The official 1914-15 guide to the town published by the Folkestone Advertising Committee would probably have gone to press some time in 1913, and advised visitors of the attractions offered by the local theatre and pleasure gardens, including: cycling, croquet and lawn tennis, as well as ‘illuminated evening concerts held in the gardens, which are converted into a veritable fairy land.’ Among other advantages, the guide claimed that ‘There are no offensive trades carried on in the town’ and ‘It is a peculiarity of Folkestone that it very rarely rains for a whole day.’
The outbreak of war in August 1914 led to a transformation of this genteel resort – one commentator recalled that ‘Much of Folkestone’s social life was woven into socks and stitched into shirts’, while guests at local tea parties were expected to take their own sugar in a decorative bag designed especially for the purpose.
After a long and exhausting detour through most of Kent (or so it seemed), caused by a landslide on the line, Lucy alights at Folkestone station.
Perhaps it was the length of the journey, but everything seems different somehow. There are men in uniforms, and women looking plain and purposeful. Everybody is going somewhere, doing something, searching for someone with great intent.
And Lucy has something of a mission, too. She must visit her brother in the Army garrison.