The customs inspector at Flughaven Tegel was most concerned at my obvious overstaying of the three month tourist visa, stamped efficiently into my passport in early July, but rather more smiling and good-natured once I produced with a flourish, my as-yet unfolded ‘fictional’ visa acquired from the Ausländer office on armistice day. I was though, still unsure until the smiles continued and a new stamp was ratcheted into my passport and I was waved on into customs, whether this ‘fictional’ visa would allow for happy traveling within Schengen countries without being banned forever and shipped south.
It was still dark and snowing, so I amused my neighbours in the exit row aisle where there was not the expected extra legroom, by falling asleep and possibly drooling, sometime later arriving in sunny London. And so on the tube to Victoria, via several changes due to construction, and from there just catching the 10:33 to Ramsgate, ‘this train will split at Faversham the front four carriages going to Ramsgate, the rear four carriages going to Dover Priory’, uuhhh… not for getting a recital of this including the intervening stations, and to make sure you are in the correct carriage, mine being ‘2 of 8’, even after the split at Faversham, and plonked onto a deserted platform, wind cutting and sun occasionally covered by swift clouds.
Whitstable, home of oysters since the Romans, a farmer’s market, much cheese and other local produce, fresh seafood and fish, stoney beaches and mudflats, the Neptune pub, setting for Tipping the Velvet which I think I should read, and I am staying with my delightful Hobo on a road to a Borstal.
Ten days here, a reprieve from Berlin where I think the grey was driving me slowly insane, and all the other attending worries and anxieties. Little to do here except wander the beaches and woods, cook and eat, read many books from my Hobo’s shelves.
Yesterday a wandering east along the coast, we could go all the way to London, through the groins, past what I have called the Dyke Huts, and further, the sea dark and calm, wind turbines in the distance, then returning as far as the harbour, fishing boats resting in the mud, the tide out and a glimpse of sea visible below the entrance, the high-water line far above their decks, and all the way accompanied by the singing of yachts’ mast riggings. Bread and cheese, apple cider, wandering home in the dark.