Friday, August 29, 2014

A Weekend in Kent-Part 2: Walmer, Deal, & Canterbury

The second part of our day out in Kent was somewhat influenced by our late start to the day due to driving out of London, and the fact that Google Maps had a us lost for a good 45 minutes.  After Dover Castle and the White Cliffs of Dover we were supposed to have lunch at The Cider Works, however due to time we had to abandon this part of the trip.  We ended up driving up the coast to Walmer Castle.  Just a bit of history:  King Henry VIII was having a little conflict with France and Spain due to the fact that he was divorcing/killing wives, creating a new church, ect.  So he built artillery forts/castles along the coast.  The round shape of these structures is better to withstand a cannon ball attack than say the earlier square castles.  This particular castle had been converted to a grand house in 1708.  The gardens were amazing and the house was very fun to tour.  I loved seeing the cannons on the roof as well.  And this castle is right on the coast, which makes for a lovely seaside view.

The Entrance to the House from the Gardens

A view from the Gardens

 The Gardens with a pond that little kids couldn't get enough of due to the fact it was full of lily pads and fish that would nimble your fingers.

My Hot Date

Rooftop Cannon Action


 The vegetable garden was lined with fruit trees that had been trained to grow horizontally.  My father-in-law and I had a conversation about this technique a year ago (I planted baby fruit trees in our yard) and we thought it would be neat to train our trees to do this.  However, seeing it in person with mature trees, it is awesome!  So easy to just go out and pick your food.

 We decided to have a 'fast' lunch break at Walmer.  It was anything but fast.  It took us almost an hour to get our food!  We were so hangry (hungry+angry) by the end of it, I felt bad for the lady up front.  It's hard when you have an itinerary that is fairly time sensitive due to the fact that English historic sites close early, and the restaurant won't help you out at all, plus your tummy is rumbly.  We almost just left without getting our food, but right at that moment our food came.  We wanted to eat at the castle because they cook using ingredients from their vegetable garden.  I guess they had to go pick everything after we ordered.  It was quite delicious food, though.

We then headed up the coast again to Deal Castle, another of Henry's artillery forts.  It was almost identical to Walmer but without the stunning gardens and historic house.  After spend an enchanting hour touring Walmer, Deal was a bit of a let down.  If you ever go see these, go to Deal first, then they both will be fun to go through.

Deal Castle

To end our day we drove inland about 20 miles to Canterbury.  Yes, it is the same Canterbury as in Chaucer's Canterbury Tale.  It's a lovely little city with cobblestone paths and a quaint city center, however they do not believe in parking.  It took us forever to find any sort of public parking spaces.  We actually ended up driving into a pedestrian only zone without realizing it (there were no signs), but all of a sudden we were surrounded by people and no way out.  Porter was pretty stressed out, but managed to get us out of there.  When we finally landed, we headed over to St. Augustine's Abbey.  The history of the place was very cool.  First the site was a church where Anglo-Saxon Kings were buried, it then went through different phases included additions to make the church larger, then an Abbey, and then I believe Henry VIII turned it into a home at one point.  It's pretty much ruins now, but they have pictures of what it may have looked like.


 At the end of the day we made it to the Canterbury Cathedral.  We had been planning to do a tour of the inside but decided not to because it was closing soon.  It is epic! 






 While walking around the grounds snapping pictures we lamented that not going on a tour was probably the worst decision of the day.  But we kept walking, around the back there was a courtyard.  It looked like a public space so we kept going.  I then saw an open door.  And what does one do with an open door?  Go in and check it out of course!  Another man popped his head in too.  And we both realized we were in the Cathedral.  He was trying to get his wife to go in, and Porter was hanging out in the door way when a worker came by and asked if we were going in because she needed to lock up.  Porter started saying no, but I quickly shook my head yes, and said "Yep, we are."  Porter gave me this look of confusion, but came in.  And just like that all 4 of us were locked in the Cathedral.  No where to go but up.  We wandered around the lower levels and finally found our way to the main part.  It is beautiful.  Seriously, gorgeous.  I still want to go on the full tour.  Since they were closing it down we had to make our way out.  We felt bad that we hadn't paid the entrance fee, so we made a nice donation, otherwise it would be like stealing from God.  We were so excited that despite our bad timing and lack of gumption to go on the Cathedral tour at first, we still were able to go inside.  And if anyone wants to go on a tour, I will be more than happy to accompany, because I still want to see the whole thing.



We ended the day at a little cafe with some tea and cake.  I love little day trips!

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