This weekend we took Friday off work and went to Canterbury. Over the past few years we’ve tried to get there at least once in each twelve-month, just to escape London for a while.
This time around, we decided that we’d try a bit of a walk along the Stour and take the binoculars to see the wetlands and the local bird sanctuaries. Nothing too strenuous you understand, just a change of scenery and a chance for a bit of fresh air, with a couple of pints of decent ale at the end of it. Of course, having struggled the three miles out to Chartham, we took the train back to Canterbury. That took substantially less time.
Chartham is an odd little village – or at least the bit we saw was. As you come into the place from the Stour path, you notice a derelict terrace on the left, a row of white painted cottages built to look vaguely Georgian, but probably dating to the early 1920s. All shuttered and boarded with ivy growing over many of the windows. Then you decant onto the street, which has a church in one direction and a derelict-looking factory on the left. Except that it isn’t derelict, but still in use and proudly proclaiming to have been built as a paper mill in 1949. I doubt it’s had a penny spent on it since. Walking past that you round a corner where there are a few disconsolate, oddly built houses (hard to describe what was wrong with them, but they looked odd, nonetheless) and then there is the Artichoke a 4½ star recommended watering hole with a door I could barely get my ample tum through shuffling sideways. Still, a couple of pints of Whitstable India Pale Ale later, I was in a forgiving mood.
The short walk to the station allowed us to look at a little more of the village in which, with a couple of notable exceptions, most of the buildings are many centuries younger than the architecture would proclaim. It is as if aliens had been directed to build an English village, but only had third hand descriptions to work from.
We didn’t manage much more, other than a few wanders around Canterbury, poking around a few shops. For once we were there only for slightly over a full day –Friday afternoon until Sunday morning and my knee limited the fun as I’d buggered it before we even got there. Getting off the bus at Ilford station on the way out, I landed heavily on my left leg and there was a loud (to me at any rate) crack followed by a sharp pain. Happily I’d seen fit to pack one of my Nordic walking poles, which saw double duty as a walking stick (and still is). I’m not sure, but I think I snapped a tendon. It aches, My Dears, oh, it aches, but if I can get moving it improves as it warms up. Stairs remain a chore, though and guess where we stayed? In the City Gates Hotel, where we first stayed a number of years ago. The hotel with a small entrance at street level, which takes you up stairs to a series of rooms and over the roof tops to an extended and unexpected array of rooms. It’s quite fun, but damned awkward with a poorly drumstick.