I was booked in for the 12:50 crossing to Calais & so as I sail past Maidstone services before 9 am I'm wondering what on earth I'll do at the Terminal for three hours (it being the busy holiday season, earlier trains are most unlikely). So I head down to Folkestone to see the sea & inhale the ozone. 'Harbour' seems the best option & by 9:30 I'm in Elinor's Cafe having a morning coffee but I'm too excited to let it cool & only drink half the cup. Off to explore!
I walk to what I assume will be the sea path but find it only leads into a lorry car park. No luck. I retrace my steps & go left & find I've hit some kind of promenade with more cafes & restaurants & - far more interesting - stalls selling fresh fish & seafood. I hit on 'Bob's' & after a bit of discussion end up buying two lobsters for a tenner each. (Back in Brussels I'm reliably informed by Mme Waffle we'd be paying 45 euros or more for that weight). He tells me he's sad the Sea Cat has stopped - "we used to ring up our mate over in Boulogne, "two crab salads s'il vous plait", & we'd go over there & be back by the evening. Lovely."
The point is: why has it taken me so long for the penny to drop? That just ten minutes further on & there's the sea. Why not enjoy Folkestone itself rather than hare up to the M25 or (the other way round) squander the hours in the miserable Terminal?
Walking in, still with plenty of time before the crossing, I see what's laughably (chillingly?) called The Family Zone. You guessed it: a wall-size screen playing a Pixar film plus other screens & terminals delivering further doses of virtual Kiddie Fun. I want to run in there & shout that just down the road there's the sea & the sand & the sky & a horizon without edges ... Go & dig a sand castle! Throw stones at sea gulls! Have a chat with the crusties! Just get your eyes away from a screen!
Next time, we're making that ten minute detour. & I'm having fish & chips staring out to sea. I know my Dad would approve.