“I walked far down the beach, soothed by the rhythm of the waves, the sun on my bare back and legs, the wind and mist from the spray on my hair.” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh,
In the interest of more honest blogging (see this post), I’m going to come clean: I was at a pretty low point at the end of last year.
It’s funny (not funny), isn’t it, because a cursory scan across my social channels would never have given the game away, aside from the fact I withdrew slightly and was posting less.
And that’s the theme I’m constantly battling: How much to share, how much to open up? What things should be kept private and what’s mine to share? Gal pal Poppy blogged, in a sort-of part response to my post – oooh, like a blogging Inception! Have we broken the Internet yet? – about dancing that fine line ‘tween wanting to show-off and TMI.
I’ve been thinking on this and currently my stance on the matter is thus: If it’s MY story, then I’ll share it – it’s mine to tell, if I want to. Does that make sense? And even then, it’s likely that I won’t necessarily talk about it in real time, but more in retrospective, once I’ve got over the ‘hump’ of it and can share some learnings, or at least draw a conclusion of sorts.
Anyway, back to my original point, which, in a nutshell was that I was feeling particularly shit slash borderline depressed right before Christmas AKA the most wonderful time of the year – LOL at that cute irony, eh guys?
I felt like my world was caving in slightly and that if I wasn’t careful, it would all topple on me and push me down a rabbit hole of DOOM. One that would be quite hard to climb out of.
I needed to escape – not to run away from my problems, but to give myself enough distance from them so that I could reflect upon them from afar in order to put things in perspective and move on.
The sea has always been my safe place, my bolt-hole of choice.
Maybe it’s the nostalgic association with childhood holidays to the coast, followed by more exotic beaches for total relaxation as an adult, but I think it’s actually more about being so close to the phenomena that is nature (yup, I totally just said that, who even am I?) and the sense of calmness that brings.
Being able to take big breaths of salty, fresh sea air and matching my inhalations to the rythym of the tide.
Feeling humbled and a little bit insignificant against the vast expanse of sea.
Long blustery walks along the coast line, looking out to what feels like infinity (and beyond!). Blowing the cobwebs away, literally and figuratively.
Remembering that you’re not the centre of the world and, just as the tide goes in and out, this too shall pass.
Yup; being beside the sea is good for the inside of your soul.
It was the week before Christmas and I had the perfect place in mind: Gemma Cairney‘s beautiful seaside apartment in Margate called, appropriately enough, Sweet Dreams.
Spending time with Gem always inspires me and leaves me feeling energised, so I just knew her seaside pad would do likewise. After a flurry of messages to make last-minute arrangements, followed by a quick car journey over the Dartford Crossing (note: remember to pay the toll, yeah?), I soon found myself climbing the winding staircase to our home for the next few days.
The apartment was essentially Gemma in interior form: colourful, quirky and fun. Lovingly refurbished by Gem and her talented boyfriend, Jim (the kitchen you see below was created by his fair hand, as are most of the installations in the flat), Sweet Dreams’ decor is cleverly bright yet tranquil at the same time.
With a selection of teas, cereals to choose from, plus inviting nautical mugs and assorted crockery, you’re made to feel oh-so welcome. Not forgetting a sparkling stash of frivolous fancy dress items – and even retro roller skates! – if you feel so inclined.
There’s a gorgeous aroma in the air – coming from the soaps placed in both the bathrooms – made from local seaweed (and you can buy your own just down the road from Haeckels, see below). Oh, and speaking of bathing, there’s even a beautiful copper bath tub to soak away your sorrows (or just Instagram #GUILTY).
I know this sounds corny, but the place radiated with the love that’s been invested in it.
And how could I forget Fire Bird, the original juke box, restored to play a whole host of hits as selected by Gemma’s friends. I’m pretty honoured to say the Fleetwood Mac disc has a shout out to me! #PROUD
The view is breath-taking, and I doubt you could ever tire of taking in those candy-coloured sunrises and sunsets. It’s almost scary how meditative it is; after a few minutes of soaking it up, I felt centred. Crazy, huh?
As it was, being beside the seaside was so therapeutic, I soon found myself itching to explore the local area (just a five minute stroll away) and can categorically say the evening cuisine and vintage rival that found in London (minus the ridiculous prices)!
While it was undoubtedly a very quiet time of year to go to Margate, that stillness – for me – made it all the more enjoyable. I needed to be away from the hustle and bustle of the city; free to potter as I pleased.
And that said, there was still a little Christmas Market taking place while we were there, and I enjoyed sauntering around the stalls while clutching a steaming mug of potent homemade mulled wine. Bliss.
Here are some more of Margate’s most magical places:
This is home of the magical seaweed soaps and other assorted apothecarial delights. It’s admittedly not cheap but worth a splurge. The lip balms are a more affordable *cough* £18, (shout out to The Frugality for being an #ENABLER)
I’m not gonna lie, the service was a little…
rude abrupt, but the tasty AF brunch more than made up for it. That, and the fact we secured a prime seat, on a vintage formica table, in the booth by the window #BLESSED
Madam Popoff Vintage
I could have spent all day in here, chatting to Deborah the owner. Of course, I shudda known that she’d be mates with Gem and we were soon bonding over our shared love of Terry de Havilland shoes, Tatty Devine jewellery and swear words. The best curated edit of vintage I’ve seen in a long time meaning that every item is an ‘oh my!’ piece.
Glory Days Vintage
I enjoyed talking to the lovely owner and her mum while I browsed the store, and it was so nice to discover the stories behind the garments I bought (namely an amazing vintage 70s embroidered velvet waistcoat and a vintage-style floral print kimono blouse).
Yup, I couldn’t help but draw comparisons to Banksy’s Dismaland, too – particularly at such a desolate time of year for a theme park to be open. The stark contrast of fluro lights against the grey December skies was so ironic, it was almost deliciously comical.
When we visited, the roller disco was completely empty, most of the arcade machines were switched off, and the outside area was completely closed.
However, there was a festive event held there that same week and I’m sure it’s a different story come summertime. Tbh, I enjoyed the tranquility of being in a deserted theme park and not sure I could have coped with the crowds anyway!
Places for dinner
Hantverk & Found
This place is teeny, so make sure you book in advance. Chef Kate de Syllas writes her menu based on what’s caught that day, so you can betcha bottom dollar (I know, I’ve turning into a middle-aged American man) it’s fresh. Felt like a dinner party round a friend’s house.
Basically, the best Indian food I’ve ever eaten – every morsel was mouthwateringly delicious! – and best of all, you’re treated to little taster dishes in-between courses. Possibly my favourite meal of 2015 (I’m sure they’ll want to put that accolade on their website).
Housed in a converted old butcher shop, this places mixes modern European cuisine with a Caribbean twist, making for, quite frankly, a taste sensation. The cocktails are pretty fabulous, too.
After three days of feasting like a queen (and napping like a baby), plus the fresh sea air truly dusting away all the cobwebs, it’s safe to say sweet dreams really ARE made of this.
BIG love to Gem for creating my new-found sanctuary by the sea – I’ll be beside the seaside again soon.