Deck Chairs on Margate Beach
Leaving the children’s mini fun fair zone we headed out across the sands, strolling along the beach towards Westbrook Bay. Some people were brave enough to hire deck chairs and sun loungers despite the constant mix of sun and clouds. There was a hut with hundreds of chairs and windbreaks for hire next to the rides. I imagine that on a warm sunny day the sandy beach would be covered with the stripy loungers and sunbathers. Beyond the sunbathers, the tidal pool was immersed in the sea and only visible by the caution signs with gentle waves breaking over the concrete edges. There we left Margate’s sandy beach behind us and walked along the promenade past the old wooden pavilion. Straight ahead we saw a red London double decker bus. What a cool idea to turn it into a café! With an ice cream in hand, bought at the bus cafe we strolled on along the esplanade.
A Game of Crazy Golf
Grand old regency houses were built up on the grassy ledge overlooking the sea. Some had already been renovated others looked run down and in some major need of love and care. Further ahead Jerome noticed a mini golf course, and ever since our trip to Porto, last autumn Jerome had become somewhat obsessed with playing crazy golf. Strokes Adventure golf course appeared to be a fairly new addition to the seafront and we spontaneously decided to play a round of mini-golf. Clubs in hand we started the well-designed 18 hole course with weird rocky landscape and water features. A girl about the age of Jerome, a keen mini golfer, gave us some advice on the more challenging holes. Jerome played a surprisingly competitive game with us and despite leading the first 9 holes was later very disappointed at the end when he lost.
Pretty Beach Huts
With no real aim in mind we walked on, enjoying the warm sun, beach and the calm sea next to us. One feature I have always admired about English seaside towns, are the pretty beach huts. Further along on Westbrook Bay beach we stumbled onto rows of them, both placed in front of the grassy bank and on the beach itself, the beach huts were a delight to see. One row was painted in the same colour whereas the others huts were individually painted by their owners, the candy coloured ones took my fancy. Chris’ grandparents had once owned a hut on the South coast and he had always told me stories about spending time in them. Sadly the family has it no more, not least as the huts do get damaged both by storms and unfortunately people too. A group of women sat in front of one of the huts, enjoying the warm sun with glasses of wine in hand. It must be a lovely way to spend a sunny day on the beach with friends and family. I was also able to get a peek into a few of the open beach huts and noticed that some of them were lovingly decorated, some even had curtains and flowers. Chris then told me that his grandparent’s hut had been much bigger in size with a proper gas stove, small sink and other amenities.
On Westbrook Bay Beach
Jerome was not interested in the beach huts at all and was down on the beach throwing his boomerang that he had acquired for a quid that morning in an Old Town local junk shop. Joining him on the beach of Westbrook Bay we followed him and Chris and I started to collect shells and chalk stones. The chalk had been washed off the cliffs, which line the coast further south towards Dover. Some of the stones had funny holes, shaped by washing in the sea for years before finally being stranded on the shore. Jerome joined us on our hunt and we discovered some cute shells and even the skeleton of a ray like fish.
The Bus Cafe
Thirsty and with no kiosk in sight we turned around and made a beeline back to the Bus Café. Jerome chose to sit on top of the bus instead of outside in the warm afternoon sun. We had ordered tea and found a pile of classic board games behind our seats. We played a few round of “Guess Who?” and “Four in a Row” and admired the view from our window. I have always loved the idea of café’s providing games to play while sipping a cup of coffee and eating a slice of cake. I wish more restaurants and café’s would offer this free service as it makes spending time with children so much easier and fun. Usually we have a pack of card games with us anyway but it is always good to have some entertaining alternatives.
The Tidal Pool on Margate Beach
Back on the sandy beach of Margate town, the tide had receded a bit and the tidal pool was completely free by then. The boys wanted to explore the pool and climbed up onto its wet seaweed covered walls and walked around it. Obviously it is not as cool as the tidal pool on Bondi beach in Sydney but what an extra ordinary idea to build a pool on the flat beach that would fill up with sea water during high tide and then make a safe place for kids and adults to splash and swim in the water later. I have always had some fear of waves and the deep sea so it would be my ideal place to take a refreshing swim on a hot summers day. Unfortunately there was no sign displaying the water depths but it was very obvious that the front was shallow enough for a small child to sit in and the back towards the sea was much deeper judging by the dark colour of the water in the tidal pool. I want to return on a summer’s day and try it out for myself. The pool and sand was a definite plus in my opinion, compared to the steep, stony beaches found on parts of the English south coast like Brighton.
Walking towards the old clock tower at the far end of the beach we noted that the harbour was waterless and the boats stranded on the muddy bottom. Some children were chasing the seagulls that were feeding on the weed that had collected on the stones, while others dug a long channel in the sand to the sea.
Greasy Spoon Cafes
Chris surprisingly spotted a Wimpy’s café and told me that he had not seen one for a decade or more. Wimpy’s was once a common chain of “greasy spoon” type cafes throughout the UK serving English breakfast and other fast food but many have not survived losing out to newer American fast food offerings. The café had an astonishing rating on Google and we agreed we would try it out if we would return to Margate. Soon after while hiking up the small hill into town Jerome saw a “Beano” café. Anyone who did not grow up in the UK does not know The Beano. It is a classic English comic aimed at children (but with many adult fans too!) about rather mischievous boys and girls, and other naughty characters. Jerome eagerly awaits the magazine’s arrival every Saturday morning through the post. He obviously wanted to have dinner at a Beano café but I said no way! We had to promise him to go some other time. It looks like our next trip to Margate might turn into a tour of all the weird classic English cafes that seemed to have accumulated in the town.
Dinner at “The Ambrette”
I had fancied dinner at a little Thai restaurant, Yama’s Thai Eatery, on the local High Street. Sadly, all tables were already booked and we would have needed to wait for over an hour, which was, according to our grumbling tummies, too long. Instead we called up the nearby upmarket Indian restaurant, The Ambrette, and secured a table there. Despite the raving review and the recommendation from many famous guides and critics, including Michelin, we were rather dissatisfied by the Indian fusion cuisine. Chris and I had opted for the tasting menu, which contained far too much food for our liking and not all the dishes were as delicious as they might have sounded. Jerome loves Indian food and he totally could not understand that there were none of the classics like poppadums or naan bread on the menu. The restaurant provided a children’s menu but Jerome prefers to stick with the adult menu these days. Completely full up we pretty much wobbled our way back to our Airbnb flat, grateful of the walk back after such a heavy meal.
Read all about our bike ride along the coastline to Broadstairs in my next post.