One of the delights of working for yourself is that from time to time, as business allows, you can pop off somewhere just for a day to explore and enjoy. Now, that’s what I did yesterday (2nd June) when I popped on a coach and ended at the seaside resort of Folkestone in Kent.
Now on the face of it the reason for my trip was to attend the Folkestone Airshow – the first time it had been held since 2003 but I have a soft spot for the old trading port. I visited it last year just to get out of London (plus I had some free train tickets) and although parts of the town are, well, ‘down at heel’ (think pawnshops, 99p stores and a lot of gaming arcades), once you get down to the sea front, it is hard not to fall in love with the place.
It has what is described as “indisputably, the finest marine promenade in the world” and you walk along The Leas and you know what they mean, the old harbour area just has something about it and it has sandy beaches and cliffs on the North Downs to wander and look at across to Dover and to France.
I started my day in Folkestone by a return to Sunny Sands, a small outlet of sand, sea and beach where you can just sit yourself down, take in the cool breeze and for the start of the Jubilee weekend, blazing British weather – I even got sunburnt! I then headed to East Cliff that overlooks the water, passing at Bakers Gap, the famous National Grid Interconnector that connects electricity between the UK and Continental Europe (you can never get bored in Folkestone). Taking time for a spot of lunch at ‘Sandbanks’ – a tidy restaurant with panoramic views across the Channel- I then commenced up to the East Cliff pausing at the Martello Tower, built to defend the country from Napoleon and as you looked across the water you were just struck by the azure blue splendour of the scene.
Taking up position with Airshow fans, it was just a case of enjoying the view, taking a cup of coffee or a slice of cake, courtesy of the National Coast Watch Institute, whose helpers were in attendance, and waiting for the parade of planes to come over.
When they came they ranged from light airplanes such as the single seat aerobaticYAK 55 and the pre war US Army Air Corps trainer, the Boeing Stearman to the Red Arrows , the Hawk, a RN Sea Fury and of course the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (comprising an Avro Lancaster, a Hawker Hurricane and of course the Spitfire)- portrayed against the backdiop of the Dover Cliffs, it was as iconic an image as you could wish for.
I then walked into town to see the end of the airshow but Folkestone up on the Leas was just teeming with people – and the place was abuzz which was nice to see in a place that is someway behind its Victorian splendour as the place to visit or live.
Down on the front though and the show ended with the kind of bang that only a RAF Typhoon can bring you. The 2 seater multi-purpose fighter flying at close to its 1,500 mph capacity genuinely shook people. You heard a boom and suddenly everyone was looking up at the sky as the fighter thundered its way across the town. So ferocious was its speed that car alarms went off in unison due to the vibrations felt. There are fewer more exciting sights or feelings then to have a fast jet boom pass over you at 1,500 mph….
So, with a final cup of coastal coffee that was my day out in Kent. Air show enthusiasts were left happy, the hoardes of holiday makers in the town seemed enthused, traders were busy and the only personal downside was that my sunburn was starting to hurt. Time clearly for some after sun lotion. Next Stop: Boots.