My travel journal fell woefully behind, and despite my best intentions, I did not manage to complete the tale before our return to Australia. Bill and I have been home for a week now, and I am determined to catch up!
So today’s story is about Margate, a seaside town in the Thanet coastal area of Kent in England.
Margate has been a leading seaside resort for at least 250 years. Its claim to fame is a sandy beach, which in its day, made Margate a traditional holiday destination for Londoners, or for working class vacationers. It had a Victorian style pier which was destroyed by a storm in 1978. Many Australian seaside amusement piers of the early twentieth century would have been based on the English model such as Margate’s.
Over time, Margate became dowdy. Its popular Dreamland Amusement Park – a big attraction for the local youth – changed hands, became run-down, suffered an arson attack, and is currently closed to the public. It consumes a large tract of waterfront land, and so in its current condition is something of an eyesore, whereas it was once a bright beacon promising fun for all.
Margate’s many guest houses became out-dated and out of favour, and turned into low cost boarding houses for transients.
When I was last here in 2005, everything was looking sad and dejected.
Happily, Margate is having a revival. For example, a modern art gallery has been built in a prominent position next to the harbour. It is called the Turner Contemporary, and I went along expecting to see lots of paintings of sea and ships on fire, in muted reds, oranges and yellows. If I had bothered to check first, I would have noticed that the gallery is described as a “dynamic visual arts organisation …….. inspired by JMW Turner’s sense of enquiry……… offering a space for everyone to embrace their curiosity and to discover different ways of seeing, thinking and learning”.
Which translates to me as – I didn’t understand much of what I was seeing. But hey! Everyone who knows me understands that I am an art idiot. I am sure those that are more in tune with the esoteric would enjoy the current exhibition, or others to come. All I will say is that if filming your feet in slow motion is artistic, then I am sorry I wasted the opportunity to do so when I had my bunion surgery. I could have introduced blood, bruising and stitches as a mixed media element. Just saying ………
Seriously though, if you would like to know more about this new gallery, here is a link: http://www.turnercontemporary.org/about
Another point of interest is the Thanet Offshore Wind Project. One hundred wind turbines are installed in the English channel about eleven kilometres to the east of Margate, and are easily visible from the seafront. An amazing sight.
In the Old Town and side streets, many retailers have brightened their shop-fronts and tempt shoppers with an eclectic range of goods.
The only thing missing is the sea! There is around a three metre (almost ten foot) difference between high and low tide. For an Aussie, that means you could just about walk to France before you could do any serious swimming. On our afternoon visit, it was definitely low tide, as you will note from the beached fishing boats in our photographs. Hysterical.
Thursday 15th August 2013, Garrulous Gwendoline, Margate, England