This is the final part in a trilogy of posts centred on our recent relocation to Folkestone. The first outlined the historical and emotional reasons for making the move in the first place, whilst the second described the sometimes rocky road of searching for, buying and moving into our coastal retreat.
At the end of the last piece, written a fortnight after our arrival, I concluded that, not least because of the excellent weather we had enjoyed, it still felt as if we were on an extended summer vacation.
But now that another month has passed, and although the climate gods continue to shine upon us, we are beginning to feel that this is now our permanent home.
The frustrating saga of our landline, cable and broadband installation is finally over after forty two tortuous days.
We have purchased a number of new household appliances (and perpetrated an epidemic of hernia repairs among the delivery men into the bargain).
My wife has settled into her new office in town.
We are on first name terms with a pair of crows that have taken up residence in our beech tree. They love nothing more than to join the ducks in the lake across the road and the seagulls on the roof in a chaotic (pre-) dawn chorus.
And we have entertained guests from Norwich and Philadelphia.
For now then, it is fair to say that the fabulous Folkestone fairytale continues – as the images below demonstrate.
Folkestone must have more outdoor benches per square metre than anywhere else on the coast!
A blissful Sunday afternoon scene looking towards Coronation Parade and the East Cliff (unfortunately, that’s not my boat!)
One of the many attractive features of the award winning, child friendly Lower Leas Coastal Park – it can’t be claimed that this seaside town is the preserve of the elderly!
This shop in the harbour thrilled me as a child, and it is no different now as we’ve already adorned our apartment with artefacts from its shelves
The Grade II Leas Lift, a much loved icon, was restored to full operation this summer
“Ok, I get it that you won’t let me have any of your fish and chips, and you’re only looking after my own welfare by not feeding me, but just remember who runs this town”
Folkestone’s own Little Mermaid, modelled on local mother of two, Georgina Baker, gazes on our “chums” on the Cote D’opale from the rocks of Sunny Sands
On a warm weekend day, you need to hover at the top of the steps of the Lighthouse at the end of the Harbour Arm to stake out a spare table at the Champagne Bar
My fetish (I prefer to call it passion) for directional signs is amply satisfied around town
The wild, weird, wonderful Warren is a secret jealously guarded by (us!) locals
Cafe culture at its best at Steep Street – welcoming smiles, potent coffee, delicious pastries, stacks of books, literary competitions and seats for great people watching – a killer combination
In conclusion, a couple of general observations. Cynics might sneer at what they perceive to be an overly positive initial impression, and I acknowledge that the rose-tinted spectacles haven’t been discarded yet. However, I offer the following:
- The people of Folkestone, especially in the retail and hospitality sectors, have been friendly and cheerful. And I have been particularly impressed by the courtesy of drivers towards pedestrians around town; and
- Folkestonians appear to care for their physical surroundings too – flower displays and other open spaces are lovingly tended, littering is less visible than in many other places I have lived in and visited and there is extensive renovation and redecoration of buildings going on, especially near the seafront.
I am very conscious, however, that Folkestone is no more immune from the contagion of drunkenness and lawlessness that infects town centres across the country. Only last weekend, for example, a group of innocent bystanders was attacked in the early hours of the morning in Sandgate Road. I will not shy away in future from highlighting negative as well as positive features.
As the council gardening staff begin to dig up the flower beds along the Leas under another limpid blue sky that belies the reality of today’s Autumn Equinox, my thoughts turn to the next six months. Most of the time I have spent in Folkestone, as child and man, until now has been during the summer or in the late spring. But whilst I might mourn the imminent passing of hot, sunny days, I am excited at the prospect of witnessing winter storms crashing (but not damaging further) Coronation Parade and walking from Mermaid Beach into Sandgate and Hythe on cold, crisp February mornings.
The next phase of our Folkestone story awaits!
The first two posts in this series can be found at: