The Dream Home That Never Was

And I discovered that my castles stand, Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand. – Viva la Vida, Coldplay

Yesterday, we went out to the Downs with Jules’s mum to get some fresh air and scenery and let the dog give her paws a work out. We spent a bit of time walking along the paths that loop around the Jack and Jill windmills, a popular spot with some pretty epic views, and then headed off to a nearby pub Jules knew about for a drink and a loo stop.

On the way, we were picking out any nice cottages we passed by. Much as we love living in Brighton, Jules does have a hankering to one day have a little cottage in the country, and somewhere in the Downs (and near Brighton) would suit us right down the ground. (Of course, as with all such dreams this would be subject to lottery-sized levels of funding somehow becoming available to us).

And then, driving round a bend just before the village of Clayton on the way back from the pub, we glimpsed our dream home. Nestled into a scenic valley, tucked down below the road, with – as Jules pointed out – not one, but two, of the little castle turrets that I absolutely adore and aspire to one day own.

We only caught a glimpse of it; we were zooming past, and like I said, it was tucked down into a little valley. But what we saw was intriguing.

When I got home I got out my iPad and started searching, eager to track down what it was. I tried typing “Clayton” and “Castle” into Google, but nothing came up. So I started searching the map, figuring I might see some kind of symbol. But there was nothing.

In desperation, I started browsing Google Earth, and then, there it was, ever clearer as I zoomed in. Two perfect castle towers… and something else that reminded me what our dream home was. Reminded me that I’d seen pictures of it before.

Yep. See that “valley” stretching away to the north? Our dream home was in fact this:

The entrance to the one and a quarter mile Clayton Tunnel that takes the London to Brighton railway under the Downs – meaning that I thunder straight through (under?) our erstwhile dream home twice a day.

I suppose we should congratulate our Victorian forebears for providing some magnificent decoration to a feature that passengers would never actually see. But talk about raising hopes!

Still, I did get to tease Jules, who was on the phone chatting to a friend while I was finding this all out.

Me: I found your dream home love!

Her: [Excited] Yeah!

Me: Yeah! Here it is! [Holds up picture of the tunnel mouth]

Her: Git!

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