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Blog: Full House At Rochester Bingo

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On Bank Holiday Monday the Days of My Leave and I went off on a DAY TRIP. We'd had a look at various options and settled on ROCHESTER because it is dead easy to get to from our house via HS1 and it has a CASTLE.

It turned out to have SO MUCH MORE, for LO! it was bloody GRATE! Getting there was totally peasy, and as we crossed the road from Rochester railway station we saw the Tourist Information office straight ahead. It's always a good idea to find this first, as they tend to have Local Maps which you can NAB, and which come in VERY handy if you've, for instance, printed off a numbered self-guided walking tour of the city which doesn't come with a map of its own.

We then set off down the High Street consulting the map and guide and LOOKING at things. I flipping LOVE self-guided walking tours, as it gives you a route round a new place full of FACTS, and unlike a normal guided tour you can wander off as you wish. Our first major deviation from the route was to go STRAIGHT into the Cathedral rather than walk round it first - I do like a visit to a Cathedral, ESPECIALLY when they're higgeldy piggeldy with loads of different AREAS, and ESPECIALLY especially when they are full to the rafters with extremely (but not TOO) friendly volunteers who are eager to tell you even more fascinating FACTS. I say "you" but in my experience they always HOME IN on The Directions Of My Route and discuss local history with her, leaving me to stand in the background somewhere nodding helpfully. This is reportage, not complaint - if I was in their position I'd do exactly the same!

The best bit of the Cathedral was in the CRYPT where they had a copy of the Textus Roffesnsis, the first written down book of LAW in the UK, predating the Magna Carta by SOME YEARS. I'd never heard of it before, which seems odd, but it was dead interesting - it basically told all the local parishes which bit of the Roman Bridge they were responsible for keeping in good repair, but in the grand scheme of things was a precursor to WRITTEN LAW.

Outside the Cathedral you could see the GIGANTIC Castle, LOOMING. Cor, it is a BRILLIANT castle - the walls are pretty intact and VAST, and inside them is the GINORMOUS Keep. We paid to get in and it was totally worth it, as you are able to walk up the stairs right to the top, SIX STOREYS HIGH! We discussed it and don't think we've even BEEN in such a Castle-y Castle, it was WELL worth the admission.

After some refreshing refreshment we wandered on and saw some DICKENS places, such as the house that he based Mis Haversham's house on in Great Expectations. In the book it's called 'Satis House', which was a bit confusing as, ten minutes prior to this, we'd seen an ACTUAL house called 'Satis House'. Later on we saw Eastgate House which Dickens had used in another book and called 'Westgate House'. I do like Dickens - A LOT - but he does seem to have been a bit crap at thinking up names for things!

Later on we went to look at The Poor Travellers' House, which used to house Six Poor Travellers and which Dickens based the story 'Seven Poor Travellers' on (with himself as the plus one). It was lovely, especially the garden, and as with everyone in Rochester the staff were dead friendly. The only slightly odd thing, for me, was that people seemed to think that Dicken's story was REAL, despite the fact that the Information Boards inside said that the story was set at Christmas, but he'd visited and written it in MAY. This disparity was more than made up for by the fact that the garden behind it had a Curry Plant that REALLY smelt of Curry! It made me HUNGRY!

In between these two Dickens events we saw some more recent local history when we walked past a Cafe and saw Billy Childish, inventor of The Medway Sound, sitting outside it. I was explaining to The Strings On My Guitar who he was as we walked further down the street, and when she asked if I was sure it had been him I was able to say "Yes, look, there he is!" and point at a MASSIVE painting on the side of a wall with his face on it! Thanks, massive painting!

With Castle, Cathedral, Dickens AND a bonus Billy Childish under our belt it felt like we had scored a FULL HOUSE in Rochester Bingo, so took our leave of it, ZOOMING back to The Olympics in just half an hour. It was an all-round GRATE day out - if you have a chance to visit Rochester I would HIGHLY recommend it!

posted 28/8/2018 by MJ Hibbett

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