During a family trip to London in August ’22, we stopped into my beloved Folkestone for the odd day. Of course we overnighted at The Clifton. As I ascended the stairs to the first floor landing — risers creaking under foot — my mind cast me back all those many years ago I first ascended those stairs. It’s a good many years as well. And although the hotel has been renovated inside and out, for the moment those seldom seen back stairs leading to just five rooms, remains untouched.
Once-upon-a-time, in September of 2007, I climbed those stairs in for the first time. I made a very long journey — both vis travel and diorama creation — to arrive at that moment, and a larger room was required. I had no idea when I was assigned to 112 that it would be a complete suite. Marvellous. I could not have imagined in 2007 that all these years later, fifteen in fact, I should still be ascending and descending these stairs to those same rooms.
Life is a splendid thing.
September 2007 became 2008. I found myself climbing those same creaky old stairs to 112. It felt comforting, that familiarity. Passing by the old long bar — just visible through a small hatch behind the bar where drinks would be passed to staff servicing the banquet rooms.
There then were the stairs.
The stairs seldom climbed by others. Steep in pitch they arrived at a glorious pair of stained glass windows that view nothing, but surely once were a light box. A narrow turn of the stairs and a tricky door led to an even more narrow landing. Thankfully a handrail steadied me on the those late nights returning from the Southcliff after drinks with the boys in my gang.
September 2008 became September 2010. The world went absolutely arse-over-teakettle into the bin with a deep world-wide economic crisis that reverberated soundly into my own world and altered the trajectory I was on forever. I climbed the same stairs, thankful for a bit of sanity in a world gone upside down. I booked into room 111, which was to become a favourite due to its splendid bathroom.
I would not find myself on those stairs again until 2012. Two years absent. My life and my world settled into a more serene schedule in Spain. I found myself again in 111, and again ascending those old and reliable stairs, the creaking of each riser etched into my sensory memory. That year I found myself unencumbered. A new home in a new country.
2013 brought me back to Euro Militaire and the Clifton Hotel. Room 112 after five years absence. This was the year of the big Rocksalt dinner and Swedish Rikard’s naughty magic trick.
2014. Room 111 and the premier of my second diorama at Euro Militaire.
2015. Room 111 again. Another diorama and my then girlfriend (later to be my wife) Daiana.
Year after year the same stairs. Ascending. Descending. New memories piling onto existent ones. Old friendships rekindled. Life revolving and evolving.
And so we return, with the sad exception of the 2020 Covid pandemic, to those beloved stairs. 2021 we stayed in 112 as well as in 2022. Euro Militaire now is a relic of the miniatures past. The organisers all have died and the Leas Cliff Hall forgotten by all but the most staunch loyalists of Euro.
I’ve been told the hotel is renovating the rooms and 112 and 111 will be nothing like they are presently. Will this alter those ancient Victorian era stairs? I do dearly hope not.
Always I will return to Folkestone. To The Clifton Hotel. And ascend and descend those creaky old stairs.