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Folkestone Harbour Arm

By 12 August 2015 Lifestyle, Travel

For fifteen years an increasingly dilapidated concrete arm has jutted out into the English Channel from Folkestone harbour. Once upon a time it was a railway station and passenger port with the steam trains stopping beside the steam ships departing for the continent. In 1891 it was possible to travel from London to Paris (via Folkestone and Boulogne) in just 7 hours 30 minutes.

During the First World War, Folkestone harbour was known as the ‘Gateway to the Trenches’ as millions of troops headed for the front line. With the last ferry leaving in September 2000 and the harbour branch line officially closed in 2014, Folkestone harbour is now waiting for development.

Folkestone Harbour Station

Old link-span at Folkestone harbour

The refurbishment of the harbour arm, a £3.5 million project, is presenting Folkestone with a pleasure pier for residents and locals to enjoy. The Folkestone harbour arm consists of a lit walkway that goes all the way to the lighthouse at the end, pop up cafes to delight foodies and live entertainment.

Lighthouse at the end of Folkestone harbour arm

The harbour arm lets you get a whole new perspective on Folkestone. My husband and I visited on the first day it opened and the weather was stunning.

Folkestone Harbour Arm Panorama

Folkestone cliffs viewed from Folkestone harbour arm

View from top level of harbour arm towards Folkestone harbour

Folkestone’s harbour arm will be open Friday evenings, Saturdays and Sundays all summer. Check out their Facebook page for the latest news.

Nearest station: Folkestone Central 1 mile – 54 minutes from London St Pancras International. Book online with Southeastern before 24th August to save 25% on off-peak tickets.

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Instagram Photo Tour of Folkestone Harbour

By 3 March 2014 Folkestone, Kent, Life, Lifestyle, Photography
Photo tour of Folkestone harbour, Kent. RachelBirchley.com

On Saturday there was this strange yellow ball in the sky!  Being sat indoors at work all day and then coming home in the dark, I’ve felt like I’ve not really been out.  So come the weekend I was desperate to get out and get some fresh air. And the sunshine meant there really was no excuse.

It’s really daft living by the sea. Sometimes you can go for weeks not actually seeing it in the flesh. At work, I’m really lucky because we have a panoramic sea view, unless it’s foggy, then we can’t see anything! But it starts to seem a little unreal. I love to go down to the sea and actually smell and see it for real. I hope that doesn’t sound weird! I feel a strange affinity with the sea. It makes me feel happy and home. <3

Folkestone harbour is still a working harbour with fishing boats bringing in their catch every morning. The town started as a fishing village before transforming into a bustling seaside resort in the 19th century once the railway from London came. For more, take a look at this brief history of Folkestone from the local history society.

So to show you around the harbour and beach area, here’s my little Instagram photo tour.


Yes, there are actual people in the sea! I was wearing my coat, scarf and ear muffs. I’m sure these people were insane.


Grrr!! This makes me angry. All this rubbish washed up because it’s been thrown in the harbour or thrown on the floor before being blown into the harbour. It’s not like there aren’t any bins.

Did anyone watch The Tunnel on Sky Atlantic last year? It was a brilliant crime series. It was set in Folkestone and Calais with loads of filming actually done in Folkestone. I was thinking of taking some photos of the real life locations but didn’t know if anyone would be interested. What do you think?

This week’s going to be pretty busy but I hope to be able to post again before it’s time for Friday Photo once more.

Have a good week!

Rachel x

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Review of Bush and Beach’s Half Day Wilderness Experience from Auckland

By 10 July 2012 New Zealand, Travel

Māori carving at the Visitor Centre

While in Auckland I wanted to get out of the city and explore the natural soundings so I chose to take a half day Wilderness Experience tour with Bush and Beach, Auckland’s premier small group eco-tour and sightseeing company.  I was so happy to leave urbanisation as for the previous three weeks I had been travelling from city to city in North America. 

The tour guide, Dawn, was very knowledgeable and informative.  She had gone out to New Zealand on a working holiday from the UK and never left.  I learnt that her parents live just 25 miles from my home in Kent.  It really is a small world.  We had a really comfy mini coach and the group consisted of just 7 people, including me.  I was the youngest by at least 20 years but that didn’t bother me in the slightest. 

The first stop on the tour was the Arataki Visitor Centre, in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park above the lush, green rainforest only 30km from downtown Auckland.  There were fabulous, wide-reaching views from the centre.  A great photo opportunity was created by an empty frame, the view serving as the ever changing picture.  Unfortunately, the day I visited was a little overcast but the views were still stunning.  For more information on the Visitor Centre visit http://www.arc.govt.nz/parks/our-parks/arataki-visitor-centre/.

The real-life photograph
The volcanic coast line was our next destination.  We drove through the Waitakere Ranges via a beautiful waterfall, to Piha Beach.  The black sand is volcanic in origin and apparently magnetic.  The sand was littered with dead sea kelp that looked like aliens washed up on the shore.  Really weird!  I picked up a beautiful shell that I learnt from Dawn was a floatation device for a mini squid.  Lion Rock stands proudly above the beach, it’s as if there is a giant lion guarding the beach and looking out to sea.  We were so lucky with the weather.  It only rained while we were in the coach and was dry when we ventured outside.  I was determined to walk barefoot in the sand and did so, which I slightly regretted once I got back to the coach and remembered that I hadn’t brought a towel so had no way to clean the sand off my feet.  Doh!  The beach was beautiful but the sea ferocious.  Just a few hardy surfer dudes braved the waves under the careful supervision of the lifeguards.   

Lion Rock at Piha Beach
Our penultimate stop was the cool, temperate rainforest.  After a well-needed warming cup of tea, biscuits and a sample of delicious Manuka honey (both included in the price) we followed Dawn in to the forest to discover a multitude of trees and ferns.  Our walk was accompanied by the sound of chirping wetas.  We came across loads of spider’s webs but luckily no spiders!  We were reassured that New Zealand does not have any poisonous spiders or plants and no snakes at all, nor does it have any indigenous mammals.  This was certainly news to me.  Any mammals in New Zealand originated elsewhere and were brought to the islands by its many emigrants.  The rainforest floor was interspersed with streams.  It was such an amazing place and I felt so happy while there.  Before re-boarding the coach I experienced a non-smelly drop toilet.  Proof that they do exist.  There was definitely something up with the one in Death Valley!

Northland Rainforest
Our final destination before heading back to the city was to see an 800 year old Kauri tree.  It was massive.  These tall, gnarly trees are native of the Northland and are now quite rare.  The Māori used them for canoes, houses and carvings.  Later, settlers used them to make ships’ masts. 

I arrived back in to the city grateful of the excursion and the fresh air.  At NZ$140 this tour is not cheap, however the knowledgeable guides and small numbers more than make up for this.  At current exchange rates this works out at about £72 or less than £15 per hour, which I think is very reasonable.  As someone who tends to spend most of my trips pounding pavements this tour certainly made a welcome change and I can recommend it highly.  
The Wilderness Experience tour is just one of the 6 tours currently on offer from Beach and Bush. Next time you’re in Auckland be sure to look them up.  

www.bushandbeach.co.nz

  

By Rachel Birchley

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