I am glad to leave the crammed city of Canterbury behind. I trundle my rolling suitcase past the busy tourists shops to the bus station, waiting in the welcome late-afternoon sun for the bus to Sandwich. No one seems to know when the bus is due, so I perch atop my suitcase and wait alongside the elderly women with their shopping bags and the uniformed students heading home from school. The queue is long, and I’m nervous about not getting on the bus. But we all manage to squeeze on and, after many stops at country roads and corners in small towns, the bus pulls in at last to Sandwich.
The driver directs me to the New Inn, a pub where I have booked a room up on the second floor, one of the few accommodations in this small town. The entry door to the pub seems stuck and when it gives way to my insistent pressure at last, I burst into a small-town pub filled with men enjoying a pint at the end of the workday. All heads turn my way to assess this unlikely addition to the scene.