Apparently the head of some out dated feudal system was having some sort of celebration, which for some reason the country was expected to join in with. Not having any of that I was however grateful for the double “jubilee” bank holiday, and took advantage with Heather to go on the annual pilgrimage to Rochester.
Despite the bank holiday the journey down was smooth enough, arriving to glorious sunshine which soon found us sitting in the garden of the Ye Arrow, admiring the impressively large flags they’d hung from castle walls and keep. We enjoyed the morning sunshine, killing time until an appointment in the cathedral to see the world.
Just before the pandemic we’d been in Rochester to see the Moon filling the central aisle of the cathedral. This time saw the world, in the from of Gaia, an installation by Luke Jerram. It’s a familiar concept, a large ball hanging with satellite imagery projected onto it. We’d been really impressed by Museum of the Moon but Gaia fell somewhat short of that. Perhaps it was the comparison of scale (the ball felt about the same size as the Moon had), or the fact we’d seen the Moon at night and the daylight pouring through the windows of the cathedral distracted something. Actually daylight was a point, because in the imagery of the Earth there was no terminator, no night side view. In fact while the imagery revolved its entirely static-ness was a bit detracting—no sense of the Earth as a dynamic system but instead as sterile as that Moon imagery. I wonder if they couldn’t have had a changing view, with night side slowly progressing around. That would maybe have given an opportunity to move some of the clouds out the way to see places hidden. It was also difficult to spot familiar land, due to northern Europe logically being at the top of the globe, but therefore almost out of sight.
We were more pleasantly surprised to find the cloisters of the cathedral open, something we’ve not seen before and so it gave us the chance to wander into the sunshine and enjoy views we hadn’t had before. It’s a quiet space, and really nice in good weather; hopefully they have it open more.
We passed back inside the cathedral and past Gaia again. There was a small shop on the way out but the effort seemed to be minimal—a couple of globes about your lot; nothing specifically related to the spinning ball nearby which was a disappointment. Once outside we decided it was lunch time, and so for old time’s sake visited where we’d had lunch on our first visit. Mrs Tickit’s Pantry fed us well enough, and we even resisted cake.
There’s another thing that must be done when we’re in Rochester—the castle of course. We don’t really need a guidebook we’ve been there that often but still climbed up to the top, stopping on a bench part way for the traditional photo. The views from the parapets don’t get any less spectacular, and it was interesting to look down on the fair in the bailey below.
Coming down from the castle we wandered around that fair. Heather inevitably had to have a ride on the carousel (she should remember to go for a horse not a cock), and we won a couple of cuddly toys on the sideshows. It was tiring though, so we wandered around to another favourite haunt, the garden of The Eagle Tavern, where we had a lovely rest.
We had a bit of a wander around the shops, right along the High Street. At the end we took a little walk across the bridge to look back at the castle and boats on the river, but that was as far as we got before heading back to another pub (sadly the new micropub was a bit too full every time we passed it—though I suppose that’s a good sign for business!)
The Kings Head was actually empty (maybe the fact they kept messing with the broken sound system put people off, or the lack of beer garden). The constant on/off of the sound (and it was rubbish music when on) was enough to drive us back along to the Eagle, a much more pleasant experience before home time.
The only blip was a delayed train taking us home, but we’d had such a lovely day out we didn’t mind.