Thursday, February 4, 2010

Dover and Canterbury (for Grandma)

Above: Calvin and Cameron at St. Augustine's Ruins (Canterbury)
Way above: Dover Castle

What's good folks? Yesterday (Wednesday) was our program field trip to Dover and Canterbury. Glen was our coach driver again (I gotta write him a theme song) so I knew it was gonna be a good day. The bus ride to Dover was pretty sweet, except when we got there Dr. MacF informed us that we were not going to see the white cliffs. That's right, he thought we'd just go to Dover and not go to the world famous White Cliffs of Dover (made out of chalk). I was like, "Yeah right," but Dover ended up being pretty cool so I was ok with it (that, and we were told we'd drive by as we left, which was good enough for me).

First stop was Dover Castle. Pictured above. This place was freaking cool. Before we hiked to the castle we went into the secret underground wartime tunnels. They were about as cool as they sound...which is pretty cool. As wars came and went they were added to, but I believe the oldest ones date back to the Napoleonic war. Dover is the closes point to France (we could see France across the English Channel) and so it was always an important post. It was a sweet underground fort, although it would not have been nearly as cool if you were stationed there. Nasty hot in the summers, freezing in the winters, and according to our guide (put on your English accent caps) "precipitation literally trickled down the walls." My personal favorite was the giant room that had 18 tons of computer technology in it, including two engineers constantly overlooking the machinery in case of a problem. Today those 18 tons of machinery do about what we can fit into an average laptop. Technology is cool.

Once out of the secret underground wartime tunnels we hiked up to the castle. The castle was freaking awesome. First of all, it's in a perfect spot: close to the beach, on top of a gigantic hill, and with lots of big guns. As you can see from the picture it's pretty legit. The best part of the place was the Roman Lighthouse. I like lighthouses almost as much as I like windmills, and this lighthouse dates back to 79 AD. If you look in the picture I've provided it's at the very top of the castle complex to the right of the highest square tower (so, from left to right at the tippy top...Square tower, St. Mary's Church, Round Roman Lighthouse.) The view was incredible, and after the lighthouse we climbed to the very top of Dover Castle. Naturally, as soon as I was on top I became the french guard from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (I waved my private parts in their general direction). Took some pictures, headed to the bus, drove past the white cliffs of Dover (very nice...still woulda liked some time to taste them), and on to Canterbury.

Grandma, when you read this I want you to regret never having come to England, but just a little. Because you would have loved every second of it. Canterbury is a pretty sweet little town. We had a little while till we were due at Canterbury Cathedral, so we went to the ruins of St. Augustine's Abbey. According to the internet and/or history, it was founded by St Augustine in about 598AD to mark the success of his mission to restore Christianity to England. Many of the Kings of Kent and early Archbishops of Canterbury are buried there. All in all, it was a sweet place to climb around and have a little fun. The picture up at the top is of Cameron and I hanging out in the hardest-to-get-up-to-but-best-picture-spot arch. I tried going up the side of it (left side of the picture) and got a little finger full of glass protecting the mini vineyard (I didn't look) which hurt a bit but didn't even bleed, so it's not even cool. But I dug the glass out of the wall and kept it. Did some more climbing around and eventually it was time for Canterbury Cathedral.

Canterbury Cathedral isn't spectacular compared to St. Paul's, but the history of the place is pretty sweet. It's the place where Thomas Becket was murdered by some of Henry II's knights. There is a sculpture of three vicious looking swords on the spot where he died. It used to be a place to which people made pilgrimages (you can see where the stairs are worn) but Henry VIII decided to have Becket's body removed and his bones destroyed. So now there is a candle where his memorial used to be. Also buried in Canterbury Cathedral is Edward the Black Prince (he's the dude in A Knight's Tale) who in my opinion was awesome. I took a picture next to the Black Prince, but I have yet to put it up. While I was looking at it this Chinese tourist comes up to me and says something about a picture. I thought he wanted me to take a picture for him so I was like, "Yeah dude, anything for China." He hands the camera to his buddy and stands next to me. Hahahaha, turns out the guy just thought my ski jacket was awesome (the white one with the colored stripes that is freakin sweet). So by now I'm probly the most famous man in China and if I ever go there I'll make millions on endorsements. Remind me to hit up China soon. Down in the crypt of Canterbury we're not allowed to take pictures, but they do have a little stand with sticky notes on it for people to leave prayers that are put on the altar every day at 8 AM. I figured if there's anywhere that Grandma would like to visit in her beloved England it would be Canterbury, so I waited till our little group moved on and I wrote one out for her and stuck it on the board. So Grandma, if my prayer comes true you're stuck on this side of the veil for a few more years. Sorry :) But you've made your mark on England and me whether you've meant to or not. (And fellow extended family members, although you already knew that I was Grandma's favorite, now you gotta top where I was plus a prayer in Canterbury Cathedral.)

I have the greatest grandmother. If anybody out there needs one, you can share mine.
End of story.


caitlin said...

I like that you have a blog. You should show me your poem..and write me a theme song.

Mary said...

Thanks for being such a detailed blogger. I just used this info for a homework assignment.

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