Updated: Aug 20, 2020
I went for a walk with a family member, through an alley last week. Although the walk provided a brief respite from a family occasion that was fairly intense.
As we walked the dog, there was a small amount of doggy doo left by a previous pet. The lead was yanked, followed by the words, ‘Mind out! We are in Ashford now.’
I have recently become used to this type of comment regarding place. It is as if for some the area where you live can provide solace that it is somehow, ‘better’ or ‘a cut above’ anywhere else. There is a snobbishness, bred largely from a narrow outlook, that can come into a way of thinking about an area.
Historically I may have been guilty of the same thing. However now, I am pleased to notice that how you feel about an area is all about how you feel about yourself. An openly critical comment about someone else’s town, really reflects yourself and how unhappy you are in you may be. ‘Take me back to, (insert your town here), it is far better here.’ Unlikely; sadly if there is something that making you unhappy and eating at your core, you will find something else to complain
about when back in your mythical idyll.
Sunny Sands is steeped in setting. It is at the core of the novel’s message and that’s how I wanted it to be. I adored Folkestone at the time of writing. This was due to me associating my failed marriage with village life and wanting to be swept up into the arms of a new and improved life experience. Folkestone provided that with its warm wild nights, followed by comforting warmth in upmarket coffee shops and arty strolls, taking in the Banksy, the Harbour Arm.
Five years later and I am less obsessed with place. My wife is Folkestone born and bred, yet having moved away now, we both agree we don’t see ourselves moving back. This is reflected in my most recent offering, a better and stronger work in my opinion, Crimson Cross.
The main them is friendship and love, and how this overrides everything in life. For me that’s where I am at now. I am aware there will be people just moving to Folkestone feeling like I did those many moons ago. But a bit older and wiser, I realise place and setting are very much secondary to how you are feeling in your heart of hearts.
I’m happier and more content, so I am happier with the place I live, even if it does have the odd irresponsible dog owner, who forgets to pick up their mess.
P.S. The picture was taken in Kingsnorth, Ashford. To me it could be the glorious English countryside, New Zealand or Japan. Most importantly, it represents home.