Getting Away from it in Kent

Canterbury Street Scene

By the time I reached Southern England, I was exhausted.  I wasn’t physically exhausted or anything, but my travel veins were drained dry.  It was by the time that I reached Kent that I had come to the realization that I should have included more variety in my UK travel schedule.  I was talking photos of nothing but buildings, and city after city began to start to look alike.  I found myself annoyed as often as I was inspired, something that is rare for me.

I arrived off the National Express from Victoria Square in London, dragged my bag up the hill to my hostel in Canterbury rolled into bed and just crashed.

After sleeping soundly, I hiked towards the cathedral hoping for a change in my mood.  However, it was more of the same.  I was pushing my way through groups of annoying French school kids, being bumped as I looked around, and shooting images of the inside of a building that had started to look just like all the others.  Frazzled and grumpy I decided I needed to get away.

I tossed my camera in my backpack and walked in the opposite direction, heading nowhere in particular.  When the town ended but the trail didn’t, I continued. I just kept walking until I couldn’t see the city in the background anymore.  It seemed like the farther I got from the city the more my spirits lifted.  I crossed under a railroad track and came face to face with a herd of goofy looking Highland Cows.  They couldn’t help up put a smile on my face. I laid down in the wet grass inches away from a cow with an emo haircut and took a couple pictures as I giggle to myself.

Highland cow with an emo haircut.

I found a spot on an open chunk of grass and unloaded my camera gear from my back and the bad energy from my chest that I had been packing around the past few days.  I just sat and stared off into the open countryside.

“I’m in f**king England,” I say to myself out load as I start to laugh. “I’m such a spoiled brat.”

Canterbury from the countryside

You see, when you travel 365 days a year it’s not difficult to lose the meaning, to lose your grounding.  Whereas most people have to be pinched to prove they are somewhere special, I often need a solid punch in the jaw to realize that I am living my dream.  For years I dreamed of being in the exact place I was, my entire life I thought that working as a traveller was some sort of fantasy, and I am living that fairy tale right now.

So although I didn’t spend more than 5 minutes at Canterbury’s famous cathedral, nor did I check out anything out in town, Canterbury gave me the slap across the face that I needed.

When you eat too much of the same food, you often begin to lose the taste.  When you travel too much, the same can happen.  Sometimes it just takes a moment alone in the countryside to be reminded what it feels like to explore, to discover and to be curious about the world around you.  I was reminded in Canterbury that a destination isn’t what the guidebooks or travel blogs tell you about, a destination is what you make of it.  For most people, Canterbury is about the cathedral, and the history.  For me, Canterbury is about the moment I realized that following the conventional doesn’t always work for me, I have to be my own traveller, and, most of all, sometimes I just need to wander until I’m completely lost.


Author: Brendan van Son

Author: I am a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. Over my years as a travel photographer, I have visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than I have any desire to count. If you want to improve your skills, be sure to check out my travel photography channel on Youtube . Also, check out my profile on . to learn a little bit more about me and my work.

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5 Comments

  1. Glad you got that slap across the face! My travels are only a couple weeks at a time, and even then I still need a swift kick in the pants when I start to get grumpy or forget where I am…

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    • @DJ – It’s really hard not to feel a bit like a jerk when you get to travel all the time… But then again, I guess we have the right to be grumpy from time to time no?

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  2. Everybody has an off day, it must be said! I hope that maybe you had time to visit the cathedral again a day later – it is truly wonderful.

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  3. I understand the travel fatigue, but I also hope you gave Canterbury another chance. There is an interactive attraction, for want of a better word, called the Canterbury Tales, that brings the Medieval history of Canterbury to life. Well worth a look!

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    • Liv, Yeah… Nothing against Canterbury at all. I thought it was lovely. I just much preferred doing things like walking out of town, and in Dover heading up to White Cliffs. Those things to me were much more satisfying than seeing yet another church 😀

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