I grew up in Margate. I haven't always loved it. For the first two decades of my life it was a salty bite of wind, loud and aggressive teenagers sauntering through closed up streets and the grey, grey sea rolling into the grey, grey sky at the horizon.
Its decay had long lost the poetic romance of The Wasteland, with the eye drawn more to the shuttered shops and littered streets than the grand old hotels that sagged under years of neglect. So the news that it was becoming the country's up-and-coming hipster seaside resort baffled me to say the least.
After the opening of the Turner Gallery, we were told that the area would start to see a surge in interest. Many of the locals were sceptical - one art gallery wouldn't be enough to renovate the entire area which had long lost the glitz and glamour of its golden days.
Yet slowly but surely, we began to see the town rise from the ashes - starting with Margate Old Town.
It started with a handful of vintage shops and art galleries. This, it seemed, was the beginning of the new start. And then gradually, new faces appeared on the old, worn out streets. A handful of Instagram-worthy interiors shops. A collection of cool cafes and micro pubs. Even artist studios that supply the likes of Liberty London.
(I cannot tell you how surprised I am that there are places in Margate that make stuff to sell in Liberty).
Now, it's fairly common to see Margate pop up on a blog or in the travel section of a magazine or newspaper. Every time I see it, I feel a sense of bemused pride. I have always relished in my identity as someone from Margate, that neglected and dilapidated coastal outpost. People only ever knew it for two reasons; the popular (that Chas & Dave song or an old episode of Only Fools and Horses) or the political (our mate Nige and the UKIP debacle or the deprivation and teen pregnancy). Coming to uni, I found that people only knew it because they and their friends had holiday homes along more affluent stretches of the coastline (one person remarked "oh dear!" upon learning of my origins).
It felt like a badge of honour, to have grown up there and escaped. To feel that there was a part of me that nobody at uni would quite understand because they had not lived in the insular world of Thanet, with weekends full of secret teenage drinking on beaches, and windy days spent wandering from Primark to McDonalds amongst whirlwinds of litter, and the delights of the Loop. Now I see nothing of that past in the town, whose rebirth both delights and worries me in equal measure.
It's ok for those of us whose families were of a generation or circumstances that allowed them to get a mortgage and secure a home. But for the many people who live from day-to-day with very little, the gentrification is a rapidly building worry. House prices are quite literally soaring and tenants are under threat of being priced out of their communities. Cliftonville and the Northdown Road area have, for the past decade or so, been the home to many vulnerable groups of people from single parents to working class families to immigrant communities. Now, the area is sporting high-end perfume shops and yoga studios and hipster cafes and food stores. It's wonderful to see a bit more life being injected into the area - but you have to wonder who exactly this is supposed to benefit.
The locals? Perhaps not.
Social exclusion rants aside (and that really is one of my favourite topics ever) one of the things that shocks me the most about my home town and its new lease of life is that I can hardly profess to know it any better than any other blogger now. The new openings are coming thick and fast and every time I return to visit my family, something new has popped up, been thoroughly investigated by all of the curious travellers to "Shoreditch-on-Sea" and entrenched in the collective conscious of "Things to do in Margate". It's strange to feel like an outsider, locked out by this shiny new varnish that covers the town I used to know.
So whenever I get the chance, I go for a wander around and to try out something new.
This time, it was Hantverk & Found, the tiniest little seafood restaurant you could ever expect to see.
Despite being a fairly recent addition to the town's offerings, it feels well-loved and worn with its old floorboards and blackboard menu. We sat outside to make the most of the (pretty chilly) summer afternoon, with big helpings of crab and avocado on toast, French sausage and cornichons and a ridiculously beautiful plate of tomatoes, courgettes and feta.
It was cute, cosy and the food was delicious. The table next to us hosted a young family who gently tested their young daughter with brand new flavours and foods beneath the kitchen window, from which came all manner of delicious smells.
Having thoroughly perused the old town, we wandered over to the place where it all started, the Turner Gallery.
No matter how beautiful and thought-provoking the art on show is, my favourite piece will always be the Margate sea, framed by the floor to ceiling windows in the entrance to the gallery.
From there, it's worth taking a stroll along the harbour arm, another part of the town that has seen a significant boost in activity over the years. There are art galleries, pubs and an intriguing cafe called Cheesy Tiger that seems to do all manner of deliciously cheesy things.
Sadly my companions were not of the "second lunch" variety so we didn't try it out.
Instead, we slowly strolled from harbour arm to promenade, looking at the various skylines of Margate which, despite it all, haven't actually changed a bit.