Many remarkable people found their identities on rivers: Cleopatra on the Nile; Lewis and Clark on the Missouri; Mark Twain on the Mississippi; Jeff Bezos on the Amazon. This is the story of my 600+ mile walk along the waterways of southern England in the summer of 2014, and the remarkable people I met along the way. It is best read in chronological order, so I recommend starting with the earliest posting in the Blog Archive list in the right margin.
Walk completed August 16, 2014
Saturday, August 2, 2014
August 2, 2014 -- Day 48, Edenbridge (Tonbridge Wells)
admit to having a certain fondness for trains. (I hope Nora Too! isn’t reading
this.) When I awoke this morning to a slight drizzle outside, that sealed my
fate for the day. I decided to take the Heritage Diesel Train to Tonbridge Wells and
tour the town. Particularly, I wanted to see the high street called The
Pantiles – a highly touted block long series of commercial buildings with
overhanging eves supported by colonnades on both sides of the street. I can’t
tell you how underwhelmed I was.
did impress me, though was that the street had been converted to a walking mall
with sidewalk cafés everywhere. I wasn’t in the mood for shopping, but eating
is another story. But first I had to find out what I was looking at.
went to the tourist information office, and barely caught a walking tour of
Tonbridge Wells. The guide was excellent, explaining about the history of the
town – which grew up from nothing to become a favorite of royalty and nobility.
Everybody who was anybody wanted to be seen in Tonbridge Wells in the 17th,
18th and 19th centuries. There are expensive houses and
an old church designed by Christopher Wren. Or maybe it was Wren’s plasterer
who hand formed the church’s ceiling. Either Charles something or other or Edward
something or other designated the town as “Royal,” one of only three towns in
Britain to have such distinction. Originally, people came here to drink and
bathe in the iron-rich waters, but now they come to eat at fancy sidewalk cafes
like I did.
telephoned Dr. George and Lady Ann from a sidewalk café, but our call kept
getting dropped. I wanted to blame BT Cellnet’s cell phone service, but in a
Roayl town, that cannot have been the problem.Perhaps the problem lies with my 15 year old Motorola Timeport phone.
back at the train station there were gobs of photographers taking pictures of
old trains. Along the route, photographers lined up in the fields for a chance
to capture history. I took a few pictures of photographers, who seemed more interesting
than the trains. Imagine the photographic ruckus that would have ensued had I
put my cell phone on display.