Thursday, 13 September 2018

How to spend a Saturday in Canterbury

I absolutely adore my home city in Kent and whenever we've got a free weekend at home, I like to spend my Saturday in town, wandering the old city centre streets. When I moved to Canterbury in 2014 for University, I had no idea that I'd still be here 4 years later, but I guess plans just change when you end up adoring your University town. Canterbury is full of history, gorgeous architecture and every kind of independent cafe that you could ever dream of, so it's incredibly popular with holidaymakers and weekend tourists. Saturdays are busy in town, but the atmosphere is electric and there is always plenty to do if you're planning to visit the area for the day. To encourage more people to the area, I've decided to dedicate today's article to the tourist attractions, restaurants and cafes that you should visit if you come to Canterbury on a Saturday. I've spent many Saturdays in town with Stuart, our family and friends and I've grown to learn which parts of the city should be top of your must-see list.

Telephone boxes in front of the Westgate, Canterbury


Canterbury Cathedral shop in Canterbury city centre

No trip to Canterbury is complete without a visit to the Cathedral, so I recommend getting to the Cathedral gates for opening at 9am. You'll probably spend an hour at the UNESCO World Heritage site, wandering through the spectacular old building and exploring the beautiful grounds. Tickets aren't cheap at £12.50 per adult, but it's absolutely worth it as you get to visit one of the UK's oldest and best-preserved Cathedrals.

The Beaney Museum

The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge, Canterbury

On the high street you'll find The Beaney Museum, which always hosts unique art exhibitions. The exhibitions are usually always free and you can easily spend half an hour in the museum, admiring the art collection. In April we went to Quentin Blake's BFG exhibition and it was so nostalgic.

The Beaney is also where you'll find the city tourist information centre, which sells fantastic Canterbury postcards and souvenirs. If you want to take something home with you from your day out, the quality of souvenirs at The Beaney is much higher than anywhere else on the high street.

Shopping time

Shops on Burgate, Canterbury

Once you've finished at the Beaney, I'd pencil in some time for shopping. Canterbury has lots of independent gift stores and if you happen to visit near Christmas, you will find lots of unique items for your family and friends. On the old city streets near the Cathedral you'll notice the majority of the independent stores. My favourite gift store in the city is Wrapped and they have so many cute party decorations, stationary and bath products. It's one of the stores in the town that I feel so fortunate to have as they sell items that you'd normally have to order online.

Flatbreads for lunch at Canteen

I originally heard about Canteen thanks to Groupon, but their flatbreads are delicious. From caesar chicken to houmous and falafel, they sell a variety of fillings for all kinds of diets. When you're in Canterbury for the day, you must visit a one-off café for lunch and Canteen will not disappoint.

River tour in the afternoon

River tour pick up point near Westgate Gardens, Canterbury

This is something that we've never actually done as we get to walk along the River Stour whenever we like, but the river tours are incredible popular with tourists. Some of the city river tours go past the Westgate Gardens, The Marlowe Theatre and the old streets via the Cathedral. If you join a tour in the afternoon, you're bound to see lots of the city's historic buildings.

Westgate Gardens

Westgate Gardens, Canterbury

After getting a glimpse of Westgate Gardens on the boat tour, I recommend heading there for a wander in the afternoon. The Westgate Arch dominates the skys above Canterbury city centre (once you reach it, you're at the end of the high street) and adjacent to the arch is the gorgeous Westgate Gardens. In the gardens you can perch on the banks of the River Stour, amongst the colourful flowers that the garden is known for. You can watch the river tour boats go past and enjoy an ice cream on a sunny day. Stuart and I's first date actually involved spending a sunny afternoon in Westgate Gardens.

Westgate Towers Museum and Viewpoint

Westgate Towers Museum, Canterbury

This is top of my list of things that I'm still yet to experience in the city, but for £4 an adult you can go up the top of the Westgate Towers and see Canterbury from above. This is very affordable given that the Westgate Towers is one of Canterbury's major attractions. It makes sense to pop into the museum on your way back from the gardens, before you head back into the centre of town for a cup of tea; this is Canterbury after all!

Tea and cake at Alice and the Hatter

Animated door handles at Alice and the Hatter, Canterbury

In the late afternoon, make sure you stop at a tearoom for cake. Alice and the Hatter provides you with a unique afternoon tea experience as the whole place takes inspiration from Lewis Carrol's iconic books. There are lots of weird and wonderful flavoured slices of cake and an expansive variety of teas, so it's certainly the place to visit if you'd like try something new. Alternatively if Wonderland is not your cup of tea, head to Tiny Tim's for classic scones or the Chocolate Cafe for waffles.

After tea, you'll probably have seen enough of the city for one day. There are other places to visit such as Dane John Gardens, the Marlowe Theatre and Canterbury Roman Museum, but why cram them all into the remainder of your day in the city, when you could easily come back another weekend? One day is simply not enough to experience the whole of Canterbury.

Have you ever been to Canterbury? How did you spend your time in the city?

Thanks for reading my blog today.


Thursday, 6 September 2018

Traditional British food in Canterbury

When Kirsten first arrived in the UK, she came to stay with us in Canterbury for a few days. I was at work until the end of the week, but I was at least able to show her around our home city in the evenings. On her first night here we wanted to take to her a restaurant that is typically British, as we couldn't have her eat any other food than a roast dinner or pie and mash as her first meal in the UK. Luckily we remembered 'The Old Weavers' restaurant in town, which is situated in one of the high street's oldest buildings. It's black and white fronted and located right next to the River Stour, and the restaurant has an outdoor seating area which overlooks the river. We booked a table for 6:45pm on the Wednesday that she arrived, but fortunately for us the restaurant was quite flexible and we could get an outside table a little earlier than that.

We were sat at one of the tables overlooking the river and the view was spectacular. Whilst we were choosing our food and waiting for it to arrive, we really enjoyed catching up with Kirsten and people watching all of the tourists that were stopping to get photos of the River Stour. On the menu there were lots of classic British favourites such as roast dinners, pies and stuffed Yorkshire puddings. Stuart and I went for roast dinners and Kirsten chose a stuffed yorkshire.

When the food arrived, there was so much of it. I had a vegetable tart as a meat alternative and we each got a bowl of vegetables with our meals, which had the most delicious roast potatoes inside. Normally I don't have roast dinners out as I'm a firm believer in the fact that they aren't as good as home cooked roasts, but my meal at The Old Weavers was fantastic. The vegetables were cooked so well that I'd honestly have been happy with a big bowl of veg for dinner. Stuart and Kirsten really enjoyed their meals too and Kirsten was thrilled to have found Yorkshire puddings so early on in her UK trip.

We didn't stay for dessert as we wanted to catch the second half of our World Cup semi-final at a local pub, but we were certainly full enough after our mains. The Old Weavers sells British comfort food in a historic city building at a fair price (£10-15 a main). It's the perfect place to take visitors to city who want to eat good British food and experience Canterbury's heritage.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time at The Old Weavers and we'll definitely take friends or family that are visiting us there again soon. It's a really special independent restaurant in the city!

Have you ever been to Canterbury? What did you think of the city?

Thanks for reading my blog today.


Thursday, 30 August 2018

Punting in Cambridge

In July I ended up going to Cambridge twice. The first time was with Kirsten during my week off and the second time was for my friend Sophie's Hen Party. On both occasions I ended up going punting, which is one of the most popular tourist activities in the city. You can either 'self-punt' and go out on the River Cam on your own, or you can have a tour guide who will steer the boat for you. The first option is the cheapest one, but then self punting isn’t such a relaxing experience. The guided tours are more formal, but then you don't have to actually put the leg work in yourselves. Both experiences were entirely different and in today's post I'm going to talk about why punting should be top of your to-do list when you visit Cambridge.

Clare Bridge from the River Cam

It’s the perfect activity for groups.

Arriving back at Scudamore's Boatyard after 2 hours of punting on the River Cam

Self-punt boats take up to 6 people and guided boats can take 10. Given that you pay a fee for the boat, it’s a more affordable tourist activity for groups. It’s also a lot of fun when you’re on a boat with friends as you can all take turns punting and steering the boat.

You get a fantastic view of the University colleges.

King's College, Cambridge

There are two routes that you can take when you’re punting and the most popular route is the University Colleges one. You get to travel past many of the Colleges which overlook the River Cam, including the majestic Kings. The view of the Colleges is spectacular and it’s one of the reasons why I always say yes to going punting when I’m in Cambridge. The river is such a great place to take University photos from, as you get a much greater sense of the scale of the Colleges from the water.

It’s a totally unique way to see the city.

Kat and Kirsten punting on the River Cam

Normally when you’re sightseeing you can either walk around a city, take a tour bus or travel by tram. Punting boats are much more exciting than this as you can enjoy a fun activity at the same time as touring the city.

Cambridge is such a great place to visit and punting is something that you should definitely consider doing whilst you’re in the city. If you’re going with a big group I definitely recommend booking a time slot, but it’s not necessary to do this if you’re prepared to self-punt as smaller groups.

Have you ever been to Cambridge? What are your favourite things to do in the city?

Thanks for reading my blog today.


Thursday, 23 August 2018

5 things to do in Greenwich

If you want to spend a day in London but not head to the busy spots in the center of the city, I highly recommend heading to Greenwich for the day. Greenwich is famous for its maritime history and it's key role in modern day timekeeping, and there are plenty of interesting places to visit in the area. From the Queen's House to the National Maritime Museum, you will easily be able to spend a day in this corner of the city. Greenwich is accessible by DLR (Cutty Sark stop) and if you're prepared to drive to the edge of London, travelling across to Greenwich using a Contactless or Oyster card is very affordable. Combined with the fact that most of the tourist attractions are free in the area, a trip to Greenwich can be an extremely inexpensive day out. Now let's get onto my recommendations of things to do in the area.

Architecture in Greenwich, London

1. Go shopping at Greenwich Market.

Movie Mats stall at Greenwich Market, London

If you're a foodie, definitely head to Greenwich Market. For a relatively small market, there are lots of different lunch options that you wouldn't be able to get from a generic cafe. There are also plenty of gift stalls that sell art and unique handmade items. On a recent trip I came across Movie Mats: a stall which sells drinks coasters that contain snippets of original film reels. The coasters are really unique and ideal for presents. If you head to Greenwich Market before Christmas, who knows what goodies you'll find for your family and friends.

2. Go and see the Cutty Sark.

The Cutty Sark ship and The Gipsy Moth pub in Greenwich, London

It's expensive to go inside the Cutty Sark at £12.15 each (online price) so we've never actually gone inside, but I definitely recommend going to see the outside of the historic boat whilst you're in Greenwich. The boat is located next to the Thames and at the edge of Greenwich's historic maritime area, which is literally footsteps from the DLR station that you should arrive at. The boat is nearly 150 years old, so it's a really spectacular sight to see if you're a fan of maritime history.

3. Visit The Queen's House.

Kat Last visiting The Queen's House in Greenwich, London

The Queen's House is located next door to the National Maritime Museum and it's completely free to go inside. For a royal location this is absolutely amazing and there is so much historic artwork to see as you wander around the 17th century building.

4. Have a picnic in Greenwich Park.

Greenwich Park, London

Greenwich Park is absolutely beautiful in the Summer. The park is surrounded by the Old Naval College and the Queen's House, so it's set back from the busyness of central Greenwich and it's a relatively peaceful spot to visit in London. We took sandwiches and snacks with us when we last visited the area so that we could have a mini picnic in the park. It was a great place to sit and have lunch as there is just so much history to look at in the park.

5. Visit the Royal Observatory.

The Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London

This is where you can learn about timekeeping and navigation. You can find the Meridian Line inside the museum where you can place a foot in the Eastern and Western hemispheres, but as I said in my free things to do in London post, there is a section of the line outside the Museum gates where you can do exactly the same thing. If you're interested in learning about how GMT and world time works I definitely recommend paying the £13.50 to go inside the museum though.

Greenwich is such a fascinating place to visit that is full of maritime history. If you're staying in London for a while, try and keep a day free for sightseeing in Greenwich. It's on a totally different side of London to the main tourist sights, so you'll want to pencil in some time to see Greenwich on its own.

Thanks for reading my blog today.