Our Maid of Kent host doesn’t exactly sing nearby Folkestone’s praises, suggesting we visit sweet Hythe instead. However, we eschew pretty for gritty in our rush around Kent; and beyond the outskirts which diminish many towns, discover that there is a soul to Folkestone.
The Old High Street is an elevating riot of colour, creativity, quirky shops and bars. Excellent coffee is to be had at the Steep Street Coffee House where second hand books line the walls – including the works of Charles Dickens, who came to Folkestone in search of a cure for Writer’s Block when struggling to start ‘Little Dorrit‘.
Customers – a mix of savvy locals and French tourists – enjoy wedges of cake and steaming bowls of soup, and are encouraged to read and borrow or buy.
There’s a great deal more to Folkestone’s arty side, but we have a date with history planned, and there’s time only to pause at Miss Ginger’s irresistible shop to acquire some Fat Quarters (what we will do with them is anyone’s guess, but we are happy with the scraps).
Later I realise we’ve missed a chance to see an Antony Gormley figure standing in the ebb and flow of the tide. In our hurry, it seems we have only managed to skim Folkestone’s surface.
Next stop: Scramble.