Wednesday, 29 June 2022

A Visit to Rochester Cathedral to see Luke Jerram's Gaia

I adore summer in Kent. The sun comes out, blooms are everywhere and we know its time to explore. On a gorgeous Friday in May, I took my mum to nearby Rochester to see Luke Jerram’s Gaia at Rochester Cathedral.

Rochester is a beautiful town about twenty minutes away from where I live, notable for being Charles Dickens’s favourite town. You can see why – Rochester has a quaint, picturesque quality and I love visiting there.

No mother-daughter day is complete without a bit of lunch and we chose Fish 55 on Rochester High Street. My mum had a salmon pate to start while I chose the mackerel pate. It was divine.

I then chose the lobster gnocchi, bisque and chicory main and my mum had a scallop with garlic sauce main, both off the specials board. You’ll notice my mum strategically chooses items I’m allergic to (salmon and garlic), I guess she doesn’t like to share!

The manager and staff at Fish 55 were wonderful and very helpful in sitting my mum in an accessible spot where we could keep an eye on her mobility scooter outside.

After our meal, we wandered over to Rochester Cathedral where the staff were again wonderful and directed us to the accessible entrance at the side, allowing my mum to take her mobility scooter into the main exhibition area. It's not easy travelling around with mobility issues but some places make it so much easier.

Luke Jerram’s Gaia is spectacular. This was a bitter-sweet visit because visiting Luke Jerram’s Moon in Rochester Cathedral was the last thing we did before lockdown was imposed in March 2020. I was grateful and pensive all at once while I stared at the beautiful Earth and thought about how lucky I am.

Like Moon, Gaia rotates slowly, giving you a chance to see Africa, Australasia and South America. I wish we could have seen Europe and North America but my mum enjoyed seeing her beloved Africa.

After a very long visit with Gaia, we wandered outside into the gardens and then into the crypt to enjoy a cup of coffee. Kent traffic on a Friday afternoon is not to be laughed at so we needed all the energy we could muster before the drive home.

The crypt and café are completely accessible via a wheelchair lift.

I didn't quite manage to take as many photos of Rochester Castle and Cathedral as I normally do but I hope to visit again in July when my in-laws are over.

Accessibility Guide to Rochester

Navigating around with a mobility scooter can be a daunting task and I’m going to start talking more and more about this on future posts in the hope that it will help other readers. Accessibility bloggers have been invaluable to me in recent years and have helped ensure that I can take my mum on weekends away and day trips.

For our trip to Rochester, we landed up parking in the train station parking – which is on RingGo – because the central car parks were full. I was a bit nervous as it was on the other side of a very busy road from the town but there were clear crossing points that helped us on our way.

The only caution I’d give with Rochester is that there are a lot of cobbles so you’d need to judge whether you can navigate those with your wheelchair or mobility scooter.

We use a portable mobility scooter for our trips which folds away into my boot. Again, you need to be cautious with smaller, portable scooters as they have limited battery life and must be charged before each trip and at the end of the day on overnight trips. We learned this when my mum’s scooter couldn’t make it up the hill at Montmartre on our second day in Paris!

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© 2008 - Mandy Southgate | Emm in London

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