Deal is a little seaside town in East Kent which seems to have been forgotten by time and a mile or so further south are to be found the wonders of Walmer and Kingsdown.
My wife took these pictures this afternoon as we stumbled for miles along the shingle beach in the early summer sunshine, buffeted by a fresh breeze and looking out across the English Channel. Any further south and we would have climbed up onto the beautiful White Cliffs, and on to Dover.
There is something for everyone in this often overlooked part of the world; people usually just wizz through it on their way to the continent. That is a huge mistake.
To the north you have kiss-me-quick and seaside rock, donkeys on golden beaches and fun fairs – Thanet. Ramsgate and sedate Cliftonville were favoured in Victorian days and by the early 20th Century, Margate was a mass of (long since gone) day trippers from London and modest holiday makers patronising traditional seaside boarding houses. The Blackpool of the South coast.
In the 1960s Margate could be a dangerous and daring venue, reminiscent of Graham Green’s Brighton Rock and worse. Bank Holiday weekends often saw pitched battles between mods and rockers on the beach, and I remember being trapped in a seafront cafe while a gang waved chains and a shotgun outside the window. Heady days indeed!
By the time you get to Deal and Walmer it’s all a bit more civilised, although as with almost every town in the country, the outskirts are what Betjeman would have called Metroland. Dull terraces and suburban villas.
But the seafront is as good as it gets, albeit in a home counties and civilised sense – no wilderness here.
In this crowded little island it is difficult to find emptiness and here, only 70 miles from London, you should not expect it. What you do get is convenience and charm.
On a day like this, who needs Greece or the Mediterranean?