Margate on The Isle of Thanet, Kent, a place that feels, in the most wonderful creative way, as though it has dropped of the edge of the world and survives in a parallel universe.
For those who don’t know, Margate is right at the tip of East Kent, as far as you can go on the A28 without getting your feet wet in the sea. We went down to Margate in our campervan this week and loved the big skies and the best collection of retro shops this side of Bexhill or Montreal (it’s quite rare to see both Bexhill and Montreal in the same sentence……… I wonder why?).
There was a time, and it was not so long ago, when Margate was a seaside town where the tourist trade had departed and there was nothing left to replace it. But now the culture led regeneration reward is the wonderful Turner Contemporary art gallery and the refurbished old town.
Not all is shiny and bright in Margate and a walk up the hill to the ‘new town’ reveals a harsh picture of boarded up shops and folks having a tough time. All the more reason to visit – pump money in to the local economy, enjoy some contemporary visual arts and a junk shop rummage at the same time.
Whilst you are in Margate, The Walpole Bay Hotel is worth a visit too. The website says you will ‘step back in time to the ambience of a bygone era’ and it is certainly true. I stayed there a couple of years ago and it was like sleeping in a 1940’s movie set. But even if a night at the WBH isn’t do-able Sunday lunch is a delight. I was told by the receptionist ‘Tracy Emin stays here regularly’ and Tracy always strikes me as a fun person and she is of course a Margate native.
We had a lovely day ‘down in Margate’ and returned to our hut in the forest feeling refreshed and ready to start on a long list of commissions.