Saturday, July 26, 2014

45 Days in London: Day 33

Chittock Walk

This morning we rode a train to Kent, where we met a wonderful old Englishman, George Chittock, for a walk through the countryside. He takes the study abroad students on this walk every semester. What a grand tradition!

Our first stop was Eynsford Castle, the ruins of a medieval stone structure dating back to the eleventh century. It wasn't far from the train station, and was a great place to sit on the lawn and eat our sack lunches.

Next we walked along the river for a couple of miles. There were families splashing and playing in the river, dogs, jumping in and retrieving sticks, which made it seem like a perfect afternoon gathering spot.

We gathered at a small visitors center, then headed uphill on a loop overlooking the valley. We saw fields and fields of bright lavender in bloom, and the students rode on a zip line when we got to the top.

We picked and ate wild blackberries alongside the trail. Meanwhile George entertained us with stories of living in London during the blitz of World War II, stories of growing up playing cricket, and more.

When we completed the loop we strolled a little farther along the river and stopped at a small farm and bought lavender ice cream. Oh, my goodness! It had such subtle flavor. Just delicious! And so refreshing after our long walk.

Last, we stopped into an old parish church, and just sat in the pews for a bit. One of the students played some hymns on the piano. Then we walked through the graveyard, and back to the train station. It was the perfect day--we were surrounded by both beauty and history, and it felt great to escape the hustle of London for a walk through the countryside.

In the evening we saw the fifth of our Chinese movies, called Hero. The story is an ancient legend about the unification of the Chinese empire. Once again, there were martial arts, but this one was more choreographed, and the use of color, symbolism and design were breathtaking. The filmmaking was exquisite! I was also surprised to discover what seemed to be some strong Christian themes coming from that part of the world—particularly sacrifice and atonement.

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