When a traveller is desperate to travel… Go to Margate
When you haven’t blogged for ages and you’re still in a kinda-sorta lockdown state of affairs, what the hell do you write about AND you’re going absolutely stir crazy for a vacay, but you’re a bit covid paranoid, to say the least!
I’ve been “going through it” and needed a moment away from the big smoke (that’s what northerners call London, in case you didn’t know). I decided to go to one of the UK’s favourite seaside towns. The sun was out on a Sunday, why waste it in the city, it was high time I put my toes in the sand. I know it’s not the Caribbean, but it will do.
My return train ticket was £28 (cheaper when booked online, with a specified return time) from London, St. Pancras. As I said, Corona still has me paranoid. I walk everywhere that I possibly can. Margate, unfortunately, was too far for my city feet. So train it was. Corona has public transport on its A-game. It was my first time on any long public transport journey. That train was so super clean, it sparkled, with only a few people on there. The practice is that all passengers must wear a mask for the entirety of their journey. That worked for me.
90 minutes later, I’m at the sea. A busy beach but definitely not packed. The sand was surprisingly soft! If you’ve ever been to Brighton “beach” (in air quotes, because some people may have different views), you know it’s a body of water surrounded by stones, pebbles, no sand. It’s not attractive, comfortable, or likeable in my book, but it’s closer to London and it's a hip town with stuff going on and people flock to it. As for the water in Margate, hmmm it was a warm Sunday, the sun was out. Locals jumped into the water, but the water was a colour I’d never seen before and the waves were rolling like a storm was coming. I gave that a miss.
A trip to a UK seaside is incomplete without hot doughnuts, fish & chips (I like mine with mushy peas) and rock. Hot doughnuts are available everywhere. I got mine from a kiosk on the beach, 6 for £4. The fish and chips had a 30-minute queue around the block. Yes! 30 minutes for fish & chips. Initially, I walked off. I couldn’t believe the queue was that long, at least 30 people were waiting. I didn’t see the need to be 31. The Turner Gallery was closed that day and the oldest indoor market didn't really have anything I needed, so 10minutes later I joined the queue, after asking two old ladies if it was worth it. They said yes. A sizeable, hard to finish portion set me back £6.75 and was indeed worth it. I like hot doughnuts, every other shop sells rock. I bought mine from the Sunset Rock Shop. A nice array of flavours such as jam doughnut, prosecco, gin & tonic, whiskey and of course old favourites tutti frutti and mint. Small rocks were 50p each. I only picked up a few. I’m trying to look after my teeth!
Margate has a Brighton vibe, which was nice. I’ll be back there before the year is out. Apparently, now cosmopolitan than years gone by. Home to the famous Turner Gallery, which unfortunately was closed that day, Margate is more cosmopolitan than its image of the working man’s holiday destination from the ’70s.
Childhood travel memories:
My introduction to Margate was from my Easter and summer holiday Playcentre day trips to the theme park (the dreaded Mary Rose boat ride that had me traumatised every time I went on it, but I still kept going on it) in the ’80s. Those were the days. Margate at most is a 2-hour drive from London. We little kids, pre-teen and teens in the playscheme had to be at the coach before sunrise, packed lunch and walkman in hand for the journey. We wouldn’t arrive before noon. Clearly, that coach driver took the scenic route and we got back at dark too, a whole day.
Although I didn’t get a chance to visit the theme park on this visit; too busy dipping my toes in the sand, having my picture taken by strangers - a random lady in the fish & chips queue, she thought I looked nice (I wasn’t the only Black person in the village, but one of a few LOL). I took the compliment and the pic, I was in a good mood. She assured me that she wasn't going to do anything weird with it.
I came to find out, surprisingly, that there is a growing Gambian community in Margate, although there’s no “Gambian spot” as yet. I bumped into some Gambian locals at the container cluster of bars at the end of the beach. Music playing, nice vibes. At the top of the buildings, locals gathered to watch the sunset and so did I! It was beautiful. That never gets old to me. It's still one of my favourite things to do whilst travelling. However, I had to manage the onset of a mini heart attack (proverbial, of course). I’m in this upper area, the roofing area of the bars. There’s a wall that’s chest height, which surrounds the area from the natural elements - a long drop into the sea! So, as we now live in a world where so many people are “doing it for the gram”, a lady proceeds to lean on the wall, leg in the air, with a cat in her hand, posing for her “photographer”. Ok, harmless I hear you say (the poor cat seemed so out of place to me. Just saying). Not enough, she decides to sit on the wall, feet off the ground, remember, the drop is into the elements! She’s posing with the cat, leaning to the side, turning and smizing of course. She thinks it’s America’s Next Top Model because the UK Top Model just won’t cut it!. I'm squirming! Literally, my belly is doing somersaults. I can’t watch it. Mr. Gambia (one of the guys I met, whose name I’ve forgotten, but he’s Gambian, so hey, that’s his name) is confused by my horror. I proceeded to tell him the story of when I went to Machu Picchu in Peru:
Whilst travelling Peru in 2018, I went on a tour to Machu Picchu, loving it, of course. There are some other taller mountains in the distance that had only recently reopened to tourists because of the fragility of the ancient site, only one of the mountains is open to tour s to smaller groups, once or twice daily. Anyway, the tour guide proceeds to tell the story of one tour group; had been given the health & safety talk, one Instagrammer decided to get as close to the edge of the mountain (an ancient site that had recently re-opened to tourists), for the ultimate self. Well, it was the last selfie he took. His body fell many, many feet and was washed up from the river 3 days later. That freaked me out! When the guide told us the story I’m looking at the mountain top, my legs turned into jelly. So seeing cat lady grammar brought it all back. I was so queasy. I got my sunset pics and videos and I couldn’t wait to get out of there.
I left Margate around 7.30 pm. Thankfully my train was delayed as I just went to the station by chance and it arrived at 7.45 pm. Arrived in London at 9.15 pm and at my door at 10.15 pm. That was an enjoyable day out. Now to decide where my next lockdown day trip will be. No flights for me before 2021, so coach, car, or train it will be to get me there.
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