Step back in time: Margate’s Dreamland and the guiltless pursuit of pleasure

May 4, 2016

No visit to the historic seaside town of Margate would be complete with a trip down Memory Lane offered by Dreamland, the amusement park situated opposite the sea.  To enter the gates of Dreamland is to step back in time to an age you didn’t know you’d missed, and into which you may not even originally have been born. It’s all about family time, the opportunity to set aside a part of the day devoted solely to spending time with family in the pursuit of nothing other than pleasure, than a good time shared.

WP_20160417_015The Scenic Railway, the oldest of its kind in the country, offers the chance for children and adults alike to be whizzed around a Grade II listed timber railway; there are numerous, vertigo-inducing rides and lifts for different ages; the Maze of Mirrors is particularly pleasing and winningly confusing; there’s an old-fashioned carousel, complete with horses, as well as the Big Wheel affording fantastic views across the town and out across the harbour once your car reaches the top.

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WP_20160410_019The Dodgems are always popular, although bear in mind that children need to be aged fourteen to operate a car, a fact which caused utter consternation to my nine-year-old son initially, but didn’t stop him enjoying himself in the car alongside an adult and asking to go around again…

WP_20160417_001 1The Monotopia is a pedal-powered monorail with a bird’s-eye view of the park, and offers the chance for a brief work-out as you power your car around the elevated track. The helter-skelter is particularly good fun, standing iconically in the middle of the park. It’s the retro-nature of Dreamland that makes it so appealing; harking back to an era when it wasn’t all about technology, about mobile phones and Twitter, but about being outdoors with family, with friends, and taking part collectively in activities that were simply about making your own fun.

The bandstand hosts live music – one visit coincided with an energy-driven, punk-meets-Radiohead infused couple of sets from London-based Perhaps Contraption, and it’s always a treat to hear live performance as opposed to piped music – and is surrounded plenty of stalls to buy food and drink, and tables at which to sit whilst you listen. For young children, the Octopus’ Garden offers a soft play area, complete with a café at which adults can relax.

WP_20160417_013 1What is particularly beguiling about the atmosphere at Dreamland is that all the staff seem genuinely pleased that you are there – when they wish you ‘Have a great day!,’ you get the sense they actually mean it. Whilst waiting to ascend the steps to the top of Born Slippy, the curvaceous rainbow-coloured slide,  a troupe of overalled park attendants suddenly and spontaneously burst into a choreographed dance routine to the song playing from the nearby carousel; it was a brilliant moment, in a heartbeat capturing the affection, pleasure and spontaneity of the day.

Admittedly, from the outside, the venue doesn’t seem to promise much; it’s not until you go inside, however, that Dreamland starts to work its magic. Posters adorning the foyer make it clear that there’s a vision for Dreamland’s continued evolution; billboards speak of a cinema, cafes, and attractions to come.  Inside the entrance, there’s a small penny-arcade, a couple of eateries, and a Roller Disco. Recently, a new attraction has been opened, a smaller roller-coaster for young children – even then, there seemed to be quite a few adults squeezed into the caterpillar cars!

WP_20160417_012Season tickets to Dreamland are astonishingly good value, and there are several tiers ranging from full-access family membership down to a standard day ticket. Family group membership is £149.95, or £139.95 for off-peak membership – the former offers unlimited entry all-year-round, seven days a week. Day-tickets cost £17.95 per adult and £14.95 per child, with special discounts for local residents and a discount of 15% if bought online in advance.

WP_20160417_008What Dreamland really needs, however, right now, is your love and support. At the moment, Dreamland is like a toddler; full of enthusiasm, eager to please, and beginning to find confidence as it takes it first hesitant steps. It needs us; visitors, community, tourists, regional residents as well as far-flung visitors, to get behind it as it begins to take off. Dreamland looks ahead to the future of Margate’s economic and social regeneration – along with the Turner Contemporary, its sandy beaches and burgeoning summer festivals, the region is starting to emerge blinking into a new era. And on a glorious day, with the Big Wheel lifting into the cloudless blue, surrounded by the shrieks of people caught up in guiltless pleasure, it’s hard not to feel, briefly, as though time has stopped and given you a few precious moments in which you enjoy yourself. So take Dreamland by the hand and step forward with it into a bright future; visit, take some time to enjoy a visit – and spread the word.

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Mount Ephraim Gardens Open for Easter

March 24, 2016

Come and see what Easter looks like at Mount Ephraim! With an Easter Egg trail for the kids and upgraded West Wing Tea Rooms.  Season tickets available.

Mount Ephraim

http://www.mountephraimgardens.co.uk/


All about that bus: Faversham Transport Weekend brings town alive

May 16, 2015

An excellent first day of the Faversham Transport Weekend, which saw the town hosting all manner of vintage vehicles for enthusiasts of historic transport.

Whilst tomorrow brings vintage cars, today was all about buses, with many standing proud throughout the centre of town whilst others were fulfilling usual bus-route commitments to far-flung Challock and the like. The Alexander Centre is currently hosting a photographic display as part of the weekend as well as a collection of bicycles under the title ‘From Boneshaker to BMX.’ As usual, many of the town’s window-displays have responded to the occasion, including that in the window of The Disgruntled Cat, upon whom you can always rely for an eye-catching adornment to the town.

 

Further up Abbey Street, there’s also an opportunity to learn about the Swing the Bridge campaign at the stall outside no. 92, where you can find out more about this crucial project to raise funds for the installation of a swing-bridge to re-vitalise Faversham Creek Basin and the wider local community.

 Street entertainment includes live music and Punch & Judy; and there’s plenty more to enjoy tomorrow too. An historic market town with a rich heritage, Faversham certainly knows how to celebrate history. Catch it if you can.


All about that place II: Art and Soul, Faversham’s artistic community 

April 3, 2015

Our second guest blogpost for the ‘Keep It In Kent’ website focuses on Faversham as a place of inspiration for its own vibrant artistic community, and takes in several collaborative exhibitions currently taking place.

Read the feature online here.


Alterations to Hernhill Village Hall have Planning Approval

April 1, 2015

Planning approval has been granted for the extension and alterations to the Village Hall & Dawes Community Association Centre. You can view the application drawings and documents on the Swale Planning Register.

The DCA and the Village Hall will be joined together with a shared entrance, to create one connected community centre with a new ‘Foyer’ community room at the front of the building. The idea is that the ‘Foyer’ space can be open to the public as often as possible; during activities on the playing fields, for parents to use while they are waiting to pick up their children from childcare, or as a place to shelter from the wind when the kids are playing in the park.

What is needed now, is the funds to build it, so if any members of the local community would like to help fundraise, please contact the Chair of the DCA committee, Peter Rawlins, pgrawlins@aol.com, and we’re sure he would be very grateful for any help or contributions.

dca


Easter Fun at Mount Ephraim

April 1, 2015

Mount Ephraim tearooms open today for the season!

Gardens Open 11am-5pm, Wednesday to Sunday with an Easter Egg Trail on Sunday 5th & Monday 6th April

£6 Adults
£2.50 Children

Mt E


Are Faversham residents stressed ?

March 26, 2015

A report in the Canterbury Times indicates that, according to a recent survey, experts have found Swale residents to be ‘anxious, depressed and temperamental.’

A team of psychologists has ranked 380 council areas according to how around 400,000 people assessed their key personality traits, and found residents of the Swale and Maidstone districts display high levels of neuroticism, although Faversham residents also rank highly in being conscientious.

oare_2If this is true, we need to do more to remind ourselves of the plentiful leisure opportunities Faversham affords – the Recreation ground, Oare Nature Reserve, Faversham Pools which has recently won a refurbishment grant of £150,000 – as well as its art galleries, cafés and restaurants, the Royal Cinema, the Arden Theatre, and its coastal proximity. Seasalter and Whitstable are but a step away, rural areas for walking and cycling including the Saxon Shore coastal trail; and every so often the town bursts into vigorous life with one festival or another – the Hat Festival, the Hop Festival, the vintage Transport Vehicle Weekend. For a town that’s supposed to be depressed, you can usually find it celebrating something!

Whilst the pace of life can often be frantic in the Digital Age, let’s also remember that you can find plenty to enjoy in Faversham. There are areas that give residents cause for concern, certainly; congestion around Abbey Street, the unpredictability of travelling by South East trains, the need for more buses – but there’s much to enjoy too.

Read the story online here.


Hold onto your hats! Hat Festival set to return

March 22, 2015

It’s all happening with head-gear next month, as preparations are underway for the second Faversham Hat Festival.

Following the successful inaugural hat festival last Easter, which featured a parade in West Street led by the town crier, a lady stilt-walker and a wandering minstrel, the festival is set to return next month and promises to be bigger and better when it bursts into life on Saturday 4 April to set Faversham’s street thronging.

Hat Shop posterThe brain-child of Rachel, proprietor of the Hat Shop along West Street, this year the event will see the parade from West Street to the Alexander Centre kicking off a day of lively events including live music, all coming to a head in the magnificent Assembly Rooms at 7.30pm with a Hatter’s Dance featuring live jazz from the KD Jazz and Dance Orchestra and cocktails by Kent-based liquers-makers, MightyFineThings.

“Everyone had a lot of fun last year, so we are going to do it again this year!” enthuses Rachel, as I caught up with her in her wonderfully bijou shop, artfully arrayed with all manner of vintage head-gear that enthusiasts will love; her shop feels less like a retail space and more like a gallery exhibition, such is the care and loving detail which has gone into its presentation. “We’re encouraging everyone to come out in a hat and join us in the West Street Hat Parade, leaving here at 11 o’clock sharp.  The parade will walk up to the Alexander Centre main  and be greeted by The Fleur Singers singing hats songs on-stage –  they were wonderful last year, so do come and hear them sing! Then the competitions judging will begin.” Prizes will be donated by a selection of local businesses, and will include whacky criteria such as ‘Best Hatted Dog,’ ‘Best Innovative Fantastical Hat’ and (very topically) ‘Best Magna Carta 800 Hat!’

Prior to the festival, there will be hat-making workshops in schools as well as an all-day free drop-in hat making workshop for children in the Guildhall on Good Friday, led by a qualified teacher and artist from 10am – 3pm.

HatFestival KDJazzRachel’s passion for the festival is infectious, and it’s easy to see why; it’s very much a community event, bringing together local business, artists and musicians, with plenty of activities for young children and families at its heart. “I started the festival last year, shortly after opening the shop – boy, it was hard work! But it was a fantastic event, really well supported by the local community, and I’m hoping even more people will come this year.”

“Come on, everyone,” Rachel says as she flourishes her own stylish head-piece, eyes alight with enthusiasm, “this is a community event, created by the community for the community; come and join us in wearing your hat – bought or handmade, we don’t mind! – and have fun!”

For more information contact Rachel at The Hat Shop, West Street, Faversham, email:rtc.rachel@yahoo.co.uk, or tel: 01795 227071; you can also follow The Hat Shop on Twitter.


Mount Ephraim Open for the Season.

March 16, 2015

Mount Ephraim Gardens are open again! Phew! It must be Spring!

“Mount Ephraim Gardens is a beautiful place to visit, with plenty to offer and delight visitors. Unwind in these ten acres of gardens, set in the heart of an 800 acre estate with magnificent views over the Swale and Thames Estuaries. Whether you choose to enjoy the tranquility of the Japanese gardens, take on the challenge of the wildflower and grass maze or just relax on the Edwardian tea room terrace, Mount Ephraim gardens have the power to charm you all”.

http://www.mountephraimgardens.co.uk/gardens/edwardian.aspx

….and Joe’s Bows will be running their Falconry, Archery & Bushcraft workshop days during the Easter holiday, on the 7th/8th/9th/14th/16th April 2015! £25 per person per day. 8.45am-3.15pm! If you would like more details please do get in touch on joe@joesbows.co.uk. These workshops were very popular and a great success for children at half term, so come and try them or have another go this Easter.


All About That Place: celebrating Faversham

March 11, 2015

We’re pleased to say that the first in a series of guest posts for Keep It In Kent has been published recently.

‘All About That Place’ introduces the ‘stronghold by the clear stream,’ and over the series will be exploring aspects of the history, community, heritage, arts and leisure opportunities afforded by the Market Town of Kings.

Read the first post here.


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