Having (comparatively speaking) just been there, Heather and I made a quicker than normal return to Rochester. As well as being more or less our anniversary (and just short of seven years since that first trip, we weren’t there because of that. We were there because this time we were on a mission though—to see the Moon.
We arrived just in time for lunch, again taking what appears to now be the approved route into Rochester from the station, through the tourist information in the Huguenot Museum. Hungrily we managed to squeeze ourselves into favourite venue the Deaf Cat Cafe for sandwich, cake, and drink. We were soon back out into the city though and heading for, not the castle as usual, but the cathedral.
We were there, along with a sizeable crowd, to see the Museum Of The Moon. Within the central space of the cathedral, hanging, to steal a phrase, exactly like a brick doesn’t, a seven metre wide sphere, the surface wrapped with high resolution imagery of the Moon. It sat there, familiar and strange, gently glowing onto the crowds below.
We circled in awe, the model Moon seemingly bulging at the solid stone walls. Passing up the aisle towards the alter and things became less familiar, the far side revealed in just as much detail, it’s face different and unknown. We past under, lying on the memorial stones to stare up at a pole never seen. The model drew us to it, as if it had brought along some of the real body’s gravity. And in the setting of the cathedral each view and angle brought something new. Glimpsed through an aisle arch. Framing the solar system-esque light fittings, a giant, impossible, ball trying to move the walls and float through the ceiling.
Eventually we had seen every way and so left the Moon, although with a plan that this wouldn’t be the last of it. The only disappointment was the lack of Moon related items in the shop—I was hoping for a book, or selection of items (a fridge magnet!). Never mind, it couldn’t distract from the feeling of being around and beneath the piece.
We took time to rest and recover, and absorb, in the King’s Head. We were in Rochester however, and of course the castle was calling. We couldn’t resist and so found ourselves heading for a whirlwind tour up, despite the wind whirling. It was very breezy climb, interrupting our traditional photograph on the bench. By the time we reached the top I was glad to be carrying my hat or it would have been on the netting stretching across the battlements. It was a fine day for the views despite the wind though, and how can you ever not want to climb the keep of a castle? We emerged back into the real world just as the castle was shutting its doors and mooched around Rochester’s High Street for a bit, taking cover from the weather in The Eagle (not as good without the weather to enjoy its fine beer garden).
We were hanging around because we had planned a return visit to the cathedral, for the Moon at night. A very reasonable couple of quid each let us join the still busy crowd in the space after normal hours for another look at the hanging Moon. If the affect was wonderful in daytime it was even better now the light had fallen. Every angle became a new experience of the glowing orb; the views we’d enjoyed earlier transformed into something even more surreal. The gravity of the piece saw us orbit it again and again until eventually we broke free to slingshot back out into the Rochester night.
We intended to go to old acquaintance Don Vincenzo for dinner but they were fully booked. That turned out to be a blessing for it meant we found the lovely Candlelite Restaurant. Amazing food, great service (they even moved us to another table when we complained about the draft from the door!) and high recommended.
We sat for a brief while in the still very strange Two Brewers before making it to the train home. We shall undoubtedly be back soon enough, though we may have a dilemma over where to go for dinner!