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Blog: Canterbury Day One

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This weekend The Cathedral Of My Cloisters and I went to Canterbury for a MINI BREAK. The idea occured a few weeks go whilst waving The Family Machine off from Stratford International Station. We picked up a leaflet about Howletts Wild Animal Park and, noting that a) it was only 49 minutes from our station to Canterbury where the park is based b) we could get a voucher to give us 2 for 1 entry c) there are ACTUAL ELEPHANTS in KENT, we decided to go and make a TRIP of it.

On Sunday morning we had great plans to get up bright and early and get there in time to have a look round the Cathedral, but it didn't work out quite like that due to LIE-INS (i'd been to see Peterborough United the day before and so was MENTALLY EXHAUSTED). We ended up getting to Canterbury just before 2pm and got a (rather expensive) taxi to our (not very expensive) hotel, The Premier Inn. In my experience Premier Inns are usually ODD places that have been converted into bedrooms from OFFICES and so feel WEIRD, but this one was LOVELY. It was so nice that I have already been on TRIPADVISOR saying so - the sure mark of quality!

By this point we'd missed the normal looking around hours at the Cathedral so went to the PUB instead, thus echoing a choice made by generations of GALLANT BRITS. We went to The Foundry, a brew pub which was GRATE. We had every intention of going to EVENSONG at the Cathedral, but missed it due to the lovely BEER and also HUGE piles of food that we ended up ordering, so went round to the Beaney House Of Art And Knowledge instead. It had a funky name and had clearly been SPRUCED UP of late but it was still very much The Local Museum - you could tell by the fact it had TAXIDERMY tucked away in a side gallery! It also had a FANTASTIC Photography exhibition and a very touching World War I display too. There were two Christmas postcards home from the front from a local man who later died in the trenches, sent to his Mum and Dad (who he addressed as "my pal"), which had been passed on to his widow. She'd remarried, then when SHE died her second husband married again, and he'd kept the letters and passed him on to his son from THAT marriage. It took us a while to work it all out, but it was EXTREMELY moving.

We then made our THIRD attempt at visiting the Cathedral, this time succeeding. We didn't actually get to go IN, but we have been inside a LOT of Cathedrals over the years. Instead we went ROUND it, sticking our noses into The Chapter House (which i don't think we were supposed to go into) and wandering round the Cloisters. It was GORGEOUS - as we were to find out over the rest of the trip, the fact that it was a bit rainy, and very much out of season, meant we got the place pretty much to ourselves!

Feeling fully CULTURED UP we popped round the corner to The Shakespeare for COFFEE (which was very nice indeed), went back to the hotel to "freshen up" ("watch telly") and then headed out again for TEA. Being creatures of habit we went to ASK, which was delightful except that we got CONFUSED when the waitress changed clothes halfway through our visit i.e. she came back in a DIFFERENT COLOURED T-SHIRT to the one we'd first seen her in. Panic and Confusion reigned - WAS it the same person? Were there twins working here? WHAT was going on? We never did get to the bottom of it - this panic will be, i fear, reflected in my TripAdvisor comments. "Please avoid this in future by EITHER ensuring that all staff wear consistent clothing OR are clearly labelled as TWINS."

After all that we were in need of a STIFF DRINK, so nipped into the bar of the Abode Hotel, which looked VERY swanky from the inside. It looked the same from the inside too, and we allowed the Nice Young Barman to mildly patronise us with a talk through the Whiskey Shelf. He seemed to assume we were just "starting out" with whisky (surely one look at my STOMACH would have hinted otherwise?) but he was being NICE so we didn't say "We've drunk TONNES of it mate, just leave the bottle". He did however refer to various brands as "approachable" which I think I shall use in future instead of just saying "It's nice".

After all that we staggered back to the Premier Inn hoping for a good night's sleep, for LO! We had ELEPHANTS to see the next day!

posted 4/11/2014 by MJ Hibbett

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