The World Photo Tour with one of the last UK updates.
It strikes me sometimes at how obvious it is some of the ones I meet, how easy they find it to look into me and get their answers to question I didn’t ever hear from them. Although I try to keep myself as jolly as possible, some people I’ve met had the power to look into me like in a clear lighten room, picking up whatever pieces of feelings they want to put their hands on. One such person was Nicki, who’s letter I’ve read as I came downhill from her house in Shoreham in a beautiful spring morning, the very first spring day on my walk so far, warmed my heart. With a tear in a corner of my left eye and a calm smile, I walked, mainly thinking of how silly I was not to take a picture of Nicki and Mark together. I’ll have another go at that in Australia, though, where I hope to meet them two and their lovely family again. To Nicki: the weight on my shoulders comes in as being highly variable, so it’s not all gloomy and dark. :) But yes, it still hurts, at points. It forever will, probably, every now and then.
From Shoreham I headed towards Maidstone, with the intention of camping somewhere around half-way through to Canterbury. And witnessing Kent’s beauty on a day like that was amazing. My first stop was in Kemsing, where, at the local Heritage Centre, I enjoyed the willingness and kindness of the ladies there, as they were patient enough to answer all my curiosities. About The Bomb Alley, about the former youth hostel in the village, about the first passenger flight over the British Channel. Thus, I found out that it was in 1910 when Moisant, on board of his aircraft with his engineer and his cat crushed in Kemsing, which was a great deal of a story at the time as people gathered from miles away to witness the amazing scene of the machine that fell from the sky. At the time, this was a huge sensation! And no wonder! The owner of the land which was the crash site must’ve been very happy, as he quickly covered the remains of the aircraft with a big tent, charging anyone 2p for a ‘visit’. Besides old coins and other relics, on top of the family tree files going back for centuries, there lies the propeller of that first daring passenger flight over the Channel.
Two more interesting things from that day: I saw some oast houses, where they use(d) to dry the hops which beer is brewed from; and one more thing: towards the M26/M20 junction, near Wrotham, you could actually see pollution. Otherwise, a beautiful Kent village, the people I’ve met there being very kind and at the same time interested in the weird walking the world guy story.
After a night in the tent, I’ve set off to Canterbury. That day was cruel. Both physically and psychologically. I felt the tension growing in me. The voices I always fought well with. This time louder. You cannot do this! Stop! You will fail! You miss so many things! You won’t be able to cope with it pretty soon! All the time while still walking, one step at a time. Me? Silent. I let the voices speak themselves every now and then. It probably has to do with the fact that I’m close to leaving the UK. I was in my comfort zone here. Entering France, soon, the first country where I know absolutely no-one. On top of that, I’ll struggle a bit with the language as well. So yes, these voices come and go, but sometimes it’s everything I hear. I sometimes reply. I sometimes ignore them. I sometimes have entire conversations with me. With all the many me’s. But at the end we all agree we must walk.
Once in Canterbury, I reached Claudia’s place at a student house. Romanian students. All of them. Yeeey! Hardly had any sleep, working late at night, but I woke up early to get a hold of the street level spectacle. And a place like Canterbury could have only offer me rewards. Starting with what’s described as the oldest school in England – King’s School, established by St. Augustine (the one who brought Christianity to England) shortly after he arrived in Canterbury in 597. And then the impressive Canterbury Cathedral – dating back from thee same year of St. Augustin’s arrival.
And then the real spectacle of street life. And it was on the street where I’ve met Rob Wicks, playing his Westword Riding. And later Luka, a polish guy from San Francisco, travelling the world playing his Australian didgeridoo.
Luka did not let me go until he gave me a 1977 stamp from Iraq, which he got from someone who got it from someone else and so on. Must say, that stamp travelled a lot! And Luka would probably glad to hear that the stamp is no longer with me already, took a quick turn left on a journey of its own, as I passed it forward to Roberto, one of the Romanians I’m staying with while in Canterbury.
Oh, I almost forgot. A special mention on this post goes to Shaun Vincent, of Canterbury Camera Centre, who was kind enough to clean my camera sensor for free. I got tired of editing out some dust (probably even dirt) spots which became more and more obvious on higher apertures such as f/22. Thanks, Shaun!
France is so close now. 16 miles to Dover, then off to Calais on a ferry. Tomorrow. Until then, two specials on The World Photo Tour so far will soon follow. Stay tuned and don’t forget to like, share, support!