City Stuff: Canterbury and Dublin


We don’t get to England much and I wanted to visit my old housemaster, Alan and his wife Audrey, in Canterbury and perhaps have a beer with an old school contemporary on this trip because we had a day to spare.

We raced off the plane at Heathrow, down into the rat’s maze of tunnels between terminals, and dropped off our two enormous bags at Left Luggage. We were in the nick of time as it turned out: they ran out of room for large bags just after they took ours. A haggard looking family stepped off the elevator with a cargo-plane load as we were turned to go... leaving wails of anguish behind us, we took the underground to Charing Cross, grabbed a sandwich, phoned Alan (no line-ups at public phones as everyone in England now carries at least one cell phone), and whizzed down to Canterbury where Alan met us off the platform. We had a delightful dinner with him and Audrey. Unfortunately, we rewarded their hospitality with a social gaffe as David and wife Wendy then showed up to take us out for a beer (we’d anticipated that the several of us would wander down to the corner pub).

But we at least had a good time. David drove, and finally, just before a series of ever-narrowing lanes became a goat track, we arrived in the parking lot of the five hundred year old Red Lion pub (the date “1364” is carved into the beam over the front door). We quaffed a Spitfire and a Youngers Ale to ward off jet lag and had a great evening.


Next morning: caught the 10:08 train out of Canterbury West; picked up our bags at Heathrow and jetted off to Dublin; arrived at Dublin City University residence by about 6pm that evening; dumped our stuff in the room; headed out for the nearest pub.

It took about half an hour and couple of wrong turns to find a pub, but luckily it had a fish and chip shop almost next door. The pub was interesting, as we were possibly the only people in it who were still able to stand without assistance. We had a hurried beer and left before the fights broke out, picked up a cod a chips at the fryer and ate it with our fingers on the way back to the residences.

Lyn and I toured Dublin the next day with the “hop-on, hop off” tourist bus. Our first bus driver provided a running patter of entertainment (I had to translate for Lyn): the statue of Anna Livia (designed as a fountain, with water flowing over her shoulders) will forever in our minds as be remembered as “d’ floozy in d’ jacuzzi”.

Probably the best hop off was our first, Trinity College, to visit the Book of Kells exhibit. The worst hop off was the next: “Finlandia”, where a group of bemused tourists were shuttled about in a laughable fake "boat" accompanied by tinny sound effects from cheap speakers and entertained by actor-students who looked at once bored and embarrassed.

The rest of the week in Dublin might cryptically be described as 75 ways to describe James Joyce, who just seemed to keep popping up, but the people were marvelous and the beer excellent.