Saturday, January 15, 2011

my, I've outdone myself this time!

Today Kali and I went on a trip that Queen Mary had organized to Dover Castle and Canterbury.
We met the bus at 8:30 in the morning with a forecast of (thankfully) no rain, but cloudy skies and lots of wind. So most of these pics look pretty dark and foreboding, but I swear it wasn't really that dark outside.
When we got to Dover Castle, we found out that the wind was too strong for the central tower of the castle to be open, since it would be dangerous to be up that high and outside on the battlements with the wind. So our stay there was shortened to one hour instead of two. Kali and I really wanted to see the "secret wartime tunnels" which were used during WWII, so we literally ran to find them so we would still have time to explore.
The tunnels were really cool! Unfortunately there was a no picture policy inside, but we joined a guided tour of the tunnels. There are 4 levels, 2 were built during the Napoleonic wars and 2 were added during WWII. They were used as a medic post where they would patch people up and ship them to the nearest hospital. They were actually in use up to 1984 as a crucial part in the emergency plan for nuclear fallout. The tour guide pointed out that, since the tunnels are dug in chalk, they wouldn't have been much help against fallout and "they would have crisped up nicely".
It blew my mind that they just added on to something that was so old. Walking around there were additions to the castle that were clearly built in the 20th century right next to tunnels and walls built in the 13th and 14th centuries! I was trying to imagine the conversation: "Hey we need an emergency meeting place/hideaway/hospital" "well, you know we do have that big castle on the hill over there that has been around forever... would that work?"
After the tour Kali and I scampered around most of the grounds and castle and then met back with the groups and huddled against the wind for a bit until the bus came back. Then it was off to Canterbury.
When we got there, Kali and our friend Victoria found a little restaurant/cafe for lunch. Then we went to the cathedral and spent at least and hour and a half there. It was beautiful. And when the service started we were still wandering, so you could hear the choir singing and it was some of the most breath-taking music I have ever heard.
There were tons of dead people though, lots of really elaborate tombs. And, if you read the stones you were walking on, half of those were actually grave markers too. There was also a disturbing amount of plaques that read "so-and-so WAS here for about 200/300 years, but then we moved him to the room next door". Which really begs the question of "why the HECK do we keep moving these poor folks around so much?"
But all in all, well worth the 7 pounds it cost to get in. I highly recommend it.
After that, we walked around the shops and stuff and then headed back to London!
A downside of the day was that my camera died halfway through the cathedral, so until I borrow Kali's memory card and get the pics that I missed, here are some highlights.

english countryside


the white cliffs of Dover

a creepy tunnel i did NOT go into

this house was slanted because they used green wood or something, I forget the details. But it was the coolest children's bookstore I have ever seen inside with a cubby hole that was full of patchwork pillows for kids to sit and read. 


king henry IV and his wife

Busy day, but a pretty amazing one.
and so ends the longest blog post yet!

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