It’s great to have a rest day after a tough walk from Weybridge along the North Downs Way.
Wetherspoons (a pub) was a great hit with Paul last night. We returned for breakfast, lunch and dinner today. In fact we discovered a Wetherspoon hotel upstairs and regretted not staying there.
After breakfast we took our laundry to the local launderette. The attendant held the bag at arm’s length while we requested a cool tumble to save my merino clothes from shrinking.
Claude & Marie arrived from France. We met them last year on the Via Podiensis and as they live on the Via Francigena near Arras, they have come to Canterbury to walk with us back to their home. It will be a good warm up for their Camino Frances in August and it is lovely to see them again.
Our religious duties started in earnest this afternoon. We went to the Cathedral and were ushered like VIPs through the turnstiles without having to pay the £12.50 admission charge. A chaplain was summoned and he led us down into the crypt and opened up a small side chapel. There, he blessed us and our new credentials and prayed for a safe journey and a warm welcome into eternal salvation. It is far too early to even think about Rome while we are shivering in Canterbury but this reward would be a great addition to my Compostela and the Plenary Indulgence I received in 2016.
We then reverted to tourism and walked around the Cathedral. The site of the martyrdom of Thomas Becket is always strangely troubling and the recent sculpture of the 4 swords adds to the sense of disturbance. I sat alone contemplating the terrible events of 29 December 1170 and their consequences when a tour group arrived. Their leader told the story of Becket and his turbulent relationship with Henry II. Somebody asked the name of the sculptor but the leader suffered a senile moment. I discreetly googled the question and whispered Giles Bloomfield to him as he led his tribe away.
After viewing the cloisters (nothing could ever equal the cloisters in Moissac which we all enjoyed last year despite the TGV intrusion) we exited into a nearby Caffè Nero for a welcoming and warming cup of tea. Then it was back into the chilly Cathedral for the atmospheric Evensong.
PS. Compeed took the upper hand last night in the battle of the blisters. I hope to walk normally towards Dover tomorrow in my lovely clean clothes.
Claude and Marie join us for the walk to Arras
Inside the Cathedral is a display commemorating 100 years since the end of The Great War
Bloomfield’s sculpture at the site of the martyrdom of Thomas Becket