So I’ve been down in Rochester for nearly a month now, writing about things that I’d rather not write about. I’d could tell you but I’d have to kill you.
Good grief! I’d not realized what an over used phrase that is, still, I think Obama’s delivery was the best.
Anyway, I’m living in Rochester during the week and getting home at weekends. It’s writing, but not as we know it. However, they do give me large amounts of money, which is nice.
So the post and admin is building up at home and I nearly forgot to pay the broadband bill, which is worse than forgetting to pay for water; but there are compensations.
The Medway area is rich with history, particularly military history. I’m quite interested in this but my period is the late 14th Century, whereas Rochester has Rochester Castle which is the time of Magna Carta and King John (so a couple of hundred years earlier). However I was interested to discover that the Victorians built a ring of fortresses around the area just after the Napoleonic Wars. (By then Chatham was once of the centres of military ship building and it needed defending.) So when I heard an unexplained noise in my car I found myself visiting a motor mechanic in an old fortress.
Driving down the track I pulled up at one of those boxes where you press the button and talk to the receptionist. The car was perched on the edge of a moat at least twenty feet deep and perhaps thirty feet wide. Ahead were two massive oak doors in an archway that you could drive a lorry through. It was like a Victorian version of those giant mountain tunnel entrances like you see in the X Files or Stargate. The receptionist told me to drive across the bridge (where once there was a drawbridge) as the gates swung open driven by some hidden mechanical contraption. The bridge seemed to be made up of loose timbers of sturdy but alarmingly insecure planks of wood. The timbers clattered as I gingerly drove my two-tonne 4×4 across, half expecting to tumble into the chasm below. (Honestly, I know I’m flowering this up—as I do when I write, I just can’t help it—but this is exactly what it was like.)
Inside it got better. I found myself in a massive tunnel, perhaps 100 feet long, large enough for substantial vehicles to pass each other. Ahead was daylight but I didn’t get to see what was at the end because the receptionist had told me to turn left at the crossroads and up one of the side tunnels. So now I’m driving around inside an underground complex that would have made Blofeld proud. Meanwhile the doors closed behind me with a red flashing light above, presumably to ensure people don’t get squashed as they open and close.
Up the side tunnel I drove, alarmingly narrow and just wide enough to allow me to drive without pulling in the wing mirrors, and out into the daylight with the sound of the my diesel making a delicious echo. Here was a series of arches that had been converted into workshops like they do with railway arches.
The rest was remarkably mundane, with people apparently unimpressed by the surroundings. Cars arrived up the tunnel and people took no notice. I had my suspension fiddled with and meanwhile I explored a bit, finding another tunnel nearby that seemed to go round a corner and into somewhere at the back where the big tunnel came out.
As I left I encountered one of those small electric trucks, headlights twinkling out of the gloom at the crossroads, that looked strangely right for the surroundings. So I made up my mind to have my car serviced there next time so I can have a proper explore. When the oil needs changing I’ll let you know how I get on, meanwhile there’s Rochester Castle and the old dockyards where there’s a submarine that I really must look at as Clint from the Hidden Masters and the Unspeakable Evil is an ex-submariner.
Turn the sound up before following this link: http://www.forthorsted.co.uk/