Today’s bike jaunt took me to the edge of Thanet, and the remains of the Roman fort at the head of the Wantsum Channel [1].


It’s a lovely spot. It reminds me of Dunwich, with its ruined monastery and the sense that this place used to be more important than it now is. And this is of course true: it was once a thriving port and market, but the geographic eddies of time were not kind to Reculver. Now it’s a pub, a cafe, and a few caravan parks, one advertising over-45s living with a photo of the sexiest pensioner couple I ever did see [2].

The cycle down was an easy four or five miles, with Herne Bay and its village-suburbs melting away into a quiet country lane with high hedgerows and occasional glimpses of the ruin to come.


From the fort, one has an excellent view of the offshore wind farm, which sits solidly where once the bouncing bomb was test-bounced. Ah, the bouncing bomb: a morale-boosting gimmick rather than crucial turning point of WW2, to be sure. But it feels exactly the kind of naffness that belongs here, for all of Reculver’s ghostly timelessness.

I got lost in a new-build housing estate on the way back. I was trying to find another route close to the dual carriageway, and fully expected to find at least a footpath or a pedestrian bridge taking me back to Herne Bay proper. But nothing linked up, and I was forced to retrace my pedals, as this Strava map makes clear.

No way out. Well: one way out…

I felt sorry for everyone who lived here, on the edge of town, only accessible by car, with no shops or community life anywhere near. So much of the housing we build is like this now: cheap, sprawling, and utterly unsustainable.

Monorail sadly not pictured or existent.

I made my way back out of the estate, along the road which slaloms back and forth to encourage drivers to slow down, which mixed results. You wouldn’t want your kids playing in the streets here.

Heading back across the bridge over the railway line, I was greeted with a glorious sight: the concrete Herne Bay water tower, standing mighty and proud on Mickleburgh Hill despite its lack of actual water based function. It does at least seem to be providing excellent mobile phone coverage.

Sweet concrete.

From here, it was a lovely downhill jaunt back into Herne Bay itself, with its mildly frightening roundabouts and large population of white vans and extremely old pensioners hobbling across the road without looking. I admired these people for their bloody-mindedness and the irritation they caused to some of the aforementioned white vans [3].

Post-travels, it was a joyous evening, for the most part [4]. My friend won a translation prize. She said she had no chance of winning. I said she would win. I guess this means I can claim at least part of the credit, right? I made her a congratulatory meme of her with the pixelated sunglasses and the massive joint so popular with the internet I remember existing ten years ago. I will publish it below and hope she never sees it. [5]


[1] Long since silted up, but once the divider between the isle and the rest of Kent.

[2] I didn’t get off my bike to take a photo, but trust me: these sexy retirees were not moving to this executive caravan park to settle down, oh no. Relentless, non-stop septuagenarian boning was heavily implied.

[3] Here I have fallen into the local newspaper trap of describing white vans as autonomous, even self-aware vehicles. Like in the headline, “van drives into pensioner”. Or “Woman carelessly walks into HGV’s blind spot”. I mean white van *drivers*.

[4] Today the post-lockdown tiers were announced. Kent is stuck in tier three, making various Christmas plans either unlikely or downright impossible. Also, emotions.

[5] Congratulations Ruth. I am unjustifiably proud…

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