MargateI’ve been to Margate a few times now, visiting my brother, but every time I go, there seems to be something new for me to discover. Last time, I took my first trip to Dreamland, a lovely pleasure park opposite the beach, with one of the world’s oldest roller coasters. And, currently, Dreamland have free entry (though you have to pay if you want to go on any of the rides), so we popped in there for a drink and a wander, and even if you have no interest in rides, it’s well worth a look. There’s usually something going on, and there’s lovely spots to just sit and have a drink, enjoying the atmosphere.

This visit, we also went to Whitstable, a lovely seaside town with plenty of food for any seafood lovers to enjoy, and a brilliant market with a variety of crafts for sale.

But mainly, we visited bookshops. As it turns out, Margate has a brilliant selection of second-hand bookshops and considering the amount of times I’ve been, I’m actually upset I didn’t realise this earlier.

20190422_170843Firstly, Pilgrim’s Hospice, a charity bookshop in an old bank. The building is lovely, and they have a huge selection of books, mostly for under £2 (including some excellent hardbacks selling for £1.50!). The layout is wonderful, bright, and very well organised, making it easy to find something to your taste.

Not far from here is a small comic book shop (should have noted the name down!) with a mix of second-hand and new graphic novels., comics, and merch From here, I picked up Sandman and Spider-Man/Deadpool. So eager to get stuck into both of them.

We also visited Hooked by Books, again a really nice, well-laid out second-hand bookshop, with a range of true crime, history and fiction books. It was hard to just pick out a few to buy here.

And, lastly for book shops, that evening we visited Broadstairs. Broadstairs is a small area not far from Margate, with a variety of bars and restaurants. Perfect for a night out. We were hoping to visit Houdini’s, but after food and a few drinks we were all exhausted, so decided to call it a night. But not before one very particular pub my future sister-in-law was very keen on me seeing.

My love of books is no secret in my family, and although my brother does enjoy reading,20190420_120830 he doesn’t do it as much due to lack of time, whereas I will always make time for it (he always makes a point of reading my stories). So, my brother and future SIL – who have also seen the books spilling down the stairs leading to my attic bedroom – knew how much I’d love the bar.

The Chapel is, well, a former chapel, but after it finished being a place of worship, it became a bookshop. Then, eventually, a bar, owned by Brewdog. But rather than stripping the place of all those lovely books, they simply sell the books. They’re reasonable prices, and even if not buying one, you’re welcome to sit and browse, read them, as long as you put them back in the correct places. All books are for sale. My only complaint was that, in the evening, it was too dark to see some titles on the shelves, and I couldn’t exactly start climbing over people to get a closer look at certain books.

We will definitely have to visit again during a quieter time – maybe daytime, so there’s more light!

Overall, I came home with the books pictured above, as well as picking up a present for Dad (a book about Tommy Cooper) and a lovely stories and rhymes for every day for a friend’s little girl. So far, I’ve only managed to read one book (The Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School), and I cannot wait to get stuck into the rest, some of which have been sitting on my virtual to be read for ages.

So, if you’re looking for a picturesque seaside town, with plenty to do and various choices for picking up books, I really do recommend Margate. It’s a brilliant place for book lovers (and dog lovers, too!), as well as having a lovely beach and plenty of places to sit, talk, drink, read, or ride a roller coaster! And if you are planning a trip, I also recommend my brother’s cabin, which includes a pool table and hot tub, and allows plenty of room to enjoy your own space, as well as the best shower I’ve ever been in! Details on Airbnb.

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Taking Inspiration

Over Easter weekend I went to Margate to visit my brother and his girlfriend with my dad. Basically, it’s a journey directly east across the country, mainly on the motorways. On the way there I fell asleep before we left Cardiff, and woke up near Reading. On the way back, I fell asleep for about an hour. Most of the rest of the time was spent reading; there’s not a lot to really look at on that journey.

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We arrived on Good Friday. Went out in Margate in the evening and by Saturday I realized I desperately needed a notebook. Not that I was planning on doing some serious writing, just something to jot things down in. Despite having countless notebooks at home, I’d forgotten to throw one in my bag when we left. (The perils of packing while hungover last minute because of a decision to go for ‘one or two’ drinks the night before)

Luckily for me, we were going on a day trip to Canterbury. There were two things I wanted that I thought I would easily be able to get hold of; a nice notebook, and a copy of Canterbury Tales.

As it turned out, I was wrong.

I didn’t get either in Canterbury, though I did fall in love with the place. It’s a beautiful city with a lot of history behind it, and it was just a shame we couldn’t spend more time there to look into the museums or the cathedral. But I did pick up a couple of books at an awesome charity bookshop, had lunch in a lovely pub, and got really, really freaked out by something I saw there.

By the way, I don’t like dolls. Or dummies. They scare me. And what I saw involved dolls, and it was…strange. Very strange. I won’t go into too much detail here but it has now inspired a short story.

So as soon as we got back to Margate and stopped at Tesco, I grabbed myself a cheap notebook. Nothing fancy, just something I could jot down ideas in.

This notebook is now going to live n whatever bag I am carrying with me at the time. Because whether it’s Margate or just going out for a day trip, ideas can strike anywhere and at any time. It’s one of the first rules as a writer and one I’ve let myself down on, a lot. Always carry a notebook and pen. Always.

Lesson learnt. Because, really, you never know when you’ll see something that creeps you out enough to make you think it might just make a good horror story to creep out other people, too.