In and out of the White Cliffs of Dover – no wonder the Victorians used to talk of railway mania, it’s a crazy place to build a line, but they did want to reach the ports. A century and a half later we can enjoy the views across the Channel in warmth and comfort.
One man who would have enjoyed this day was Mr Turner, the artist JWM Turner, who captured the thrill of the Victorian railway in Rain, Steam and Speed, as well as the sea and sky as their changing moods react to each other.
As often after showers, France looked much closer than twenty miles away. In those few minutes that I was in the train, the sun was shining over Ambleteuse, lighting up the surrounding hills, all snow-covered. The storm that had anointed them was rampaging West, a black presence right down to the waves, leading a pack of dark beings intent on disconcerting sailors and landlubbers alike.
Yet the sun shone over the distant snow fields, and here and there lit up a stretch of sea, a white ferry coming in from Calais, the end of Admiralty Pier.
The next storm-wolf was roaring hailstones over Dover as we arrived. No ride to the beach for my picnic lunch today!