American cousin Peter Jurzynski pictured in Sandgate Road, Folkestone, Christmas 2019
By Peter Jurzynski
Well it’s been a couple of years since I last visited Folkestone with international air travel traffic between the US and the UK very difficult.
I was here just before the pandemic started, when none of us dreamed it would last so long still it is with us. Nonetheless I am pleased to be back!
I have now chalked up more than 50 visits to Folkestone since 1985, visiting in the summer and for Christmas and New Years, although come to think of it, I have also been in the UK during April, June and September, but never March or May. So after arriving on the 17th March I am looking forward to my first spring in Folkestone.
Change is constant in the world and I can see a lot of changes here too. I guess the jury is still out as to whether they are really for the public benefit.
Two things struck me in the local news this week as I settled into town.
Firstly, the P&O situation is indeed dramatic as Ray Duff outlined so well in his article on this website.
This brings me nicely to my decades old view on ferries and foot passengers.
As a channel swimmer for numerous years I became a frequent visitor to not only Folkestone but also Bleriot Plage, at Calais, and earlier Boulogne.
A foot passenger from Folkestone to Boulogne or Dover to Calais was a fun trip and great for the local economies on both sides of the Channel.
Prior to the tunnel there were many options and even post tunnel availability for a foot passenger was still available. But as the years passed by, there were less an less opportunities for foot passengers and once Sea France closed it became even worse.
My question is, why have regional business leaders and local and county officials on both sides pushed for more foot passenger traffic. I remember suggesting to a local leader that a regular scheduled bus to Calais could be considered.
Secondly, another worrying news item here is that Covid-19 is marching up again. I believe we all need to step up and take common sense precautions which we learned in the last couple of years and all will be fine!
Folkestone is a lovely place as is the entire Kent coastal region and that’s why I am here once again. By the way, as I waited on the platform in Ashford at lunchtime last Wednesday I was greeted by the Flying Scotsman.
What a great start to my visit and so great to see all that steam! I couldn’t have a more joyous welcome!
Developments and upscale flats are not what makes this place great, it’s the people, the traditions, the small shop owners and friendly grocery store staff. It’s all the local folks that make this place unique and why I always come back…
Happy spring everyone
Peter Jurzynski – Letter from America (this time writing from Folkestone)
(Former American Channel swimming record holder and regular summer and winter visitor to Folkestone ***except during pandemics)