Sunday, December 07, 2008
What the Dickens?
Sorry still no crafty stuff to share - I havent had time to do much unless you count attempting to change the date on 30 odd Save the Date cards now that Wayne and Laura have reset the wedding venue and date.
But lots has been happening anyway.
Eversince the girls were babies, mum and I have have had a day out on our own Christmas shopping. When small, we left dad with the kids for the day, and would go to some town that we never usually shopped in, have coffee and lunch out, lots of girlie chat, and get most if not all of our christmas presents together.
This year, we have managed to get all but a few oddments online, (good old Amazon and play) so it didnt look like we would get our day out. With all the pressure of shopping out the way I wanted to enjoy all the christmas and seasonal events though.
Living in South East Kent part of its call to fame is that Charles Dicken's was born, wrote and set most of his books in the local area, and to celebrate one of the christmas events is a full Dicken's day festival held in Rochester. Martin and I took the girls once but it was soooo very crowded, along very narrow streets, plus the snow machine had broken down and we were too little to see anything, so Martin was reluctant to go again. This year I was determined though, even though I couldnt persuade anyone else other than mum to come too.
So a bit more organised I downloaded the program of the day's events and off we set. Wanting to get just one or two more presents we decided to stop in Chatham rather than Rochester and walk from there - I used to go to school in Chatham and we walked to Rochester cathedral for our Carol concert so I was sure I remembered it as not very far. We managed to park next to the pentagon shopping centre, and the only blip was that we fed enough money into the parking machine for five hours only to recieve a ticket for 1 hour. It cost a bit more for another ticket but with that sorted, and our Chatham shopping done we set off for the festival.
It was further than I remembered, maybe because we hadnt been able to park nearer (free bays having been changed to permits only) or maybe because I was remembering the distance through many years but despite that the weather was crisp and sunny, mum and I laughed as we walked and soon arrived. We headed off to find somewhere to eat. There were lots of street vendors selling soup, hotdogs, and burgers, even one doing noodles and chinese but we wanted our traditional meal out. Trouble was everywhere was full to capacity. We managed to get into the Gordan Hotel though were we enjoyed a full roast dinner and blackberry jam sponge with custard. It took a while as the kitchen originally lost our order but it was very yummy.
We then spend a few hours wandering in and out of the craft and antique shops that abound in Rochester, listened to the hand bell ringers, sang with the chimney sweeps and then stood in the crowd to watch the lamplight procession of those dressed in full Dicken's costumes, Mr Bumble, Christmas past and present, dog catchers, lamplighters, rich gentlemen and fine ladies. There was a very large crowd huddled together in the narrow highstreet, but there was a huge comeraderie, and we all chatted and joked to complete strangers as we waited.
The stewards handed out carol sheets and then the crowd surged towards the catherdral where the Carol singing took place. The snow machine threw mock blizzards at us, the lights sparkled, huge screens also showed up the words to the songs. The 'Dicken's characters' led us in the singing and took the descant parts. It was really wonderful .... except by this time poor mum, who suffers from poor circulation in her legs, was in some discomfort from cramp/pins and needles and needed to sit down. So we had to leave before the end, and caught the bus back to the car.