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OK, this is starting to get predictable. Yet another sheepish and sorry start to the day with minimum sleep the night before. Both of us feel a little like Henry Rollins’s shorts might feel after a long and sweaty tour. A bit dazed. Somewhat tangy. Still, this Lost Prom adventure is to be a road trip along the Sussex and Kent coast so our slight drunkenness might add a gonzo edge to our proceedings – sort of Hunter S. Emma Thompson?

Broomhill sands

Broomhill sands

Once again we start in Hastings, meeting our faithful friend Richard who is driving us today. The open road is calling so we jump into Richard’s  car and snooze till we get to a teeny village called Fairlight, not named after the nasty kind of 80s synthesizer beloved of Climie Fisher and the like, but instead so called for its glorious coastal views. All very nice. But I bet even the Romantic Poets would have difficulties worshipping the Sublime if their nipples were turning into icicles and they could taste sick in their mouths. Another stop, this time at Camber Sands, is cursed by the same freezing, gnawing gale. We admire the wind farm, kite surfers and trailer park and then promptly get back in the car.

Next destination is Lydd – another trailer park and this one nestles under a huge pylon which even above the wind, you can hear whirring and humming. The sign outside says ‘For the Quiet Life’ and the pylons are interspersed with alabaster statues of gods and goddesses and other ephemera. It’s like the end-of-the-world crossed with the end-of-the-pier.

Lydd Caravan Park

Lydd Caravan Park

We continue on to Greatstone in search of acoustic mirrors; giant stone Mickey Mouse ears built in the 20s-30s before radar, to detect airborne invasions, but after driving around in circles for a bit have to admit defeat.

So next, Hythe and this time we’re excited, because we’ve heard that St Leonards Church has an ossuary; a crypt lined with 2000 skulls and even more thighbones. We ask directions in ‘Magick and Myth Shop’, a store so draped with dreamcatchers it resembles a nightmare clash of Stevie Nicks’ gusset and an angry wood pigeon. But we forgot to check the seasonal opening times and sadly, the crypt is closed. In a fit of childish revenge we go into the church and arrange the hymn number squares to spell out ‘BOOBIES.’ We flee cackling wildly.

Hythe has its share of charity shops so we have a quick rummage, though Nhung is disappointed that a Corpse Bride style black prom dress doesn’t fit. There’s further angst to come, because she craves a vintage flying helmet and a stall in the antiques market has one. The trouble is, the stall seems to specialise in Nazi memorabilia. In every direction you look, there’s a swastika. Flying helmet or not, we can’t bear to spend another second in there. We can hear the sound of shooting coming from the MOD rifle range nearby. Lydd, Dungeness and Hythe – this area of Kent is very strange indeed.

Lyon Youth Set

Lyon Youth Set

We’re starving now so we head straight onto Dover, the final destination on our road trip. Only a few minutes of daylight remain, just enough for Nhung to snatch some quick shots of a boarded-up brutalist multi-storey car park. It’s too dark to see much of Dover but it looks as if most of the rest of it is boarded up too. But tonight Dover’s Christmas lights are due to be switched on so there’s a carnival atmosphere about the town. Well, OK, not exactly a carnival atmosphere, more an air of desperate resignation, but still they’ve tried. The best bit is an enclosure of real reindeer, in front of which the Lost Prom spend an unfeasibly long time,  making cooing noises and stroking downy antlers. The worst bit is a band of  kiddies doing rock covers. They do a Green Day song with an American accent and then an Arctic Monkeys one in a Sheffield accent. There is also a dance contest that consists of 4 middle-aged women belly-dancing to Shakira in front of the church, and a Sea Cadet marching band who only seem to know the theme from ‘The Great Escape.’ We grab an all-day breakfast with chips in the first cafe we see, ‘Beanos’ and decide not to wait for the paltry-looking lights to be lit. Instead we drive to the docks and sit in the car watching a ferry come in, while the rain tickles the windows and the sea yawns. The lights of the town are stretched out in front of us, with the castle looking down. Suddenly it all feels romantic and atmospheric. It really does. ‘Come to me, take my hand, to the exit, to the end’, sings the girl on the song we’re listening to*. Life is OK really isn’t it?

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Lost
Acoustic mirrors
Ossuary
Flying helmet
Corpse Bride prom dress
Light in Dover

Found
Fake fur coat
Cute reindeer
That Nhung and Richard would both be in Thailand at the same time over Christmas
Sense of romance and adventure

*The song was ‘Exit’ by Marsheaux

trailer park

trailer park

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