Pale but Interesting


The road into Hastings from the north is winding and, for some quite long stretches, there is nowhere in which it safe to pass. This can cause both long tailbacks and massive amounts of driver frustration, although the absence of one does not necessarily preclude the presence of the other.

For this reason I often drive down from London either early in the morning or fairly late at night.  This last Friday, I elected for a late evening departure, and did indeed benefit from a clear road in front of me.  In these circumstances, though, I am often aware that I am the cause of frustration in the car behind me; sometimes so close behind me that I am blinded by the reflection of the  poorly aligned headlights in my rearview and wing mirrors, which causes me to slow for fear of missing one of the bends ahead, thus compounding the problem. and the level of driver frustration in both vehicles.

When in this situation, I have found that the statistics of fatalities for road traffic accidents in rural areas with which I was furnished on the National Speed Awareness Course I did last year, leap unbidden into my mind.  Suffice to say, they are not good, and do nothing to make me go any faster.  (And before you roll your eyes and mutter about middle aged drivers, I should point out that I am usually driving at or near the speed limit….)  As usual, just after I’d recalled the poor chances of survival on a country road, the souped up hatchback roared past me, and disappeared into the darkness ahead, my relief tinged only a little by sympathy for the next car he encountered on the road.

I was pondering the recollection of my last very late night journey down; I had been nearly on the edge of town when I came across a police road block, which meant that I had to turn around and find an alternate route.  At night, with only a rudimentary knowledge of the surrounding countryside, I took a rather circuitous route into town and had the leisure to wonder if the blockage might have had something to do with the dangerous driver who had passed me earlier on the road.

As if conjured by my memory, around the next bend there were the blue lights and orange cones of another police road block, and a policeman windmilling his arms pointing us up a small turning.  Instantly lost again, none of the village names helped, the weakness of the telephonic network meant that for all the allegedly whizzy navigational apps on my phone I was none the wiser.  It’s very dark out there when you don’t know where you are, but I eventually found my way, via a big loop I subsequently discovered when I looked at a map.

Having had an unscheduled drive around the county in the dark, it seemed only right to explore somewhere new in the sunshine when it came on Sunday.  So off we went to Camber Sands.  I’d heard about the beach, and I saw it on the map, but it seemed unlikely that a county with a shoreline dominated by long shingle beaches, should boast such large sandy dunes.  They are there, lying between a wide sandy beach and the road.  It’s seeing things like this that makes me wish I knew more about geology…….

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