Finally, I’m picking up the Via Francigena again – much later than I had hoped. After a long period of inactivity, I’m horribly out of shape. What’s more, I’m weighed down by some extra equipment, including a computer. Why? Because the project that should have been done many weeks ago is still hanging over me. And that means that I’ll be working in the evenings and my blog posts will be perfunctory.
Today was mostly good and sometimes great thanks to the friendliness of the people and the animals. The weather was kind to me – despite a pessimistic forecast. I waited for the cathedral to open at 9am to get my credential stamped again. It’s covered in scaffolding but everyone there is delightful. Left Canterbury via St. Augustine’s monastery and St. Martins church. Breakfast at the golf club.
Chatted with a man pruning apple trees and once again observed migrant workers picking strawberries under plastic domes.
A couple of ancient churches on the way – St. Martins is Roman (the oldest continuously used church in the English speaking world) and St. Nicholas’ in Barfrestone is a beautiful Romanesque (12th century) church. It served pilgrims on their way to Canterbury and I think I spotted a pilgrim in the extraordinary frieze above the entrance. All made of Caen stone, apparently.
As orchards gave way to arable and livestock, more entertainment was provided by the animals – sheep, long horned cattle, and prancing horses. (Also partridges but they were too quick for my camera).
I couldn’t find a place to stay in shepherdwell and I didn’t feel like testing my tent on what is forecast to be a stormy night. So I took the train to Dover, where I’ve booked two nights at the execrable “Adventure Backpackers” hostel. I might not stay the second night but I’ll leave my luggage here during the day tomorrow, when I take the train back to Shepherdswell to pick up the path again. Yes. It’s a bit of a cheat – like using a luggage forwarding service. No. I don’t care.