There’s something absolutely charming about the idea of spending the weekend at the British seaside. Ice cream, fish and chips and fairgrounds all immediately spring to mind. So a few weeks ago, when the weather for the weekend was forecast to be scorching, we decided to head to Margate in Kent in search of sun, sea and Midcentury style. Just an hour and a half from St. Pancras, Margate is slowly shaking off the slur of being a rundown seaside town and, with the opening of the Turner Contemporary in 2011, remaking itself as a creative, arty hub. This brings new independent shops, cafes and antiques dealers – all of which we wanted to explore.
We made a detour on the way to Margate to visit Botany Bay, a beautiful bay with stunning chalk cliffs and white sands. We got off the train a few stops before Margate at Broadstairs and took the ‘Loop’ bus as close as we could get and then walked for 15 minutes. Being us, this was a slightly circuitious route but it meant that we got to see some of the delights of seaside suburbia!
Once in Margate, we spent some time at the Grayson Perry exhibition at the Turner Contemporary and ate lunch at a colourful quay-side restaurant, BeBeached, looking back onto the seafront. The exhibition was absolutely brilliant – packed to the brim with Perry’s sculptures, murals and videos and with enough context to guide you through the mind of a highly complex rogue.
The real highlight of the trip was stumbling across the fantastic Danish Collectables in the Old Town of Margate. Packed to the brim with Danish chairs, sideboards and midcentury lighting, art and glassware, Flemming and his brother bring furniture over directly from Denmark up to four times per month. The pieces in the shop are just a fraction of the brothers’ stock, they have two shops in Margate (one of which is currently used as a storage facility), six storage containers and a warehouse in Denmark!
The brothers were born just outside Copenhagen and grew up in Southern Denmark near Sonderborg, about 20 miles from the German border. Flemming’s brother, Michael, has a 25 year history dealing in older antiques and began working with midcentury furniture more recently as the demand for them grew.
The business began in 2011, when Flemming and Michael opened an online store selling Danish glass, jewellery and porcelain – pretty much any Danish item that could be easily transported in a parcel. In 2013 the business had grown to a size where it wasn’t possible to run the operation from Flemming’s spare room and hence they chose to open their first shop in Margate, Danish Collectables.
It’s truly a wonder of a shop, an unexpected gem as you wander past the casinos and amusement arcades of the seafront and well worth making the trip out of London. We will certainly be coming back!