Sunday, October 21, 2012


Saturday was our day for a day trip out of London. I wanted to choose someplace where Roger hadn't been, which is getting harder and harder now that he's lived here for nine years. We decided on Rochester and Chatham -- two towns right next to each other, a short (and cheap) train ride from London. 

First stop was Rochester. Lots to see here -- a lovely, pedestrianised High Street full of 18th and 19th century buildings (and a few that are much older), a cathedral and a ginormous castle. We ambled down the High Street, stopping into a couple antique stores and charity shops. We visited the Six Poor Travellers House, established in the 16th century and used by Charles Dickens in his story "The Seven Poor Travellers." The house provided accommodation to poor travellers, plus food, ale and fourpence, until 1940. The upper storeys are still in use today as an almshouse run by the Council. The residents maintain a beautiful little back garden that we were able to walk around in. Our next stop was Eastgate House, a Tudor home also dating from the 16th century. It happened to be one of their infrequent open days, so we got to see some of the rooms inside. Once used as a school for girls, Dickens incorporated it as The Nuns' House in The Mystery of Edwin Drood

We arrived at the cathedral just after a wedding had started, so we killed an hour walking around the ruins of the castle and having a sit down and lunch at a little tea shop. When we returned to the cathedral, Roger did the audio tour while I went in search of the loo. I found it behind a tiny, unmarked wooden door that I think used to lead to a little hole where they put people to do penance. It was a nice loo, but I wouldn't want to be shut in the penance hole.

It was mid-afternoon by the time we reached the Historic Dockyard in Chatham. The place is vast, and you could easily spend a day there. Most of the families with kiddies had left by the time we arrived, which made for an ideal way to see a couple of the buildings. By far, the best part of it was the interpreted tour of the ropery, where rope is still being made in much the same way, although mechanised, as it has been for centuries, in a building that's a quarter of a mile long. We also saw a gigantic boat slip covered by the largest wooden-raftered roof I've ever seen. It's bigger than the cathedral, and looks a bit like an upside-down wooden ship's hull. We also got a personal tour of the submarine after all the other punters had left. 

A bus to Rochester and train to Victoria got us back to London as the rain was starting.

It's now my last day in London. I'm going to do my yarnbombing this morning while Roger goes to the gym and/or the market. Then, we're off to Crossness Pumping Station.

15,763 steps (6.21 miles)
£16.10 return train ticket for Rochester
£3.50 tuna & sweet corn sandwich and tea
£4.80 return bus fare for Chatham
£16.50 admission to Historic Dockyard
£10 to top up Oyster card

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