Summer of 2018, I had an internship at a small digital marketing agency and it drained the life out of me. I wanted a break from the mind-numbingly repetitive nine-to-five schedule, so I booked a weekend getaway to see the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.
I’ve always wanted to go to one of these things. The bright colours? The clear skies? The physics magic?? What’s not to love?!
The obvious answer is capitalism. It was a tiny bit annoying that most of the balloons were advertising a business venture or other – I wanted to get away from marketing, not to immerse myself in it again!
Also, Bristol in early August is cold. Having lived in the UK for as long as I have, I should have known to bring something warmer than my raincoat.
I had a fun and glorious time, regardless! Bristol was full of history, culture, and delicious local-style food.
Notes: Today’s #PhotographFriday was taken using a Canon EOS Kiss X7 camera on the 11th of August, 2018 at Ashton Court Estate in Bristol, England.
I love a good castle. I’ve been told that I must have been a vampire in a previous life with how obsessed I am with them.I’m also interest in all things Gothic – literature, architecture, the fashion aesthetic… you name it, I have at the very least a passing interest in it.There’s something amazing about the romanticism of it all.
I envy you your peace of mind, your clean conscience, your unpolluted memory. Little girl, a memory without blot of contamination must be an exquisite treasure-an inexhaustible source of pure refreshment: is it not?
Mr Rochester, from Charlotte Brontë’s ‘Jane Eyre’
For a book I’ve only read once as a teenager in high school, I seem to quote – or at the very least allude to – Jane Eyre a lot. Every time I say “Readers, I…” in a post or a tweet, my mind automatically recalls Jane confessing “Reader, I married him” because, quite frankly, how much BDE is that?! This governess turned lover turned wife married the guy and not the other way around.
Anyway, this post isn’t about Jane Eyre (though I might re-read it in the future, now that I’m reminded of how I’ve only read it once). This post is about this little historic town in the northern parts of Kent, England.
LiberaTarts Visits Rochester, Not Mr Rochester (Part 1)
I’ve said this once and I’ll say it again – I have an English Heritage membership, and so it’s a personal hobby of mine to visit as many places as my budget and time allow. I’ve been to Battle Abbey in Sussex, Stonehenge in Wiltshire and a lot more places in Kent as that is where I live.
Last August, in the height of summer and during record-breaking temperature highs for England, my brother and I chose to visit Rochester on a rainy, overcast day. We had fun, don’t get me wrong, but the rain literally put a damper on our trip… I did return to Rochester two months later to meet up with a friend, and just like last time, it rained as well!
Anyway, here are three things I knew about Rochester before arriving:
University of Kent students based in the Medway campus graduate in Rochester Cathedral, which is quite unfair really when you consider that students based in Canterbury get to graduate in Canterbury Cathedral. Both have Gothic style architecture, but Canterbury Cathedral has a more striking silhouette.
Rochester Castle hosted open-air cinemas on the regular, though unfortunately, I have not had the pleasure of experiencing it (yet!).
It’s part of the Medway Towns where a few towns located relatively close to each other form a large urban area that isn’t quite a city.
How to Get to Rochester
It’s very easy to get to Rochester using public transportation; it has brilliant rail links from London (if you flew into any of the London airports) or Dover (if you took the ferry from France). It also has a fairly comprehensive local bus system, so you can simply hop on an Arriva bus if you’re staying in the Kent area.
There’s also the ‘driving a car’ option, but I try not to give that too much thought as I can’t drive and I have no plans to learn in the future.
The only thing left behind of this really, really old castle is its fortified tower called a keep, which was built in the early 12th century. It has survived three sieges and, as is typical with castles and modernity, it became useless and ultimately became a tourist attraction for history nerds like me.
Rochester Castle is not access friendly as it has a lot of stairs and no lift facilities, and the corridors are also very narrow; there were awkward “after you”s and “excuse me”s uttered as you wander around.
Entrance to the keep is usually 10 a.m until 4 p.m. though it varies depending on the season. Tickets also cost £6.40 for an adult and £4 for students – yay concessions pricing.
All in all, Rochester Castle was a fun little place to visit. If anything else, you can get a wonderful view of the Cathedral from level two onwards!
Keep an eye out for Part 2 of the Rochester series! This little day trip included a visit to Temple Manor, Rochester Guildhall Museum, and the largest second-hand bookshop in England.
I was born and raised in the Philippines, moved to the UK and became a British citizen, before moving back and forth between the two countries like a yo-yo. I also took a Migration and Belonging module at university, yet I still don’t understand how to categorize my situation.
Anyway, here are some habits that I personally ascribe to either identity.
3 Filipino Mannerisms I Refuse To Shake
Using the tsinelas
I can’t help it! I can’t subscribe to the idea of using shoes you wear constantly outdoors indoors. I also don’t understand the concept of walking around barefoot at home – I don’t care if the entirety of your house is carpeted and, frankly, using a fluffy slipper is weird AF when it’s not Christmastime.
Also, what do you do when you just got out of the shower? Track your wet feet along a carpet that outdoor shoes may or may not have tread across, or dare to get your fluffy slipper wet?
Eating rice… all the time
It’s not a proper meal without rice.
– me to my friends, on more than one occasion
I can have rice for breakfast: egg fried rice with bacon lardons and random vegetables I feel like eating.
I can have rice for lunch: rice and oven-roasted pork with a side of green beans.
I can even have rice for dinner: rice and peppered mackerel, on its own because there’s only so much vegetable consumption I can tolerate.
Listening to OPM
Look, I like The Beatles and Adele and Andrew Lloyd Webber as much as the next person, but nothing beats the heart-wrenching soul-filled crooning belters by Regine Velasquez, Rivermaya, and Ice Seguerra (formerly known as Aiza Seguerra, just FYI).
Not gonna lie though, I might be ageing myself with the Filipino artists I’ve chosen because I have not chosen any young, popular acts from this decade.
2 British Habits I’ve Learned To Love
Drinking tea at any given opportunity
Would you believe I only started to love drinking English tea this autumn? I adore Japanese matcha, but…. black teas, green teas? Nope, not having any!
That is until I tried Earl Grey and fell in love. I have two packs of Twinings Earl Grey in the kitchen cupboard and I’m bringing them with me to China somehow. (Yes, I do understand the irony of bringing British tea to China… where tea originates from.)
Had a good day? Celebrate with tea.
A terrible day at work? Cheer yourself up with tea.
Bored at home? Make some tea.
A good queue
Bus queue. ATM queue. Netflix queue. British people like to queue and so do I.
It takes the stress out of constantly wondering “is it my turn yet?” and it provides a practical way doing things – at the very least you can easily get through a queue if you wish to cross into the other side. Not so much with a crowd of non-queuers.
1 Thing That Can Be Both
Given the state of British politics – Brexit, anyone? – and what seems to be the inherent need to follow the norm, the act of complaining is a habit that is pervasive in both cultures. Or at the very least, it’s what I’ve noticed as I lived in both England and the Philippines: I can’t count the number of times I’ve overheard someone halfheartedly complaining about the weather or wholeheartedly expressing their frustration about a late bus. The feeling is universal, and you can fight me on this.
I complain all the time. And whether its a British thing or a Filipino thing or even just a Me Thing? Well, it’s arguable.
Chime in like Brendon Urie: Do any of these things ring true with you? Let me know in the comments!
If I retained anything from my English History lessons back in secondary school, it was that Henry VIII had six wives (not all at the same time, of course) and that the Normans successfully invaded England in 1066. Also involved were some really impressive weavers who created the Bayeux Tapestry, the Anglo-Saxon King at the time called Harold Godwinson (more like God-lose-son, ha!), and this really lucky person who managed to shoot him square in the eye.
Man, do I love history.
I could hardly make sense of the whos and whys, but I have to admire the sheer wonder of history’s narrative capabilities. Game of Thrones, eat your heart out!
Dear readers, I must confess to a secret passion for history.
Anyway, to the point of this post: I’m starting a retrospective on the various English Heritage sites I’ve visited, and perhaps even sites I want to visit in the future. And where better to start than the lovely battle site of what must have been a very gruesome invasion.
I mean, what kind of battle wouldn’t be at the very least a little bloody? And on that note… Happy Halloween, everybody! Just in case I forget to post anything on the 31st.
LiberaTarts Goes to Battle… Abbey
I went to East Sussex with my younger brother. We took a very early train from Kent* and arrived at Battle Station only to realise that the Abbey was still half a mile away, so we took our phones out and opened the Pokemon GO app – this day trip happened during that one peaceful summer in 2016, back when everyone spent every waking moment trying to catch ’em all.
*A personal rule of mine is to always arrive at your destination before 10 am, otherwise I feel like you won’t have enough time to explore the area to your heart’s content. You can always leave early, but you can’t really overstay your welcome when it comes to day trips.
We arrive in the town centre and honestly, you cannot miss the entrance to the Abbey. It costs about £12 for an adult ticket (or £11 for a student, which I was at a time), but I’m a history nerd and I had an English Heritage membership that gave me free, unlimited access to English Heritage sites across the country. What a time to be alive… I had free entry and Pokemon GO.
I would love to visit again, but alas it can’t be anytime soon because I’m scheduled to leave for China within the week! With any luck, I might be able to return during an anniversary of the Battle (on the 14th of October, 1066).
Over to you guys: Do you think an English Heritage membership is worth it? Let me know, drop me a line, send a carrier pigeon.