After about a year of anticipation, my sister and I set out on our very own Canterbury pilgrimage.
Our goal was to walk 40 miles from Rochester to Canterbury with the aid of our expert guide, Derek of Walk Awhile who custom builds walking tours through Kent. Each morning Derek packed us a lunch bag full of local bread, cheese and fruit, and gave us detailed instructions along with an ordinance survey map. Our compass got us out of a few tricky navigational errors, but on the whole we managed to find the trail. Each evening we arrived at our charming country inn accommodation where our luggage had been delivered for us. A wonderfully well-worn leather suitcase full of books on the history of the Pilgrims’ road was also provided, so we had our own travelling library that arrived at our door every night with our bags. Cori and I would highly recommend this if you’re interested in walking anywhere in Kent.
For four days my sister and I tramped across ancient track ways, chalk downs, sheep pastures, shady forests and apple orchards encountering stinging nettles, standing stones, obnoxious goats, stately homes, rivers, and country pubs. We happened across several local people on the way who were always helpful and curious about us – most of them had a relative in Toronto!
On the road we met up with the Choir of Saint Thomas Church, Toronto who are presently on their own pilgrimage. They began their journey in Canterbury and will end up singing in Westminster Abbey next week. Also on the road is Ottawa Cathedral’s exquisite choir of men and boys who I caught up with at St. Bride’s in London. Their quick thinking director, Matthew Larkin, on the spur of the moment decided to change the last piece on their programme to Handel’s coronation anthem “Zadok the Priest” in honour of the birth of the future King of Canada.
Now in London I’ve enjoyed more events of epic proportion. I cued up at the Royal Albert Hall to hear Daniel Barenboim conduct Wagner’s Die Walkure. If you are up for standing for a performance at the Proms, I’d recommend going up to the Gallery, since the sound is wonderful and you get a full view of the stage and the magnificent hall.
Our last epic undertaking was attending all three parts of Henry VI at the Globe Theatre. It’s a very gory play, and not one that gives you really any warm fuzzies at all. But it was very inspiring to witness those committed actors working their way through 6 hours of text, a great deal of physical action, fighting, singing, creating several different characters, playing percussion and dancing!
Tomorrow I am off on the train to Gloucester for Three Choirs Festival.