I cycled to Canterbury and back today, out of desperation to get further than half a mile from the house.
From Herne Bay, the easiest route by bike takes you out past Greenhill and over the Thanet Way. A sorry-looking ex-pub decomposes in its plot next to the dual carriageway.
You then pass up through Thornden Wood, on a road that meanders pleasantly and stops most passing drivers from picking up too much speed. This joins Hackington Road, which brings you up to Tyler Hill and, from there, the delightful drop down into Canterbury from St Stephen’s Hill.
The city centre was very quiet for lunchtime. The straw boater-ed man in his sausage van was not doing a roaring trade in sausages. Without its usual gaggle of tourists and English language students, the streets of Canterbury took on a spookily deserted air, as though the world had ended and no one had got around to telling me yet.
I cycled on some cobbles and ummed and ahhed about buying a coffee. But buying coffee was a retroactive justification for a trip that didn’t need one.
So I got back on my saddle and returned to Herne Bay. St Stephen’s Hill is less fun on the way back – particularly when a woman in the passenger seat of a Ford screams at you as they pass, in an attempt to get you to fall from your bike – but from the top, it’s downhill all the way, through the woods and fields, until the view opens out and you can see the line of blue and the offshore wind turbines of home.