Just thought I’d tag on to Glen’s post about our day without a plan in Kent. I mean, we sort of knew which direction we were heading and we’d heard about a good place for a view…but that was it. And this is pretty unusual for us. We like a plan. We’re trying to be more spontaneous from time to time. Today worked.
One of the first things I noticed on our drive was that all along the way, seemingly in the middle of nowhere there are these little signs that say “footpath”. We just toodling down a one or two lane road along a field and whoosh, there’s that sign again. The English are VERY serious about their walking lifestyle. I guess these paths have historically connected the villages. I wish I could just pop out in the country and see where they lead me. I’m not brave enough to do that alone! I’ve got “FOGL”. Can you figure out what that is…?
We first wandered to Sandwich where I jumped from the car and headed into the tiny cobblestoned streets while Glen wandered at the river. I immediately came upon a lovely wall. Walls are made of all sorts of interesting things here. I might have to do a collage…
From the wall I immediately came upon an opening into a church with a … you guessed it…cemetery where I snapped a few pictures and then thought to myself…there’s nothing to differentiate this extraordinary cemetery from the next (I’m clearly becoming very jaded) so I cut back into the town and immediately came upon another church.
The second church (literally a stone’s throw away from the first) had a very inviting blue door, a garden, some small bistro tables and it was just calling to me to go on in. So I did.
It was not what I’ve come to expect of churches in small medieval towns. This one has been turned into a sort of charity thrift store. Even on the altar, on top of the baptismal font, and all along the niches with statuary there were stalls or booths with china, clothing, books, art…you know the general stuff that no one wants anymore…until someone does. Some of the displays were surprising. As I wandered about the “church” a gentleman who was working there greeted me and I mentioned that it was a very unusual use for a church. He proceeded to tell me the history of the church including its original closure in 1942 and its uses since then. He said that in the 90s it became apparent that there were just too many churches in the area and the community could not support them so they’d have to find other ways to fund renovations or they would all just start crumbling. When this church became vacant again after being used by a school, the townspeople came upon the idea of collecting and selling other people’s “junque” in the church itself. The storyteller was very proud to share that they’ve exceeded their wildest dreams and now other churches are modeling their “thrift stores” after this church. He also shared that other churches had been happy to raise 12,000 pounds last year while the Sandwich church had raised…44,000! More than enough to do repairs and fix up the garden, purchase the bistro tables and chairs and provide a wonderful place to sit and enjoy a spot of tea or even a coffee…It’s really an amazing story of ingenuity.
As we were driving through the rural countryside – in and out of fields and forests on little roads where Glen had to dive to the edge where the plants pushed in my window so that a car could pass. (I took a video with my window down so I could show you how I was getting whipped by the plants, but alas…too cheap to pay for ability to upload videos!) As we drove through the wee villages, we came upon my first thatched roof house. Luckily right after we passed it there was a small turnout and Glen stopped so that I could run back and take a photo. I know…dang American tourist. And I got caught! As I took a couple photos and turned around to head back to the car, I saw this lovely British couple watching me with smiles on their faces. I laughed and apologized and said, “Sorry! It’s just so beautiful!” They laughed and said that they thought so too. And then the gentleman said, “Do you want to buy it?” I laughed, said “Not today” and ran back to the car. I really don’t think that they minded my photo-taking. It was a lovely little out of the way spot and I doubt that there have been a lot of me there.
Before we headed to the coast, we stopped at Royal St. George’s. Glen wrote about it yesterday. I was glad to get to see through his eyes what his time on these links golf courses mean to him. We also stopped by the hotel that he stayed at on his journey. What a hilarious name! I wonder its origin.
We eventually arrived at the beachside town of Deal on the English Channel. It was a great deal larger than Sandwich and was definitely a summer destination for Brits as the promenade was lined with small hotels, restaurants and pubs all catering to visitors. There was a lot of activity in town, but strangely, the beach was almost vacant. It was overcast in a beachy sort of way, but it wasn’t cold out. Maybe it’s the rock beach instead of sand? Or the water that didn’t look like it was safe for swimmers?
We carried on to the small enclave of St. Margaret’s Bay which is near the white cliffs of Dover. As we had been told, on a clear(ish) day you can…as Glen said…I see London, I see France…(there were no underpants viewing on the beach today). This was a great stop for me as the breeze was warm and I made my way past the sign warning me of the danger of “death” for approaching the water’s edge. I stuck my hand in the surprisingly warm water, my first in the English Channel. Glen rested his back by stretching out on the warm grass/weeds, I got an ice cream cone and for the moment, all was well in the world!
We meandered our way back to Canterbury by way of wheat fields, corn fields, tiny communities, blue skies, scudding clouds and a “road” that was…until it wasn’t!