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Serendipity: Kent Battle of Britain Museum and The Cat and the Custard Pot

On August 1, 2009

We set out from Canterbury with Pawley Cider and store bought lunch sandwiches in our hands and the Kent Battle of Britain Museum in our sights. Unfortunately, the Museum is closed on Mondays so we travelled up the road to find a place to chow down and cider up. We discovered – at a bend in the road – the small Paddlesworth church and a promising pub. As sometimes happens when I hear the call of a sandwich and cider, pictures of the church were neglected but you can find a couple of good ones at Jenny Woolf’s blog, The Part Time Travel Writer.

After cider straight from the bottle, a cheese sandwich with tomatoes and a quick nap in the car, we were away to the pub which was just across from the church. Even the proprietors of The Cat and Custard Poy aren’t quite sure from whence it received its odd name; there is some talk of a red lion and a sign that was more cat than king of the jungle but no matter the provenance of the name, the pub is another of those serendipitous discoveries that was made only because something else didn’t work out.

cat-custard-hawkinge

It was after lunch and an hour or so until the pub’s afternoon closing to prepare for dinner when we walked in; only a couple of people lingered near the bar. Having a half drunk bottle of cider in the car, I had no need of a beer but was delighted to discover that C&C served once of the Empire’s greatest contributions to civilization: treacle and sponge. With the sponge ordered we settled in the back room where my travelling companion was delighted to discover a game not seen since her youth: bar billiards. The game is sort of like a pinball machine without any electronics and we spent about half an hour enjoying its simple pleasures. The treacle sponge arrived through a sliding door at the back of the room and just hit the sweet spot left by my sandwich and cider.

After the rigors of almost beating my friend in bar billiards, I was ready for some brew (the half empty cider bottle in the car now notwithstanding) and we repaired to a table in the main pub room to have a quick pint before afternoon closing. We chatted over our glasses in an atmosphere that was everything a “local” should be on a Monday mid-afternoon – friendly but not vying for attention, quiet except for the occasional murmur of the probably long married couple across from us who were doing crosswords.

We paused a few minutes on our way out to inspect the World War II memorabilia scattered about the walls and ceilings (a nicely done small hanging collection of period aircraft) and exited to continue a leisurely drive toward Folkestone (I can write that because I never drive).

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