Whilst visiting home for the summer, I took a couple of trips to the beautiful medieval city of Canterbury.
Despite being targeted for its beauty and cultural significance during the "Baedeker Blitzes" of WWII, it has managed to retain a wonderful hotchpotch of architectural styles that lends the city a healthy dose of character.
Lately, Michele and I have been debating the relative merits of Exeter (where we live now) and Canterbury (with me being firmly in the camp of the latter city) so whilst we were in the area, I thought I'd drag him around to prove my point...
We started off on one of my favourite streets which boasts a lovely old Waterstones complete with creaky floors and Roman ruins, one of the best fish and chip shops you'll ever find and my favourite tearoom ever, Tiny Tim's, who serve up freshly-baked scones the size of a grown man's fist.
Next, we looped over to the other side of the high street and began to walk down the (slightly) quieter roads that lead down to the Cathedral. We passed churches and pavement cafes still revelling in the last snatches of summer.
Unfortunately, you have to pay if you want to get any closer to the Cathedral than that^ although its impressive heights can be viewed against the skyline from various points around the city.
And besides, there's plenty more to see in this vibrant and colourful city!
A trip to Canterbury also wouldn't be complete without a trip to the Chocolate Cafe where you can satisfy your chocoholic cravings to your heart's delight (I inevitably end up drinking cups of melted chocolate...)
But we didn't have much time and I was on a mission! To the parks we marched...
There are plenty of signposts pointing you in the direction of various sights and landmarks but failing that (and failing Google maps), a good rule of thumb is to find a river or stream and follow it. Most of the parks in the city are wrapped around a body of water and are perfect for lazing beside with summer picnics or wrapping up warm and taking a stroll along in the colder months.
It's not bad for a bit of dream house spotting either!
My favourite park though is completely tucked away from sight. The Greyfriar's Chapel and Franciscan Gardens can be observed across the river from another little park tucked down the side of the picturesque Heritage Museum.
We could see people walking around and children playing in the gorgeous old gardens surrounding the Chapel and began to pace around the streets, searching for a way in. Eventually we found the entrance, sitting inconspicuously opposite the Old Brewery Tavern and barely signposted at all. In fact, it looked like we were wandering into somebody's private gardens...
The site played home to the first Franciscan monastery in England, the Chapel being the only remaining part that still stands today. Although the monastery was disbanded by Henry VIII, today monks live in nearby cottages and worship in the Chapel.
There's something about this city that will always be inherently and eternally beautiful to me, more so than any other in England. I think Michele's going to have a hard time convincing me otherwise!