I recently took a buzzfeed quiz to find out which seaside town I should visit before Summer is over. I only ruddy got my hometown Margate didn’t I? Not on purpose either, it was one of those one question quizzes – “What beach food do you choose?”. Obviously it’s an incredibly exhilarating quiz, so I shan’t ruin it for you with my answer.
It just so happens I did venture down to Margate this Summer, not once but twice. Sure it’s more to do with my friends and family living over there than its recent boom as a seaside town, but I thought I ought to remind myself of what it has to offer.
Let’s start with the hip’n’happening Margate Old Town – lanes of boutique, vintage shops that give the town a touch of colour and individuality. It is a part of Margate that while growing up, I tended to ignore. However, now that the high street is not quite what it used to be, the Old Town is picking up the slack, bringing a quirky touch of magic to the seaside.
For example, there’s Paraphernalia, a shop laden with an array of beautiful antiques and vintage furniture, evoking the feeling of walking around an attic of treasures. Even if you’re not in town to buy the furniture, a walk around this shop is definitely recommended, especially if you’re a fan of Brighton’s Snooper’s Paradise.
Just around the corner is The Greedy Cow. This is a cutesy little café in the center of the old town and oh my gosh, I love love love it there. Why had I not been there, like ever? It looked really cute and the menu was full of all kinds of lovely dishes, it was difficult to decide what to have. I ended up going for the halloumi and salsa – grilled halloumi with steamed fennel, toasted almonds, salad, apple, salsa and toasted sourdough.
Oh good lord, it tasted like heaven. I will definitely be heading back there some time to try something new. Further down by the beach is The Old Kent Market, a selection of stalls where you’ll find anything from fresh food, clothing and accessories. As you walk in there is an old bus decked out as a café, adding a little unique charm to the barn-like interior.
Across the road is Margate’s Turner Contemporary. A free art gallery featuring temporary exhibitions that aim to bring history and art together, some pieces physically interactive, others there for your mind to take in. One particular piece featured a boat made of leaves, carrying a collection of hand-written notes. Visitors are prompted to write down their childhood dreams on a scrap of paper and place it in the boat.
Write your childhood dreams… and place it on this boat. How much does it weigh?
Not only did this piece make you think, it gave an insight to the dreams of others, funny and serious alike. One of my favourites was “I wanted to be an astronaut (now i don’t)”. I’m not sure why but something about that made me chuckle, but also made me think of how our dreams can change, something we may have wanted years ago might not be what we want now, and that’s totally okay.
Speaking of dreams… let’s talk about Dreamland.
The re-opening of Margate’s pleasure park has ignited a spark in the town, with feelings of nostalgia for older residents and opportunities for the younger generations. As much as it is a great attraction for tourists, it brings about a sense of community for those who frequent Margate day to day.
Having grown up in Thanet, I may have taken advantage of the seaside charm without even realising how lucky I was. Now that I live in Southampton, a city with all docks and no beach, I really do miss having the sandy shores right on my doorstep. When the news came that Dreamland was re-opening I was so eager to get there and relive my childhood. Only took me a year…
So I had finally managed to find someone I could drag around the rides with me. Christine and I spent a day in the sun, on rides big and small, ramming into people on the dodgems and tucking into some traditional seaside ice cream. Unfortunately the scenic railway, Dreamland’s signature attraction, was out of use that day, but hey, thats just another excuse to visit again.
Though it would have been nice to see some more independent rides that are exclusive to Dreamland, a day out to the pleasure park is definitely a must. Not only does it host plenty of outdoor rides, there are arcades indoors (as well as a string of arcades along the seafront) and a roller disco. The whole place revels in an abundance of retro charm, from the whimsical decor to the friendly staff. On our turn of the ghost train, the host jested with us, asking if we were scared. “Absolutely petrified” we replied, incredibly sarcastic. Just as the door was about to close behind us, the host took it upon himself to roar in our ears, giving us quite the fright indeed. Fair play Dreamland. Although I must say we were expecting his second go at scaring us as we returned to the front, nice try though!
Upon arrival to Dreamland, visitors can buy a wristband allowing them unlimited access to rides for the day (you can boost this to an access to all areas for all attractions on site) or you can buy tokens throughout the day if you’re making a quick stop for one or two rides. Perfect for all the family.
All in all I had a great time reliving the old times, whether that was feeling giddy on the rides or just simply divulging in all the home treasures I had forgotten about.