We were in Ashford England for 4 days while hubby was attending a train convention. Thinking it would be fun and exotic to take the Chunnel Train under the English channel to Calais, France for lunch and return to Ashford, we head off to the train station. We found that buying Chunnel tickets at the last minute is like buying airline tickets at a moment’s notice and they were almost $500 each round trip! Well, bag that!
Plan #2. We took a different train down to Dover and thought we could catch a ferry to Calais, have a nice boat ride, lunch, and return later that evening. Well, although it was 75 degrees that day, a huge storm had blown up from Portugal and Spain and the boats were not leaving the dock.
Plan #3. It was pouring down rain in Dover so we just wanted to do something indoors. We were walking back up to the train station when it really started to rain, so we ducked in the Dover Museum to wait out the downpour. The ticket lady told us we just had to see the exhibits, so we paid our entry fee and went inside. In retrospect, the best part of this trip was that museum. In 1992, construction workers were working on a waterfront road and discovered a boat buried in the mud from the bronze age! Dating back to around 1500 BC, the boat was made of oak and sewn together with some sort of fiber. The boat was immediately seized by archeologists and very carefully removed to an air controlled chamber to prevent further damage. The exhibit is in a rather dark room to protect it from light. We saw some really fine exhibits about what life was like during that period and how the boat was used. They uncovered a treasure trove of artifacts from that era and the exhibit was just fascinating. Well worth the time and money!
It was still raining when we left so we took another train up to Canterbury (never been there!) to see what we could see and keep out of the downpour. Oddly enough, it wasn’t raining when we arrived, so we spent the whole afternoon walking around the city. Most of the old town is enclosed by a huge wall with a sidewalk on top. You can walk almost all around it – avoiding the traffic below – and we ended up at the Canterbury Cathedral. We went in a side door (which is not allowed, we found out later) and followed the singing into the cathedral. Choir practice! So we sat in the back row and were just astounded at the acoustics in that huge room. What a majestic sound! Practice finally ended and we wandered downstairs to the crypt with tombstones in the floor. At the far end we found a door open to the “treasury” with fantastic silver pieces that had been given as gifts to the church. Amazing workmanship in the plates, chalices and bowls. I asked the lady docent – who kept all the pieces polished? She said “I do!” and proceeded to tell us quite a bit about the place and pointed out the more valuable pieces.
As we were leaving, we noted a Starbucks Coffee Shop in the gatehouse in an ancient wall. Not for us! We asked for a tea shop and went down the road to have clotted cream in our tea and wonderful scones. We finally headed back to Ashford with a whole new set of memories in this unexpected day.
So. When plan #1 and #2 don’t work out, just find something else that’s wonderful! Just Roll With It! Calais will be there another time.
Zoom in and out on the map below to see roads and attractions!