The Deal Floriage

January 14, 2016

 

Ok, I made up the word floriage. It's kind of a cross between flower and foliage, and for me it means an enchanted place filled with the intoxicating scent and colour of all things floricious (well, I may as well carry on making up words). 

 

I grew up in Kent, on the coast on a farm in Kingsgate, where the fields stretched down to the white cliffs above the North Sea. It's all built on now, but to me it remains a wonderful childhood image in my mind's eye, of never-ending summers and fields of golden wheat streching all the way to where the blue horizons of sea and sky merged.

 

When my father retired, he moved from a rural farm with rolling acres to a town house with a backyard of ten square metres. I thought he'd lost his mind but it turns out he was just bored with mowing lawns and he wanted to explore our family's ancestry.

 

The townhouse is in Deal, in the conservation area near Middle Street. And his ancestors, my ancestors, lived and behaved badly in the same Middle Street 300 years ago. I never did history at school, it always seemed such a dead subject, but personal history is different. It brings it to life, and it gives you an amazing sensation of belonging and your place in time knowing that your flesh and blood were here, right here, 300 years ago. And that if they hadn't been, you might never have been.

 

Deal is an amazing place. It's quintessentially English. And to me that means it's full of surprises. The conservation area is a set of streets adjacent to the beach, which were saved from demolition in the 1970s, and consists of amazingly varied old houses, no two the same, dating from the 17th century right up to the present day. Although there is a Deal vernacular, with inglenook fireplaces, pine-clad internal walls and spiral staircases, you CANNOT tell what lies behind the front doors - from tiniest cottage to absolute grandiose luxury, from post-stamp back yards to a blooming acre - all nestled together, in a weird jigsaw puzzle. You can FEEL the history seeping out of the pores of this place, it oozes ambience and I half expect salty old sea dogs to emerge from around the next corner, complete in costume, like a scene from a BBC period drama. Mostly I hope it might be Aidan Turner of Poldark fame, but that's just me.

 

I spend as much time as I can in Deal - I love the contrast between there & Notts - a point that is almost as far away from the sea as you can get in the UK. It's part of my love affair with my home land, with England, with Britain. I don't travel by plane because of the damage air travel does to our planet - but I don't feel I miss out - this country is as varied and unexpected as I could wish to keep me interested for a lifetime.

 

In the Deal Floriage I hope to share stories old & new of a lively town.... as I develop a new garden and flower smithery in my true home town. I would love to hear your stories of your home town, whether you are by the sea or further in land.

 

 

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