Thursday, September 1, 2011

Rochester Castle & Cathedral

Back home after two rather busy days of travelling & helping a MTB buddy, Andy, move house to Bristol, it was a bit of a surprise to see it clear wonderfully this afternoon. Of that - more a little later. With a short ride on a quick train from Waterloo to Farnborough on Tuesday morning, Andy, Rich & I were quickly filling up the large van. I was just a little envious of someone moving to Bristol (I'm keen on the idea) & actually having a settled normal life owning furniture (imagine) & more importantly - five (all necessary, naturally) bikes. I'm not sure how we managed to fit all of Andy's stuff in to his rented Bristol place (it's a bit smaller than the flat he's trying to sell) yesterday - I think having a garage to stow less-used things in helped. With two days of moving done & a lot of driving along the M4 corridor & A-roads (nice countryside, especially turning off towards Bath) I rushed back up to London to have some final drinks with NZ (first) cousin Chris. A little sad to see the last of my Kiwi family leaving UK, but it was a good night & it was fun swapping travelling stories with similarly-accented Kiwis. It was funny to be back catching the last train from Charing Cross back home - vague recollections of many such escapades well over a year ago.

Back to today - I was sitting on the couch taking it easy & trying to start the job-hunt in earnest (baby steps are probably the best description) when Trish realised that it had become a nice sunny afternoon. It took us a while to decide where to go but we eventually settled on (unvisited by me) Rochester. Only half an hour down the A2 we wandered down the main street & ducked in to a old almshouse built in the 1580s or some similar very long time ago. Even I almost had to crouch as we wandered around. Built for poor travellers, it was nice to poke around & appreciate not having to sleep on such beds. The rest of the street was a nice hodge-podge of differently styled old buildings.

We wandered in to Rochester Castle & clambered up & down many uneven stairs as we explored inside & between the huge stone walls that are all that remain of the structure. It was quite incredible just how much had survived considering that parts of the fort go back to 1088. The walls were suitably thick & the beams that stretched between them to support the four floors must have been similarly impressive. The view over the Medway River was pretty good too.

We also took a quick look inside the cathedral. Bigger than it looked from the outside, there were a few other sightseers poking around too. The cathedral must have some unexplained link to the Royal Engineers as there were inscriptions to fallen servicemen all around the place. Strangest sight however were the five young women congregating in full goth regalia.

This paddle steamer was moving quicker than I expected - see how its stack has been folded down to fit under the bridge

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