We are off on a little mini break – some sweet time with the misuses minus the kids. We like exploring different parts of the country from time to time, so I suggested we check out Canterbury, partly because it gave me an excuse to reread Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and also because I wanted to visit a few other places that have been etched in my memory since studying military history at West Point. One of those being battlefield at Hastings.

I’ve been living in and out of hotels since January this year, so Friday night I had to drive home from Essex, unpack my bags, do my laundry, and repack for our 5 day mini break. I know I am a last minute kind of guy and this was about as last minute as you can get! All good though, we weren’t under any time pressures really i.e. no planes, buses, or trains to catch. Our last couple of trips together have been ‘let’s make it up as we go along’ trips. So this was no different in that respect. We had a general destination of Canterbury. The rest we would make up.

We set off at a reasonable time on Saturday morning. We thought the roads would be packed full of cars considering it is a Bank Holiday weekend. But actually, the motorways were fairly clear. We made good time down to Folkestone, which was going to serve as our base of operations for the trip. We would have stayed in Cantebury, but all the hotels and B&B’s were booked. Instead, Ruth found a spartan little B&B in Folkestone called the Rob Roy run by an old couple named Sue and Alan. It’s about a mile away from the town center on the A260. Not the most picturesque place, but we didn’t plan on spending much time there anyway, apart from sleeping.

We picked up a bunch of leaflets from the tourist information center as soon as we arrived in town. I hadn’t realized how much there is to see around the Kent Downs. We decided to spend the rest of Saturday kicking around Folkestone. Now I don’t know if it’s just me, but it seems that in the area of Folkestone where we are staying, all the locals look like they got a bit of sea-dog in them. A fall out from being a harbor town I guess.

We set out to explore Folkestone by bike. A quick flick through the leaflets and we found a place that looked interesting – The Lower Leas Coastal Park. We could take in some sea and woodlands. Apparently, landslips in 1784 created the park’s basic formation and then in 1829 some enterprising nobleman decided he could make some cash, so he built a toll road to provide an “easy” route between the harbor and and the town of Sandgate. The park has evolved since then as a place for people to come and relax underneath the shade of pines, holm oaks and sycamore trees, or to lie out on the pebbled beach.

We cycled at a leisurely pace through the park stopping at several landmarks like the Leas Lift, which is the second oldest water powered lift in Britain, and the Zig Zag Path, which was built in 1921 as a new attraction and to provide work for the unemployed.

Beneath the Zig Zag Path is an amphitheater. I don’t know if it used for shows or anything, but it provided a nice grassy area to lie down on and take in some sun. We cycled through the park and onto Sandgate before turning around and finding a route back to Folkestone. It was nice to be next to the sea, rolling along watching people and ducking from seagulls.

In the evening, after we recovered from our ride, we found a nice all you can eat Chinese buffet called Kalala. The service was quick, the staff friendly, and the food was delicious, what more could you ask for from a buffet. After dinner, we were both pretty beat, so we headed back to the B&B to call it a day, play a few games and then hit the rack. End of day one.

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