Sunday, 25 January 2015

Antique and Vintage Guide to Margate

You may recall that just before Christmas, the Texan and I headed to the coast, to Margate, to take in the sea air and wander around the increasing number of antique and vintage shops that have been popping up in this once-bustling seaside town. It was absolutely freezing, but we certainly weren’t short of treasure troves to dip into for warmth and a cheeky browse. Given it was less than a week to Christmas, I had to seriously restrain myself, but, inevitably, I didn’t come home empty handed (sorry, bank balance!!). Margate is just an hour and thirty minutes away from St Pancras, so definitely worth sparing a Saturday for. And if you do, make sure not to miss the following little gems…

Margate Retro General Store, 27 Fort Road
This little shop is filled to the brim with retro furniture, lighting, bits and bobs for the home, as well as local produce, sweeties and Margate rock. It is also a coffee shop, so you can enjoy a hot beverage while spending all your pennies on old milk bottles and wire baskets. I was particularly fond of the old wooden sledge in the window, but sadly we haven’t yet had any snow!

Fort Road Yard, opposite Margate Retro General Store
The treasures in Margate Retro General Store appear to stray across the road to Fort Road Yard, which is, as you might expect, a yard with a few bits and pieces of retro furniture strewn about. I spotted a gorgeous retro bureau, but sadly it had already been sold (and the Texan might have been a bit peeved with me if I ended up buying yet another piece of furniture…). I have later discovered that Fort Road Yard often hosts local events, including live jazz music, so perhaps you’ll be lucky enough to stumble across such an event when you visit.

Paraphernalia, 8 King Street
This was my favourite shop in Margate! It is packed with retro furniture, as well as some older Arts and Crafts pieces, paintings, cameras, typewriters, ceramics, ephemera, vintage toys – you’re bound to find something that you love. Prices were very reasonable – I had to resist the large wire baskets for £28 (I already have too many boxes and baskets!) – and the owner was very nice, with no pressure to buy and more than happy for us to take photos and browse.

HFW Vintage, 12a King Street
A vintage clothes shop, this tiny space was crowded with what I can only assume was a local rock band when I visited, and I can see why – denim jackets, plaid shirts, an array of knitwear and sheepskin coats, HFW Vintage sells clothes for cool kids. Although I certainly don’t consider myself to be remotely cool, I did like the sixties vibe of their coat collection – so definitely worth a quick browse.

Madam Popoff Vintage, 4 King Street
This kooky vintage clothes shop houses an impressive selection of dresses dating from the 1950s-1980s, as well as some colourful knitwear, wool skirts and silk blouses. They also have a display cabinet of fun vintage and new jewellery, including some Tatty Devine pieces which I was told have been selling like hot cakes!

Margate Retro, 16 King Street
Another mid-century treasure trove of furniture, lighting and industrial pieces, Margate Retro also has smaller bits on offer, such as old radios, baskets, cameras, trunks, kitchenalia, clocks and bottles – and the shopkeeper wears a brown coat like they did in the olden days, cute!

T.W. Stigant, 26 King Street
This beautiful shop-front houses what is really more of a junk shop, but amongst the unwanted hoovers and board games, there are some goodies to be found – in particular, old suitcases, West German pottery and vintage train sets. Just come prepared to rummage.

The Shop, Market Place
This is not strictly an antique or vintage shop, but it is vintage-inspired and certainly deserves a mention. It sells lots of old style kitchenalia, cushions, throws (one of which I bought, and Chutney has taken a liking to!), scented candles and gifts, and is a really well laid out and pretty shop. It also hosts workshops and classes in the back of the shop, but I’m afraid I couldn’t find a website (it must have one, can anyone assist?) to link to. In any case, don’t miss it – it’s on the corner of Market Place. 

Breuer & Dawson, 7 King Street
One for the boys, this vintage clothes shop is packed to the rafters with tweed, wool coats, lumberjack shirts, denim and shearling and leather. It is a Kinfolk subscriber’s dream shop, with its Midwest American vibe and Nordic winter knits. The Texan isn’t hip enough for Breuer & Dawson, but your beau might be…!

Dolly Miller's, 20 Market Place
Browsing this sweet vintage shop is like raiding Nana’s wardrobe, but in a good way! The rails of clothes were a little twee for my taste, but the jewellery selection was delicious – 1960s gold bracelets, pearls, brooches – I couldn’t help myself but part with my pennies for this little Edwardian brooch (my collection is getting to be quite impressive!).

Frocks 'N' Stock, 9 Market Street
Frocks ‘N’ Stock is actually a charity shop, for Pilgrims Hospices. When I visited, a young lady was trying on a cinnamon coloured coat which looked incredible on her. Two old ladies in the shop (you can just about see them through the window in the photo!) were comically complimentary of said coat, and I did wonder if they had been paid to persuade people to buy! I ended up coming away with a gorgeous grey jacket for my mum, for just 15 quid – it was promptly added to her ridiculous pile of Christmas presents, and I think she liked it very much!

Turner Contemporary, Rendezvous
And while you’re there, don’t forget to check out the shop in the Turner Contemporary. Although it doesn’t sell antique or vintage bits, it does have a solid collection of unique pieces from local designers. The Texan treated me to a pair of earrings, which I’ve pretty much worn every day since! 

A few extras which I didn’t have a chance to visit:
  • Junk Deluxe, located inside R G Scott Furniture Mart, within the The Old Ice Works, in Bath Place
  • Rough Trade, 5 Fort Road 
  • Helter Skelter, 13 Market Place (I couldn’t find it!)

After all that shopping, I can assure you that your tummy will be rumbling! Mullins Brasserie in Market Place does an awesome mussels and frites, or why not grab a takeaway fish and chips and have them on the seaside? 

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Take Courage Book Club #1

You may have seen that, as part of my New Year’s resolutions, I suggested starting a Take Courage book club in a bid to help me read more fiction and less Law textbooks during 2015.  I was surprised and thrilled by the number of you who said you’d like to join, so, well, here we go!

Now, I’m not actually quite sure how this is meant to work because (1) I’ve never been part of a book club, and (2) I’ve never been part of a book club. But I suppose we have to start somewhere, so I’ve gone for the familiar with the latest book from one of my favourite writers – David Sedaris. When I first met the Texan in 2006, he introduced me to This American Life (which is amazing, by the way, and you should add it to your list of podcasts immediately), which in turn introduced me to David Sedaris. Sedaris is the funniest, sharpest, wittiest writer I’ve ever known. He is probably more famous for his book readings / audio recordings, because his voice is so unique – in fact, he’s touring the UK this June (we’ve got tickets to see him in Liverpool!). I’ve seen Sedaris read live from his books on a couple of occasions, one during which he signed a book for me and asked if my hair was real… 

Needless to say, if anyone is going to get me into the habit of reading, Sedaris will.  

So the plan is to allow myself and you lovely lot four weeks to read book #1 – “Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls”, David Sedaris – and to congregate back here on Thursday 19 February to hear what we all thought about it! I’d also like to welcome suggestions for book #2, so please share in the comments. Happy reading!

Monday, 19 January 2015

Chai Tea Cake

Given my previous post, it was pretty clear that I need some time to relax and unwind this weekend! I find that baking is a great way to chill out and keep my mind off the clock, so yesterday I tried out this chai tea cake recipe for the first time - and it turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself!

You will need  |  3 chai teabags  |  250g dried mixed fruit  |  200g soft brown sugar  |  1 tsp ground ginger  |  3 cardamom pods  |  300ml boiling water  |  1 egg  |  250g self raising flour  |  150g cream cheese (Philadelphia will work)  |  1 tbsp icing sugar  |  75g shelled pistachio nuts

Step 1: The night before you make your chai tea cake, add boiled water to your teabags and leave to brew for 30 minutes.  In a bowl, stir together your dried fruit, sugar and ginger, and add in your crushed cardamom - I'd never used cardamom before (the Texan makes a mighty fine curry with it) and learned that you need to crack open the shell and crush just the inner seeds in a mortar and pestle. Leave the mixture overnight with a towel over the top of the bowl.

Step 2: The next day, beat an egg and stir it into the fruit mixture along with the flour.

Step 3: Grease and line your loaf tin with baking paper - a trick to help you pull the loaf out of the tin easily once it's baked, is to place two long strips of baking paper across the width of the tin with a bit of excess hanging on either side (also a good trick for muffins!).

Step 4: Stick in the middle of your oven, which should be preheated to 180C.  Cook for about 1 hour 15 minutes, making sure your skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle.

Step 5: While your cake is baking away, whisk your cream cheese and icing sugar in a bowl. Chop up your pistachios (I couldn't find pre-shelled pistachios, so I also had to laboriously un-shell all of them - but it was worth it because they are scrummy!).

Step 6: Once your cake has completely cooled, generously spread your cream cheese icing on top. Sprinkle on your chopped pistachios - just as liberally - and enjoy with a nice cup of tea!

Yum! The perfect recipe for some rest and relaxation.