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25 February 2016

travel | snapshots of canterbury, kent

we were met in faversham by the wonderful sinead from visit kent, piled immediately in her car and out of the rain, and drove up the road to macknade's fine foods where we wandered the aisles of fresh and local produce, sampling as we went. we all especially enjoyed sampling the toffee vodka from lord and lady muck, so much so that we each bought a small bottle to take back to the hotel with us for later (classy). 

i was in the market for some home-grown kentish coffee beans, but wasn't able to find any that were already ground, and without a grinder to hand, i was fresh outta luck. we did manage to pick up some locally-made snacks and some limited edition local beers for later that night, and after having a wee wander around the bottle shop (because: alcoholics) and muddy, muddy nursery, we were back in the car and headed off to canterbury to have a wander around before our dinner plans at shepherd neame.

after we checked in to the millers arms, we took a short walk into the centre of town to one of the many foodie recommendations we'd been told to try during the weekend: tiny tim's tea room. a quintessential british tea room and winner of kent life tea room of the year, it would have been rude not to pop in and try some of their baked-on-site kentish huffkins and fresh cheese scones, right?

except we ordered one of each, each, which proved to be farrrr too much baked goods in one sitting. with scones the size of your palm and a pot of tea for two, tiny tim's (although apparently haunted - let's not talk about it) afternoon teas are far from tiny! the waitress was hilarious too, and when someone that sassy insists you have one of each, you have one of each.

we wandered back down the cobbled and colourful streets, back to the hotel before having a quick post-scone nap, and heading back to faversham for the night's entertainment.

we woke far too early after six rounds of beer with dinner, teeny tiny bottles of toffee vodka, and a couple of cheeky pre-drinks at the pub, thank entirely too the cathedral outside the window that starts the tolling at half seven in the morning. the cathedral - you might know it? pretty famous, kinda important, home to anglicans the world over? yes well, it - in all its grandeur and charm, was a stone's throw away from the hotel, making the morning alarms much more.. welcoming.. than normal.

after a quick bite for breakfast in the millers arms, we checked out and headed back into to town for another wander before finding our way back to london later that day. we stopped in at the beany institute as they had a "may the toys be with you" exhibition happening that seemed to be entertaining the masses during mid term, and had a look through all the old star wars memorabilia that the museum had been given for the collection. 

not usually my cuppa tea, but fun considering i have now actually seen ~a star wars film. the gallery itself was really pretty too, so there's that, and it was a nice break from the gross weather that was threatening to whip my hair back and forth and soak me to the bone.

we then wandered down to the roman museum before deciding to meet our maker and head into the cathedral while it *dum dum daaaaah* in service. you're totally allowed though, which is super cool, but you can't just let yourself into mass. there's a whole underground crypt that is open to the public during service hours so you can still hear the sermon, but you don't get in the way of the service or disturb the congregation.

the inside of the cathedral is suuuuuper pretty. i've been in a few cathedrals in my time (catholic upbringing and all that), and they're not something you can really tire of looking at. this one has a world heritage site, which makes it even cooler, as well as being the most powerful church in the whole of the uk. that makes canterbury basically the vatican of the anglican church... right?

after our wander we were famished. we stopped in at little joe's deli on burgate, which is right outside the cathedral gates, on a tip from sinead the day before. it's only been open a little while and already it's causing all sorts of a stir online and amongst the locals, so it would have been rude not to pop in. we met up with johnny and the team and he joined us upstairs and talked up through the menu. from the fresh-baked bagels and rolls baked and delivered early from nearby every day, to the plethora of tasty pies made on-site by the team, and the quality sausages and meats prepared down the road at sister restaurant pork and co, everything johnny had to say about the business was delivered with a laugh, a story, a smile, and a bit of terror that his constant energy would shake a hole through the third floor were were sat on.

we went for a pie and mash each - mine was the steak and ale, and my only quip was the delicious yet excessive amount of mash that was piled on my plate that foolishly had to go to waste when i wasn't able to finish it all. despite my complaints of a full belly, johnny wouldn't let it rest. the house special - the chocolate and toffee pie, came out shortly after with a few local juices to wash down the last of my dignity and regret, and set us up for a stupidly fast walk to the train station for our journey back to london. word of warning: don't eat two pies and three scoops of mash before power walking ten minutes to the train station - your body will want to object to all of it, and begin to shut down. thankfully the train was delayed by a few minutes, giving me enough time to try and calm down before i puked all over the platform. real charmer, me.

a massive amount of debt is owed to visit kent for sorting me out for a whistle-stop tour of canterbury's best and fairest tourist attractions and foodie fare. visit kent are currently promoting their #GREATfood from kent campaign, whigh highlights fantastic foodies and destinations, and works with local producers to help them export. and i can totally understand why. everywhere we ate and drank this weekend was above par as far as "country pub food" goes - totally what i was expecting to eat, not at all what i actually ate. not once did the food or drink - or hospitality for that matter, feel like it was anything other than what i would expect from a london restaurant, although - if i'm completely honest, there's nothing like some homegrown charm sprinkled on your meals.

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