Charles Dickens and I have one thing in common, not literary success, but we have both been to Broadstairs on holiday. He enjoyed summer holidays in a house now called Bleak House, where you can still stay. My earliest holiday memory is of Broadstairs, two summers blended into one set of memories. There was only me at the time and Mum and Dad did not attempt to stay in a hotel again.
On one occasion I opened the wrong door, to be confronted with a lady wearing black underwear, I had never seen such an outfit. With brilliant insight she said ‘Are you looking for your Mummy and Daddy?’
The hotel boasted child minding, so one evening Mum and Dad left me; probably only for a little cliff top stroll, I’m sure they did not spend all night in the pub, but whatever the supervisory arrangements were, I had enough time to take our clothes out of the suitcase and wash them in the large washbasin in our room – this was in the days before everyone expected en suite facilities.
Apparently I never wanted to leave the beach, drawn to the sea already, and had to be dragged off screaming or bribed with a ride on the ‘Peter Pan Railway’.
Broadstairs, Ramsgate and Margate are all part of The Isle of Thanet, the easternmost part of Kent; an island formed about five thousand years ago and always a busy place, Stone Age, Bronze Age communities and then The Romans. The last ship sailed through the Wantsum Channel in 1672 and over the decades it narrowed, it is many years since Thanet was an island.
The next time I visited the Isle of Thanet was when we took our toddler, in the days when we wondered how anyone coped with more than one child on outings, on a British Rail Awayaday to Margate. It was a sunny day, but fog descended halfway down the line and never lifted. We sat on the beach, but never actually saw Margate.
When a branch of the family moved to Margate in 2015 we returned in sunshine; a great chance for Tidalscribe the beachwriter to explore more of the British coast. We were soon sitting in the cafe of Turner Contemporary Gallery, which had opened only four years previously, looking out over the sunny harbour. As well as being famous for Tracy Emin, Margate also claims the painter JMW Turner.
May Bank Holiday Monday brought hot weather and hordes of visitors streaming out of the railway station. The Turner Gallery was gleaming white in the sun and as part of the Margate Bookie there was a book launch. Once again Dickens and I have something in common, we both have short stories in a new anthology. Shoal is a venture by Thanet Writers.
Writing is a solitary occupation; most of us are energised by meeting up with other writers in local groups or on line. To speak in public and read out your work is another skill very different from writing. Gathering people together, setting up a website, publishing and creating a book requires plenty of enthusiasm and yet another set of skills.
The launch of the anthology was very well attended and presented and the book is a delight. A varied selection, from the brief and poignant ‘The Pigeons’ to ‘Life and Times of a Zombie.’ There are flamingos in Pegwell Bay, an unhappy wife a hundred years ago and a fairy tale so much darker than Disney.
Spend a day in Margate at my website.