The seaside of the title is that of Margate, “Margate in Kent”, as Tigger says firmly to the ticket clerk, having too often been given a ticket to Moorgate.
Margate is where Tigger’s parents live and we go down to see them about once a month. We usually go on a Saturday or Sunday but as our weekend was occupied with unpacking, collecting Freya from the cattery and taking a mini-mountain of washing to the launderette, we are going on Monday instead.
Apart from the station being busier, there doesn’t seem much difference between going on the weekend or a working day. The process is always the same: we walk down Pentonville Road to Kings Cross Thameslink and there queue for tickets; we then use our Oyster cards to enter and take the Victoria Line to Victoria; here, we briefly separate, one going to the Upper Crust stall to buy veggie baguettes and perhaps orange juice, the other to Starbuck’s for coffee; reunited, we make our way to the train, remembering to sit in one of the first 4 coaches because the train divides at Faversham.
The rail company called Thameslink lost its franchise earlier this year and has been replaced by First Capital Connect, a name that doesn’t trip lightly off the tongue. We assume that Kings Cross Thameslink station will eventually be renamed but there is no sign of this happening so far.
Starbuck’s is not everyone’s cup of tea, if you excuse the pun, but we like it and are unapologetic about the fact. This morning we were amused to hear on the radio a French person bemoaning the spread of Starbuck’s outlets in France as if this were a sure sign of the imminent collapse of French civilzation. It isn’t: France will survive and so will Starbuck’s.
Margate is a strange little town. Once the archetypal seaside resort, more staid than Southend or Brighton, it today boasts a slightly seedy image, but with a great expanse of sandy beach and a ready supply of the usual amenities (ice ceam, fish and chips, beer and funny hats), it still attracts families looking for a cheap outing.
Along the coast to the East and continuous with Margate, is Broadstairs. This sweet little town might be described as Margate’s Hove (devotees of Brighton will catch my drift). From the daytripper’s viewpoint, Broadstairs is a street of shops and a rather nice seafront area. Sheltered by a short pier is a small sandy beach where people can spend the day bathing, digging and building sandcastles. When these essential activites pall, there are coffee bars (no Starbuck’s), ice cream parlours, pubs and restaurants.
Broadstairs has its own little railway station from which trains go to Charing Cross and Victoria. The latter passes through Margate and if you are catching the last train on a fine summer Sunday you would be advised to board at Broadstairs rather than Margate to be sure of getting seat.
As today was a weekday, Margate beach was almost deserted. Broadstairs possibly presented a similar picture but we didn’t get there on this trip. We had quite few matters to attend to so it was a long day. We caught the 7:59 p.m. train to Victoria.
At least we have a shorter than usual week to look forward to.