A Kentish Man

Goofing with a statue outside a tobacco shop in London

Our second stop in England was Dover, of the white cliffs and Dover Castle. As we were getting breakfast topside, looking out from the ship, all one could see was a wall of fog. While we figured this was typical of weather, we would learn that it’s not so typical of London, these days, and that once we got away from the harbor, the fog all lifted, and we were treated to a spectacular day, weather-wise.

We took the tour bus to London, about a two hour drive from the county of Kent up to London. Our tour guide was a wonderfully cheeky Londoner who kept up a steady commentary on all things of interest, with lots of interesting tidbits along the way. When we crossed a certain river along the way, whose name escapes me, we learned that men who lived south of the river were known as “Men of Kent”, whereas men who lived north of the river were called “Kentish Men”. Charles Dickens was a man of Kent, and wished only to be buried in Kent when he died. Since he was so famous, and a British treasure, they went against his wishes and insisted on burying him in, or near, Buckingham Palace.

The Tower Bridge on the Thames River, which we sailed under twice

We began with a brief tour of London, before we stopped for “Cream Tea” at a nice little bakery right in the heart of things, a couple blocks from Picadilly Square. Kathy and I sat at a table with two other couples that were married for 40 and 53 years, respectively. At 32 years, it made us feel like kids.

Due to severe knee problems, Kathy’s b een doing the tours in a wheelchair, as was the wife of the couple celebrating 40 years together. She was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, but they were looking at all alternative methods of fighting it, not wanting to subject her to the rigors of chemo and radiation.

The Tower of London, where people have been known to lose their heads

Kathy suggested I talk to them about what happened with my tumor, which I did. You never know, sometimes sharing a miracle might make someone open to a miracle. I also told them about my cowbird friend, Ray Neighbor, who survived a pancreatic cancer diagnosis for many years, when they’d told him he only had months. Sometimes, just being open to the possibility of a miracle, might allow it to happen. You never know.

After tea, we had an hour and a half to just roam on our own. We wandered over to a market place, where we had some fun shopping and goofing with statues and phone booths, when we weren’t being diverted because of security concerns over something in a trash bin.

It was clear that there was a heightened level of security in the city, after the Manchester terror attack the other day. Whitehall Avenue was closed, causing traffic to be impossibly congested all day in the city. A couple of our fellow bus tourists were a half hour late getting back to the bus, stuck in a cab trying to get back.

But, the sights of London were still pretty fabulous, as we toured around by bus to see all the major sights, and the theater district, before boarding a boat that took us up and down the Thames River, eventually leaving us in Greenwhich, home of the international date line. We were apparently right on time on arrival. There, we parted ways with our fabulous tour guide, as we boarded the bus for the two hour ride back to Dover and our ship.

White Cliffs of Dover

With the fog in Dover all burned off, we were treated to the beautiful white cliffs of Dover, and Dover Castle, high above the cliffs. Gazing out from our dinner in Palo’s fine restaurant on the ship, where I actually had some Dover sole, we enjoyed a lovely sunset over the cliffs as the ship pulled away from Dover, to sail from the English Channel into the North Sea, Amsterdam bound. We were both quite worn out from another day of touring, but most appreciative of the opportunity to do so.

Dover Castle, above the cliffs

Our waitress in Palo’s warned us about the hazards of driving in Amsterdam, and that there was lots of goings-on in the city tomorrow (now today) that could make it even worse, so we decided to bag our car rental and just whing it in Amsterdam, instead of our planned driving tour of the Dutch countryside. With everything going on, we decided that driving around ourselves today might be more stress than it’s worth.

Sun setting over Dover

We might take in the Van Gogh museum, or do a little touring around, closer to the ship. We’ve seen most of Amsterdam before, so might just take this as a day to catch our breaths and enjoy the day. That’s the great thing about being on vacation — we don’t have to be anywhere or do anything we really don’t feel like doing. So, we’ll just take Amsterdam as it comes.

Just another day on a great journey.

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