travel

The Beauty of Ramsgate and Margate

by Emma's Kent Adventures, by Emma-Jane Swaffield Friday, October 18 2013

Ramsgate and Margate

Ramsgate and Margate are both seaside towns that are situated on the south east coast of England in the county of Kent. It takes just over one hour forty minutes to arrive at both towns from London, approximately eighty miles in distance. Both towns are situated in idyllic locations on the beautiful coastline, making them a great escape for the city dwellers. Both Ramsgate and Margate are easily accessible via road and rail.

Image courtesy of ©Marcus T Ward (Flickr)

Ramsgate

The main attraction of Ramsgate would have to be its beautiful coastline which attracts many tourists year after year. Ramsgate Main Sands is a particularly popular location. In having a close connection to Northern Europe, Ramsgate has appeared to have developed a continental style culture, an example of which can be seen with its restaurants and bars that are situated along the sea front.

The port and harbour  situated in Ramsgate are certainly both defining characteristics of the town and have their own history attached, for example, when the people of Ramsgate gave King George IV such a loyal welcome in 1821, he gave Ramsgate Harbour the unique title of “The Royal Harbour”. Not only that, it was one of the main embarkation harbours during the Napoleonic wars. This harbour was also where many thousands of soldiers disembarked after escaping from the beaches of Dunkirk in 1940 as part of Operation Dynamo; one of the boats, Sundowner, used in the evacuation is kept in the marina today. More information about the phenomenal history as well as more recent news of the Dunkirk Little Ships can be found here.

Image courtesy of ©Nick Traveller (Flickr)

Ramsgate is also famous for its two white chalk cliffs, simply named The East Cliff and The West Cliff. These are both mainly residential areas but there are parks at either end and promenades run between the two. There are various cliff top walks as well as sandy beaches below that attract many thousands of tourists and locals alike.

Along with the stunning coastline of Ramsgate, with its clear, clean and tranquil beaches, the market of Ramsgate is another must see. It is held every Friday and Saturday between the hours of 8.00am and 4.00pm, on the High street, King Street and also on Queen Street.

There are also a few landmarks situated in Ramsgate such as the Hugin in Pegwell Bay. This is a reconstructed Viking long-ship which is a replica of the Gokstad Ship. The Hugin was built in Denmark and sailed to England by 53 Danes as a donation from the Danish government in commemoration of the 1500th anniversary of the arrival on Hengist and Horsa to the country in 449. It landed at Viking Bay in nearby Broadstairs in 1949 before being moved to its current location at Pegwell Bay in Ramsgate.

Image courtesy of ©andyj300 (Flickr)

There are also a few galleries based in Ramsgate such as the Isle Of Thanet Arts gallery, which is based on the harbour front and the Updown Gallery based in the beautiful Victorian era Satis House. There is also the Ramsgate Maritime Museum, which is near the harbour quayside.

The architecture of Ramsgate is simply stunning, most of which is generally a mix from the Regency and Victorian architectural periods and including 900 listed buildings in the town with more than 200 surrounding the marina itself so even the buildings themselves deserve attention.

Margate

Margate is a small seaside town situated in the district of Thanet in East Kent. Margate is a famous, traditional seaside resort which is a popular holiday destination typically for Londoners wishing to find peace away from the hustle and bustle of the city on the sandy beaches, such as Margate Sands.

Image courtesy of ©Luke McKernan (Flickr)

Margate, along with its fantastic nine miles of lovely sandy beaches, is probably most famous for its links with the painter JMW Turner, who created some of his world wide acclaimed art work using the scenery of Margate and is the namesake of The Turner Prize. The world class Turner Contemporary is the focus here in Margate. It brilliantly houses both historical as well as very modern work and showcases many pieces by JMW Turner who was famously inspired by the fabulous scenery and seascapes that Margate has to offer.

Image courtesy of ©Luke McKernan (Flickr)

In addition to its beautiful, stunning coastline, Margate has many other attractions for holiday makers. There are two highly acclaimed theatres in Margate. One of which, the Theatre Royal in Addington Street is the second oldest theatre in the country and the other, the Tom Thumb Theatre is the second smallest theatre in the country. If you are visiting Margate in July, the annual Jazz festival is highly recommended as a must go-to event, more details of which can be found on their Facebook page here.

Like Ramsgate, Margate also has a museum. The Margate Museum represents the town's historical past with a huge range of displays and exhibits.

Another must see attraction of Margate is that of the Shell Grotto. This “building” of unknown age and origin was first discovered in 1835 and the walls and roof are covered in an amazing decoration of well over four million shells, which cover the whole 2000 square footage. The shells have also been placed in elaborate patterns.

Image courtesy of ©Mr Moss (Flickr)

Margate also has many interesting cultural, popular and literary references. It features as a setting in many novels, including Graham Swift's novel 'Last Orders', T. S. Eliot referenced Margate in one of his poems and Margate also featured quite predominately in an episode of British sitcom Only Fools and Horses.

Where to Stay

Well it depends what you are looking for in terms of accommodation. If you are looking for a B&B, Margate has the wonderful and welcoming Hopewell House. Bob and Sandy are extremely friendly and Bob has an extensive knowledge about the history of Margate and Kent in general. If you are looking for a B&B in Ramsgate then look no further than the Glendevon Guest House. Charles and Rebekah have owned this brilliant establishment since October 2006 and are doing an amazing job (just take a look at all the wonderful reviews on TripAdvisor). Charles does a full English breakfast that is not to be missed and Rebekah has a huge knowledge of Ramsgate so can give you more pointers on places to visit during your stay.

Or maybe you would like a hotel instead? Then try the Pegwell Bay Hotel in Ramsgate which is beautiful to look at from the outside and a joy to stay in. If you are in Margate then I suggest The Hussar Hotel which has swings and slides in the garden, this can be helpful if you are travelling with children.

I have to say though, speaking as a travelling Mum, my personal favourite accommodation option is a holiday let. My kids go through fussy stages (like most do) so I love the option of self-catering and cooking food for my family from scratch (to sneak those vegetables in). With this option, there isn’t the worry about noise from other guests and I don’t have to share a bedroom with my kids either, as much as I love them dearly, my daughter talks in her sleep and my son snores so there is NEVER the option of me getting a good night’s sleep when sharing a bedroom with them! Beeches Holiday Lets provide some wonderful, reasonably-priced houses with modern amenities, a full kitchen (as opposed to a microwave and a kettle like some places I have stayed in) and some have lovely gardens that are enclosed so I feel safe in letting my children play outside. They have houses in both Margate and Ramsgate as well as Broadstairs so can be an option regardless of which part of Thanet you are staying in.

Are They Worth a Visit?

Yes, both Margate and Ramsgate are worth a visit whether you are a Kent local or from further afield. As stated above, both are amazing traditional seaside towns which ooze holiday-town charm; with traditional promenades and seaside amenities, a variety of museums to view, as well as land marks to see and theatres to visit.

There is definitely something for everyone in Margate and Ramsgate, with or without children.

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Categories: Curious Margate | General | Holiday | kent | Leisure | Margate | Museums | Tourism | travel

Secrets of Sandwich

by The Fly Away American (in Kent), with Jessica Galbraith Thursday, July 11 2013

First off, I must apologize for my absence here on Kent Online. My house was infiltrated by the chicken pox, so I have been having tons of fun dealing with that. This Travel Thursday I want to talk about my trip to the lovely town of Sandwich. I had heard that the Secret Gardens of Sandwich were spectacular so I ventured off to see for myself and check out what else the little town had to offer.      

Turns out, Sandwich is well-worth a visit. You may not know this, but Sandwich has more listed buildings per head of population than any other town in the country. You can go back in time as you walk the cobble-stone streets in the country's most complete medieval town. Strand Street in Sandwich is believed to have more half timbered houses than any other street in England! While it is a great town just to take a stroll, there are a few places you should take the time to stop at along the way.

The Secret Gardens of Sandwich

Unlike just about everything else in Sandwich, the Secret Gardens are not old. They opened to the public only a few years ago, after the grounds had been neglected for decades. The Salutation Manor sits at the center of the beautiful gardens, a fantastic manor house which was built in 1912 as a weekend retreat. Now the manor is open as a luxurious hotel, with self-serving cottages on the grounds as well. I popped in at the cafe but unfortunately the service was not too great, and after waiting 20 minutes decided to go elsewhere. 

The gardens themselves are spectacular. Roses galore, along with many exotic species in every color imaginable. I enjoyed walking the paths and 'discovering' the secret gardens within, and with 3.5 acres of blooms one could easily spend an afternoon there. Picnics are not only allowed, they are encouraged. I would definitely check this one out on a beautiful day. 


The origin of the sandwich

The next time you pick up a 'meal deal' or stop in at Subway, take a moment to think about where your sandwich originated. If you are to believe the tales of history, the answer lies in its namesake of Sandwich, Kent. The story is set at Guildhall, a 15th century building in the town centre. The tale goes that a Mr. John Montagu the 4th Earl of Montagu, was gambling at the Guildhall and wanted a bite to eat. He didn't want to waste time with a proper meal during his game, so ordered the barmaid to combine his meat and bread to save time. There you go, history made.

The story is difficult to authenticate as you can imagine, but the name 'sandwich' most definitely finds its origins in south east Kent (Whether or not the founding father hailed from there.) Guidlhall has a museum which you can visit and learn more about the local history and folklore.

 

You can also take a ride on the River Stour boat and check out the sea seals and other wildlife in Pegwell bay, or take a walk along the Sandwich Rope Walk with it's nice sidewalks along the canals. Sandwich is a gorgeous town, and I look forward to going back soon!

 

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Categories: kent | The Fly Away American | Tourism | travel

The South East Airshow Aftermath

by The Fly Away American (in Kent), with Jessica Galbraith Monday, June 24 2013

 All of the news following the South East Airshow has been BAD. People are not happy. I attended the event at Manston Airport on Saturday with my family, and thought I would share my own experience. 

 There is no getting around the traffic problem. When we arrived at the Ramsgate Train Station for the free shuttle bus, the bus was full and the driver told everyone it would take him  at least 45 minutes to get to the airport, and he'd still need to come back. There were two taxis so I asked the people behind us if they wanted to split a fare, and off we went. We were lucky. There were two taxis. The queue for the shuttle bus had hundreds of people who weren't so quick on their feet. We got to Manston through a backroad with a clever taxi  driver, and luckily missed traffic altogether. He dropped us off a little off-site and we were blown away when we saw the miles of cars waiting to get in. Until we left, I didn't give the  traffic much thought. There were thousands of people, and for an event that hasn't been done in twenty years I figured it was to be expected.

 We had a nice day out, enjoyed a pint and had a picnic. Perused the tents of local businesses and watched a bunch of planes I had never heard  of fly over the skies. My hair was rocking the wind-blown look and my kid jumped in a bouncy castle like there was no tomorrow. We had a great day. The event itself was well-managed and I thought Heritage Events did a wonderful job putting everything together. 

  That being said, after a nice day at the airshow we decided to head home. This time the shuttle bus was running as planned and we headed back toward Ramsgate station. At this point of the day, most of the show was over but the traffic was still there and went on for miles. We were amazed that so many people were still waiting when the day was practically at an end. There were hundreds of cars that had pulled over on the sides of the road so they could still watch the airshow, others just stood in the stand-still traffic. I wonder if the organizers even considered this could have been a problem? I am not really sure what could have been done differently, there were just too many people going to one small area.

I think the South East Airshow in itself was a success. I imagine a lot of money went into the local economy, and those of us who arrived early enough had a great time. No word yet whether or not refunds will be issued to the ticketholders who weren't able to attend. All in all, a great day out in Kent!

 

Awesome Skies.

The skies were gorgeous on Saturday!

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Categories: Airport | kent | The Fly Away American | travel

Curious Margate

by The Fly Away American (in Kent), with Jessica Galbraith Thursday, June 20 2013

This week I got to know the lovely city of Margate, a delightful seaside town with nostalgic charm and a promising future. I have been wanting to visit the Turner Contemporary Museum for some time now, and decided to combine it with a look around Margate's biggest attractions. I really love this town. The beach is wonderful, the history is even better, and there seems to be some kind of re-emergence in the air which is energizing as a visitor. My tour of Margate began at the Turner Contemporary but took me to the other 'curious' places in Margate as well including the Margate Shell Grotto, Margate Old Town, and the Walpole Bay Hotel. 

Turner Contemporary, Margate

The Turner Contemporary is currently exhibiting Curiousity: Art and Pleasures of Knowing. It is a quirky exhibit that explores the world of human curiousity through historical artefacts, art, and some really random displays. There are several Leonardo da Vinci sketches, (although they looked like doodles), a penguin that was collected by Ernest Shakleton on his Antarctic expedition, a very strange series on mysterious deaths that show corpses in miniature doll rooms, and much more weird and strange curiousities.  I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the Turner Contemporary, and the Curiousity exhibit was one of the best I have seen in a long time. Don't miss the stuffed walrus, it is incredible! The Curiousity: Art and the Pleasure of Knowing exhibit is running until September 15, 2013. The museum is open Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-6pm. Admission is free.





In the theme of the Curiousity exhibit at Turner Contemporary, several local businesses have joined in on the 'Curious Margate' tour. As you walk along the streets, any place that offers something strange or unusual is displaying a 'Curious Margate' window sticker to let visitors know there is something cool to check out. The main places that are recomended are Margate's historical Old Town, the High Street, Shell Grotto, and the Walpole Bay Hotel in nearby Cliftonville.








If you ask me, the Shell Grotto is a curioustiy of England, not just Margate or Kent. I had been to Margate's mysterious Shell Grotto before, and it never disappoints. There are over 3.6 million sea shells adorning the grotto walls, and nobody knows how or why they got there. A walk through the caverns to see these beautiful mosaics is just incredible. The Shell grotto wasn't discovered until 1835, and the efforts to date the shells or determine their origin have been inconclusive. If you visit one place in Margate, this should be it. The Margate Shell Grotto is one of Kent's coolest hidden gems. Admission for the Shell Grotto is a very reasonable £3, opening hours are from 10am- 5pm everday through summer.





 

My last stop was at the Walpole Bay Hotel, an Edwardian era hotel with a really neat  living history museum. The Walpole Bay Hotel is approximately a 20 minute walk from Turner Contemporary, along the coast. There are 4 floors at the Wadpole, and the hallways on each are overflowing with antiques from a bygone era. My first impression of the museum was that it was highly disorganized, items strewn here and there, stacked on top of each other in tiny rooms. This quickly grew on me though and became part of its charm. Expect to see anything and everything at the Wadpole Bay, closets stacked with dozens of old typewriters, nurse uniforms from World War I, old urinals, ancient sweepers, and even an assortment of gloves that cover 200 years of fashion pinned to the hallway wall. The highlight is the working elevator from 1927, which you can ride to the 3rd floor and see the mechanical workings at the very top. There are no tour guides here and the receptionist will kindly let you wander to your hearts content. The Walpole Bay Hotel Living Museum is open everyday, year round, from 10am-5pm.



If you are on a budget or just looking for a great day out in Kent, go explore the 'curious' of Margate. Most of the attractions are free, and an afternoon on the sandy beach is well worth the trip alone. This weekend the Margate Jazz Festival will be on, for the 8th consecutive year. See you next week for the next installment of my travels around Kent!

 

Summer Events in Folkestone

by The Fly Away American (in Kent), with Jessica Galbraith Thursday, June 13 2013

Did anyone catch the Red Arrows in Folkestone this past weekend? The weather was beautiful, the crowds were large, and the show was magnificent. Well, for the first five minutes. Admittedly I am not much of a plane, car, motorcycle type girl. I really enjoyed the Red Arrows, I did, but my attention span can sometimes fail me. Regardless, I had a fabulous day out with friends. Barbecuing at The Leas Coastal Park is just about my favorite thing in the world. It was windy, but then again- when isn't it? It was really a shame that the city wasn't able to profit from the thousands of people who came out, I seriously considered running down to ASDA and setting up a hot dog stand on the promenade. I would have made a killing


This weekend (Tomorrow through Sunday) Folkestone will be hosting the Folkestone Multicultural Festival, three days of dancing, food, and music representing regions from all over the world. I usually go for the food. Last year, I had the best Nepalese food on the planet- no joke. I have dreams about it sometimes. Not a bad option if you are looking for something to do this weekend. I am always happy to see local events going on, and do my best to show up and support the organizations that put these things together. Here is the schedule for the event: Folkestone Multi-Cultural Festival


Next weekend the inaugural Folkestone Fish Festival will take place. The Whitstable Oyster Festival is my favorite event in Kent all summer, so I am hoping this one in Folkestone really gains some momentum. Many of the local businesses (Rocksalt, yum.) will be down at Folkestone Harbor with stands of food, drinks and random stuff.  I will be attending the South East Airshow next Saturday, but will be down at the Fish Festival on Sunday for the Blessings of the Fishes. I am intrigued to witness the process of blessing a fish. 


I will be all over Kent this summer, but thought I would start off letting you all know what is going on around my neighborhood! 


 

 

 

The Fly Away American (in Kent)

by The Fly Away American (in Kent), with Jessica Galbraith Thursday, June 13 2013

Hello KentOnline readers!

 

Welcome to my inaugural post here on KentOnline. This blog will follow my travels around Kent, as well as the UK. I am visiting new attractions, taking part in fun acitivities, and attending events around Kent every week. Check in every Thursday for my 'Travel Thursday' column. I will give you tips, share my sucessess and failures, and write about living in Kent as an American expat. 


The short and sweet: My name is Jessica, I am originally from a small town in Texas. (Population >300) I studied Asian Studies at University where I met my other half who was studying abroad from Holland. After a few years of dating, I moved with our daughter to a suburb of Amsterdam. Two years ago we relocated to Folkestone, which we absolutely love!


I look forward to sharing my travel experiences with all of you. Feel free to follow me on Twitter @flyawayamerican and Facebook  as well as my main blog The Fly Away American.


Don't forget to share your suggestions on the best places to see in Kent!

 

 

 

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Categories: Budget | Facebook | Family Life | Football | History | Nostalgia | Tourism | travel | kent

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