sandwich? no, i had roast chicken…

It feels odd to say it, and surprisingly comforting. “I have family in England.” While I’ve always known my aunt and her daughter live here, somehow it always felt like we were the last bastion of Hack’s way out in Australia as most of my grandfather’s brothers died in the war. On the contrary, there’s my aunt, her daughter (plus hubby & 6 step-kids), a variety of great aunts and uncles, and then no doubt hoards of relations on my mother’s side we know nothing about. A bit round about, sorry, anyway, I got up very early to visit my cousin Ann for the weekend. She lives in Sandwich. I departed from a Waterloo shrouded by the misty grey predawn, the streets of London passing into romantic hills with a quality to the light I’d only seen in paintings and never believed.

I highly recommend a trip to Sandwich. Old, full of history, peculiar street names, beautiful churches, lovely people.

I didn’t see any ghosts……but someone must haveAnn’s house is opposite these beautiful windows

We met, my cousin Ann and I, like old friends, outside Canterbury station and spent the day wandering round that beautiful old town. I’d been there 20 years before but it was nothing like I remembered, although I’m sure it hasn’t changed. The cathedral is stunning, we lunched magnificently in the cafe above the organic food store, hidden away in a back street (must find the Brixton equivalent), and joyously joined in with the exuberant energy of an African vocal/dance group performing in the Canterbury Festival. Splendid!

Part of the majestic Canterbury CathedralA slice of Africa in Canterbury

Then back to Sandwich, where Anne and Barry live in a gloriously renovated brewery opposite a sublime church. Attended an excellent choral concert of contemporary works (a real treat) at one of the other churches in Sandwich, and the next day took the grand tour round the town and met one of Barry’s sons. Thoroughly looked after on all fronts!

The most special part of the weekend was visiting my aunt. I have only seen her on two other occasions – once during a family trip to the UK aged 14 and then 2 years later at a reunion in Australia (she arrived in the UK at 17 not long before war broke out, married and stayed). My Aunty Dot still lives in the same house and as she opened the door it was as if my deceased grandmother was standing there smiling at me. Such a strange feeling! The darling woman then took be back to my childhood again, having prepared an afternoon tea feast I haven’t seen the likes of since the big regular Sunday roasts at grandma’s all those years ago. Magic.

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