Hello U.K. Part One- Kent
There are certain aspects of travel that I like. The actual process of traveling, the in-between times, where one is neither here nor there. The fact that one is hurtling through time and space while at the same time sitting almost motionless. Perhaps I notice these things more because I usually travel alone and so have all the time in the world to think about such things as I am strapped into my chair. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t enjoy sitting motionless in a cramped airplane seat for hours on end, but there is something appealing about the “going”. The idea that one is unreachable, alone, in transition, the fact that you have to turn your cell phone off and no one can call you and ask about their pension.
It has been far too long since I’ve left this continent, hell the farthest outside the GTA I’ve been in the past 3 years has been Kitchener, Ontario- not exactly an exotic locale. So I finally decided - with the help of my sister and brother-in-law that I would have a holiday in the sun (UK style). Truth be told, the last time I went to England, grunge was at its heyday and I was taking pottery class for credit in CEGEP. So now that I am a grown up and have a shiny new job with paid vacation days I decided Hell yeah- I’ll do this thing! The “going” was pretty uneventful. Worked on Wednesday, caught the bus to the airport, checked in, got the seat I wanted and flew to the U.K. Nothing much of interest. Well- I did order the gluten free meal which was probably wise as the in-flight meals were "pasta with cheese and pasta with chicken". Also I may have been sitting next to a potential terrorist- he was pretty aggressive with the flight attendents, plus dude was travelling with nothing but a cell phone and a pair of sunglasses. He even had to buy earphones and borrow a pen from me. he was pretty nice about the pen though, and he told me he just liked to travel light. Arrived at London Gatwick at 10:00 AM the next morning and was (eventually) met by my sister. We took the train to Kent where my sis and bro-in-law live and there my adventure began.
We took it easy my first afternoon and by easy I mean we hit the pub ASAP. There is one sad aspect to my trip. I have decided to do the gluten free thing, full on...which means no bakewell tarts, no sausage rolls or pork pies and saddest of all, no beer and no Guinness.... there is however Cider. After the pub we went for a wander and saw the site(s) of Rochester. Most of the sites were infested by disreputable looking youth in hoodies, however despite the youth problem Rochester is a quaint little town with cobblestones, a Cathedral and a Dickens' connection. Truth be told I was more interested in the pub and the candy store than the afforementioned tourist attractions. I'm all about prioritizing.
Day 1- Whitstable.
For my first full day in the U.K, we decided to hit the beach. Not literally, that would hurt- (trust me- you havent seen the beach yet) Whitstable is a seaside town in Kent that is known for its oysters and other delicious seafoods. On the harbour front are fishmarkets where you can buy little tubs of freshly caught …things… things from the sea- - things like prawns, herring, winkles, cockles and of course oysters. The oysters are apparently famous... in oyster circles.
I really dig the English seaside. It’s cheery but somewhat unforgiving. It's a bit cold and smells fishy. Plus there are no beach bunnies lying on the sand applying coppertone. You definitely won't be feeling sand between your toes- you’ll be feeling rather large rocks.
Whitstable has it goin' on. We went for a wander and hit a nice local gallery, some cute shops and an excellent cafe. However, the beach and the seafood is the big draw, so we picked up some chips and wandered back to the harbour and purchased tubs of seafood: 2 sizes of prawns, sweet pickled herring and of course raw oysters on the half shell- we also brought a bottle of wine with us and enjoyed a feast on an overturned rowboat on pebble beach.
After eating and dipping our feet into the water, we wandered along the water front past Victorian sea huts- (I am sure they have a more scientific name) and got some ice cream. I had a Ribena Ice Lolly
Before leaving we ducked into the fish markets again and got some olives wrapped in herring and a few cockles for the road. The cockles were a little gritty, but at least I can say I eat...cockle. We caught the train back to Rochester and had a lovely supper of chorizo sausage, cheese, gluten free crispbread and 40 ounces of duty free Gin.
London and 40 ounces of Gin