A Christmas Pilgrimage

Our JWalking lifestyle seeing out 2020 and welcoming in 2021 and keeping to the guidelines has led of a few minor adjustments to the diary (understatement of the year but don’t forget we are that optimistic pair of nomads!)

Christmas Canterbury Pilgrims

It could come straight from the pages of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales – the collection of poems about an assorted bunch of individuals making a pilgrimage to the shrine to Thomas Beckett in Canterbury Cathedral. Memories of trying to decipher the language of The Wife of Bath’s Tale at secondary school still haunts me but, thanks to an excellent English teacher and hours pouring over the verses, I will take the opportunity to boast about my Grade A exam result. Our Canterbury Tale would be more along the lines of The Travellers’ Tale.

Ethelbert, King of Kent in 589, the first English monarch to convert to Christianity
Saint Bertha, Queen of Kent in 589, whose influence led to Christianity being brought to anglo-saxon England

Arriving in Medieval Canterbury on a wintery December evening felt quite magical. In fact the whole stay was a bit of a Christmas miracle but a long story. Thankfully there were no donkeys, shepherds or stables involved but Jonno did a very good impression of a Wise Man with a tea towel on his head!

By being perfectly honest that we had no other place of residence available the owners of a little townhouse agreed to rent it to us for 7 nights. Hastily bought lights, tinsel and even a tiny tinsel tree in Poundland followed by success, after a few failed attempts, finding a small turkey and we were in good shape for the big HoHoHo.

Family Christmas Roulette

Under the original Christmas Bubble guidelines we could have had a visit from our boys and their wives. I say could because, like most families, there were a lot of the should we/shouldn’t we conversations going on. With them not wanting to say they weren’t coming and us not wanting to say don’t come. Just as we were about to make the phone call saying don’t come the decision was thankfully taken out of our hands with tighter restrictions put in place. As much as we wanted to see them, it took the pressure off the decision making and risk assessing.

Our youngest son, Ryan, who lives on his own is in a support bubble with us so he was able to make his own short pilgrimage to Canterbury for Christmas Day. I think his story, being an airline Cabin Manager, is the The Aviator’s Tale – although Chaucer may have worded this as The Birdman’s Tale.

The Cathedral City

It was around 18 months ago that we had a housesit on the outskirts of Canterbury (Canterbury Tales and Trails) but we enjoyed seeing this historic city and its medieval buildings adorned with twinkling Christmas lights.

We were delighted to find that the Cathedral precinct grounds were open from 12 to 3pm daily for exercise purposes which we took advantage of. The Cathedral itself was open for private prayer and services although some of the Christmas services were on a booked basis only and despite trying to time our walks to coincide with them we never did get to hear any hymns or carols as we walked by in the adjacent streets. My very own “Wise Man” took up the mantle with an impromptu rendition of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Perfect.

Other daily walks we managed were equally scenic. Walking the City Walls and along the River Stour which links to the Great Stour Way. The Great Stour Way runs 3 miles to Chartham although a lot the path was flooded because of the biblical rain we had over the Christmas.

Like most people, this was not the Christmas we had planned and missed seeing and exchanging presents with Shaun, Katie, Sam and Tabitha but we feel so fortunate that we had somewhere to stay, eat, walk and enjoy Christmas safely with our son. My usual attitude of “glass half full” was upgraded to “glass brimming over” (maybe with Mulled Wine, Cherry Brandy and Peach Schnapps – that should be a cocktail!)

23/12 – 30/12/2020


  1. Enjoyed that, very much. Haven’t been to Canterbury for years, though it is on the priority list for when we can. Is Morelli’s (ice cream parlour) still there, outside the cathedral? Though it wouldn’t be open now, anyway, of course!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Canterbury is beautiful and so is Kent. I think Brexit border problems and pandemic figures make it sound like the last place you’d want to go to. Miss you my friend.


  2. Great news that you found some room at the inn! Equally wonderful that Ryan was with for you the big day. We had our Jack home for Christmas and that was easily the best present we could have hoped for.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry to hear that you couldn’t see your son. We were one of the lucky few who could be with loved ones. Hopefully things will improve this year. 🤞

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Not a bad place to have spent the holidays! Canterbury is such a lovely medieval town. Visited years and years ago so I’m sure it’s changed a lot, but hope it still has some of its charm left 🙂 Let’s hope 2021 is a year where we can begin to get out and visit family once again.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think your Christmas sounds lovely, there’s real Christmas spirit in the sense of togetherness, gratitude and making the best of what you have. A belated Happy New Year and all the best from me!

    Liked by 2 people

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