Monday, April 21, 2008


The trip to Canterbury
We started out fresh and well fed this morning for our trek along the Southern Coast of England. It was a most beautiful day! It was lovely, and sunny and warm. We drove south from Winchester to Brighton, and then East through Southampton, Hastings and Rye. Rye is just about where we headed north again, to Canterbury. We took a break in Hastings to put our feet in the Atlantic Ocean, from this side, and collect shells and pebbles. It is the most beautiful seafront! I hope we get to come back someday and spend more time from Winchester on! We drove through so many quaint villages; the kind that look like time forgot them. We drove past miles and miles of beautiful pastures populated by sheep. Pastoral. That’s the name for it … pastoral scenes before us. There were acres and acres of the brightest yellow flowering crop. I think it’s a crop. I wish I knew what it was. Occasionally, we would spot a beautiful, massive beast of a horse in a pasture. Oh my Goodness…
Ruins, and towers, and castles, thatched cottages and manor houses…. This is the England that I had hoped to visit!
We arrived at the front door to the Cathedral Gate Hotel at 3:31. One minute too late to attend the service at the cathedral as we had hoped. The hotel is called the Cathedral Gate because it IS, adjacent to, as in attached to the Cathedral Gate. Through the amazing, massive, ornate, majestic, carved gate (30 foot tall, maybe), is the Canterbury Cathedral. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Former Archbishops have been Anselm, and Thomas Beckett (the latter was martyred here). It is the Mother church of the Anglican Church, and is grand enough to look the part. We can look out the windows of our hotel at it. (There is a staircase down to it, but we’re not supposed to use it unless in case of a fire.) It is ancient… There was a service when we arrived, and we didn’t want to interrupt, but they would have allowed us, to attend the service. After the service, it was to open for an hour for viewing, but while we were standing by the doors, waiting, and listening to the heavenly trumpets from inside, we began to hear the sounds of a drum and fife corps, marching through the Cathedral Gate. In a procession that didn’t appear to have an end, marched every little boy and girl scout in England! Straight into the cathedral!~ We don’t know what that was about, but it was pretty adorable! We can wait until tomorrow morning to see the cathedral.
Sam wanted to see Augustine’s Abbey, and we had seen the signs, so we set off on foot to see what we could see. Oh my, some of the most beautiful, and charming homes and buildings along the way! There is “The Little Inn”, which was made famous by Charles Dickens in his writings. I think we probably have the pictures to show of every last one!
We arrived at Augustine’s Abbey ten minutes before closing, and the last admittance was a half an hour before. We thought maybe we could visit these ruins tomorrow morning, too, but tomorrow is Monday, and they are only open, this time of year Wednesday through Sunday. By Wednesday, we will be on our way back to the States. You would not believe how disappointed Sam was. He has just spent the last semester studying the history of the church in England, and here, at the very birthplace, he could only look through the fence at ruins. We stood and peered through the iron for some time, and were just walking away, when a sweet, precious woman stepped out of the locked building intent on finishing the closing up. She spoke to us, and when we replied, she realized that we had travelled a very long way, and she invited us onto the grounds while she finished. Sam just hit the ground running! Up until now, Mark and I had not realized that this was the very thing that he had wanted so much to see in Canterbury. We were able to see St. Augustine’s grave marker before we left. It was rushed, but it was wonderful. None of us will ever forget it, or the kind woman who took pity on us. Bless her heart.
This hotel, the place where we are lodging tonight, was built in 1438 to house the pilgrims who came to Canterbury way back then, and now we can count ourselves among them.
Tomorrow… after we tour the Cathedral, we will drive a short distance to Maidstone, to take leave from our car, and depend on public transportation the last two days while we are in London.
This is truly the trip of a lifetime. We are having such a wonderful time. Wish you were here.

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