Article written in May 2012 for Hythe and Romney Marsh magazine by Beatrice.
I love the hustle and bustle of Folkestone harbour. I could stay hours looking at the fishing boats, the fishermen coming back with their catch, their colourful nets hanging on the railing, the screaming seagulls, visitors enjoying a stroll.
Just now, there is a lot more activity in this corner than ever before. Thanks to Mr De Haan, a huge area has been refurbished. The new imposing Rocksalt restaurant, designed by architect Guy Hollaway is located on the side of the slip road, run by a renowned chef and has already brought much interest from the press and gastronomes.
The dark colour of the building complements the already established black fishing huts. There is competition around, with two pubs, the Ship Inn and The Mariner, a coffee lounge at The Captain Table and a couple of fish and chip shops.
Anybody wanting freshly caught seafood is in for a treat, with the magnificent Folkestone Trawlers fresh local fish shop, established since 1982. The slab is always very attractive and I know some visitors who travel from far away who love to go back home with some of their products.
Two beautiful seafood stalls display crabs and shellfish of all kinds, ready to eat or take away. The lady working in Bob's Seafood explained that her father started his business over 38 years ago. From another stall nearby, I was told by the owner that her father, who had been well known as Lala Taylor, had created his family business that had been running since 1958. She recalled that in the past her parents were selling cockles from the Mariner Pub until 10pm.
Within a short walk towards the sands, right at the beginning of the east head wall (built in the early 1800s to protect the harbour) a wonderful statue by Turner Prize nominated artist Cornelia Parker is on display: We now have a gorgeous mermaid sitting on the rocks, looking towards the sea.
Thanks to the Folkestone Triennial, artists have been busy creating works around our town and harbour. Tracey Emin produced a baby garment which hangs on a railing overlooking the port.
I could not finish my visit without stopping by the shell shop. For the last ten years, the owner has accumulated an incredible treasure hoard. I found a huge collection of beautiful shells and bought one. I have also fallen in love with small boats, lighthouses and fishermen's lamps all of them worthy of my conservatory.
Visitors love to collect the colourful exotic tiles hanging on the walls. Jewellery, clothing, so much more to browse and be tempted with. I will be back there very soon.
I walked under the archway of a disused railway line and reminisced of a time when the train was running right to the ferries. Not so long ago we had the luxurious Orient Express taking passengers to Venice.
I have been told by a local that in the early 1900s, young boys used to dive from the walls of the harbour to collect coins that passers-by would throw into the sea. I will have to come back to find out more of these fascinating stories.