So today I have been feeling quite unwell. Swollen glands, fatigue and general achey crappiness throughout my body. This has, rather unfortunately, caused me to over think pretty much everything today.
I really don’t know what possessed me, but for some reason, I typed ‘Folkestone’ into Youtube. I sat mournfully, watching videos of a town I once spent many holidays in that has pretty much turned to Bedford on sea over the years (with no offence intended to Folkestone or Bedford). A lot of the things that I remember as a youngster have either gone to ruin or been demolished. I was thinking of taking a trip there for nostalgia, but now I am not so sure.
My autism means my memory extends back to times that even my Mother can’t remember. Personally I believe that is because she was on medication for Meniere’s disease at the time and it affected her memory, but that still doesn’t explain how I can remember things from when I was 4 years old. My Grandpa and Step-Grandma owned a two bedroom (more like one and a closet) flat on Clifton road. It was on the second floor and if you sat in the large bay window, you could just about see the sea. The living room had a dark green carpet with a swirly design in it. I spent hours tracing the pattern along the floor with my fingers. Quite often, Grandpa and Grandma Jo would be in London working, so their flat was usually empty over the summer. This meant that we (and my Uncle’s family) could stay there for a week or two in the holidays.
Folkestone was where we discovered I had a horrific fear of fireworks. Mum took me and the bother (*ahem* brother) to the Leas to see the firework display. As soon as the first one went off, I curled up in a ball and cried. Mum ended up taking little Jonny out of his pushchair and putting me in it. We returned to the flat where I sat safely behind the glass window listening to the bangs.
In 1996, there was a really bad flood. I was 8 years old by now. We had gone for a very wet trip to Dover castle which basically consisted of us sitting in our fairly dilapidated blue Volvo 340 GL eating our sandwiches and listening to Elgar’s Nimrod on Classic FM. Afterwards, the news came on saying that the tunnel between Dover and Folkestone was temporarily closed and that the harbour had flooded. When we eventually made it back, we put the local news on and watched as two men smashed the harbour wall to release the backlog of water that was threatening to send boats floating up the high street.
So yeah, nice memories, but there is one place I remember particularly well for both good and bad reasons. The Rotunda fairground on the sea front. I wasn’t, and never have been a big fan of rides, but even I could handle some of the ones at the Rotunda. It’s big dome stood majestically in the centre and the rollercoaster dwarfed everything in front of it. I was far too small to go on the rollercoaster but there was a mini one which I went on three years in a row. On the fourth year I had a panic attack sitting in the front carriage as the bar wasn’t tight enough and I could feel myself slipping out! I recently heard a young girl died on a similar ride in the same place… scary (and sad 😦 )
So yeah it was quite a shock to see that the entire fairground has now gone, replaced with… nothing. The long pier which used to lead to the SeaCat ferry is still there but no longer functions as a ferry port. I nearly burst into tears when I heard the Leas Cliff lifts were shut down in 2009! Thankfully, it seems quite a few other people were upset by this, and word has it that it has been restored and is now fully functional again.
The thing is, I am probably not going to go back there now, having seen it. I think it would make me sad rather than be a nostalgia trip. I don’t like change, even if it took place over 8 years ago! I will always remember the Folkestone of 1995-1998 with fond memories. Every time I smell fish and hear seagulls, I go back there in my imagination (ironically I am a vegetarian, but the smell of fish still invokes positive memories!). I go back to being a cute, naive kid who thought that the world would never change and that I would be happy forever… How wrong I was…
On a less depressing note, it was good to see that Boots is still in the exact same place as it was back in 1997 when my brother stubbed his toe and we had to get something for it to stop him whining…