The spotted pig pie

Slept well to the constant stream of rain outside our window. Woke at 6.30, crazy fool that I am, and crept downstairs to make myself a life reaffirming cup of coffee. (This must be the only UK B&B without tea and coffee facilities in the room – for an enticing moment I thought we were back in Verona…but no…hello reality.) I managed to successfully avoid Nigel and crept back to our room.

By 7:15 the heady aroma of full English cholesterol started wafting up from the kitchen getting my tummy rumbling for some. At 7:45 the bells started at the cathedral, not stopping till 8! Poor campanologists (look it up). They were not as loud as some I have known, Claire. We finally went down to breaky at 8:30.

This place is full of Aussies, Kiwis and South Africans, it seems. perhaps they are drawn by the insatiable charm of Nigel. A couple from NZ beside us were chatting to a couple of Adelaide girls. One of the girls is a lawyer and Mirinda wanted desperately to join in the conversation and straighten her out on a few points. The Kiwi husband (who had a brilliant radio voice) said something disparaging about how Sydney Uni thinks it’s a cut above the rest of the Australian unis to which we both said “Derr! Because it is!” I should add that we said this quietly to ourselves and not to him.

Back in our room , and the bells have started again with the syncopated accompaniment of the occasional police siren – sweeeet! It’s raining on and off but we’ll brave it and explore more of this city, but first I have to brave Nigel.

Ha! I managed to pay the bill without being subjected to a three hour lecture on the merits of eating where HE suggested rather than at one he had, in fact, criticised, by paying his wife instead. On gaining the freedom of the carpark I gave the secret sign beneath the window for Mirinda to join me (‘cantaloupe’ or three coughs for the all clear or hoot like an owl for danger Will Robinson). We then walked the short distance to Canterbury Castle.

This is a Norman pile which has limited clambering inside and a massive tree outside for the homeless to live under. At one stage (1800’s) the castle keep was used as a prison and during the day prisoners would be shackled to the walls where they were allowed to beg passers-by for food. Now I MAY be in the minority here, but I don’t often just ‘pass by’ prisons, rather I give them more of a wide berth. Maybe it was the fashion to laugh at them in the absence of a zoo. But then you have to wonder why the prisoners actually bothered begging.

Inside Canterbury Castle

We then followed the city wall around to John Dane Mound. I figured that this was the burial mound of some Danish guy called John but was quickly correctly by the plaque. The mound is part of an original castle and Dane John is derived from an old French word ‘donjon’ which Mirinda thinks means ‘mound’. Of course, this would mean that it is actually called ‘Mound Mound’. Silly, perhaps, but I like it.

Anyway, it’s quite high and the views towards the busy ringroad are very clear. On the opposite side, the view into Canterbury is obscured by trees. Fortunately they are very nice trees. Around the Mound Mound is the bailey (the moat) of the old castle (the motte). This is now all gardens and an excellent kids maze that resembles a castle and has animals all around and over it.

A-mazing we will go

It was getting to be that time of the day so we retired to Starbucks for a hazelnut cappuccino for elevenses. We wanted to buy some tiles from Canterbury Pottery which had black and white sketches of the Canterbury Tales on them…but it’s closed today. Just proves that old adage ‘get it when you see it, dude’ which I just made up.

In my haste to write all the above pathetic jokes I forgot we also visited the grounds of a cute little church down from the castle called St Mildred’s. There is a rose planted outside with a plaque dedicated to a woman who was married in the church in 1943 and died in Australia in 1997 – not 100% sure of the dates and I didn’t write her name down but very sweet.

I’m presently sitting in Tower House Gardens near the tiny herb garden – very peaceful even though it’s very near the busy ringroad. Lots of roses and lots of colour. Gorgeous. We had a long wander round the back streets, gradually making our way to the Goods Shed for some good home grown produce and a cup of coffee. Nigel recommended it to us. It used to be the railway goods shed but has been turned into a farmer’s market with a restaurant.

Bought a Spotted Pig Pie for dinner (this is just the same as a Spotted Dick Pudding except it has pork in it). Also indulged in a treacle tart (without cornflakes – mum, you’ve spoilt me) and some rather odd, Karen-type bread with no wheat, no yeast, no gluten, no water, no anything. Weighs about a ton and costs a motzah – better taste nice.

I left Mirinda at the restaurant and I set off for the Chaucer Hotel for my Images of England briefing session – the whole reason we actually came to Canterbury. While being expertly briefed, Mirinda had lunch at the Goods Shed and it was fabulous, she said. So much better than Jacques, she said. Half the price and an accurate menu, she said. I had two biscuits with my coffee.

Anyway, all food considerations aside, the session was excellent. As well as a slide show on what and how to snap pictures of listed buildings, we were given our packs which included my buildings for snapping. It seems that most of East/West Worldham is a listed building. Since everything seems to be in a five mile radius of the cottage, my first lot should be relatively easy.

It all wound up at 4:15 and we managed to get away from Canterbury at 4:45. Had an equally excellent run home (two fingers up for the M25) and were at Serendipity for the puppies at 7:15. The man was very nice (the place closes at 1pm on a Sunday but we asked for special treatment) and the puppies very glad to see us.

Finally at home we had our Spotted Pig Pie (dee-lish-us) and treacle tart (jumbo yumbo) before dropping into bed – GREAT WEEKEND!!

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