Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Canterbury (it's what's really just over the white cliffs of Dover)

OK, so it’s close, but still £50 in a taxi to get to Canterbury from Dover port in the UK. But at least we only had to fork out this ridiculous fare on the way back, because my parents are on a Friends and Family visit for this cruise (it means they get a reduced rate for a full-on cruise, but I can't tell you how much, it's classified!) and their good friend Bob drove them all the way from London to Dover, picked me up after I dropped their bags onboard, and took us all to Canterbury where he left us to have his Sunday off back in South London.
Canterbury is where Chaucer lived and wrote, here's the Chaucer bookshop (he wrote the Canterbury tales, par example) and also home to the second-largest Cathedral in England.

We walked up and down the gorgeous Medieval streets, here's Eric with my Dad, noticing the houses built in “poles”. A pole was a Tudor measurement of length, by which all town dwellings were made, in terraced format. But, because people only had a fixed area of space on the ground, it didn’t mean they couldn’t widen their property on the second and third floors, like this, so you get streets that almost become arches due to the overhang of brick and timber! The only problem in building this way was that often the building on the end of the terrace, due to pressure from the buildings on the other side, would begin to subside outwards and the timber framework would warp, like this (nice one Eric!). My father, a builder and surveyor, is sure that to keep the property from totally collapsing it’s been reinforced some time in the latter part of this century with steel rods under the timber.
We bought aftersun for me, and for Eric, as we’ve both been suffering, from one of my favourite English shops, Boots.
Eric found a few outdoor/hiking stores, and he even shopped for a while, I can prove it.

How many countries can you go to, where the gatehouse to a Cathedral, built originally in 597 (but restored 1070-1077, not sure when the gatehouse arrived on the scene), is now a Starbucks?! Here’s Eric with his macchiato, we’re both a little bemused.
We walked around the Cathedral, noting the spot where Thomas Becket was murdered in 1170. It’s marked by a sculpture of three swords today, and interestingly, the three men who were sent to murder him, stayed in this inn, across the street from the Cathedral, the night before they went to kill him. There's also a spot where Becket's Shrine used to be, but it was destroyed by order of Henry VIII in 1538. Poor man. Here's my Dad, right by where it would've been ("I'm telling you, it was THIS BIG!")
Down in the cript, below the cathedral proper, there are tombs dating back as far as the 600s, in Roman style. This is Eric, leaving the cript, and this is today’s View From a Window, from the cloisters of the cathedral.
Hey, more graffiti from the 1600s! Maybe it’s the graffiti from young monks studying to become men of the cloth, on a break to contemplate in the cloisters.
The Cathedral has seen many renovations and improvements, such as the extra windows added at the top of the spire, here, to give more light, and the added arches to support the extra height.
It has also been vandalised, heads are cut off many of the tombs, and it has had much of it’s stained glass broken and removed, when the Puritans (who thought idolatry was heinous and wrong) came in and took out whatever was not hidden in time. All that remains today, was what could be hastily removed before the Puritans arrived. In this picture, the oldest frame of glass in the whole cathedral is in the bottom row, in the very centre. It dates from 1100 and shows a young Adam. Today, it apparently costs £12,000 per day to maintain and run Canterbury Cathedral. That's a lot of cleaning!

My Dad is here explaining much of this to Eric and to my Mum. He likes to point. Here’s my Dad pointing. And here, and here. He’s a good pointer.

After the Cathedral, we walked around, and then bought a Cornish pasty for Eric to try, before our proper lunch of fish and chips. Pasties are beautiful, made with steak, onion, gravy, potato and swede inside and shortcrust pastry on the outside.
Here’s a proper English chippy. Curry sauce, check. Deep-fried saveloys in batter, check. Mushy-pea fritters, check. Chips served in cones with wooden sticks, check (I do not know these people, I just photographed them to illustrate my point). Pickled eggs, check.
After a fierce shop in one of mine and my mum’s favourite shop for clothes, Monsoon, it was time to grab our extortionate taxi-ride back to the ship for my rehearsal, and the start of my parent’s “Czars and Kings” cruise. They’ll be joining me to Oslo, Copenhagen, St. Petersburg, Helsinki and Stockholm. Alright!

1 comment:

Ex-Shammickite said...

WoW, you walked around Canterbury all day in Yellow high heels!!! You are truly brave. And BTW, you looked gorgeous in them!!
Whan fun to have M&D with you on the cruise, at a reduced rate too. Now, thinking hard, how can I get one of my sons a job on a fabulous cruise ship....?