Indie Oxford Explore: Margate
A month ago today Anna and I headed as far east as we could go to the seaside town of Margate on our indie Oxford summer holiday! We booked a lovely AirBnB on the seafront, a stones through from the harbour and the colourful amusement park that is Dreamland.
Margate is a seaside town slowly coming to life with regeneration and new indie businesses giving a fresh new vibe to an otherwise down-at-heel community. New bars and restaurants sit side by side the ageing arcades and amusements on the seafront. Creatives and business owners are slowly making the move from East London to the Kent coast in search of a more affordable, slower paced way of life.
With this burgeoning indie scene, we thought it was the perfect place to visit for our project #indieoxfordexplore. Not only are we passionate about promoting and supporting indies in Oxford, but we wholeheartedly want to encourage people visit indies across the UK and help this industry thrive in uncertain times.
So, with the sun shining and the salty sea breeze whipping our hair across our faces, we strolled along the prom, passed fading hotels and the infamous yellow Christmas house. We headed to Dreamland to check out the indie street food area, relaxing with delicious local elderflower cider and perfect golden summer evening ska from the DJs on the scenic stage.
As the sunset over the sea, and feeling famished after our long road trip, we headed along the seafront to the harbour steps to meet up with some of the awesome women of In Colourful Company – a brilliant community group to support and encourage creatives – something we’re very passionate about too, so we were keen to meet up with this wonderful crowd!
We stopped for fish and chips at Peter’s Fish Factory and huddled on the harbour steps against the chilly evening air, washing down our fish supper with a celebratory glass of Prosecco or two.
Bright and early on Sunday morning we headed for breakfast along the seafront at The Bus Cafe – an old routemaster repurposed as a fab little indie cafe serving simple yet delicious food with a sea view.
We met up with Lorelai there, a designer maker from Reading who makes bright, colourful and kitsch jewellery. Lorelai joined us for the September #Oxfordinstameet, it’s great to meet another local indie business owner creating unique and quirky pieces.
After fueling up, we headed to Dreamland for a day of fun in the sun with the #incolourfulcompany gang. We whizzed down the rainbow slide, reached new heights on the Ferris Wheel, whirled around on the magic mouse and dipped and dived on the Scenic Railway, the oldest rollercoaster in the UK and still going strong. There was even time to try out the World’s Biggest Bouncy Castle!
Dreamland is a great place for big and little kids alike. It’s free to enter, just buy a wrist band to go on the rides. They have regular events from exhibitions to dance classes and are even holding a festival, By The Sea, with bands including The Libertines and Metronomy.
After all the fun of the fair (quite literally) we needed a quiet bolt hole to chat over the events and excitement of the day. The Bottleshop provided the perfect place to relax on a cosy sofa overlooking the harbour, and the tide making it’s way back in over the golden sands of the bay.
Looking out over seafront, the colourful fisherman’s stores along the harbour arm piqued our interest, especially when we found that they had been converted in the little indie cafes, restaurants and bars! We headed to Cheesy Tiger for dinner, a tiny restaurant serving totally delicious small plates in a friendly convivial atmosphere, where locals come to chat and relax over a glass of wine. The Burrata was soft and creamy and a perfect match for heirloom tomatoes, truffled mac n cheese was devine, as was the raclette with veg and pickles – this place is not to be missed on a Margate trip!
Before heading back on Monday we made our way into town to unearth some more Margate indie gems. Breakfast at the Cupcake Cafe was much needed after a night on the harbour arm! Restored and ready for action, we took in some indies and vintage shops before making our way to the Shell Grotto. An underground cave completely lined with intricate patterns made up from shells. Nobody knows when it was made but it was discovered in 1835 and was used by the Victorians for seances. It is a truly awe inspiring construction.
Margate really is an indie gem, full of great businesses, as well as a gorgeous beach and the restored Dreamland site. If you’re planning a weekend away in the UK, Margate is a great bet. It’s shabby seaside and growing indie scene is sure to charm and you may find you don’t want to leave!
Have you been to Margate? What did you think?
We’d love to hear!
Love, Rosie xxx