A Royal Tour (in more ways than one)
27th April 2010
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My mother came to stay with us in Canterbury last weekend, and wanted - obviously - to see the sights.

Always partial to a bit of shopping and a nice cup of coffee in our family, we thought a wander into town and down the King's Mile would suit her. Making the most of the warm spring weather as well, I'm not sure we spent more time sitting in and outside cafes and foodie establishments than we actually did shopping!

As always, the atmosphere along the King's Mile was relaxed and friendly, and we certainly didn't rush as we ambled along.

My mum was particularly taken with Pastry Patisserie on Palace Street, warming to the staff and very definitely their incredible range of cakes and homemade ice cream.

We also squeezed ourselves into The Sugar Boy too - and took ourselves back several decades as my mum bought me a quarter of acid drops and herself some white mice. Shelves and shelves of traditional jars of sweets left us almost dizzy with choice, but we managed it in the end!

The Lighthouse is a little treasure trove of lighting and lamps, and mum bought a lovely little Tiffany-style table lamp.

Mum thought the King's Mile Florist was charming, and we ended up having an early lunch - possibly brunch? - at Bean Inspired on Palace Street.

We spent ages in Aladdin's caves like the Burgate Antique Centre, Saracens Antiques and The Book Palace, picking over curios.

Having spent a little time in Canterbury Exotics down the Borough/Northgate end of the King's Mile marveling at the exotic pets they keep there, we wandered down to the Bon Marche Dress Agency, then turned around about there.

We took in Hotel Chocolat towards the end of our tour - and I had trouble removing her from the place! It's a rare treat to visit Hotel Chocolat, as it's not for the every-day chocolate fix but it is somewhere special for something special. The selection of exquisite chocolates is guaranteed to tempt, and we treated ourselves to one or two small boxes as a reward for having such a good day. After eating most of their free samples of course.

There are too many great shops in this part of town to mention them all, from galleries to hairdressers (a good number of those!), cafes to antique shops.

But one of the best things about Canterbury is the wealth of independent shops and businesses, making it much easier to Buy Local, something we at thebestof Canterbury continually encourage.


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Ben Jackson is a freelance writer and photographer with The Little White Studio.

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