From Sittingbourne to Faversham the view from the train improves drastically. Gently undulating green hills, orchards and hop farms, quaint trackside villages. Long gone the seemingly endless London suburbs and North Kent industrial towns. That said, the run along the Medway valley into Rochester is rather sweet.
Once passed Faversham things start to flatten out and the time we’re at Herne Bay, the landscape is flat and East Anglian like. The Wansum channel that once separated Thanet from the rest of Kent was wide at this point and has given over to quasi reclaimed marshland, heavily cultivated. It’s still pleasant and gentle on the eye. Then, like a shot from the blue, the train’s in the outskirts of Birchington with its large stable complex at Plum Pudding Island and then acres and acres of standardised retiree’s bungalows followed by the coast hugging sprawl of Westgate, Westbrook and finally Margate. The town that sets the standard for shabbiness when it comes to shabby towns. Still, it’s home to allatsea and that makes up for it.
Just outside the main gate at Fincantieri Navali, Riva Trigosa, written in large but faded graffiti on the perimeter wall are the words ‘Peter Green is God’. I share that sentiment enthusiastically but only if thinking in terms of 1967-69. Having seen him perform (very badly) with the Splinter Group at Chatham Central Hall a few years ago, we need to change the word ‘God’ into the likes of ‘shambling lunatic’ or similar. It’s all rather sad.
Allatsea will reach (all being well) 55 on Wednesday. This despite years of gin, ciggy and curry abuse. A quick note of thanks then to the patron saint of Sailors ….. whoever they are.