Sunday, 6 April 2014

Manchester to Margate

As always it's took me ages to get round to blogging my thoughts on Margate. Looking in my diary it was February when I visited, so only two months ago! My trip to Margate came about due to my other half (Mike) flying out to Jordan from Gatwick. We spent a couple of days in London beforehand and then once I'd waved him off I decided not to head straight back to Manchester but to go home via Margate.

I was interested in Margate mainly to see it's new gallery; the Turner Contemporary. A few years ago I went on holiday to Bilbao in Spain, a city completely rejuvenated by arrival of the Guggenheim Gallery. I wanted to see if The Turner Contemporary had done the same for Margate. Also out of interest I'd never been to Kent so I thought it might be nice to touch on the outskirts via the train journey.

Getting to Margate from London felt fairly exciting, I opted for the high speed train called the Javelin which had it's own platform at St Pancras (I had to stop myself from taking a picture of it!). It took 90 minutes to Margate and passed through fairly interesting countryside. Though the main thing that stood out for me was the rising water levels. The day I travelled to Margate was right in the middle of the recent floods and every stream, river or pond I passed was bursting its banks or overflowing.

On arrival at Margate I got to see the famous 'Dreamland' signage - a nod to the town's tourist heyday, when people flocked to Margate on the train to visit the seaside fun. Dreamland itself was a funfair and amusement centre dating way back to the 1880s. It closed its doors for good at the start of the 2000s. It's now fell into disrepair. When I was reading about its history, it sounded like there was small visitors centre still open but I couldn't find it!

I had booked myself in for an overnight stay in Margate as I wanted the full day there before heading home (Margate - Manchester takes around five hours with changeovers). I stayed at the Reading Rooms which was amazing. It was a little bit more than I would normally spend (though I did get a mid week discount) and had sheer bathroom luxury...check these pictures out:


After I'd checked in I went to visit the Turner Contemporary. The building itself is very striking:

And it has stunning views of the coast:

But once inside I did struggle to comprehend the tiny size of it, I had eaten in the cafe, looked round the shop and seen the exhibition in around 1.5 hours! Okay for a small local gallery but not for one that is hoping to revive a whole town! I personally like galleries that feel like you'd need a lifetime to work through the collections and wander round finding hidden gems.
If I lived in Margate I'd be very happy that the Turner Contemporary had arrived and would probably call in on my lunch break (or to eat my lunch there) but I'm not sure I'd regularly make the journey from say, London - Margate to visit! A little bit disappointing if I'm honest.
After my short visit to the Turner Contemporary I was left a bit at a loose end. The weather was atrocious. I did plan to do a coastal walk with my free time and go to the next village, but unfortunately it was so wild my umbrella snapped and I had to give up. I was drowned. I ended up looking round the town (sorry to say it was a little bit depressing on a rainy day) and sitting in a seafront cafe watching the rain and wondering whether it would be safe to venture out again!
There are other attractions such as the Shell Grotto but as I was visiting during winter season, none of these were open.  
As I also had the evening I decided to keep up with the cultural activities and went to see a production of 'The Seagull' by a company called Resort Studios. It was very enjoyable, though it did take place in a freezing cold garage, heated only by industrial gas heaters so I was chilled to the bone when it ended. Quite a bizarre experience but I decided that my whole Margate trip felt a little bit strange so I just embraced it!
As this has turned into an epic blog post I may as well end with one more picture...

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