Day 8 - On My Way (Again)

Saturday, April 04, 2009
Up at an ungodly hour...could I be excited? I think I must be. Excited to be on my way once again to meet up with Red and *Asterisk. Had a big breakfast this morning - scrambled eggs, beans, toast. Tried once again to eat the English version of bacon. Nope, couldn't do it even with brown sauce. I lasted as long as I could and got ready to leave for Victoria Station around 9ish. However, I had forgotten I would now have to lug my giant suitcase DOWN the five flights of stairs. Down, now with my suitcase stuffed with breakables, was almost as difficult as up. After much stress, strain, sweat and a plethora of swears, I made it downstairs and waited outside for my mini cab. A much safer feeling drive, I admit, than my black cab ride and much cheaper. He looked quite shocked when I tipped him - to be fair, I probably gave him far too much again but I was just so excited to get to Victoria Station, I was lucky I didn't give him twice the fare.

Victoria Station was a bit confusing. However there was an extremely kind and helpful older dude working the information desk today. Far nicer than the stone faced agent who sold me my ticket. I made a quick call to Red and *Asterisk to let them know I was about to board the train (an hour earlier than I originally told them...sorry guys!) and then I was on my way. The only other time I have been on a real train (other than the Heathrow Express) was when I was a wee baby so this was a pretty new thing for me. I made the mistake of sitting backwards on the train but it was the only way to keep an eye on my luggage. I lucked out again in the "help" department as I ended up sitting across the aisle from one of the rail employees. About fifteen minutes into our trip, four of his collegues sat down with including one guy who bore a striking resemblence to David Mitchell. Don't worry, I realized it wasn't him so I didn't freak out and embarass my self. However, the I sound felt as though I was trapped in my own little version of hell despite the beautiful scenery as all five of them began to discuss their employee pension plans. When they complained that they couldn't understand it, I had to resist the urge to speak up and explain the ins and outs for them. As this was my vacation though, I bit my tongue ... and thankfully we had arrived at my station!!! Freedom!

Someone failed to mention the stairs up and the stairs back down at the train station. Hmmmm. More lugging of the luggage. However, waiting for me with big smiles on their faces were my blog buddies, Red and *Asterisk!!! Yippee! A short ride and we were at Casa AsteRed. Their house is fantastic despite the wailing children on either side. I can't begin to describe how much I love it! I think I need them to come and visit me to help decorate my own little apartment. And in the back? I little garden/deck space that I could just go crazy with plants if I had spent more time there. The adorable little Homie ran away at the sound of my voice but by the time we came back in the evening from a short trip out, he was content to simply stare at me with his big yellow eyes. "So, THAT's what a Canadian looks like..." After I settled in, *Asterisk made us a lovely lunch of pasta with a spicey tomato sauce and some garlic toast. Mmmmm. Yummy. After a quick cleanup, we were off for the afternoon.

The three of us headed off to the Rochester/Chatham area, birthplace of the Chav, where we strolled the high street dodging rain and swarms of French school children. A number of buildings in Rochester have names inspired by characters in Charles Dickens' novels. Dickens and his family moved to the area when he was still very young and many of his novels have references to Rochester. Next, we popped into the Six Poor Travellers House. Established by Richard Watts in 1579 as overnight shelter for six poor travelers, he established a tradition which lasted right up to World War II. Mentioned by Dickens in his Christmas stories, it provided one night's free lodging for poor travellers, along with meat, beer, and bread. Yet another free museum (Oh how I love England!), inside visitors will find the main floor restored to what it probably looked like during it's early days. The upstairs is blocked off but behind the house is a lovely little garden with a number of herbs and flowers for visitors to wander through. They've included a number of little signs such as the one to the left describing what people at the time believed the benefits of certain herbs were. I found it especially amusing that Thyme was "goode to annointe the testicles that are swolleyne". Can you imagine rubbing thyme all over your goodies? The Six Poor Travellers House is located on the high street.

We explored a bit more of the high street before walking a couple of blocks to Rochester Cathedral, the second oldest in Britain. Photography is permitted and I managed to get some lovely shots of the stained glass and the beautiful architecture. While the roof isn't as spectacular as that of Westminster Abbey, the AsteReds noticed parts of the roof have creepy demonic faces looking down on the worshippers. Awesome (sorry, I didn't get a picture as my camera battery was getting weaker and weaker). After the cathedral, we walked across the street and up the hill to Rochester Castle which overlooks the town and the river Medway below. Its an imposing looking ruin that was, unfortunately, closed by the time we arrived. However we were able to wander around the grounds and take a few photos just as the rain began.

We stopped at Sainsburys before heading home. UK grocery stores, how I love you. Luck would have it that penguins and Jaffa cakes were both on sale so I picked up a package of each to take home with me. Mmmm.... (note that they didn't last more than two days after I arrived back in Canada). Rather than cooking a big meal, it was decided we'd order pizza. Just a little FYI for my fellow North Americans: veggie pizza in England includes corn. Yes, you read that correctly, corn. Can't say I'm a fan of it on my pizza. However, despite the unexpected addition, the 'za was quite yummy. And *Asterisk? He gets creepily excited about pizza. Really excited.

The AsteReds made me feel welcome from the moment I stepped through their front door. Cat took a little longer. As with Milla, I felt instantly at ease with my hosts and as though we'd been friends for years. I heart Mr. and Mrs. AsteRed.


Wandering Coyote said...

Man, when I'm in England, I could practically LIVE in Sainsbury's! I LOVE that place!

Very cool castle!

I'm loving these posts, BTW!

Wandering Coyote said...

Incidentally, if you go to Italy, you'll find all kinds of things on pizzas you'd never expect - trust me!

Milla said...

Ah, but you will never, EVER, find pineapple pieces on a pizza in Italy. NEVER! In the UK, however, that is called an 'Hawaian'.

Karen, what did I tell you about Red and Aste and their gorgeous house? Wasn't I right 1005%?

* (asterisk) said...

I really liked the Six Poor Travellers' House, I must say.

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