Finding Dreamland

Stepping off the train into the Margate sunshine, I could see the skeletal bends of a ferris wheel amidst the skyline, its colourful carts like dangly limbs, waving in the distance.

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It took us an hour and 40 minutes to get here from London Victoria. Here being: Dreamland.

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The park had only been open for two weekends at the time so I was anticipating queues, but surprisingly, it was quite quiet. The longest queue was for the Dodgems (solo riders – what ya gonna do?) and after a quick glance, you could easily steal a siesta on the huge, pastel stripy deck chair in the entrance.

Dreamland first became Dreamland in 1920, when its scenic railway opened (which also just so happens to be the oldest roller coaster in the UK). The walk towards the entrance is decorated with walls lined in old black and white photos, taken throughout the park’s history. It’s easy to romanticise a place when you can picture men and women catching the train from London to spend a night at the ballroom, meeting lovers and then letting their cares drift away in the blinkering bulbs and stir of the sea air, mid-spin on The Twister.

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In the early 2000’s Dreamland began to decline in popularity, and by 2005 was handed over to Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company. Luckily, residents weren’t going to give up on such a special attraction that easily, and so petitioned to have it brought back to its former glory. And it worked, re-opening in June.

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The care and thought that has gone into this project is truly amazing. Every little detail of the park is magical, from the vintage arcade machines and low-lit roller disco, to the live band playing retro jams in the food court and doughnut cushion prizes (which I am still sore about not winning).

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While the exterior may seem pastel perfect, what I really loved about Dreamland was how the history of it has been kept alive. Many of the rides, if not all of them are originals to the park or date back to previous eras, having been restored to fulfil their destinies once again.

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You can read about the origins of each ride while waiting, which got me thinking about how truly amazing theme park rides are. Not only is the engineering just incredible, but also the designs. Whether the crazed charisma of an enlarged caterpillar coaster face, or the classic glittering gold of a carousel horse’s handle, it all goes towards creating this fantasy world, where for a few minutes you can just focus on the breeze against your cheeks and butterflies in your stomach.

Yet as you step outside onto the Margate promenade, you realise what a strange little place Dreamland is. This obnoxiously colourful paradise of fun and ice cream and nostalgia, sat awkwardly amidst the broken skyline of Margate.

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Dreamland has so wonderfully captured the atmosphere of escape, where you can disappear for a while into fun, into love, and into the past. Though the sky is the one reminder that nostalgia is just a feeling, and we’ll never quite capture the way Dreamland was before, and that’s ok. That was their Dreamland, this is ours.

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A Visit to The Cartoon Museum

Today I woke up late, had a quick shower, slipped on my bone leggings and a fluffy jumper, and caught the train into central London. My boyfriend and I were heading off to the Cartoon Museum in Little Russell Street to meet some friends and amble around the city, drinking a coffee or two. It was all going to be very cultured!

20140111-224723.jpgWhen I was younger I’d spend a fair amount of time looking up cool stuff to do around London, as would my best friend, and whenever either of us spotted anything kind of novel or strange we’d make it a plan for the weekend.

Sometimes we’d find a variety of things and have an entire day dedicated to a schedule of seeing random sites. It was often exhausting, with all the wandering and getting lost just to find a shop warehouse or try something like bubble tea (I have no sense of direction and there was no iphone GPS around to save the day at this point!)

Whenever we got home though it felt like we’d achieved something through finding unique little things that might have slipped under the radar for others. It was a bit like being explorers of quirky places, or something.

I haven’t done as many of these outings over the last few years. mainly because of University, and also because of stressing over other things in life and not finding the time to look up, or even notice the interesting events happening around me. This year I plan on changing that because going for days out to educational or unusual places makes me so happy.

The Cartoon Museum

So, onto the day itself. We arrived at the museum for about 2 o clock. It was a tiny little place surrounded by the delicious aromas of nearby Japanese and Korean eateries. I was craving ramen bad.

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It was £7 to get in, which may seem a bit steep for such a small museum, but it’s worth it. Especially if you’re interested in animation or the history of cartoons. It was also really quiet inside, which made wandering around and taking in everything a lot more relaxed.

20140111-232102.jpgThe art takes up two floors, and this works well as I can sometimes find exhibitions and museums a little overwhelming. Here it felt more manageable, giving you more time to concentrate on the detail of each piece, reading the dialogue of graphic novels and admiring the weirdness of certain comics.

There was also a nice interactive element to the museum, with the chance for kids to make their own comic, which I was pretty jealous of!

My favourite of the things I saw was probably the following:cheeky

Image courtesy of Yersinia pestis on Flickr (as I wasn’t sure if you could take pictures within the main bit of the museum). Seriously though, how incredible is this bum bench thing? I want one.

hugo_tateThis was another one I really liked. It’s Hugo Tate by Nick Abadzis. It made me want to read graphic novels again as I haven’t for a long time.  I especially love the cover of this.

Chai tea and halloumi burgers

20140111-231619.jpgAfter we’d had our fill of cartoons and a healthy browse of the shop, it was off for coffee (or a chai tea and pastry in my case!) We chatted and chilled and then – more food! I’m a big fan of diners and frequent Ed’s Diner quite a lot, but today we went to ‘The Diner’ instead, which is a branch spread around various parts of London (and possibly around other parts of the UK too!)

20140111-232209.jpgEveryone inside was dressed super trendy and there was the smell of good food all around. I ordered the halloumi burger and sweet potato fries, and woah mama was it tasty. There was even avocado and pesto with the halloumi! Basically my dream meal.

Astrology Shop and Adventure Time

20140111-223423.jpgLastly, we went for a wander as the shops were shutting. This astrology shop was nearby and still open. The ambience was totally mellow inside, with healing stones, buddha ornaments, unicorns and even more to my delight – holographic planets! I ended up buying a Saturn magnet and moon postcard, along with the  lunar calendar to the left, which now lets me know handy stuff, like that i’ll have a crescent moon on my birthday. Pretty nifty. 

Of course no day out would be complete without at least one silly purchase, and today that was a surprise Adventure Time figure. I was really hoping to get the glittery Lumpy Space Princess one, but there were only three bags left and the shop was shutting so I had to just grab one. I got Ice King, which ain’t too bad I guess. At least he looks great chilling with my harp seal beanie. I think collecting these might be a thing for me now.

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So that was a brief summary of my Saturday. If you get a chance then I’d definitely recommend a visit to the Cartoon Museum, followed by some diner grub!

Have a lovely rest of the weekend 🙂