*The theme for my A to Z is Childhood Stories. Some are real, some are embellished, some are downright fictional but are based on the kind of things I imagined when I was younger.*
Channel tunnel to be precise.
Growing up, we travelled down to France several times a year to see the family. Sometimes we took the plane, sometimes we drove down and took the ferry (that was also exciting, except when we took a hovercraft and the sea was rough – that was seasickness central), and then an amazing new piece of engineering entered our life.
The Channel Tunnel. For those of you who don’t know what it is, over a number a years a tunnel was dug under the Channel to connect the UK and France, so you could drive form one to the other without having to bother with ferries etc.
Considering how often we did the trip back and forth, we followed the digging of the tunnel with interest. For my part, I went to the library and got out a book on fish. I looked at the fish and other creatures of the deep.
Soon I’d get to see them all for myself from the tunnel! I couldn’t wait.
In my mind I pictured the tunnel as a long pipe that would rest in the bottom of the sea. There’d be enough light from the tunnel — I reasoned — for us to see whatever creatures were nearby. Maybe I’d be able to convince my dad to stop the car in the tunnel for a while so we could go and stare out the windows at the fish.
I’m sure you can guess where this is heading. There are no windows in the channel tunnel. The cars are loaded into a train, and there are window in the train, but all you see flashing past is concrete and the odd light. That’s it.
It was a hugely disappointing experience.
In a nice twist of serendipity, my first ride on the tunnel was twenty years ago, and a few weeks ago I kind of got to celebrate that anniversary by going to the amazing aquarium in Monterey, California, and seeing some of the creatures I had expected to find floating around the Channel Tunnel windows. Here are a few of the highlights: