Home for me is Margate.
It is fish and chips, bracing coastal winds, micro breweries, meandering cliff-top paths, kitsch gift shops, seawater.
As I write this, I am at home enjoying temperatures that wouldn't seem amiss in the southern half of the continent (although by the time you read this I'll be somewhere in Canada!). There is a buzz in the town to accompany the reopening of Dreamland as a retro theme park, another jewel replaced in the old crown of Margate.
But even without Dreamland and the Turner gallery and Margate Old Town, all of which have begun to draw the crowds back to our windy shores once more, I love being at home. It may be a small town, right at the end of the country where the roads and railways peter out, but I am never bored here.
Of course, it was an entirely different story when I was in my teens and desperate to go away somewhere more exciting!
Last summer Martina came to stay for a couple of days and it was so much fun showing her around after she'd shown me so much of her home town, Milan.
First stop on our way home from Gatwick? Pete's Fish Factory of course!!
Martina might tell you she's a vegan but secretly she eats the Italian ham speck, which we all know is made out of pork. And if you take her to a chippy she will be more than happy to try battered cod, which we also know not to be strictly vegan. Tut tut.
In the morning we went for a walk down to the beach. There are some beautiful roads near where I live that lead straight down to Botany Bay. I always go running down here because the roads are so peaceful and quiet and seem miles away from the rest of Thanet. The pavements are made from grass and each house is completely different from the others, making it a really interesting place to go shopping for serious house goals.
We headed for breakfast at the Botany Bay Hotel before hitting the beach.
My experiences there are pretty mixed. On this particular day, the service wasn't great (the girl behind the till was more interested in flirting with the barman and whining about life in general, then charged me extra when I tried to substitute something in my breakfast for something else even though they'd run out of the original thing) and my poached egg was watery and disappointing. But other times, I've really enjoyed myself having Pimms on the deck with my Mum on summer evenings or catching up over lunch with friends and haven't had any problems at all. And to be honest, with a location like this, I'll probably always go back.
We had breakfast, marvelling at how warm the sunshine was and decided that it was a great day for a spot of paddling.
Martina pretty much sprinted down the slope to the beach and was straight in the water before I'd even blinked.
I joined her and we were just enjoying the cool water on our toes when we suddenly noticed the lifeguard shouting at us, telling us to get out of the water. It was only then that I noticed the red flag; still, I thought it was a little bit of an overreaction - we were only paddling, hardly about to get swept out by dangerous currents!
It turns out that there had actually been a sewage leak just along the coast. Ew. We definitely gave our feet a good scrub when we got home.
We went for a walk along the sands instead, round the chalk stacks and towards the old smugglers caves.
You can actually climb up inside the cliffs through these tunnels! It's a little strange and a bit of a scramble and a little exhilarating and a lot of fun.
But today we were feeling lazy and went for a scramble up the more conventional path instead!
When I was younger I really didn't appreciate the sea. Now that I've lived away at university, I don't take it for granted so much; it's just such a beautiful place to live! I love the cliffs around Botany Bay, there's something slightly wild about them. If you look carefully, you can find little ledges to sit on just below the edge, completely hidden from everyone walking on the paths nearby (although be careful when looking for them!)
Our next stop for Martina's tour of Margate was... Margate itself.
The Old Town is so pretty and full of loads of nice little shops and cafes. It's so nice that the area has undergone such a regeneration. I remember the high street slowly closing up when I was a kid so it's great to see some life has sprung back into the town.
Instead of having lunch here though (as tempting as the cupcakes are), we swung by M&S, grabbed Tamsyn and headed to Sandwich for a good old fashioned picnic.
Pom Bears and carrot sticks, food of my childhood!
And obviously the Pom Bears went to our head a little...
(I had to cross my legs to stop my hips from pressing against the chains, I think I may have finally outgrown children's play areas, which sucks).
Sandwich is one of the prettiest towns in the area and is an absolute pleasure to just walk around in the afternoon sun (I wrote about it earlier this year in my Christmas post). My oldest friend lives here so I have lots of memories of playing in the parks and walking around the streets and going to parties in the church hall. It's a really lovely place to grow up.
By now we were feeling rather thirsty and decided that the next thing on Martina's agenda should be a proper introduction to Pimms. But that's enough photos for now - see you next time!