Our Last Day on the Sandy Beaches of Kent.
For our last day of a long weekend in Broadstairs we had made no plans. The glorious warm weather was inviting us to enjoy another day on one of the beaches along this beautiful stretch of the Kent coastline. Over a long and lazy breakfast at what was becoming a favourite – Beaches café – we discussed what we wanted to do before we had to get back onto the train to London in the late afternoon. We decided that instead of cycling towards Margate and spending some time on one of the sandy beaches along that stretch, it was better to stay close by and aim to find a spot towards Dumpton Gap where we had spend some time the previous day.
Busy Viking Bay Beach
Taking our bikes from the cottage and pedalling past Viking Bay, we saw that the main beach in Broadstairs was again heaving with sun seekers from near and far. Cycling along the coastal path we soon escaped the crowds and found plenty of space just below the chalk cliffs.
Picnic Spot on the Beach
We found a spot on the sand and rolled out the colourful groundsheet we usually carry for picnics and walks, a super acquisition on our last trip to Japan for only a hundred yen (or about 1 Euro). A few others joined or passed us on this less crowded part of the sands, some walking their dogs, some families digging sand castles or others exploring the underwater wildlife among the rock pools. One or two were even brave enough to take a dip in the fresh seawater.
Stunt Kite Flying
The boys unpacked Jerome’s stunt kite, a birthday present from his grandparents that he rarely gets to fly in London, as either the breeze is not strong enough or the spaces in the parks are too busy with people. His kite flying skills have improved massively, since he rediscovered his passion for kites in Vietnam last summer. Some beachcombers stopped to watch the boys, fascinated by the loop the loops and wide turns that the kite cut through the air. I would enjoy flying it but I preferred to leave the boys to one of their moments together. Instead I lazed on my blanket, watching the world go by, although I had intended to read my book.
Frisbee – Another Favourite Beach Past Time
After the boys had finished flying their kite they swapped it for a few rounds of Frisbee, another staple content of our weekend knapsack. Ever since Jerome was small whenever we head out somewhere we make sure we have a few things along like a small ball, a lightweight Frisbee, and a card game for moments to play, plus the groundsheet and usually some drinks as well. Sadly I think too few parents these days engage with their children, or plan for what they might need on a trip out.
Return to the Italianate Glasshouse for Tea
None of us fancied a classic seaside lunch at one of the beach cafes. After our surprise discovery of the best scones in Kent the day before, we chose to return to the remarkable Italianate Glasshouse, surrounded by a beautiful garden in a park between the beach where we were and Ramsgate. The park was only a short bike ride from our spot, past Dumpton Gap, one of the smaller coves in the area. The lovely owner of the Italianate Tea Room smiled when she saw that we arrived at her counter to order another round of her delicious afternoon tea with scones and cream. We chose a table outside the stunning conservatory to enjoy the tasty treats. The scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam were just as filling as any fish and chips or sandwich lunch would have been and provided us with enough power to cycle back to Broadstairs later.
Fair Ground in Broadstairs
Broadstairs had turned the small park area above Viking Bay Beach into a small fair ground for the bank holiday weekend. A classic chair-o-plane carousel, some food and game booths plus an original steam carousel with horses were dotted around the small grassy space. We had given the fun fair a miss the day before, having spent hours on the thrilling rides at Margate Dreamland. However, a few rounds on a chair-o-plane are always a must for Jerome and I if we can. Riding on the chair-o-plane in my opinion is one of the most fun rides at the fair, although both Jerome and I found this one to be lacking in speed.
Exploring the Nostalgic Fun Fair Stands
After our ride we explored the stands, besides the usual ball and raffle booths we spotted a coconut throwing stall. Having been to many fun fairs in Germany during my childhood, I had never encountered a coconut stand before. The aim was to hit a coconut propped on a cylinder and for it to fall off, onto the ground. I now regret not having tried it, at the time it seemed just like any other fair ground game, looking back on it now it has aroused a nostalgic interest in me.
The steam carousel was another unknown for Jerome and I. Powered by steam, like a traditional steam engine, it had to be regularly fuelled by hand with coal and the distinct smell of it permeated the surrounding air. Another distinguishing feature was the organ that started to play a catchy tune once the carousel started to turn. The sound of the carousel mixed with the classic songs that were played by a group at the bandstand, which was a shame as they did play surprisingly well and the competition with the fair music must have annoyed some of the listeners and musicians alike.
Small Market on the Promenade
We stood for a while to enjoy a few songs, sipping a drink, and then wandered over to the small market that lined the promenade. A mixture of goods was for sale, anything from second hand toys and clothes to some handicraft and paintings of the local sights, beaches and coastal scenery. I always wonder who buys these tourist pictures and takes them home to decorate their walls? The boys craved an ice cream but the queues at Morelli’s, the famous ice cream parlour in town had a snaking queue along the pavements and they were forced to buy a standard ice-lolly at one of the cafes.
Sadly, our weekend escape from London came to its end and we cycled (and pushed in part) our bikes uphill to Broadstairs train station. Soon the high-speed train came into view and we luckily squeezed in to a few of the last seats on this busy bank holiday Monday evening.