The British seaside town of Margate is exactly what you would expect. Experiencing its heyday in the 60’s, where everyone flocked to the beach, the cheap holiday packages of the 70’s made an impact. Coming out of the train station, having journeyed from London – tickets are only £25 return booked in advance – I was immediately greeted with sandy beach views. My local taxi driver had lived in Margate all his life and told me tales of the past speaking with enthusiasm of the new interest in the area and a slow paced rejuvenation.
The great thing about Margate is that there are enough things to do but it is also quiet enough that you can sit and stare as the world goes past. Here are a few ideas;
Wander to the Shell Grotto, an underground cavern with shell lined walls with a small £4 entry fee. Standing in the main room, with no outside sounds, looking at the intricate walls creates a moment of reflection. Why did someone do this? When was this made? How much time did it take? There are no answers and you just have to enjoy the here and now. A strong metaphor for life.
The Turner Contemporary art gallery currently has an exhibition based on TS Eliot’s work The Waste Land. Sent to Margate by his doctor in 1921, at a time when he was mentally and physically unwell, the town and seaside air helped to heal him. Set on the sea the museum has some of the most stunning views to watch the shipping containers go by and is a perfect free refuge from any gaelic weather.
Recently renovated Dreamland has reopened with a traditional wooden roller coaster, amusement arcade and roller skating rink. I got incredibly competitive on the penny slots mastering the technique to win some sweets. There was another lady there who clearly was a regular and managed to clear the slots with only a few pennies lost!
Margates high street is a mix of independent stores and various restaurants. The Old Town section is bursting with vintage stores full of funky shaped glasswear, retro striped jumpers and plenty of old vinyl. My favorite was Peony Vintage with a bright pink facade leading to a selection of colourful clothing and accessories including some fantastic acrylic earrings.
It isn’t a beach side visit without eating fish and chips! Four separate recommendations lead me to the main boardwalk where Peters Fish Factory is. Unusually I wasn’t disturbed by any seagulls whilst I ate, however the one that turned up after I left my chair was as big as a dog! We also ate at modern pizza bar GB Pizza Co. There is a simple pizza menu with delicious, British made foodstuffs and you can even fill your own wine bottle! On my second day I sort refuge at The Greedy Cow who’s hot chocolate can be made from your favorite variety (milk, dark or white) garnished with cream and dozens of marshmallows.
I stayed in this fabulous Airbnb run by Fran and her family. She has three different room choices in her large red brick home and I chose the Grey Room! It is just a short stroll to a high street and 15minutes into Old Town Margate. Fran’s hospitality and little extras were very generous and you might even spy her African Parrot in her private kitchen!
Layer up, bring wind breakers for walks along the beach promenade and enjoy your time in the seaside town of Margate. PF xo