Welcome to Margate: Land of Dreams…

 

Sometimes the best things in life show up when you least expect them to, and I have been witness to this in the last couple of months. Although London feels like home now and I have found a kind of comfortable routine, everyday still feels in someway like an adventure. London has afforded me some amazing opportunities and now more than ever, I feel like I have complete control over what I can do with my life. I can choose everyday whether I get out of bed or not – and yes it is ok to stay in once in a while, to appreciate what it is to do nothing.

For some of you who don’t know, I recently left the job I started when I first arrived in London. I have kept my small part time job which I work online each week and was fully expecting time off to explore and hopefully be creative. My plans were thrown into the air when I was lucky enough to snag a small contract at the High Commission of Canada doing similar work to my previous contract in Paris. I have put my creative plans on hold to work at the HCC for a few months and come summer I will see what happens next.

 

In the midst of all these ever changing plans in my life, there is someone who has shown me a million and one beautiful things in the last couple of months who I want to tell you all about. Meet my boyfriend Steven. He drives a bad-ass car, is smart as a whip, has impeccable taste in music and movies and knows how to make me smile. For the last couple of months we have been swapping time in London and Margate adventuring, laughing and learning to roller blade(for him) and skate (for me).

We are both becoming pro skaters, as you can clearly see by the photos above, and Steve is hoping his newly formed soon to be ice hockey team will be up and running full steam soon . Here they are, the Margate Skulls, having a late night practice: (Go Habs Go!)

Margate is an adorable sea side town which I think should be turned into the new Brighton – to be fair, I’ve never been to Brighton but I know enough about to it to make this call.  With an old downtown full of funky retro vintage shops and handmade markets, a cup cake shop, England’s best fish and chip shop and plenty of little galleries and studios all next to a long beautiful beach, it has all it needs to thrive – now if only people would come.

Even after several weekends of walking through Margate, I’m not tired of it, and perhaps it’s because of who I am walking through it with but I still think there is something about this little place that deserves more. The tired main strip of old shut arcades makes me think that everything is just waiting to be awoken from its slumber. How could you resist this?:

I love hanging out by the water, and the first day that I spent in Margate, we walked along the beach collecting shells and Steven knew the names of absolutely everything. What I know as a shell, there being many versions, is known to him as the proper name. I’ve decided knowing things like this is important, and is what makes a person worldly and fascinating, so I think I will start reading more. I want to know things.

It was only a short while ago that weekends came and went, cold and rainy in London and now they feel like a vacation. The countdown is no longer for the weekend but rather for the dream to resume again.

I have lots of photos from Canada to show you all so I’ll be back tracking soon with those.

xx Spec

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Discovering Berlin

I have to admit that prior to being proposed the idea of going to Berlin by Paul, it was very low on my list of places to visit in Europe. I think Germany in general had been put aside in my mind because of it`s history with the Holocaust and Hitler. I think I learned about it too early in school and it gives me the willies to the point where I would really be interested in going but fear that I could never be or feel the same after. Anyways, I am so glad that I was given the opportunity to go because I loved Berlin so much, I am now trying to work it into my schedule to live there for a couple of months at some point in the next couple of years. It is a city where artists can be artists and the usual economic and artistic/creative binds do not exist in the same way as other major cities.

Paul and I went to Berlin to visit his friend Matt, who has been living in Berlin for over a year. Not only is Matt a great guy, but he was a superb tour guide – if not the best I have ever had when visiting a city. He knew so much about the history of the city, which for me was a plus, because aside from general grade 10 history I don`t know much detail about what went on in Berlin a little over 20  years ago and beyond. He took us walking around the city, told us stories and showed us tons of little places that only a Berliner would know about, artist hang outs, little hidden spots that have great art or interesting things about them.



On the first day we went the Holocaust Memorial, however we did not do the museum below it. We wanted to see the city, acknowledge it`s history but also stay upbeat – and so we chose to not go to the museum. Next time I am in Berlin, I am going to make a point of going. Regardless, the memorial is enormous and looming and as  you walk through the aisles of concrete blocks that get taller and taller, they overwhelm you, shadowing and towering above your head until you become the smallest thing in it`s vicinity.  Although the artist never wrote a statement explaining it, I think it`s clear what it symbolizes and the way it makes you feel, this gradual taking over, like that of Hitler step by step taking over the Jewish people. A very powerful memorial.



The longest part of the Berlin wall that is still standing has been painted with amazing murals the entire length of it.  Many different artists from all over the world participated in the murals and they all are either done in the name of peace or as a memory of the day the wall fell and the people were liberated.

I love this picture because it so simply shows that anything and everything in Berlin was and is part of their history. Throughout the city, on streets lined with fairly new buildings pieces of the old Berlin still sit, as a reminder of how it was and as a way of showing visitors a past life.

 

I can`t help but think that Berlin is  a city that was given to young people to rebuild, or at least that is how it feels. The city is as young as it`s artists and is budding growing with them. From old warehouses springs rockclimbing gyms, skateparks, art galleries, night clubs, bars, and beach like sandpits for the summer. Berlin is a city that encourages sharing and participation in a way that I have never seen or felt when visiting a place.

If you have the chance to go, really go, you will love it. It`s refreshing and really historically interesting and recent, a rarity in most of old Europe.

To see more photos visit the this link for the entire album on Facebook: (You don`t need to have Facebook to see it!)

Have you been to Berlin? Did you love it as much as me???

Thanks for reading!

Spec.





 

One day away…Brussels

This past weekend, I went to Brussels, Belgium for one day. The main purpose for the trip was for myself and and a friend to see Canada play Belgium in rugby, but of course we were also going to squeeze in a few touristy things along the way. So on Saturday morning we met at the infamous Gare du Nord in Paris to embark on our day trip. We hopped on our train and prepped for the little over an hour trip. Now I must tell you that, for the first time in my life, I was booked in a first class seat. Granted, it was for some reason, at the time of booking, cheaper than a regular seat. Anyways, a man in a fancy vest snipped my ticket and showed me to my big comfy red velour seat. The car was almost empty except for the 4 or 5 business men pretending to look important, scattered among the seats ahead of me.  As we pulled out of the station and out into the rainy grey day in Paris, the perks of first class began to unravel before my eyes. First, I was offered a newspaper or magazine, followed by another man in a fancy vest with a cart giving out miniature cans of orange juice, cups of coffee and miniature croissants and pots of yogurt. Apparently first class also implies that everything has to be miniature. This I found intriguing to say the least.

 

After sitting and watching the rain stop as we zipped past country side, we began to pull into Brussels, where it was equally as grey but not as rainy. We popped off the train and went straight to figure out the metro so we could get to the centre of the city. I still, after a day of studying and trying to understand do not get how the Brussels metro/tram/buses work. It is a complete mystery to me as the lines all have number and letter names and seem to go in very similar directions. Regardless, we managed throughout the day to get around.

As we only had a couple of hours we went to the old part of the city where everything is cobblestone and really lovely. The buildings are incredibly tall and sit right at the edge of the street, as if about to lean and fall over on you as you walk past.

It seems like every boutique sells speculoos cookies in the shapes of religious figures, beer mugs, beer, waffles or fries. There were also more chocolate shops than I have ever seen in such a small place. Around every corner was a window display with a chocolate fountain, it was really quite lovely.

We tested out some of the delights to be had and walked around enjoying the architecture and culture. We took a little trip out to see what the rest of the city looked like as well, although I am sad to report that it didn’t impress me as much as I thought it would. It felt a bit generic. That is not to say that it was bad, it is a really nice place, but I think it is safe to say that I probably wouldn’t move there.

I would still like to see other cities in Belgium though, because just as Paris doesn’t make France, Brussels probably doesn’t make Belgium either.

As the day wore on, we made our way to the stadium to go see Canada kick Belgium’s arse in rugby. It was a good game despite how cold it was getting, and I was surprised to see the amount of Canadian supporters that there were. We kicked back plenty of mediocre beer, and cheered for our boys like any good Canadians would.

After the game, we attempted to find other Canadians to go and celebrate with, but sadly the only ones we could track down were a bunch of old geizers, and well, it just wasn’t what we had in mind.  So we embarked once again on the metro tram thing back to the old part of the city.

We then found out how the many little pubs get all their business, as a man almost begged us to come in, hoping his lavish descriptions of dishes would entice us and make us eat there. Spineless, we went in. The pub was cute, with a fireplace, which was a welcome addition to the cold weather, and the food was alright. It was nice to be inside and to have a bite to eat.

The day felt like it went by in a flash and I really liked seeing a little Canadian pride, it’s good to see that kind of thing when you have been away for a while… reaffirms your existence on this great vast planet.

As the day came to a close, we came back to Paris and headed home, where I was happy to see my warm couch bed still unfolded, as though arms wide open, welcoming me home from my little day journey.