Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Scenes from Margate.

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My buddy Christine and I are going to do our best to take weekly day trips, since neither of us have class on Wednesdays. Last week's was a jaunt up to Margate, which is a seaside town slightly north of Canterbury. We booked tickets for the train the night before, and were both very excited, since it was our first experience with the British rail system. Everything went smoothly, and we had a nice day, walking around, exploring.
The general feeling of the city is one of kind of run down loneliness, since the arcades and other carnival-like store fronts were mostly deserted, summer having ended and left the town without its tourists. Things were kind of dirty and empty, but that made the streets beautiful in a different, harder kind of way. As soon as we got off the train and left the station, we walked past Dreamland, which is an old amusement park that's currently closed but is under renovations. It has really old wooden roller coasters that the rebuilders are hoping to save. Across the street is a lovely sand beach, that marked my first real trip to the English seaside! I picked up a white rock and a shell and brought them back in my pocket.
And speaking of shells, I visited the weirdest place I have ever been in my life; I kid you not. The Shell Grotto in Margate is this underground series of tunnels and a room where the walls are entirely covered in elaborate designs made of shells. That in itself isn't overly unusual. Here's the weird bit: they don't know anything about it. No, seriously. No one knows who made it, why they made it, how old it is, or who discovered it. It could be as old as the Romans, or just the whim of some rich Victorian eccentric. The story goes that some kids found it around 1835 when they were playing down a hole, but no one even knows if that's real! They don't know if the designs are symbolic or just decorative, they don't know anything since before it was opened to the public in 1838. It feels like a hoax, but a really old hoax. And the strangest bit is, it's just tucked away in this residential area under someone's yard. The picture of me second from the bottom is how my face looked the entire time we were down there. So odd.
The rest of these pictures are just little things I saw throughout the day that made me smile. There were quite a few vintage and charity shops along the high street. The fox was one of my favorites. He was in the window of this vintage housewares shop, and the man who owned the store was playing some mellow rap over the loudspeakers, while this little taxidermic aviator just rocked it up front.


  1. Oh man, everything about this post is perfect. Romantic old amusement park? Check. Mysterious underground seashell grotto? Check. Actually, the Shell Grotto reminds me of a story from one of my favorite books, "St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves" by Karen Russell. In the story, a young girl's class goes on a field trip to see this giant conch shell tourist attraction, and she ends up getting stuck in one.

    Anyway, I always love hearing about your adventures! Keep being awesome.

  2. Hey Hannah,

    Love the book store with my favorite author. I have actually read that book. The shell cave is intriguing!

  3. margaret klapperichOctober 9, 2013 at 6:39 PM

    Love your stories and photos.....so glad you are experiencing all of this.
    I'm going to try to google the sea shell place....see if I can come up with anything.

  4. man, that story about the shell grotto is so cool - i love things like that! looks like a nice & interesting day trip - i'm glad you had a good time :)

    the hobbit kitchen x


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