I returned to Sandling, having read more about the Junction, the plans for the Channel Tunnel of years ago, the building and the closure of the railway. It is a good starting point for a walk. Leave the station with all its tedious traits of the twenty first century, ticket machines and endless announcements, corporate branding and expensive fares. There are deep undercurrents of class conflicts all across the railways, between the workers and the managers, between the passengers and the companies, between those who build the rolling stock and maintain the track and those who make decisions about rates of pay and working conditions. But none of this must surface, none of this murmuring can be allowed to be heard.
The gap between the buildings has never been seen before. It seemed so much of another age, and something grim and dark was suggested in this narrow space. It was not just the lack of light, but the claustrophobia of the space, just wide enough to enter, but it would be crushing to the body and the soul. It was only through later research that it was discovered that this was once the site of the George Inn, and it was there that so many of the enclosures in the area of the Brecklands were decided in the nineteenth century.
There are some fine medieval churches in the Brecklands and two were visited today, St George at Saham Toney and All Saints at Threxton. It’s a pleasant walk between the two and the bells of St George can be heard all the way. The traveling library does not include the relevant Pevsner so the detail of the churches will have to wait for further research.
That is a lovely south facing porch, but I do not like the finger wagging discipline of that clock. The earlier rhythms of life replaced by the industrialisation of life (see EP Thompson).
I leave the train at Sandling station. It seems curiously quiet and still. I have passed this station hundreds of times and never noticed it. Now I have the opportunity to admire it’s Tudor-Beathan architecture and the rather pleasant surroundings.
Martin Mill is a village with a population of perhaps a couple of hundred people. Due to the peculiar organisation of the railway network in England, it has a station which connects it to the high speed line to London (but not the other way to Ramsgate – the train goes at about 20mph as it travels eastwards).
One can catch the train there, but another way is to walk across the tops of the White Cliffs, through St Margaret’s at Cliffe and then across fields and muddy lanes. The latter is of course the preferred way and the starting point is the sea front at Dover.
The weather forecast was clearly for sun. There was a big yellow sun gif to make sure the message was clear. S – u – n. By the time I had come down the Western Heights and was making my way to Shakespeare Beach, it was difficult to know where the sky mist ended and the sea mist began, and that wasn’t helped by the fine drizzle.
The plan had been to walk from Folkestone to Sandgate and explore the world which John Ruskin might have known when he lived at 2, Devonshire Terrace. But that will have to wait, because a mermaid was found instead. It is a rare event to find a mermaid in Sandgate. She was in a shop window. She might be made of brass or stone, I am stupidly ignorant of such things, or of how she might have got here, or where she once belonged. But she is not the first mermaid to land in Sandgate, that event was described by HG Wells in The Sea Lady. Perhaps this is a model someone made of her at the time. I had a pleasant chat to the proprietor of the shop, and her Irish friend. They were fascinated by the story of the mermaid and once it had been told, I realised I had talked myself in to making a purchase. But I still had to walk to Hythe, just to look, so would collect her on my return.