We’re finally out of self- isolation and have taken a few walks around Canterbury. On our first night of freedom, we celebrated with a dinner at the Café du Soleil, where the food was exceptional and our table on their terrace was right alongside the river channel.
The restaurant also has a nice dining room that’s accessed by crossing the bridge shown above. As we dined, several paddlers came along in inflatable boats. The food was outstanding and, after the sun went down, the terrace and building were illuminated with clever lighting. We found the restaurant to be very diligent about adhering to the recommended anti-COVID protocols and we felt quite safe there.
People are not required to, and don’t, wear face masks (which we do) in the streets here. Masks are required in retail stores, restaurants, and pubs but it appears that compliance is about 50%. This has prompted us to wear N95 masks in public, rather than simple surgical masks. If others aren’t going to wear their masks to help protect us, then we need to protect ourselves.
It occurred to me that an unexpected benefit of being in isolation was that we didn’t have to worry about, or even think about, what the rest of humanity was or wasn’t doing about masks and survival distancing, for two whole weeks. What a relief that was! Now that we have to do it again, I’m getting a fresh taste of what a lot of mental overhead it involves.
We took a walk down the High Street, passing first through the city walls, which go back to Roman and medieval times. Only about 50% of them remain. Westgate, shown above, is typical of the remaining constructions. The original builders, of course, never anticipated cars cruising through them or the Union Jack flying above the ramparts.
Like many High Streets, this one is pedestrianized and features Tudor timber-framed buildings, banks, souvenir shops, clothing stores, pubs, restaurants (including McDonald’s and Burger King), and a whole lot of “For Lease” signs. The virus restrictions have been hard on small businesses here, too.
Worship has been going on at the famed Canterbury Cathedral for 1,400+ years and it’s been a pilgrimage destination for almost as long. St. Augustine and Thomas Becket are but two of many historical figures associated with it.
We were disappointed to find that there’s an entrance fee of £12.50. Due to the encroachment of the buildings around it, it’s hard to even see the lower part of the Cathedral without coughing up the fee. We decided to come back to visit it on a weekday, when there should be fewer visitors.
Cathedral management has, of course, had to react to the virus with PPE requirements, timed-entry tickets, and so forth and the fee probably helps to offset these costs. In order to observe survival distancing, they’ve had to limit attendance at services. Audio guides and guided tours have been discontinued for now but live online video coverage of services is available.
Canterbury is compact and it takes no time at all to walk anywhere, which makes for a nice change from my summer suburban stay outside Washington, D.C. I’m looking forward to getting out more and learning more.
We’re still enjoying early Fall weather and the little nature reserve behind our flat. We recently saw two foxes and a Great Blue Heron there, which was very cool.