Margate was the favourite seaside resort of Charles Dickens who found the place "delightful and fresh", a place where he enjoyed long walks. So when I was offered a trip there I jumped at the opportunity.
Margate has had a recent revival since the Turner Contemporary Gallery opened in 2011 after 20 years to create. Named after Turner whose early life began in Margate and was drawn back regularly because of his love of the seas, skies, quality of light and later his landlady Mrs Booth.
Artists continue to be inspired by Margate, today's most well known contemporary artist being Tracy Emin.
My trip began with a visit to the gallery to see the current exhibition of works by Turner, Rodin and Emin. It is worth going to Margate just for this show alone.
Gallery visiting makes me very hungry and so a hearty lunch was in order. We went to the Walpole Bay Hotel for a traditional English roast. What a gem this place is. It opened in 1914 as a hotel for society to spend their summer vacation. It remained in the same family until it was taken over by Jane and Peter Bishop in 1995. The original owners had not thrown away a single item in all those years. Jane and Peter quickly saw the value in these items and have turned part of the hotel into a museum.
You could spend hours looking at everything here. I recommend a weekend stay to take it all in.
Another lovely tale began in 2009 when guest Curtis Tappenden presented Jane with a sketch he had drawn on his napkin during dinner. It has now become a tradition with artists from around the world crating art on their napkins. There are currently 121 adorning the walls of the hotel.
After a hearty meal we needed a walk. As luck would have it the Tudor house was preparing to open its doors for the first time since its restoration and we were given a preview. It's the oldest remaining building in central Margate, built around 1525. (Margate was heavily bombed in WWII). It is thought the place was probably owned by a wealthy yeoman farmer.
For something totally different and rather quirky you really must visit the shell grotto. It was discovered quite by accident when in 1835 the current owner was digging a duck pond and broke through the roof. No-one knows its origins, however it is believed to date from the time of the Knights Templar. A winding passage leads to an altar room, the walls and ceiling are all covered in a mosaic of seashells. A space of 190 square metres and at best guess 4.6 million shells.
Take a fast train from St Pancras International station and you will be transported to Margate in just under an hour and half.