Chips on the beach

Ever since the film Bhaji on the Beach came out, people who’ve seen it know about Indians taking coach trips to the British seaside.

During my childhood, our annual holiday consisted of a day-trip to the seaside. The Indian community in North London hired a coach and, once a year, descended on some beach, such as Clacton-on-Sea or Margate. Mums cooked curries and other Indian delights the night before and, once at the seaside, we sat on the beach and shared our lunches.

There was a lot of food but I vaguely remember some of us eating as quickly as possible so that we could play football and other games on the beach. We were also given a little money to play the slot machines. My favourite was the penny pusher. The machines were addictive but, fortunately, our funds were limited.

To relive our childhood, we went to Margate during the weekend. It was the first trip there since our childhoods. Neither of us could remember anything specific about Margate. It had, almost certainly, changed anyway.

For this Bank Holiday trip, we walked some of the Viking Coastal Trail because we wanted to see both Margate and Broadstairs.

Charles Dickens used to visit Broadstairs in the 1850s. He stayed at Fort House (renamed Bleak House) and wrote David Copperfield there. Broadstairs have embraced their association with Dickens. There’s a pub named after him and a museum opened in his honour. Every year, the Broadstairs Dickens Festival brings to life one of Dickens’ novels.

After walking around town, we sat down for tea and cakes. Whilst eating, we saw buses ferrying people between Broadstairs and Margate. That was handy. We took the bus back to Margate.

In both Margate and Broadstairs, you can see the old and the new. There are old cafes serving scones and new coffee shops with vegan cakes. We expected to prefer Broadstairs but were charmed by Margate’s old town. It had been modernised and managed to retain its character.

Our plan was to have fish and chips in Margate but couldn’t find anything appealing. So we drove to Herne Bay. There were plenty of good chippies and we ate looking out to the sea before our drive back to London.

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