Friday 10th August
I’m up at 5am to go to the loo, get back into bed and can’t sleep, what if we don’t hear the alarm clock? In the end I nod off but just afterwards Dave gets up, can’t you sleep? I ask, no, he says I’ve just realised you can’t have a cup of tea whilst we are queueing for the Tunnel crossing as we have to turn the gas off, it’s a safety requirement, what a star he is and within minutes a lovely brew is in my hand, 15 mins later and we’re off.
Just a 10 min drive to the tunnel and we’re going through the system, 1st stop; passports and booking reference checked, handed a windscreen card with G on it and told to place upright in the windscreen, we follow the signs for lane G, for long and tall vehicles, then another checkpoint and Pogo is checked to see if the gas was off, then wait at a barrier with a digital info board on the large display screen, like an airport, boarding now or boarding closed, then simply drove on to the big silver train following a massive bus which looked like it wouldn’t fit in.
It’s so easy and takes only 35 mins, we love the Channel Tunnel, we’ve not looked at how much the ferry crossing is mostly because of my aversion to boats, I’ll look into it and if it’s substantially cheaper, I will consider it, we paid £127 for the tunnel, hand brake on and we have breakfast on board Pogo, French bread, peanut butter, and Perrier water, I suppose we could have made a flask earlier!
Hello Blighty! the sun is shining as we drove out, keep left Dave is saying to himself, he has become so used to driving on the right, Pogo is a left hand drive vehicle, on towards the Canterbury aire and we enjoy the lovely views over the Kent countryside, there is loads of space here at this council run Aire, well done Canterbury! we go to the furthest overflow car park, we’ve got it to ourselves apart from one massive German beasty with sliders, we wonder if they have just arrived or leaving and what adventures they have had.
Well the sunshine didn’t last long an hour or two later it’s pouring down, can we dare complain when we’ve been complaining about the heat? We head into Canterbury on the free park and ride , I’ve called ahead to a hairdresser, she can fit me in tomorrow but today I have to have a skin patch test for the colour – doesn’t matter how many times you’ve had your hair coloured if you are a new customer it has to be done for their insurance, an hour later I’ve got a blob of cream on my arm with a little sticky plaster over and as I long as I don’t have a reaction and go purple or swell up and explode I can have my old lady roots done tomorrow! Yippee!
As it had stopped raining, sun’s out and breezy we walked to the cathedral and we were disappointed to see it mostly covered in scaffolding, only the East wing is visible we won’t be able to see the nave as the splendid roof is covered with a false ceiling it’s £12.50 each to go inside and the precincts around the building are included ,we see a lady with a walking tour flag, that’s £8 each and she can take us around the precincts but not the cathedral, we opted to do that and we’ll see inside next time we come as we’re sure to use the Aire again next year. It was a good tour and we enjoyed walking around in the cool English weather.
I’ve never read Chaucers Pilgrims tales but I plan to now, we learnt about the death of Thomas Beckett archbishop of Canterbury until 1170, that’s when he was killed in the cathedral by the kings men for keeping his faith and going against the King Henry II wishes,” who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?” Henry was known to have declared. It is said Thomas Beckets brains and blood were spilt in the Cathedral and that people dipped their cloths and rags in it and took this to the sick and dying believing that they would have healing powers.
Thomas Beckett was canonised after his death and made a saint. Pilgrims soon flocked to Canterbury after reports of miracles happening in the area where the sainted priest had died, many wanting to touch his tomb.
We saw the small door to the French chapel, this was given over to the French community, in 1685 200,000 protestants fled from France and flanders to escape persecution in catholic France, their descendants still worship weekly at a service held in French in the same chapel. Queen Elizabeth 1 gave them the chapel to worship from, this was in honour of their skills and wealth which had invigorated the English economy, bringing much needed skills such as silk weaving, clock making.
A huge window above the French chapel door which had just been restored costing £28m! just for one window! no wonder it is £12.50 to go in.
Built by the Normans with pale creamy stone imported from Caen, France, it’s a very fine building and we will come back next year hopefully to see it in more splendour and less scaffolding, although we were told it will be a 5 year project.
After the walk we dash into a French café as it’s pouring down again, toasted open croissant with cheese and mushroom and a vegetarian goats cheese, brie and spinach baguette for Dave, excellent coffee too! I should have ordered tea? I’ve not had a good cuppa for months (next tour we will take 1000’s of tea bags from home!)
Hopping back on the free and very regular park and ride, we made our way back to the Canterbury Aire for a quiet night, amazed to see it now nearly full, Pogo got a good clean up before bed and we sat reminiscing already about our recent adventures, can’t believe it’s nearly 5 months since we started our journey in this very same Aire in March 2018 “I’m a motorhomer get me out out here!” lets hope the ticket machine works ok when we leave this time!