Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Au revoir, Kent

You never miss what you've got till it's gone. I could digress here about ex-girlfriends and other regrets, or the sad realisation when you leave home that those Tunnock's caramel wafers didn't buy themselves, it was your mother's doing, but that's not what this is about. Nor is it about the pain of having to buy a Dell laptop because I can't be sure I can get away with an Apple in my first contracting job...
Rather, it's finding something I really like about Kent. In under three weeks I'll be back in the Smoke like I always wanted to be, working for a company in central London.
But in the meantime, I can leave the house at ten at night and go running in the countryside, without fear of happyslappers, hoodies or any other suburban horrors.
Quite honestly, it's beautiful round Hawkinge on a summer's night when there's no clouds. Folkestone is there beneath you, glowing like a million birthday candles. Above you, the sky is starry, and all around it's dark.
To begin with, I was running with my Petzl on, and turning it off when I deemed it unnecessary. That leaves you with a couple of seconds blindness, because the reflected glow against my fingers is enough for my irises to contract, so when the light is switched off there's nothing for them to see. Which is fun.
So is feeling your way down the street through your feet, rather than relying on your eyes. And it's great that all the bloody dogs that usually bark at you have gone to bed. Although that fear that you'll slip and break a leg is never too far from the front of your mind.
But that just adds spice to it. Along with the rustling sound of something running through the fields, parallel to your path. Don't ever slow down, because if that badger overtakes you, he'll know that you're broken, a worthy and willing victim for those claws of his. So you carry on running, towards dimly lit bungalows, then past them, up the hills again.
Petzl back on. Amazing how many signs are reflective and show up better at night - including that ghastly big sign for the cattery. And who says you never see a happy jogger? Well, of course you don't. The only happy ones are the ones running at night, and we all dress in dark colours and cover our faces with camo.
Finally, having run to the dogging spot above Peen and turned back, there's a run up through a tunnel of pitch black, where the trees blot out even the light from the sky. It's only a combination of memory and trying to run in the centre of the road, where you can feel the mud, that keeps you going in what you think is the right direction, until you're back in your identikit terraced house again.
A quick shower - quicker when you find the hot water wasn't turned back on - and then slip between fresh clean sheets, all the better for knowing that at 6 in the morning you have to be up to put in another 5k.


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