It's been 27 years since I last lived in Deal. Twenty seven years is a long time. Just under half my lifetime - in fact I've lived more of my entire life elsewhere than in Deal. Yet it really is my hometown.
My Dad was in the army when I was a kid so although I have many memories of actually growing up in Deal, between my birth and about 12 years old much of my actual childhood was spent in Germany. I remember staying in Godwyn Road and Canute Road with my Nanna and Grandad, I remember growing up with my aunties and uncles - some of whom weren't that much older than me, and I can recall the birth of my brother in 1963. I also remember living in The Bund, a seafront property during a really, really cold Winter - again, possibly '63, but most of my early life was spent elsewhere.
I recall watching Fireball XL5 and Doctor Who in Canute Road, playing with my Thunderbirds toys (how much would they be worth now?) in the front garden and I remember running wild over the golf course and on the beach. At the top of Godwyn Road the beach was about 12 feet lower than the road, it's level with it now. We used to pick up starfish on that beach and slurp Walls ice creams by the dozen...
In 1971 we moved back to Deal for good and I went to what was then Deal Secondary School with all that that entailed but my memories are all of fishing, playing guitar and walking or cycling for miles rather than school.
The town has changed but my love of the seafront has not. I have been on the beach everyday since I came back - every day, sometimes a dozen times over. My courtyard garden is littered with beach "finds" - I have become a beach magpie - a Gollum of "precious" things thrown up by the tide. I have sunglasses, goggles, toys and fishing tackle as well as the usual pieces of driftwood, shells and "unusual" pebbles. I have just taken out of my pocket a limpet shell, wondering what was so uncomfortable underneath me when I moved.
I love to watch the sun rise, to see what will arrive with it...seals, seagulls, leaping fish and - once - a pair of harbour porpoises - a truly wild sight to see.
I have meandered through streets I played in - past bus stops I knew well and I have remembered shops long gone. Timothy Whites, Hepworths where I bought my first suit and Goulden and Wind (to rhyme with grind not with binned) where I bought my first, finger crippling guitar. Places I worked in and the church where I married the first time. I have cycled to Kingsdown where I fished for hours and where my brother and I went shrimping.
I hope there are many more memories to make - with my grand children, my parents and my friends but above all I hope for peace of mind and a chance to slow down - just a little, just a very little.