There’s a tradition that Heather and I visit Rochester each year. Normally we try and go around March time, or in the summer, but this year Heather’s foot trouble and operation had delayed us getting there, to the point we were getting worried we wouldn’t make it. We finally did though, arriving just in time for Christmas fun.
We picked an that happened to be Dickensian Christmas, which gave an even more festive air to the adventure. We arrived at the station to the welcome realisation that they’ve finally moved the pedestrian crossing to outside rather than way down the road. Half the world seemed to be arriving at the same time, and we joined the throng to be ushered through the tourist information part of the Huguenot Museum and out onto the High Street just in time for a colourful parade of characters.
It was a good job we didn’t mind watching the parade, as the High Street was far too crowded to move along as the stream of period dressed characters, steampunk enthusiasts, dancers, and general characters went by. There were what seemed to be several Miss Havishams, Marley’s ghost, the inevitable Morris dancing, Death, and a disturbingly snowman covered guy. Once it was all gone its way towards the castle we headed along the High Street, and then up around the Vines (which turned out to be calmingly peaceful). We were soon back at the bustle though, the Christmas Market thronging around and within the castle.
We had a bit of a wander around the market, outside the curtain walls and then in and around the bailey, before deciding to try and find somewhere to sit down for lunch. That proved tricky, given the large number of people enjoying the festival. We eventually squeezed into Rochester Coffee, more with good timing than anything else, even if we did have to share a table for a while.
After lunch we found ourselves wandering around a little market inside the Casino Rooms. Having went in and starting looking at the Christmassy craft stalls we had a little panic though and had to rush around a bit quicker than we’d have liked, as we’d realised that by now there wasn’t actually much time to make it to the castle.
We safely made it to the castle before closing time, happily climbing the stairs to the keep and into the familiar surrounds. Despite the number of times we’d been there we had to do the full tour, calling at the renowned bench for the traditional photograph. The view from the top down onto the Christmas fun below was worth the climb.
Back down on the ground, in among all those market stores, was an exciting steam powered carousel, which of course Heather had to ride. Once the big kid had been whisked round and round we wandered the market some more, finding Christmas Pudding and an owl light to take home with us. The big tent which had earlier daunted us with long queues was by now emptier, and yielded further treats of a well timed owl bear and some rum and mead.
Worn out from the walking around we considered trying to find somewhere for dinner, but there were still crowds and we decided the fight to find a table wasn’t worth it, so we headed home. We’d made the castle though, and that was the most important thing.