London & Canterbury

Canterbury has been on my ‘bucket list’ for at least 13 years, or ever since an ex-colleague told me it was quite similar to Chester. Chester is actually full of mock Tudor buildings, while Canterbury retains a more genuine medieval character. Its streets are narrow, and the city centre is very, very compact. I struggled to take decent pics because I felt that I was just too close to everything.

A day return train ticket from London Kings Cross cost me around £37 for an hour journey. The local prices seemed sensible, and an OK lunch with one espresso martini thrown in was only a tenner. It costs £14 to enter the Cathedral and an extra £5 for a guided tour and while it is a magnificent building, I’m more keen on my local St Albans cathedral, which is not only free to enter, but has a more welcoming feel to it. A 2 hour guided walking tour was worth every penny, and attracted no less than 27 people. Our guide was a super passionate and extremely knowledgeable lady and deep inside I really wished that I knew as much about Chester as she did about Canterbury.

One day wasn’t quite enough and even though we were there for 7.5 hours we didn’t get to visit the Roman Museum, or the gardens, and the Abbey ruins got closed by the time we got there. I’d love to see Canterbury at dawn, streets empty, no delivery vans blocking the views and no people…

At some point we had to decide between a guided tour and punting, we chose the tour but we did spot a boat or two and I must admit I really felt like giving it a go. Another reason to come back!

We did our Canterbury trip on Saturday, but we were in London from Wednesday night until Sunday and, as usual, we squeezed in as many activities as possible. It was kind of my birthday weekend too, and I could not have wished for anything better. I saw a Norwegian band Wardruna at Royal Festival Hall (they sounded sooo good!) and I saw the new Batman movie at VUE Leicester Square (gorgeous cinematography, score, everything). We climbed the O2 Arena roof at sunset – such fun and the views were stunning. We went to the famous Sky Garden viewing terrace on top of the Walkie Talkie building. We went inside the Tower Bridge and afterwards sat in the sunshine in St Katharine Docks. We walked for miles; around Kensington, Belgravia, Hyde Park and of course my beloved Covent Garden. We found the Phoenix Gardens where a scene from ‘Last Christmas’ movie was filmed. We went inside the Royal Opera House and took a lift to the top floor terrace, overlooking the Covent Garden Piazza. We had a coffee at the finally reopened St Martins-in-the-Fields cafe in the crypt and a nice if overpriced pint at Punch & Judy pub, watching a hideous Covent Garden perfomer. We went to the Temple Church immortalized by Da Vinci Code film and what a beautiful church it was…All in all, another very well planned (by moi!) and executed London adventure. The next one will include some museums and possibly the Tower of London, St Paul’s and perhaps Winchester or another such city. I hope I will stay down south long enough to see it all!

Tower Bridge with its glass floor and mirror ceiling:

London bathed in glorious sunshine:

Sky Garden – free entry, but compulsory timed slot booking:

Temple Church:

Atmospheric London:

The 52 metre ‘climb of our lives’:

Wardruna – my fourth gig at RFH, which has the best acoustics of all venues I’ve been to. I think I may have spotted drummer Gary Husband in the crowd. I was delighted to see the support act Jo Quail – I’d only ever watched her performing a streamed lockdown concert. It felt both unreal and overwhelming to be at a live gig after over 2 years of restrictions.

A mere few days in and around London felt like a proper holiday. I’m already compiling a list of attractions for the next break, with that Museum of Freemasonry at the very top 🙂