27 December 2010 (Monday) - Dover Castle
I woke this morning with a nagging headache and a general feeling of “bleugh!” It would be just my luck to go down with a bug on the first Xmas I’ve booked off work for years. But I suppose there are two things I can do with a bug – sulk about it, or get on with it.
So once breakfasted we set off, and twelve of us descended on
. We started off in the underground hospital. Those of us who’d been underground at Lydden Spout over the summer had tunnel flashbacks. We only got to see one level of the tunnels – we were assured the second level was being refurbished, and would be open over the summer. So a return trip is a must, and will be planned over the summer. Dover Castle
From there we had a look round the Pharos and the church, and into the gift shop where they were giving away free hot mead. That went down nicely. And then into the keep, where they had actors doing historical re-enactments. They were doing the feast of Saturnalia, where the village idiot gets to be king for the day.
There were three nominations for the role of “king for the day”. To choose a winner, the candidates had to choose a new rule which would be fair and just for the good of the land and the common folk. Alejandro blew his chances with some radical talk about the redistribution of housing. A passing nice lady made a twit of herself by saying she wanted free chocolate. The winning candidate had a winning policy: no farting on a Tuesday.
As the king of the Saturnalia, I got to lead the peasants to the dining hall. I was accompanied by a fit bird, who asked if I was on my own, or did I have a friend who might like to sit at the top table with me. She was rather taken aback when I told her there were twelve of us. So I wiped the smile of ‘er indoors TM face by choosing her to sit at the top table with me. Being King was great fun: every time I sat up, so the assembled peasants had to sit up too. They could only sit down when I said so. And I got food too, whilst the actors did their thing. In fact one of the actors complemented me on how well I was joining in.
All too soon the fun was over, and having handed back the crown, we carried on exploring round the castle. There was lots we didn’t see, and it was very cold, so having joined English Heritage we decided we’d have a return visit in the summer. Saying our goodbyes to the McDonalds contingent, eight of us made our way to the seaside for a spot of lunch. I’d heard about the Coastguard some time ago, and this pub has been on my list of “pubs to visit” for quite a while. I suppose I should really have booked in advance, but we didn’t know how long we’d be spending at the castle. The food was excellent, not cheap, but not as expensive as some places I’ve been to. But it’s not really a pub – more of a restaurant with a good bar. To be honest, for me the difference between a pub and a restaurant is that you don’t have to book in advance at a pub. That being said, I’d certainly go back.
Pausing only briefly to work out that the twenty eighth of January is not only a leap year, but also the first Saturday in February (!), we slipped in mud a few times. And having dropped some friends home, we slowly made our way back to Ashford where we popped in to see Chip & Emily and spent a pleasant hour or so eating more Xmas scoff whilst watching “Shaun the Sheep” on DVD.
And so home. Today was the first day of the Xmas break when I didn’t spend large parts of the day asleep, for which I was grateful. I get so cross that I’m so often wide awake for half the night when I should be asleep, and then waste my waking hours dozing off. I mentioned earlier that I was feeling under the weather today – I spent the evening sitting (slobbing) in front of the telly watching “Upstairs Downstairs – The Next Generation”. It’s obviously a follow-on from the original, and I liked it. Let’s just hope they make more episodes…