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Even though we live on a small island, only an hour and twenty minutes from the coast, a trip to the “seaside” is still a novelty. I have memories of childhood holidays at beautiful beaches in Cornwall and South Wales.

As an adult we generally took holidays abroad or to scenic parts of the UK, rather than just beach holidays. In the summer months we’d make day trips to our “local” coastal towns of Brighton, Hastings, Broadstairs. We rarely went to the coast on cold, blustery, winter days.

This week we did venture to the seaside, to Margate, on the north Kent coast. Our reason for going, was to visit the Turner Contemporary Gallery which overlooks the North Sea, beside the harbour.

We left London in the rain but the promised forecast of a clear afternoon, materialised. The sky was quite spectacular as the clouds broke and the low winter sun reflected off the water.

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The gallery is currently hosting an exhibition called “Self – the changing face of self-portraiture”. It was very interesting in today’s obsession with “selfies” on social media. Over one hundred self portraits are on display, ranging from van Dyke dated 1640, through Turner, Constable, Andy Warhol, to David Hockney, Tracey Emin, Anthony Gormley, amongst others. Exhibits are in various formats, traditional paintings, sculptures, photographs, video images and a studio set up with huge mirror for a Damien Hurst self portrait. A thought provoking display.

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As it was bitterly cold day with strong offshore winds, we didn’t wait around in Margate. A coffee in the gallery and a few photos soon has us back in the warmth of the car.

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However, we took a detour on the way home and stopped in Whitstable for an hour as dusk settled.

Whitstable is another coastal town, famous for it’s oyster fisheries. It has a pebble beach, nice pubs and restaurants, quirky shops and quaint old buildings. It is an historic town, which became popular during Victorian time with the train link to London. It is one of our favourite places for a seaside day trip. We took a brief quick walk along the pebble beach, cut through lanes of old fisherman cottages, browsed the high street and warmed up in a few specific shops, before another coffee stop and the journey home. It was a lovely day out and nice to get away from the city and inland scenery for a while.

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