It seems like tradition to write a post about my birthday wayyyy after the fact. Who even talks about turning 31? It’s a bit of an in-betweeny age, one that means you’re firmly in the thirtysomething camp but can still be in denial about all the ‘serious’ stuff.
I’ve definitely felt Carrie Bradshaw levels of reflective over the past few weeks and the clarity that comes with age is probably the best thing. My main train of thought? I’ve definitely been a little passive when it comes to certain situations in my life and this decade really needs to be about saying goodbye to my comfort zone. There will be no ‘right’ time to get on that dating app, email that dream brand or work on the project that’s close to your heart.
Another thing that seems to come with age, is discovering that about a dozen people share your August 17th birthday. One of those friends is Ghenet, a New Yorker I met at the first ever Bloggers’ Market in 2014. We’ve been hanging out in the colourful parts of London ever since, plus it helps that she shares my love of home fries (try her recipe here).
Since it was her turn to join Club 3-0, she’d planned a trip to celebrate the weekend before and invited Carrie, Lucy, Michelle and I along for funtimes. I was keen to pass on any useful thirtysomething knowledge and finally spend a decent amount of time in Margate. It’s one of the few places I could see myself living in outside of London and there’s a great creative scene.
Read on for everything we got up to, plus my practical tips even if you’re stuck with luggage.
Where to Stay (If You Like Being Near Everything)
Trust us to end up with an Airbnb near where the Only Fools and Horses Margate episode was filmed (plus Pete Doherty was spotted eating an epic breakfast a week after our visit). Since our original choice had fallen through (finding places for 5-6 people was tricky), we decided to book this ground floor flat on Dalby Square.
It ended up exceeding our expectations with a cheerful yellow sofa, plenty of space and handy iPad that explained how to operate things like showers and heating. Perfect for our late night Todrick Hall YouTube viewing parties.
One big thing to consider about accommodation here is the location. Ideally you want to be near-ish the Old Town but not on top of all the arcades and bars. We stayed on the edge of Cliftonville, so about a twenty minute walk away from the station (we didn’t investigate Ubers or local taxis).
It’s a good distance if you want to explore the area and keep stopping off at interesting places, but remember to group any activities in certain areas together. If you’re planning on seeing Dreamland for example, then don’t aim to visit Botany Bay two hours later. Also most places can shut earlier than you think.
There’s also no central place to leave luggage, so bear this in mind when packing and planning your last day as you’ll probably need to check out around 11am. It’s not the end of the world of course, but probably best to get the bulk of exploring done on your first or second day.
If you’re looking for a few other AirBnb options, then I’ve saved Kirsty’s place and The Well for next time. On the off-chance that you haven’t used the service before then you can get a handy £25 off using this link.
Jumpsuit – c/o Oasis, Sandals – Saltwater
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Where To Shop (If You Like Discovering New Brands)…
If I had my own flat, unlimited funds and the ability to keep plants alive, then I’d probably kit it out with the best of Margate’s independent shops. I was itching to look around some of the new indies after saving a few of Charlotte’s posts and fortunately they’re all pretty close to each other.
One walking route to try is looping around Love Lane onto King St, before heading to the top of Fort Road. There’s also a few indies on The Parade near the Turner Contemporary (including the cheekily named Pothead Plants) plus others like Ruskin and Werkhaus scattered on the High Street.
Again, if you’re used to London opening hours then check beforehand as some places close before 5pm and have random weekdays off. One place even had a ‘Be Right Back!’ sign that didn’t budge for the best part of an hour.
Little Bit – You can’t miss this colourful treasure trove filled with bits to brighten up your home. If you like Tatty Devine and Kitsch Kitchen, you’ll discover plenty of similar brands with a playful aesthetic. It led me discover KMI’s quirky illustrations and now I can’t stop scrolling.
Artisans and Adventurers – It was as if I’d walked into basket and batik heaven, just look at all the vibrant Rwandan bowls! You need to visit here if you like your products to have a story behind them, as the shop focuses on small, sustainable, artisan brands.
Fort Road Yard – It’s just as well I didn’t a) drive down and b) have ample space at home, otherwise I would have brought back some of the rattan and Midcentury furniture. Fort Road Yard is a bit of a scrapyard emporium spread across three different sites. There are a few local artists showcasing their work in some of the sheds, as well as random neon signs that seem movie-set ready.
T-shirt – c/o Teju Bolaji, Skirt – c/o Oasis, Trainers – Reebok, Bag – Mansur Gavriel
Where To Eat (If You Don’t Fancy Fish & Chips)…
After getting my Peter’s Fish Factory Fish fix a few week’s before (I always feel defeated by the chips after a few minutes), I was keen to tick off a few new places. There’s an overwhelming amount of choice when it comes to eating out here. Think affordable yet sustainably sourced three-course meals at Angela’s or quick seafood snacks at Manning’s.
As you’ve probably guessed, some places close earlier than you think (Ziggy’s stopped serving food at 8pm), so make a bit of a plan beforehand. You can rock up to a lot of restaurants, but some of the smaller bistros do need booking as we did see a few humorous ‘We’re full’ signs.
GB Pizza Co. – I can’t stop thinking about this pizza. Great British Pizza Co. has been saved in my Google Maps app ever since I started visiting Margate as an adult and fortunately it didn’t disappoint.
I thought I was a paid-up member of the sourdough society, but their thinner bases are definitely more-ish and not overwhelmed by loads of toppings. The staff were also helpful and knowledgeable (I was able to try a topping I wasn’t sure about) and they have prosecco on tap.
The Greedy Cow – I have two words for you. Turkish. Eggs. This is a great breakfast spot if you too were unprepared and didn’t bring enough snacks to your Airbnb.
Po’Boy at The Sun Deck – This parade of street food joints is handily located near the station, so ideal if you want to grab something decent before heading home. I have no idea if Po’Boy is accurate as I didn’t get a chance to try the real deal in New Orleans, but I definitely welcomed the mix of panko prawns, peanut sauce and thai red pepper slaw.
Radio – Did somebody say espresso martinis? Radio is a cafe/bar that’s only open at weekends and boasts an enviable assortment of midcentury furniture. It’s more of a performing arts space, so you can actually watch their shows go out live and the occasional gig.
So what did we get up to? As expected when you get five overexcited (and Drag Race obsessed) girls together, there’s a lot of oversharing and lip-syncing in the living room. We also planned a surprise birthday breakfast for Ghenet, trying out one of her own recipes and improvising with whatever was left in the Airbnb kitchen.
We kept our schedule flexible, so although we never made it to Botany Bay (it was in the complete opposite direction to the Turkish Eggs and Dreamland), we did catch the Pride parade with frozen cocktails in hand. It was also nice to see the painterly sunsets that inspired Turner, as I’d never been around at that time. The strong winds means that the skyline is constantly changing, so it’s a great time to have a tourist-free walk on the beach.
Shell Grotto was also quite close to our Airbnb, so we popped into the mysterious underground passage that has over 4.5 million shells displayed in neat formations. Apparently it was discovered by accident since the people who’d bought the house in the 1800s had no idea it was there. Definitely one to visit if you like reading conspiracy theories and stocking up on shell-related souvenirs.
Even though we’re at the tail-end of Summer now, it’s definitely a destination to visit all year round and great for spontaneous getaways. Next time I might combine it with a trip to Broadstairs and finally try and spot this pink house!
If you fancy seeing more of Kent, I also have a post from Whitstable!