THE SET UP: Dover has a bad reputation. It is seen as being overrun by deadbeats, refugees, pramfaces, no-hopers and with little going for it other than a quick exit route to Somewhere Else. This is why my host likes it. Joanna Jones is a well-respected artist who moved here from Berlin over ten years ago. She fell for the light here, but she also fell for something else which would baffle many. She likes the idea that she can use art here in a way that would have little impact in other, 'better' places. Together with two other women, Joanna has set up DAD - a partnership for developing public arts projects throughout the town - and she's excited about something fresh being poured into the town which residents can get involved with.
There is something about the light in her house that is unique. You feel like you may be able to unravel your thoughts enough here to put something down of worth. I arrived feeling a bit fraught and out of sorts. I was starting to feel like I was already losing time and beginning to spin. She pulled me into her house and I felt calmed in an instant. Dinner was waiting in great pots on the stove, my hand was soon holding a glass of red wine (nothing particular and probably bought from Lidl) and we got stuck straight into some pretty mystical discussions.
WHO CAME: Joanna, me, another Petra who lives next door and one of her DAD partners, Clare.
WHAT WE ATE: Potato and mushroom curry, cooked with ginger and turmeric, chicken curry and coconut rice. Simple and soothing. Outside was still grizzly - a chilling to the bone tone to it and demanding of hot, spicy comfort food.
DINNER TABLE TOPICS: Clare's mum is a 72 year old Chinese woman who is about to return to her homeland to study at university. Imagine that. We talked about J's recent trip to Calcutta and the Western habit of sorting ideas dualistically, as opposed to the Eastern way which just is. Climate change and human greed came into play and the thought that perhaps we've gotten to the point where we've consumed so much that we've almost eaten through it and we're coming out the other side. Apparently foot passengers on ferries last year were at their highest level since 1992.
THE PUD: No chocolate! A pud was already made - poached pears and cherry ripple ice cream (again from Lidl and fairly synthetic in a familiar, childhood way).
MY BED FOR THE NIGHT: An old fashioned single room with an enormous sash window that looks out over the street below so I can keep an eye on Jimmy and any meddling dock workers wanting to leap in and sample the wares!