Day 61 Hastings to Dover


Today the torch passes through Hythe, in Kent. I love that place to little pieces, having gone there with Mr Cochrane and the whompers several times for family breaks. The Imperial Hotel did us proud on many an occasion and we hammered round the golf course (before the girls discovered boys and went off the game) and thrashed each other on the croquet greens. Doesn’t it look like something out of an Agatha Christie story? Now wonder it provided me with one of my key inspirations (of which more anon).

Just across the road (the other side from this view) is the sea. There’s something about pebbly beaches which reminds me of childhood and makes me all gooey inside. (Kent has that general effect, anyway.) But Hythe has more than that to offer. It has a special railway for a start.

A miniature one, which runs all the way out to Dungeness power station (star of a Dr Who episode and itself well worth a visit if they still have the visitor centre).

Then there’s the military canal, one of those lovely spots for just walking along doing nothing much. Hotel to town along the canal, back along the front – better than Monte Carlo any day.

The Imperial Hotel inspired me to write Lessons in Seduction. It appears as a thinly disguised version of itself – golf course, croquet and all – but relocated up the coast to Pegwell Bay, where I spent many a happy summer’s day on childhood holidays.

But memory is a funny thing. I was in the process of edits for the story when I thought I’d better check a bit of geography on google maps. Lo and behold hadn’t somebody come and put a whole load of cliffs in, just where I remember there not being any when I was a child? (Why must your brain play tricks on you, like it does by pretending summers were always sunny in the past?) Some swift re-writing was needed, although luckily there weren’t many instances of people leaping out of the hotel, over the road and straight onto the beach. They’d have broken their necks!

Serves me right for combining two locations…


10 responses »

  1. I was born in Kent and went to some of these locations (Pegwell Bay, Hythe, the railway) as a child – though I’ve not been back for many years. Maybe it’s time to revisit.

    When I do revisit, I think a must-see is Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage in the shadow of Dungeness power station, with its shingle-and-flotsam garden. I liked all his films; Jubilee was excellent at the time but I saw it again recently and it feels dated, though his Tempest and Caravaggio still seem fresh to me.

    BTW – link for Lessons in Seduction please?

  2. I love Hythe – that part of the world, esp. Dungeoness, has a strangely wistful atmosperhere, quite unique. I bounced to see you mention the Military canal too. I wanted to mention the Martello towers in my blog tomorrow, but tower no. 1 is Hythe way I believe, so I was too far east 😉

    My dad was a fan of Derek Jarman’s films, and I do remember the one on with the tastefully nekkid lady on the railway!

      • Haha, I have no idea! I’ve not watched any as an adult, I just remember Dad showing us that after we’d been on the railway one time 😉

        That area between Folkstone and Hastings esp., has that strange feel to it – I think that the Martellos dotted along the coast in their various stages of disrepair have a little to do with it, but places like Hythe and Dungeoness have so much charm of their own too, as you point out. We’ve driven past the Imperial many times – one day, we must stay in it!!

  3. ooh, is that the railway which got commandeered (not the proper term, but the correct one’s slipped my mind right now!) for troop movements during one of the world wars? As you can tell, I’m a little vague on details but I’m sure the story goes that *all* railway lines & rolling stock was commandeered for moving troops to the coast. No one noticed that this particular one happened to be (very) narrow gauge. When the troops arrived at the station, everyone acted like it was completely normal & they boarded the train with one trooper + his kit bag per seat (I think there were 2 or 3 seats per coach)…

    Other than passing through on the way to the continent, I’ve never been to Kent. It’s the wrong side of London from where I’ve lived…

    • We went there a lot, as we did East Anglia, it being easy to get to from North London by public transport. I still yearn for Margate and Ramsgate.

      That story about the railway sounds highly likely. Thanks for sharing it!

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