Last Friday, Jeff came home from work and plopped on the couch. As I was chatting with my mom, he was surfing the internet. A man left to his own devices is a dangerous thing. Over dinner, he says, is there anywhere we can go this weekend?
Apparently, the trip to Bath inspired him to find more weekend getaways. We start brainstorming and looking at various maps feeling like explorers. We land on Canterbury with a side trip to Herne Bay and then hitting up Leeds Castle in Hollingbourne on the way home.
I think it’s safe to say Jeff and I are both rather Type-A personalities (me more so than him), but after jumping off the ledge of this international move, we are both making an effort to let go and be more easy-going and free. I think this trip was perfect to break us of that whole mentality.
The lesson we have relearned is pre-buying tickets. Thankfully, we didn’t get locked into a time like we had in Bath. However, we did get locked into a location. But first, we start with what we saw.
We left early Saturday morning for Canterbury. The forecast said it was going to be gray, rainy, and humid all weekend. Well, you could have fooled us. Saturday turned into a gorgeous day where we should have brought shorts instead of thermal-ware. We walked into the Canterbury Cathedral. I must have mentioned this before: Jeff has a thing for churches. He loves the history and architecture. So, every church we pass, we have to walk in.
This cathedral has no other word than just massive. Some comments we found online said it was simple but huge. No other word for it. We walked in and immediately felt tiny and engulfed by the height of the building. It went on forever and the detail of the ceilings was gorgeous.
Canterbury Cathedral is the place where Thomas Becket was assassinated by order of Richard II. There is a large tribute to the fallen Beckett right in front of the crypt. Many other cathedrals don’t allow you to go into the crypt areas, so we were pretty excited to see this one.
It was absolutely massive. We couldn’t believe all of the caveats and side chapels. There even was a chapel dedicated to French nationals.
As we circled the entire building, we were able to go behind the scenes and see the collection of chickens and guineas. We were surprised by the sheer volume of their shrieks.
There really wasn’t much to do in Canterbury unless you had a family. I was a little interested in seeing the Canterbury Tales experience, but then we walked by and saw it was mainly geared toward children. I’m interested in seeing the history in a historical context, not dumbed-down acting (personal opinion).
Off we headed to Herne Bay. This took some careful planning in travel arrangements that we did not do. Since this trip was so last minute, we hadn’t booked a room and were at the mercy of what was available. And we also seemed to miss every train and wait for half an hour at each stop until we finally made it to our destination.
A few blocks due North and suddenly, without warning, there was the English Channel. The weather was perfect despite the fact we saw rain and gray skies in the forecast for the weekend. We stared at the water for hours before we started walking down the pier.
On the beach, rocks took the place of sand. Our ankles were rotating with each step as our fatigue was starting to sink in (no pun intended). Since we were at the mercy of last minute decisions, the only place we could find to stay for the night was in Herne, not Herne Bay, a fifteen minute bus ride away.
We are novices to the bus system and had to navigate the maps like tourists and hope we hit the stop button for the right intersection. We finally got lucky before we had to walk about a half mile to the house.
We stayed at Westgrange Bed and Breakfast which was in the middle of a neighborhood that was best suited for people with cars. Since we are not adverse to walking, we didn’t complain about the trek.
The only pub in the area was about 15 minutes walk away and was called The First and Last Freehouse. First and last pub in a while? We had to take a side public footpath, which is now my favorite thing, and got in just before they closed.
Walking back in the pitch dark wasn’t my favorite thing, but we made it to the house in one piece and had a wonderful breakfast the next morning from our hosts. It was a lovely experience at the B&B for a night’s stay.
After breakfast, we walked to the bus stop and headed back into town to see the water again and the Reculver Towers. It was a three mile walk from Herne Bay, and we always take the road less traveled through rocks and uneven terrain. Sweating and cold, wind-blown and exhausted, we made it to the towers and embraced the view which was totally worth it. An old Roman fort built right on the water which was turned into a church. Absolutely gorgeous.
Then we found out there was no bus running on Sundays. Again, our traveling was not properly planned. We did get a hold of Herne Cars which were an awesome taxi service that was perfectly on time and helpful. They took us right to the train station and off we went to Leeds Castle.
It was about an hour train ride to Hollingbourne where we got off and started the 2 mile walk to Leeds Castle. Mind you, we had already walked about 4 miles that morning.
What was even more impressive than the castle were the grounds with their impressive collection of peacocks. It was quite beautiful. Unfortunately, we were so exhausted, we don’t think we really took in all the sights and appreciated everything we had seen.
However, trying to be objective, we were also disappointed that the castle has been updated. I know this sounds strange, but people continued to live in the castle until the 1950s or so, so the furniture and decor seemed misplaced in a castle originally built in 1119.
We then walked back the 2 more miles to the train station despite my inner dialogue begging Jeff to get another taxi. He said that when he told me he didn’t want to get a cab, I looked as if he had slapped me. Slapped me in the soles of my feet.
All in all, it was a wonderful trip to see these three different cities in a fast and furious way. We stole several rocks and shells from the beach and took nearly a hundred pictures and left some blood, sweat and tears along the way.