Early start this morning as I needed to be checked out of my hotel before 10am to go and pick up my car. Caught the tube over to Edgeware Rd (probably about 20min away) and then spent a good 15min walking the streets looking for the rental car pickup place. Eventually found it (I had walked straight passed it early in my wanderings) and picked up my silver friend. This time around I got given a VW Polo.. In some ways it is a fair bit nicer to drive than the Focus and really has some get up and go (which is a pleasant surprise for such a little car).
An hour later I had finally reached the outskirts of London and was on the road to Dover. My trek through town took me down nearly all of the streets of Monopoly (well it felt like it anyhow!)—Park Lane got a run, Marlborough St, Euston Rd.. the list just went on and on! Pretty funny huh? I had a lot of people comment to me about not wanting to drive in London… I’m not really too sure why? If you are comfortable driving in city traffic and you have a sat nav then I truly believe you can drive anywhere! London was honestly a piece of cake.. took a fair while because traffic was a bit hectic but what else do you expect when you are driving in a big city? I can imagine that even driving in peak hour would be ok.. it would just take you forever to get anywhere because of traffic! (But who honestly does anything during peak hour when you’re on holiday?????)
Anyway as I said got out of town and on the motorway towards Dover and of course Canterbury. Probably an hour later (it took longer to get thru London than it did to get from London to Canterbury!) I arrived in Canterbury. I had decided to not stay in Dover but instead to stay in Canterbury so that I could have look at its gorgeous cathedral as well as see a nice country town. (I wrongly believed that Canterbury was a small town!) Canterbury itself is a pretty nice old town. After settling into my hostel.. which is probably one of the nicest I’ve stayed in.. I went for a wander down town to see the Cathedral. I had this grand plan to go and see Evensong in the Cathedral but forgetting it was a Saturday I forgot that Evensong would have been performed mid-afternoon…. It probably wasn’t a bad thing that Evensong wasn’t on as I had a couple of hours to really get a good look at the interior of the Cathedral. The Cathedral isn’t one of the most specky that I’ve ever seen (interior wise), exterior wise it’s a different story! The Cathedral staff let you walk all around the Cathedral grounds so you can go into the old cloister area and sit in the gardens and relax.. It’s really nice! The Cathedral even has its own ginger cat.. he seemed to just lie around sleeping and looking for the occasional pat… must be a pretty sweet life being the Cathedral’s cat!!!!!
I discovered something interesting today… The Archbishop of Canterbury actually isn’t the priest who officiates at the Cathedral! There is another priest who looks after the Cathedral and performs the sermons etc.. The Archbishop actually doesn’t even have his own church! I guess it sort of makes sense as his role is probably more political and managerial than a front line priest! Apparently he will occasionally do the Sunday service at the Cathedral but more often than not he is away tending his ‘wider’ flock visiting another parish in England.
There were two interesting things about the interior of the Church. Firstly, within the walls of the Cathedral, Thomas a ’Becket was murdered by 4 knights at the bequest of Henry II. Apparently Thomas was refusing to accept some of the laws in place by Henry instead only following the Roman Catholic laws.. this upset Henry II who made an off-the-cuff comment in front of many people wishing that he could get rid of his Archbishop… The 4 knights took him literally and went and murdered the Archbishop inside his own church! Unsurprisingly, he was canonised (I swear every man and his dog was canonised back in the middle ages) and his remains were kept inside the cathedral as a shrine of pilgrimage (hence the Canterbury Tales!!!). These remains no longer exist because Henry VIII had them destroyed at the beginning of his reformation.
The other thing that struck me about the inside of the church is the crypt. The crypt inside Canterbury Cathedral is not used to store remains but is actually used as another place of worship! The morning services are all held inside the crypt, and there are three private chapels set up inside the crypt for individual prayer.. It feels like a much better use of the underground space than to store dead people, but then again, I guess I’m a heathen so what would I know?
Rounded out my day back at the hostel where the lovely hostel owners had decided to have a free bbq for all of the guests. We had homemade cheese burgers with fries with all of the trimmings.. My hamburger was the best damn hamburger I’ve had in a long, long time so I savoured every mouthful! We then adjourned from dinner to watch the tennis on TV (men’s semi-final of US open--- Djokovic def Federer) before turning in for a well-deserved sleep.