Monday, 22 August 2016

The Great British Seaside: Margate Photo Walk

What is there NOT to like about the Great British Seaside?! I LOVE everything about it. The wind, the rain, the plastic buckets and spades, the rock, the melting ice creams, the scampi and chips, the wind, the rain, the freezing cold water, the grey sand or pebble beaches, the wind, the rain, the deckchairs, etc. Okay, okay, so it takes a little getting used to! And those folk who haven't spent day of their childhoods huddling behind wind breaks on exposed open beaches, shivering as they eat ice cream filled with blown sand, or using trainers as buckets to get the water out of their tent, may not have a clue what I'm talking about! But for most British kids, trips to the Great British Seaside are a rite of passage, it's made us who we are and it's now in our blood!

Margate is a lovely little example of a quintessential Great British Seaside town. It's got a large sandy beach (a rarity!), a fun promenade, lots of little cafes and fish and chip shops. What's more it's got a particularly arty, retro vibe with the renovated Dreamland fairground area, a host of vintage stores and the Turner Gallery. All in, it makes a GREAT destination for a day-trip from London and that is exactly what we did.

I'd been meaning to visit Margate for YONKS, so when I spotted that Xanthe and Betty Magazine were hosting a photo walk in my number one destination seaside town, I leapt at the opportunity! (Well, not quite, my giant belly is hindering my leaping abilities these days). I dragged along my sister and we made a full day of it. I've written before about Xanthe's photo walks (see here!). They are great fun, a wonderful opportunity to meet like-minded folks and filled with experimentation, exploring and education.

Here are my five key must haves for a quintessential British day out at the seaside along with some of the wonderful colourful snaps I took during the photowalk:

1. Seaside Grub

Fresh fish and chips, tangy vinegary cockles and winkles, melting ice cream, rock sticks as hard as nails! There are so many treats that you simply MUST indulge in to make a trip to the seaside complete. We indulged in a shared newspaper full of fish and chips sat on the prom as soon as we arrived in Margate - you can't do a photowalk on an empty stomach! ;)

Later we also had a super delicious ice cream - mint choice chipped mango sorbet. Yum! But Margate had so much more on offer, and all worth sampling!

2. Paddling (or swimming for the very brave!) 

No trip to the seaside is complete without braving the water. Remarkable, when it's windy and rainy, the water actually feels relatively much warmer!! Luckily, on this trip we were blessed with sunshine so a paddle in the shallows was no hardship at all. Phew!

And embracing the grey murky water, just like these seagulls!

3. Sheltering from the wind (or rain, or sleet, or any other extreme weather events!)

British beaches are always littered with wind breaks and umbrellas. And not simply to keep our white bodies from burning as might initially be assumed. No, these perfofrm another very important function - they create a small space with respite from the whipping wind and blowing sand. Worthy of note is the fact that no matter how wind-tight your barriers, you will still find sand in every crevice, sarnie and ice cream to provide that added crunch!

4.  Plastic tat

In most homes these days (including ours for the time being), plastic tat is banished completely, or at the very least restricted to the play room! But I firmly believe that a day trip to the Great British Seaside demands that we push all these rules to one side. What about a plastic mini cricket set or a bright gaudy volley ball for games on the beach? A trip to the beach would not be complete without it...

5. Arcade Games

Most traditional is the cheap and garish 2p or 10p machines ubiquitous to every pier and promenade in the UK. My sister is a 2p machine fiend, always has been since a tender young age! Whenever we went to the beach as kids, Izzy would collect 2ps for days in advance and make a bee-line for the arcade machines as soon as humanly possible! Margate is a little bit more special as Dreamland actually has a vast collection of vintage games machines that are both fun AND look good!

Dreamland is a wonderful step back in time, it's an old pleasure park that is chockablock with vintage rides and games that have been restored and opened for the modern day seasiders! It's only a few hops from the beach and is a retro feast for all the senses, and as you can imagine, a treasure trove for a photowalk... :)

Whether it be Margate or any of our other wonderful seaside towns all around this British island, its still not quite the end of the summer holidays and this coming week is forecast to be an absolute steamer - so, grab your swimmers, jelly shoes and wind-breaks (just in case!) and get yourself and all your loved ones down to the Great British Seaside to celebrate our highly unpredictable but totally lovable British Summer in super style. 

If you know of any other British seaside towns that you think I'd love, let me know so I can add them to the list and try and squeeze in a few more visits before the summer's out!

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