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Monday, 25 July 2011

CoLJ 3 - Folkestone to Kingston.

The Folkestone area has memories for me, as I lived in the town and in close by Hythe for most of my primary school years. It is not the town I remember. It is not the vibrant seaside town I enjoyed living in. It is tired and run down, with much of it in a state of dereliction. The harbour area is a disgrace compared to the busy cross channel ferry port I knew. It was a disappointment when last year I decided to re-visit my old playground.

For me once again this year, as in most previous years, and like the vast majority of those arriving at the channel tunnel terminal, it is just the point of arrival into the UK and a point to be quickly left behind on the ongoing journey.

But first, as usual, I needed to call in to the local Tesco garage to fill up the petrol tank. I usually run the petrol level as low as possible approaching the tunnel in France. There is a considerable cost saving in waiting to purchase petrol until entering the UK. There is a further saving by bypassing the petrol station on the terminal and popping into the outskirts of Folkestone. A 10 minute and 2 mile diversion is worth it.

Having given SatNavratilova the address of our holiday cottage for the next two weeks, received her instructions, we turned our back on the town.

After a short distance on the M20 our journey was a cross country route through the Kent and East Sussex countryside. It was very pleasant to pass through the picturesque hamlets, villages and small towns. The intense, lush, multi hew, green foliage of the countryside being an immense contrast to that of the Costa coast of Spain. What was not pleasant though was the condition of the roads, the aggressive attitude of other drivers, and the overall driving experience. The surface of the majority of the main roads was appalling with broken patches of the driving surface and potholes. I do not remember the roadside vegetation being allowed to grow so close to the edge of the road, making it very dangerous when negotiating the many obscured twists, hidden bends and blind corners in the single carriageway roads. As bad driving habits go, the Spanish driver can learn from the British drivers we encountered. They could learn; how close a tailgating vehicle can get to another without actually touching it; how to ignore lane discipline; how to ignore road markings and overtake on blind bends. I will think again about criticising too quickly the roads and the drivers in Spain.

Never-the-less we arrived at Roman Way, Kingston safe and sound despite the efforts of the southern counties kamikaze drivers.

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