“Why on earth are you going there?” asked my friends.
Yes it sounds odd, not the sort of exotic location a backpacker like me goes to ho ho ho. Especially for the longest day of the year…. St Ives, Southwold or even Cromer sounds more appropriate, but Margate – well what a surprise.
The fact is that BackPackingGranny is super trendy because Margate is the IT place. Yes. Margate now is what Shoreditch and Hoxton were fifteen years ago – full of dog shit and people on benefit but things are moving – and they can only go upwards. Trendy little coffee places are opening up. You can feast on eggs Benedict for breakfast, with your sausage, black pudding and bacon. The Creatives are moving in – actors, writers, musicians and artists. Studio space is cheap and there is an audible buzz… yes it IS the builders but there is also a feeling of being in a creative hub. The day I arrived Dreamland had just re-opened. I drove past the famous frontage feeling huge nostalgia for the roaring fifties and sixties, my era of pop and and promiscuity… oh happy days!
But the best thing of all is the beach. The Victorians discovered it – it is sandy, not a pebble in sight, and the sea goes out for miles making it perfect for bucket and spaders. There is a sea water pool, traditional donkeys and the architecture is pure British seaside roccoco. Glorious faded early Victorian town houses with twiddly window boxes and basements line the front and the odd crescent. Five bedrooms, two bathrooms, huge double sitting room and a decent size garden will cost you about £450,000. Methinks you could cut your house in half, make an upstairs flat, let your renters pay your mortgage and still have a very decent spacious duplex – and it’s only 90 minutes to St. Pancras.
Why did I go? Well my daughter lives there. She is an artist and illustrator, and her partner works all over the world, so they are not tied to commuting. One of my ex husbands (her father) was having his 80th birthday party and the whole family was bidden to join them for midsummer BBQ.
I have to say I was gobsmacked when I saw their house this weekend. The last time I saw it it was winter and they had only just moved in. Now painted sparkling white throughout, with sanded floors and shiny white bathrooms, it looks every inch the sort of house you see in magazines. It has doubled in price in three years. They like their neighbours so much they and the neighbours have taken the dividing fence down and both families enjoy a double garden.
Of course I wouldn’t swap it for my dear old Henley. I will be here until they carry me away in my wicker coffin. But If you have kids who are creative and poor, there is plenty of opportunity to make money in Margate. It is moving as they say. Our family party was lovely – the seagulls managed to swipe a couple of sausages off the BBQ, but the newly turned 80 year old ex husband had a brilliant time. He was much cosseted and spoilt, and ended the day playing poker – loving it and not realising he was losing! One of my sons brought a Jeroboam of Pol Roger and we drank it all with burgers and spare ribs. Sacrosanct but, as they say, ” when in Margate….”