Going down to Ramsgate, I took the train from Victoria. Slow doesn’t adequately describe this line. After about two hours, you reach Dumpton Park for Dumpton Gap, syllables that evoke rubbish tips and missing teeth, suicidal thoughts only stifled by knowing it is the last halt-barely a station, before you arrive.
A few years ago, Ramsgate’s spirits lifted at the prospect of a bullet train that would shoot passengers to and from the metro-polis in an hour, using the Channel Tunnel line. Now that the service is operational, British phlegm has set in. It goes, moan, to St Pancras. It takes more than the promised hour, not being able to speed up until Ashford: until then, it chugs along the old, unimproved track. It costs more.
With some reluctance, I tried it on the return journey, and wow-it’s a marvel. New, clean and, oh, the intoxicating speed as we whooshed past the traffic on the motorway. I barely had time to read my book. Finally, the glamour of the restored St Pancras: like Baloo the bear, I was gone, man, solid gone.
Fried eel soldiers served with soft-boiled duck egg-my starter at Eddie Gilbert’s, a new restaurant over a fish shop in the heart of Ramsgate may have had something to do with it. Life can look very different after lunch.
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