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Published: August 25th 2014
Bond - James Bond
More than 1.5 million sold!
On the rainiest day of the trip so far we decided to keep our pre-arranged appointment for a trip down to the seaside resort of Margate - billed in the brochures as "the original seaside". There is some evidence for this claim. Even our business class mag in Emirates on the way over had a piece charting Margate's fall from holiday destination of choice for Poms in the early 20th century to economic irrelevance and now slow return to somewhere a little more hip and happening once again. A long closed theme park, Dreamland, is being reinvented as a 'heritage' attractions and is servo reopen next year.
Even on the Monday of a long weekend here there is a fast train every hour from the centre of London (and slow ones more often), and we made the Javelin high speed train introduced for the Olympics with less than 20 secs to spare - so keeping our record intact of a train journey of some description on every day of the trip so far.
Just over an hour later we are on the Kent Coast, home to the Hornby Factory (ancestral home of model trains in
George meets G for George
Some of the great artwork in the Hornby/Airfix exhibition
the UK, although they are all made In China now). and an exhibition charting the history of some of Britain's favourite toys - Hornby, Scalectrix, Corgi and Airfix. Watchers of 'James May's Toy Stories' a couple of years back will recognise several of these names, and some of the stars of the shoes are on display.
It does make you feel old when you see in display cases toys of the 70s which you still own (and in my case some examples from the 50s and 60s which I have since collected!). Pride of place was taken by a large model railway layout and a massive diaroma reconstruction of the D-Day landings featuring hundreds of individual models. Individual diaromas of historic moments in British military aviation were also impressive. Hanging on the wall was a painting of G for George, the Lancaster Bomber which is now housed in the Australian War Memorial in Canberra but was based in this part of the UK during the war - a small link with home.
After resisting (my) strong temptation to buy up big at the museum shop, we headed to the sea front at Margate, which
Diorama to rule them all
Commemorating the D Day landings
looked like a sad version of Bondi. The lifeguards were in their tower, the flags were up, the ATVs and surf skis were ready to go - but there was no sun, no surf, and no bathers!! We were among a few hardy souls wandering along the sea wall in wet weather gear, destined to experience a 'real' English day at the seaside. The ice cream and milk bars were having a tough long weekend, but a couple of fish and chip shops were doing a reasonable trade. We assisted with a purchase of two bags of chips, scalding hot and doused liberally with salt and vinegar, eaten by hand while strolling along the cobbled streets of Margate old town in the drizzle.
One find was the gleaming Turner Contemporary Gallery, opened in 2011 to great acclaim, overlooking the sea and a jewel in the local tourism crown. Architects rave about the building and its location and on a fine day it would be hard to beat for outlook and the 'light' it has been designed and built specifically to capture. Given the weather outside, it was a popular indoor location today.
From landscapes to this - French painter Mondrian's famous work
inner artistic streaks, we headed straight for the headline exhibition - one lauded by 'Stylist' magazine as "one of the essential art shows of 2014" and by the 'Independent' as having the "narrative tension of a thriller". Well, not to our philistine eyes, but it did chart French artist Piet Mondrian's "journey to abstraction through colour". It was OK (and certainly abstract) but we were glad it was free. Now known for his gird artwork featuring black lines and strong blocks of primary colour, which adorns handbags, dresses, record covers and has been (mis) appropriated for everything, I suppose someone had to come up with it...
Also suspended from a massive vaulted atrium in the gallery, and meant to be representing the ever changing nature of light and clouds (but just looking dull and flat today) was 'Atmosphere' - collection of white pottery and porcelain inside acrylic boxes of varying transparency. We decided we much prefer the 'traditional' works of the Tate in London...
We jumped on a local bus in search of a local Dickens Museum and the actual 'Bleak House' reputed to be the inspiration for the book of the same name
An installation at the new Turner Contemporary gallery, Margate.
(and the excellent BBC adaptation featuring X Files' Gillian Anderson). But caught in a real downpour, we took refuge in the Crampton Tower museum at Broadstairs, which turned out to be a local transport museum housed in a disused water tower and underground well. Who knew? I think we might have been their only visitors for the day, and for a donation of a couple of pounds we got to climb to the top of the 1856 heritage listed tower and have a look at the displays. Turns out Mr Crampton was a local engineer of some note who invented and built everything from the local water supply (hence his tower) to steam engines.
After a small number of purchases there was just enough time to cross to the railway station for our fast train. Glimpses of Canterbury Cathedral on the way home to London and our day out was done!
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