it for now. The Isle of Thanet beckons tomorrow with a return to Margate and a look at the Turner Contemporary and Broadstairs and Ramsgate should get a look in too.

 

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