Saturday, February 21

Another Town, Another Church

We stroll the historic high-street which is charming and feels removed from modern Britain. Local shops include the cheesery, butchers, fruit and veg and nick-nacks - this the way it is in Paris but never here. There are plenty of tourists mingling with "old-age pensioners" (a derogatory expression if ever there was one) and I catch a couple somewhat confused that I take their picture. By far my favorite is the model-train shop. Inside, hundreds and hundreds of box-cars, cabooses and front-engines line the wall, all of similar scale and meant for the same track. I chat with the proprietor who is in his late 50s I would guess, and owns a maticulous white goatee as I would expect. He has a twinkle in his eye and essoteric knowledge - we move from trains to kit-rockets, which I once built with older neighbor Todd then blasted off at the Berkeley Arena. Today, my friend strokes his white chin and laments that hobbiest have a hard time - "model rockets can no longer be found locally," he informs me though I fail to ask if there were plenty such shops 50 years ago, as it seems like there would be. In honesty, I cannot remember the last cool specialty store - our high streets all the same combo of Boots, WH Smith, Waitrose and Starbucks or Cafe Nero. In Whitstable there is not one chain, to my relief. The kids have their allowance of £3 to blow, which they do - Madeleine two more buddies and Eitan an arrow-ship sling shot. He gloats about his deal, which leaves him with £1.50 and a power-play at the candy-store. Poor Madeleine, but I give in and buy her a bag.