|Whan that Aprille, with hise shoures soote,|
|The droghte of March hath perced to the roote|
|And bathed every veyne in swich licour,|
|Of which vertu engendred is the flour;|
|Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth|
|Inspired hath in every holt and heeth|
|The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne|
|Hath in the Ram his halfe cours yronne,|
|And smale foweles maken melodye,|
|That slepen al the nyght with open eye-|
|So priketh hem Nature in hir corages-|
|Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages|
|And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes|
|To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;|
|And specially, from every shires ende|
|Cathedral and St. Augustine Abbey ruins|
Today I joined in that very long tradition of pilgrims to the shrine in the Canterbury Cathedral. Just like Chaucer explains, once the weather turns nice and the warm breezes blow I get antsy and feel compelled to leave the city, enjoy the clean country air, and visit some cathedrals. Today was the loveliest day I could have chosen for such a pilgrimage. My journey was actually quite short. Since I took the fast train from London, it was only a 50 minute, rather comfortable and boring, pilgrimage. There certainly wasn't enough time to tell any tales (and I was alone anyway), but I did enjoy the beautiful countryside.
I met up with a friend for lunch and he asked me what on earth had brought me to Canterbury. (I guess like most people he doesn't see the value of his hometown.) "I just wanted to see the city and the Cathedral," I said. "Ohh. Are you doing research?" He still seemed puzzled that I would make a trip from London just to see the Cathedral. I had to explain that no, I've wanted to see Canterbury for most of my adult life. I honestly couldn't imagine a more pleasant afternoon than wandering around Canterbury Cathedral. I guess I'm a nerd that way.
After Sam and I parted ways I went to the Roman Museum and saw some very interesting Roman ruins under the current city. When Canterbury had been bombed in the war they discovered the floor of a Roman townhouse with the mosaic tiles still intact. I loved it. Roman ruins are always a treat. (See? I'm a giant nerd.) Then after getting lost for spell, since I decided I would not need a map for some reason, I finally found the ruins of the St. Augustine Abbey.
|Red Roman brick used to build St. Pancras Church|
The reason the Abbey is in ruins is because of lovely old Henry VIII who, once he took over the Church of England, set out to reclaim all of the wealth that the abbeys in England had built up. He tore this one down and then built a palace using one of the church's walls. Someone inherited or bought the property afterwards, buried the rubble and made the space into a lovely garden, and then the next generation just kind of abandoned it. The city people used the land for grazing cattle, and also for parties and all kinds of debauchery, until a man in the 18th century realized what that land had originally been used for, bought it, excavated it and tried to preserve what he could of the abbey. And now we can visit it! I highly recommend doing so if you ever get the chance.
I was only in Canterbury for about 5 hours, and got home in time for supper, but I'll probably always remember this day trip, and I'm glad I decided to go. Being in that place inspired me, gave me pages of ideas and plans for my future, and helped me feel tied to a long and meaningful past.
Travel has always been an important part of mine and Haley's lives and writing. As I finish up my summer in England I plan on posting some of my travel writing here and I would love it if you had any comments. I'm also interested in your travel experiences. What kinds of places inspire you? Is travelling an important element of your writing? Would you like it to be? I'd love to hear your experiences in the comments!