coolasfolke – swapping the city for the coast

Rosie Percy has a friend in Folkestone whom she came to visit.  Her friend gave her the most spectacular tour of the town and Rosie’s love affair began.  She started up her Instagram CoolAsFolke after one of her visits and it was always her intention to move to the town.  Her dream became reality and now she’s here for the long term.  Folkelife met for coffee to find out what first attracted her to the most beautiful seaside town in Britain?

I had a friend who lived in Brighton whom I used to visit a lot.  She moved to Folkestone and I was determined not to like it when I came to visit her. 2018 I came down and I don’t know what it was, there’s something about the town that when I walked through the Step Short Arch at the end of The Leas I knew that this town was going to be important to me.  

“Rae, my friend, has the most fantastic tour of Folkestone that will win anyone over!  I’ve used it on other people since.  So, you have to have a bottle of champagne at the Lighthouse Champagne Bar on the Harbour Arm, that’s a must.   We walked down the Leas, on the Zig Zag path into the Coastal Park.  That’s my absolute most favourite, most beautiful part of Folkestone.  We walked along the seafront and onto the Harbour Arm, stopping for a That Burger – they’re delicious – and there was live music on the Arm at the time.   We went to Bounce Vintage – which has now become an unhealthy obsession for me and ended up in the Rum Clinic.  I think they wanted to give us the highlights and I loved it.  I started the Instagram CoolAsFolke straight after that first visit.”

needed a folkestone fix

“After that first visit I’d come every two to three months.  If my friend was going away I’d come and cat-sit.  If I needed to detox from London, then down I’d come.  I’m going to sound like the tourism board for the train company but it was so easy to jump on a train and be down here in less than an hour.  Where I was in London, it would take that time to get into the centre of town so it really was easy to escape.  As soon as I went past Ebbsfleet I could feel myself exhaling and letting go of all that was behind me in London.  I came down regularly for a year/18 months and then March 2020 happened, and we all know what that means… Covid.”

Harbour Station Platform Credit Matt Rowe
Harbour Arm Credit Matt Rowe
Potting shed cocktail
The Colour Of The Sea
The Leas Credit Sally Law

making the move

“Folkestone was the first place I visited when we were allowed out again after the first lockdown.  And, I continued to come until I decided that yes, I really was going to move here.  I love living in London and all that it has, but the pull of Folkestone was really strong and I had to do it.  

“It was March 2021 and the market was really aggressive.  There were so many people getting out of those built-up areas and wanted to make the break.  Each flat went so quickly.  I spent ages on the phone to estate agents and everything as soon as it went on the market was snapped up.  Eventually I took the place I’m currently in as ‘unseen’.  There were photos and films online of the place and I just had to take it or else I don’t think I’d have got anything.  I came down the next day to see it for real, just to make sure I hadn’t made a terrible mistake, but it was much better in person than in the photos.”

buying in town

“I got that place to rent, but now, 18 months later, I am in a position to buy and so that’s what I’m doing.  I never thought that would be the case.  Certainly buying in London or Brighton has been out of the picture for me for a long time, I just can’t afford it.  Folkestone is still affordable though.  That said, the market is moving very quickly.  I found the place I’m just about to move into and by the time I’d put an offer in, which I wasn’t lazy about! – someone else had made a better offer.  I went out for a run, it was a really bad run.  I was feeling so morose.  Grieving for this flat, I was low for a few days.  Then, the estate agent called back and said that the sale had fallen through and was I still interested?  Yes!   My run that day was so different, probably ran a personal best time too!”

working from home

“When I’d moved down here I was working from home, Covid being what it was.  Eventually my office there was closed down and now I work from home for the New York office of my company.  I’m the Associate Director of Audience Development for eCommerce Strategy for Vox Media.   There are a bunch of brands under Vox Media like the New York Magazine, Vulture, The Dodo, Popsugar and so on.  We were told to work from home for a month when the pandemic started, then they sold off the UK office and so my move to Folkestone has coincided very well with the way the company has changed too. 

“I still go up to London a lot to see friends, but I’ve got the best of both.  I can have fun up there, and then escape to the seaside and have fun here!”

folkestone’s best bits

It depends what time of year it is as to which bits are my favourite but guaranteed to impress are The Potting Shed with David and Sophie – that’s just so good. The passwords to get in are just brilliant.  It’s a speakeasy cocktail bar with a secretive flare to it, the surprise element and skill is just second to none .  The Folkestone Wine Company is, again, always good. 

I love the fact that there’s so much art about.  You can have wonderful walks and discover amazing things if you look around.  My favourite is Cristina Iglesia’s mirrors at the top of The Leas.  Oh, and the colour wheel looking out to sea as you walk along The Leas to the Zig Zag path.  I love to take friends out of my flat and onto The Leas where you get that vista across the sea.  It never fails to impress.  They all stop and say ‘wow, you live here?’  Yes. I do.”

Photo credits: Old High Street, Harbour Station and Harbour Arm – Matt Rowe, ZigZag Path -Roisin O’Connor, The Leas Bench with view – Sally Law

discover more about folkestone below

Folkestone Artworks – The Largest Public Collection in the UK
The Place To Be – Folkestone Harbour
Love Is Love – Folkestone Pride
Your Destination – The Folkestone Wine Company

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