The Boys of Summer(Don Henley) - Maidstone to Canterbury to the Seaside at Margate and Home to Maidstone - 31st July 2016

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July 31st 2016
Published: August 3rd 2016
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It looks like we will have a dry day ahead for our ‘tiki tour ‘around Kent and perhaps even some sunshine as the day progresses.

Despite the rest area where the Days Inn is located being busy we had a great night’s sleep and no noise at all from the place that goes 24/7.

We haven’t bought another toaster after leaving the one we had in Europe at our last stay before we headed to Ireland. So this morning there is none of the traditional toast and jam rather Tesco croissants which while they were OK and filling didn’t have that ‘buttery ‘taste of the ones we enjoyed in France.

We headed off down the M20 towards Ashford and took a stop in at the shopping mall. The locals in England haven’t really taken to Sunday shopping like we have in NZ and even at 11am there weren’t many people around in the large mall despite the sunshine that was now warming up the day nicely.

We carried on up the A28 towards Canterbury for a self guided walk with the main destination being the cathedral.

Parking wasn’t easy to find close to the centre of the town and we had to take a park that was a 20 minute walk away although that didn’t really matter as the road we walked to the cathedral had plenty of old buildings and interesting second hand and souvenir shops to have a look at.

You know you are getting near the main destination when the tourist numbers increase. The spire of the cathedral had remained hidden from our view as we walked but the greater number of people we came across told us we were near an entrance.

Finding a car park and the slightly longer walk than we anticipated meant that we had only an hour to visit the inside of the cathedral as it was due to close at 2.30pm although the grounds would remain open.

Gretchen got me the OAP entry fee and the very pleasant young lady also offered it to Gretchen as well even though she is still a few months off joining me in that illustrious group of the community! This is the second occasion she has got the same discount as me and I think she is getting to like it just like me.

The cathedral is the oldest and possibly the most famous Christian structure in England dating back to 597 but being rebuilt totally 500 years later. It is also a World Heritage Site and escaped any significant damage during WW2.

Being such an old site and still in the same place it started it was interesting to note how the ground around parts of the building had become higher over the years so that the foundations and entry particularly on one side means that you go downhill slightly to enter the cathedral.

It has such a long and rich history filled with events that marked periods of history that one can identify with.

One such occasion was the murder of the archbishop of the time Thomas Beckett by the knights of King Henry II who had had many conflicts with Beckett.He is now buried in the Martyrdom section of the Cathedral.

There is only one reigning King buried at Canterbury and that is Henry IV who died nearly 3 centuries later than Beckett but proclaimed before his death that he wanted to be buried close to his ‘cult hero’ and so his resting place is on the opposite side of the nave.

The Cathedral has an enormous nave like many of the Anglican cathedrals and churches and it has magnificent acoustics.

We were very fortunate, like our chance opportunity in Pamplona, to hear a choir and organ in action. Unlike Pamplona were the choir were singing as part of a mass that was happening, the choir at Canterbury were practising but the singing was just beautiful to listen to. At first we thought that perhaps it might just have been a recording as we could not see where the singing was actually coming from as the nave is so vast and the Cathedral length so long that seeing things in the distance from the rear of the nave wasn’t that easy to focus on.

The choir practice continued for the half hour or so we walked around the cathedral which made our visit just that much more memorable.

Like many of the churches or cathedrals we have come across over our travels there was some restoration of the exterior of the structure going on although this didn’t really distract from our abilities to get photos and video of the cathedral from various angles.

We finished our visit as the cathedral was being closed and we emerged back out into the bright sunlight as the main bells were being rung. It was like the choir though and whoever was responsible for the bells was practicing as the chiming of the bells didn’t sound quite in tune and the pealing of the bells wasn’t quite in the rhythmic order you would expect.

We took a different route back to the car and as we wanted to take a look at Margate while we were out and about we decided not to track down any other sights except those we passed on our way to the car.

The city wall was on one side of our walk back to the car and we might have gone up onto it had we been able to find stairs. However the wall soon came to an abrupt end so our opportunity came to an end too.

It wasn’t that far to Margate and the sun was still shining brightly when we arrived and took a park on the headland above the main beach from where we walked down the hill to the promenade.

There were three obvious features that put us off the scene before us.

First there was the rubbish left lying on the ground along the promenade despite the fact that there were a number of large bins located at intervals on the pavement. This didn’t given visitors like us a good impression but we guessed that most people who came here were local holidaymakers or were on day trips from nearby inland towns and they were used to not bothering about looking after their rubbish.

Secondly, the beach had a shallow slope down to the water leaving a large area of sand that had a dark yucky gunge where the tide hadn’t taken it away from the beach where the swimmers had to walk through to get to the water.

The rest of the sand on the beach was actually quite presentable and looked clean for people to be lying on and playing in.

The third feature was back from the beach but was inescapable from our sight. It was a tall apartment building of 10 or so floors, concrete grey in colour (we don’t think it had ever been painted) and absolutely featureless.

It was the only building of that height in the town with all the other buildings lining the street around the bay being of 2 or 3 stories at the most.

Whoever put that building up should have been immediately removed from their job and sent back to design school!

There were a large number of people on the beach enjoying their day at the seaside despite the fact it was only around 18C with a breeze keeping the air temperature coolish.

There were plenty of ice cream shops and as we were at the beach and on the promenade it seemed the right thing to buy an ice cream, chocolate for Gretchen (of course) and mint chocolate chip for me. I would have gone for something a bit more exotic in flavour had there been a wider choice at the place we stopped at.

There was some sunbathing going on down on the sand itself but most people were in family groups and either lying on their beach towels of sitting in low sand type chairs. No formal rows of deck chairs here which was a relief. We returned to the car on the other side of the road taking in all the fun parlours and even a bingo hall that were entertaining people with some money to spend and had their fill of sun and sand for the day.

We don’t mean to sound critical of the beach at Margate but rather we are expressing our experience and what we saw on the day. To the holidaymakers and day trippers we are sure that to them it was their escape from their 9 to 5 world in the inland towns that they hailed from.

We followed the road towards Whitstable but it was impossible to follow the coast as such as there was no road on the beach for quite a few kilometres between the settlements.

Where there was a road with sea views the houses were of plain style and there has been no renewal of some fairly old housing stock or any new construction where there were gaps of no existing housing. Perhaps the locals don’t value a house on the coast with a sea view like we tend to do in New Zealand.

We took the M2 back to a link road that took us back to the M20 near Maidstone and then the short run towards the coast and the rest area where the Days Inn was located.

The car park was as busy with people still coming and going and families eating outdoors at the BBQ tables.

We had purchased a salad for tonight’s dinner together with some slices of ham as we will run out of different things to try off a pub menu if we keep eating out each night until we get to accommodation where we have our own cooking facilities again.

Tomorrow we move north to Cambridgeshire for a couple of nights the Raptor Centre which is run by a foundation and has added accommodation as a money making exercise. We hope the raptors they have housed don’t get out flying and roaming at night!

PS:a bit of Don Henley to get your toes tapping as summer in the UK rolls on........................Enjoy on Youtube of course

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