Partly because it looked like a bleak back of beyond and partly because I needed to get on my neglected motorcycle, yesterday in the cold but sunny morning I headed to the estuary in Kent to the Isle of Grain, and to Grain village in particular, about a 40 mile ride from home. As someone talking about this place on a blog said, ‘sometimes, just sometimes, the crappy sounding places turn out to be innocently sweet.’
Most of the ride is the urban and trunk road experience that is part of living in London and when you get off the M2 and A2 the road out to Grain is 40mph limited with average speed cameras, so no chance to zoom, and signs of industry behind large gates – National Grid and a big Shell depot. This part of Kent is flat as a pancake and the sea here reminded me of some of Norfolk and Suffolk, flat, featureless with a kind of wild, ignored beauty. I felt sorry for the people who live in Grain. It is absolutely at the end of nowhere and all the houses seem to have been built in the last 40 years or so, so the place can’t be accused of being pretty. I see you can buy a two bedroom house there for £135,000. On the beach, with groynes every 100 feet or so, were a few dog walkers and winkle-pickers (or someone who had dropped a £1 coin and did not want to go home without it).
The nice point was the ‘Beach Hut and cafe‘ which reminded me, though a smaller version, of the cafe at Dunwich, staffed by young and old who if not in the same family, were friends of the family, with the youth back from uni and helping out to earn a few extra pounds. Their tea was super hot and the fruit cake tasty and filling and all for £2.80.