Oh I do like to be beside the seaside!

Last weekend I took a short road trip down to Kent to stay down in Margate, an old British seaside town on the Isle of Thanet. It might still be winter but the sun was shining and I haven’t seen the sea in aaaaaaages.

Thanet isn’t really an island but is surrounded on three sides by the North Sea and pokes out from the north-eastern tip of the county of Kent. We drove around the M25 skirting London and Essex, crossed the Dartford bridge and took a turn off at Whitstable for lunch on the way to Margate.

Whitstable is such a lovely little seaside town with vintage emporiums, antique shops, oyster bars, the smell of fish in the air and several good ol’ chippys.

We took a stroll down along the seafront and mulched our way down to the water through wet shells and pebbles, to dip a warm-booted toe into the sea, and watch the gulls swoop. Then, having grabbed a bag of chips to share, we took up residence on a wooden bench overlooking the sea and teased the birds by lobbing the odd hot chip for them to fight over.

Whitstable is definitely a place I will be coming back to with more than a couple of hours for lunch to play with. Back on the road it was only another half an hour to our final destination on the Kent coast; Margate!

Margate has been recently marketed as on the rise, with campaigns promoting the Turner Contemporary art gallery and the relaunch of the Dreamland theme park. Nostalgia has certainly played a part in the town’s revival and the vintage style Dreamland will reopen this summer (2015). The old town is a warren of antique shops and art galleries but seemed strangely desolate on the Saturday afternoon when we wandered through. I imagine there to be a lot more atmosphere on a warm summer day when tourists throng around its streets hunting for bargains and ice cream.

Most activity seemed to be concentrated around the Turner gallery, in which we visited the Self exhibition. The gallery hosted a  number of interesting self portraits from Hirst and Emin to Constable and Turner himself. This modern and light-filled gallery is an asset to the town, and how delightful it would be to live around the corner from a revolving exhibition of world-class artwork.

Afterwards, we walked back to our Air B&B residence to get ready for dinner back at the Turner gallery restaurant, having a quick swig of port (thoughtfully provided by our hosts along with chocolates and homemade goodies) to warm our cockles before diving back out into the cold February evening to walk along the promenade back to the town centre. After dinner we strolled along the harbour arm and started plotting out the next day of adventures…

Have you visited Blackpool or Brighton? Margate or Skegness? What do you think of the great British seaside revival? Tacky hen party destination or vintage retreat by the sea?

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