Birthdays & Margate

Eeesh, it's been a long time since I blogged. I guess things have been pretty busy round here lately. Or maybe I just haven't made the time to blog. Probably the latter - probably something to do with the fact that the weather has been perking up and we've been pushing ourselves to fill every free moment with house-improving and garden-improving (more of which I will explain at a later date, when we're finally finished!). 

Anyway, in the meantime, I have had a birthday and we have taken a wonderful trip to Margate, a place we've been meaning to go for a long time. And somehow (thanks to R), those two things collided and we spent a rather luxurious weekend away celebrating my birthday and exploring a little bit more of good ol' Blighty. 

My actual birthday was a work-day but I opened some pressies in bed before work and then R and I went out for cocktails at the

Blind Pig

and dinner at

Blanchette

afterwards, so it ended up being rather a lovely low-key day

.

Opening presents in bed was a birthday fixture when I was growing up, and something that I have imposed on R!

The kitties always embrace the whole opening-presents-in-bed thing. I think because it involves two of their favourite things - bed and ribbon.

We did have to explain to Bobby that it wasn't actually HIS birthday. 

The following weekend we headed down to Margate. It was meant to be a surprise trip but R accidentally gave it away, haha! We stayed in a beautiful B&B called

The Reading Rooms

, a tall Georgian townhouse very near to the historic centre. The owners, Liam and Louise, have renovated it in the most incredible way, leaving some of the original plasterwork untouched and holding onto as much of the history of the house as possible. It was a very inspirational (and peaceful) place to stay. 

Plus, they did a pretty wonderful breakfast, served in your room for extra privacy and peace. Given how incredibly antisocial R and I are on holiday, this was pretty much perfect for us!

We stayed in the room at the very top of the house, and you could see above the trees, all the way to the sea!

On Saturday morning, we headed off on our cultural/ junk-hunting expedition. First stop on our trip was the legendary

Scotts

, where I had to be seriously restrained. There were lots of good stuffs to buy! I was so excited that I forgot to take a single picture. We bought some French garden chairs, an enamel planter, a beautiful chipped yellow shelf, a handmade slatted stool, some books and some old drawers that I'm planning to paint and use in a future sewing shed that I'm dreaming of.

Next stop was Margate's Tudor house - a little museum inside a rather incredible Tudor house. We just came across it as we were wandering into town and decided to have a look inside. Since the late 1800s it had was used as 3 cottages, each with one room upstairs and one down, and a communal yard behind. In the 30s there were plans to demolish it as part of a slum clearing scheme but after the Second World War, the people of Margate realised how valuable it was and restored it.

After our bit of history we had a mooch around the old town and dipped in and out of the various antique and junk shops.

And then we headed down to the SEA!

It was a lovely bright spring day, but pretty nippy when the sea air got you in the face!

We took off our shoes and had a walk along the beach. We got sandy little toes.

Afterwards, we had a spot of lunch at the

Greedy Cow

and then had a look around Margate's museum which is housed in the old prison and has the original cells and everything (I love anything like that).

I liked this deer picture a lot. And the stripped back fireplace.

We took a wander up to Cliftonville in the east part of town. We walked past the Winter Gardens and stared out to sea for a while.

Cliftonville was once the most fashionable part of town, back when Margate was a thriving holiday resort at the start of the century. Now it's sadly rather a deprived area with lots of the old hotels having been converted into temporary homes and bedsits. Rows and rows of beautiful old terraces overlooking the sea, run-down and sad. And people hanging around with nothing to do and nowhere to go. Oh and giant posters of Nigel Farage of course. There are plans afoot to regenerate though, and hopefully things will start looking up.

In the evening we headed out for a walk along the front and a cocktail.

We watched the sun go down - twas lovely.

After drinks we went for

The Ambrette

 for dinner It is sort of modern Indian and absolutely everything was completely delicious.

On Sunday we headed out for a wander. It felt strangely quiet and peaceful, the way London never is. We kept wondering where all the people were.

The tide was out, and the town had a totally different feel without the sun and the tourists. Softer and moodier, with lovely light and skies. All greys and violets and taupes.

And we stumbled across the Shell Lady!

We spent an hour or so in the Turner Contemporary. It is rather beautiful inside, but a bit empty! We saw the self portrait exhibition which was interesting but we were a little underwhelmed. There was a good video installation by Tracey Emin though, which has stayed with me.

After lunch (amazing pizzas at the

Great British Pizza Company

), we did a bit more mooching, before packing up and heading home.

I really liked Margate. Place of history and old fashioned seaside fun, of chinks of beauty and wonder, and the sadness of coastal poverty. Of inspiration and realness and none of that cutesy middle-classed smugness that gets on my nerves. An atmospheric, scruffy, fascinating place.

The following weekend we had mum and dad to stay and another birthday was celebrated! We spent the day in the garden in bright sunshine and then lit one of the last fires of the year and had a glass of champagne.

I found some bluebells growing wild in our messy front patch.

And I made a (rather good) chicken korma for mum's birthday-dinner.

Life is just so extremely exhausting, if you're a kitty.

The end.