August 16th and 17th 1998
We got to Brabourn in Kent, around 1.45pm on Saturday, left our things
at the B&B and headed off to Folkestone, near Dover.
Folkestone was very elegant from Georgian times until around 20 years
ago. It now has a busy ferry terminal, large industrial outskirts and
the Channel tunnel railway is an ugly sight nearby. The Brits have gone
to sunnier climes for their holidays for years now and some of our
sea-side resorts are decaying.
The East cliffs of Folkestone are called The Leas and used to be
beautifully landscaped. The lower cliff is getting wild, but the
cliff-top still retains some of it's old grandeur.
The band-stand is still there (band still playing), and nearby a group of
Napoleonic war enthusiasts were firing off their muskets. A rum-looking
bunch; all the more authentic for that.
Later in the day, you could see the cliffs of the French coast across
the English Channel illuminated by the lowering sun.
We had dinner in the "Five Bells" a Brabourn pub which won the "Best
Country Pub of the South" in 1993 and 1996. The food was very good, but
the wines were lousy.
Sunday started with breakfast where we met a German couple who come over
to England most years for the walking.
My itinery was from "The Tiger" pub in Stowting on to the North Downs
Way, stopping for a picnic outside Hastingleigh parish church.
Apart from a couple of farm buildings nearby, the church was very much
on it's own. The interior was typical of many country churches,
beautiful, but simple. The baptismal roll from 1900 to 1996 and the
family tree of the most prominent local family, the Sankeys were
displayed on the walls. A stained-glass window commemorated a Lt.Richard
Sankey, murdered in India over 100 years ago.
Tombstones on the floor dated back to around 1580.
The walk was beautiful, good weather, met more German walkers and a
troop of army cadets (boys and girls) giggling as they marched. From the
top of the downs we could make out the sea about 20 miles away.
Getting back to work was hard on Monday. The sun was still shining and
it seemed wasted when I was indoors. After all, this summer was our
wettest this century, so any sun missed is sorely regretted.