After being cooped up at home with all the Christmas festivities, we decided to leave the teenagers at home and have a day at the coast, just the two of us.
I have read a few articles recently on Margate and the retro/vintage shops that are making an appearance down there, and of course the arrival of the art gallery so we decided to have a day down there checking it all out. My Grandparents lived in Tankerton so as a child I spent many a summer holiday in Kent, including days out at Margate and the famous Bembom Brothers theme park. Those were the days when I would go on all the rides - not anymore though!!!! The older I get the more cautious I get!!
With lovely clear roads, we were there in record time, parked on the outskirts and walked along the seafront to the High Street. The High Street does not have much going on although a new initiative by Mary Portas was interesting. It is a "pop-up" shop for local entrepreneurs, called Poportunity, where locals can rent a unit for just £35 a week. I purchased a wonderful Royal Albert "Queens Messenger" tea set complete with teapot, milk jug and teacups from a lovely lady at Emily Rose Recycled Furniture.
Ms Portas has also negotiated a special £10 return ticket for rail travel from London to Margate during the winter on Southeastern services, in support of her Portas Pilot scheme.
We wandered down the High Street and found a real gem of a shop - Hunkydory 24 http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hunkydory-24 (with a huge stuffed badger taking residence in the lower part of the shop!) The shop owner, Terry, was very friendly and gave us loads of useful info on the area. Great to hear that Dreamland is due to be revived by Wayne Hemingway http://www.hemingwaydesign.co.uk/projects/design/dreamland-margate
Next stop King Street which has a substantial amount of retro/vintage shops. The "old town" has a great vibe and we really enjoyed browsing around the shops there - Paraphenalia, and Lady Popoff to name but a few.
We also discovered Rough Trade on Fort Road http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rough-Trade-Margate which was great for a rummage and R G Scotts near to the Shell Grotto was an amazing place http://www.scottsmargate.co.uk
I was keen to have a look at the Shell Grotto which I must admit I hadn't heard of before! The story goes that in 1835 Mr James Newlove lowered his young son Joshua into a hole in the ground that had appeared during the digging of a duck pond. Joshua emerged describing tunnels covered with shells. He had discovered the Shell Grotto, its walls decorated with strange symbols mosaiced in millions of shells. Is it an ancient pagan temple? A meeting place for some secret cult? We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and would recommend it, definitely worth a look. I bought a handful of lovely shells to add to my other purchases! I found a lovely Cath Kidston milk jug and a vintage hand mirror in one of the charity shops on the High Street so along with my tea set I came away feeling very happy!
By this time we needed a cuppa so we stopped off at the Turner Contemporary Gallery, which has certainly changed the skyline around the harbour area. You will either love or hate the design. Again, would highly recommend a visit here - children would love the open spaces too and there are lots of free craft sessions going on.
The day would not have been complete without delicious fish and chips (eaten out of the paper sitting on the seafront) - the perfect ending to the perfect day.