Dover, England (August 14, 2019)

We pulled back the drapes this morning to a spectacular view of the iconic White Cliffs of Dover. These chalk cliffs run for eight miles, are 350 feet high, and have been featured in numerous movies and songs dating back to Shakespeare’s King Lear. I think of them as a sort of Statue of Liberty in this part of England in that you know you’ve arrived once they are in sight. 

Just for grins we decided to weigh in this morning. Silly idea.

We choose to spend the day exploring Leeds Castle, which dates back to 1119, and it’s magnificent gardens and stately grounds. The immense, regal castle is situated on islands in a small lake and made quite an impression as we meandered out of the gardens to find it looming in front of us. It has been occupied for nine centuries and owned by six medieval queens as well as Henry the VIII. It has obviously been well cared for with some areas renovated into totally modern spaces and others looking as they did hundreds of years ago. A fun story about the castle is that a wealthy American lady wanted to buy and improve it, but the locals said this would not be allowed because they felt it best that the owner be a local or at the very least married to a local. So, Lady Baillie dumped husband number one, found a local to marry, bought the castle in 1926, and transformed it into a magnet for the rich and famous of her time. Cue applause for this force to be reckoned with. Sidebar: Lady Baillie divorced the local and later married a Scotsman with the family name Baillie. 

We stopped briefly in Canterbury (as in Canterbury Tales) on the way back to the ship to have a brief look at the oldest (think 600) cathedral in all of the United Kingdom. It is the cathedral of the Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the Anglican Church, and years ago one of Europe’s most important pilgrimage centers. The buildings surrounding the cathedral prevent seeing it in its entirety from the outside, so once inside we were surprised by how huge and imposing it is. 

Getting to and from these two sights we drove through farmland on roads originally laid out by the Romans. Most fields were small to accommodate the rotation of cereal crops (wheat, barley, oats) that the Brits collectively refer to as corn. (What we call corn they call maize.) Hops used to be a thriving crop. We passed some former drying sheds as well as dwellings for hoppers, the laborers who harvested the hops. We got a grin out of driving through Sandwich and hearing how the Earl of that area came up with his namesake meal-between-two-pieces-of-bread.

We were a bit chilled after being out all day, so we stopped in Michael’s Club for tea and succumbed to the temptation of a scone with mounds of jam and embarrassing amounts of clotted cream. A shower and quick change had us at cocktails at 5:00 where Walter facilitated a fun guess-who-sang-this and name-that-tune quiz. A delicious multi-course dinner followed at 6:00 with a cake and singing in honor of Ronnie’s 74th birthday. Knowing this was coming, Walter had a seating arrangement with Ronnie presiding at one end of the table and his lady at the other.

Tonight’s entertainment featured a British comedian, Steve Womack, who sang beautiful, poignant songs he had written which were in sharp contrast to the laugh-out-loud jokes and stories he told. We thoroughly enjoyed him.

It’s nearly impossible to believe, but laughing seems to work up an appetite because we grabbed a snack at the buffet on our way to bed. Shame on all of us! Jelly beans and watermelon for me and jelly beans and ice cream for Dan. Why did we bother weighing in this morning? 




One thought on “Dover, England (August 14, 2019)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s