We are now deep into April, which means two things; longer, sunnier and warmer days and the beginning of the Bank Holiday season! With Easter now behind us, we have May Bank Holiday weekend to look forward to; a three-day weekend which includes a Monday. What more could you ask for?
Typically, I would look to jump on a plane for a long weekend like this, but that can take real time, effort and money when you take it all into account. So, when Trainline challenged me to use their Trainline App to book myself a quick trip away within 90 minutes of my home city of London, I was keen to see what I could find. It didn’t take me long to decide on a location, somewhere that I have wanted to visit for a number of years now: the historic city of Canterbury in Kent.
The Trainline App was so easy to use; booking took seconds and it was easy to see which train times my tickets would be valid for. Even better was the live information and platform number updates which were delivered straight to my phone – no panic and no rush. I found the best price for the train, even checking out with Apple Pay. I really do think that the train travel industry has been crying out for a simple user interface like this for years.
The day trip to Canterbury was an absolute dream; within an hour I had been transported from the heart of London into the picturesque and sunny countryside. The centre of Canterbury was, understandably, fairly busy with tourists and so I took to the side streets to find a decent lunch spot. Finding solace in Café Turquoise, nestled within the terraces of Butchery Lane, a beautiful open Halloumi sandwich and cappuccino provided enough energy for the rest of the day.
While the city itself is an incredible sight, I highly recommend exploring the area just outside of your arrival spot in Canterbury West. Westgate Gardens are just a five-minute walk from the train station; an open public space that occupy the banks of the meandering river and providing the perfect spot from which to watch the world go by. You can’t get the best view of the Canterbury Cathedral from here, but there are plenty of opportunities to spy the local wildlife and get close to tulips in full bloom.
Without a care in the world- and fascinated by the tranquility of the gardens- I had been wandering up and down the river for a number of hours, but as the sun began to fall behind city in the distance, I checked my watch for the first time that day. While I most definitely wanted to stay in Canterbury for a lot longer, it was time to think about heading back to London. The Trainline App once again provided handy real-time updates on the quickest, and most direct, train to get home just in time to beat the rush hour. I would have just enough time to discover a second hidden gem though; next to Canterbury West station is The Goods Shed, a collective of local artisans and producers who open their doors to the public six days a week. It was such a friendly place and I found myself chatting to the locals over a second cup of coffee as I browsed the various meat, veg and other produced that seemed to inhabit every corner of the converted warehouse. It was the perfect spot to relax before my journey back and a lot more aesthetic than the train platform.
Keeping an eye on the live departure times through the Trainline App, I arrived on the platform with plenty of time to spare. Within an hour, I was back in the city once again, happy to have discovered somewhere so beautiful right on my doorstep. I will definitely be exploring more of the Kent in the future and when train travel is this easy, it seems like the logical way to do it!