Margate - we just can't keep away

Published: Thursday 12th Apr 2012

Both Kate and I were drawn to Margate at Easter. Kate was unlucky to visit on a cold and miserably wet day, while I experienced that irritating mix of sunshine and showers which plays havoc with one's internal thermostat. Neither of us wanted to miss the Turner exhibition at the Turner Contemporary Gallery which will be replaced in May by an exhibition devoted to the works of Tracey Emin.The exhibition is entitled "Turner and the Elements".

Accordingly, the exhibits were grouped in different sections representing Air, Earth, Fire and Water while the last Gallery was entitled "Fusion". There is always something thrilling about seeing a familiar work up close and there are also some fascinating studies that seemed surprisingly modern. We scarcely needed to be reminded that our view of the sea from the Gallery was the same as the one enjoyed by Turner on his many visits to Margate but it certainly added a distinct frisson to our appreciation of the masterful play of light on water and sunshine struggling through storm clouds. My family and I enjoyed lunch in the Harbour Cafe which has a great atmosphere and good food.

After visiting the extraordinary Shell Grotto and having a stroll around the Old Town we had a splendid pot of tea and delicious cake at The Cup Cake Cafe in Market Square. The Old Town is showing signs of new life with several interesting shops selling Vintage gear and galleries displaying arts and crafts, not to mention the Cup Cake Cafe that seems emblematic of the nascent gentrification of the town. Sadly the rest of town is still suffering from dereliction with many shop fronts boarded up and many dismal amusement arcades looking far from amusing. I enjoyed a slight detour to sit in the Victorian Shelter overlooking the lido where T S Eliot recovered from his writer's block to write "The Waste Land".

It was pleasing to note that work has already started on the dilapidated Dreamland site and I certainly look forward to the day when that is opened again as that is bound to inject a sense of fun and optimism into the area.We travelled by train and were startled to see fields of what appeared to be thick snow between Headcorn and Staplehurst.It turned out to be accumulated hailstones the size of marbles that fell furiously and briefly in a strangely confined area. T S Eliot was right "April is the Cruellest Month".