Sunday, 17 August 2014

Memory Lane - Part 2 - Broadstairs and Margate

The following day we moved onto St. Peters where we visited the Church where my mother's ashes are interred. It is 20 years since mum died and I put a pretty purple plant near to her plaque in the Garden of Remembrance. If you are in the area, don't miss St Peters as it's a very pretty place and there are some impressive buildings to see, not least the flint cottage. Next to the Church is the Co-op – which is where Iain had sussed out as a good place to stay the night.
St Peters Church, note the White Ensign flying

Stunning flint building

Flint Cottage

Alms Houses

Village green at the front of the Co-op

We moved off to Broadstairs, about 1.5 miles away and parked up on the Western Esplanade where we had hoped we could wild camp for the night. If you should be taking a motorhome into Broadstairs this is where I would suggest that you park. The access is not too bad but the rest of the town can be very difficult to get around in a large vehicle. However there are big signs up that motorhome parking is not allowed between 6pm and 6am so we soon realised that we would need to find somewhere else. 

Walking from the Western Esplanade

Classic Broadstairs shots

York Street, don't bring your motorhome down here.  I remember going to this cinema once, I had forgotten my glasses and they waited for me to get them before they started the film!!! Where else would that happen.

My Dads house during the 80's - the white one on the right.

Another classic Broadstairs shot

We drove around a bit and back into Ramsgate but as I said earlier, Iain had his sights set on the Co-op car park in St. Peters so that's where we ended up.

So this was our second night's wild-camping in Thanet, was it successful? Well I've decided that I don't like overnighting in supermarket car parks. The last time was in Normandy and I had nightmares about being towed away and abducted, this time I dreamed that we were being broken into and couldn't do anything about it. I think I just don't sleep because it feels so remote and isolated. Iain was sitting on the step early in the morning when the police drove up. Iain waved at them and they nodded back and then drove off. So they seemed quite happy for us to be there but maybe it was part of their morning patrol and should we have been there the next morning it might have been a different story. Later that morning there was an organised village tour going on and whilst we declined to join in, we saw all the tour guides dressed up in Victorian costumes which was quite amusing. If you are in Thanet, St. Peters is well worth a visit.

Later that day we moved onto Margate. We had high hopes as we had heard that the Old Town of Margate had been renovated and this was becoming quite a trendy place to go. Firstly we pulled into the coach parking area which used to be part of Dreamland the fairground. Here's a picture of the old “Big Dipper” roller coaster which seemed terrifying as a child. I remember that you had a “brake man” and if you got a fearless one you got a much faster ride. 

Nothing like that would be left to human error these days and I do remember that there were a few cases of the cars going off the tracks. Nowadays this roller coaster is a listed structure which to my mind is pretty stupid. I'm all for preserving buildings and structures of historical interest but you can see from the picture that this is way past it's best and maybe it's time to call it a day on it's preservation as it does rather make an eye-sore.

Having considered parking here for the night, I spoke to a coach driver who said that he wouldn't park there so we moved on towards Westbrook where we found a triangle of grass where two main roads met and there was a side road joining them. We parked up here, stayed overnight and weren't bothered at all. Result!  I felt much happier here than in the coach park, especially as I hadn't slept well in the car park the night before.

Again the weather was fantastic and we walked back into Margate along the seafront which as a child seemed to be miles long. It was nice to see that Margate still has a “Water Catch” which means that the children can play in the water when the tide is out. The beach was busy but I would suspect that most Margate visitors are day-trippers rather than holiday makers.

View towards Margate harbour from Westbrook

All in all Margate was quite disappointing and still looked quite shabby.

So two nights left and we decided to go back to Ramsgate. Sean had said that he would come and see us on the Saturday and friends Harry and Kay had returned from their holiday and offered us their drive for the Saturday night.

We had another walk into town and also a couple of other motorhomes parked up overnight so we didn't feel alone.

On Saturday, Sean arrived and having another walk from Ramsgate to the view of Pegwell bay, we all went over to Monkton where Iain and Sean went to the pub in Minster while I visited a fabrics exhibition with Harry's wife Kay.

We had a lovely evening with Harry and Kay and swapped some motorhome stories as they had just returned from a month in Germany. Thanks for having us and for the showers. I know we have a shower in our van but we don't use it if we don't have to as it's our only “big” storage area and it's a bit like a 3d puzzle at times. Everything has to be taken out and then put back in after your shower.

So then it was time to leave for Dover and the ferry. We'd been in Thanet for 5 days and even though my father lives in Broadstairs we didn't see him. He had sent an email a few days before as it was the 20th anniversary of my mum's passing and I had sent a reply saying that we would be in the area but got no reply. Oh well that's his prerogative and there's nothing I can do about it.

Summary of Thanet

  • All the main pubs seemed to be owned by Thorley Taverns
  • Apart from Thorley Taverns, micro pubs seem to be springing up, we saw one in St Peters and one in Ramsgate. These are quite tiny, a shop or barn, offering real ale with no frills.
  • Wild-camping seems to be tolerated as long (but we were mindful not to over-stay our welcome).
  • It's worth the visit although I wouldn't have minded missing Margate out.
  • There's an LPG station at Minster Services which doesn't appear on any listings.

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