A weekend away - notes from Deal, Kent July 03, 2017 17:17 6 Comments
I feel torn writing this post. I almost don't want to share. But as long as it's just between you, me and the gatepost, we're good.
Because I need to tell you about the wonderful seaside town of Deal. Cat & I packed our beach gear and headed there for the weekend (a very special, generous treat for me from my lovely sister, to help me come to terms, er, I mean, celebrate, turning 40). And now, it is firmly placed in my top three coastal towns.
Well, its as if this town has read all the headlines, doom and gloom and general despair in world and said 'Um, not for us, thank you!' and decided to do it's own thing. It isn't just the beautiful, winding streets and lanes. Nor the gorgeous architecture inherited from a long military and fishing history. It isn't just the sea views. It is the way in which people here choose to live and celebrate their beautiful town now.
The buildings are covered in window boxes and baskets full of smiley geraniums and begonias. Deal has a high street brimming with independent shops, as well as a small but well supported local market. We spotted not one but TWO independent greengrocers - hooray! And, rather than being tucked away in some backstreet, a community centre and town garden enjoy prime position, smack bang along that lovely high street, with people sat in the garden chatting, or enjoying a drink from a well placed bar in the grounds. This town has just got it right.
As luck would have it, our weekend away coincided with the Deal Festival, a fortnight long celebration of music and arts, which is now in it's 35th year. The town was in full swing, with concerts, talks and events taking place; artists flinging open their doors as part of an open house / art trail and music playing on the high street throughout the day.
In the evening, Deal's cafes, restaurants and bars filled up. Everything from fish and chips to michelin star delights were on offer to suit all tastes and budgets. Over on the promenade, kids playing on bikes were pulling wheelies and comparing speeds, courteously shouting 'Oops, sorry' when they had the odd near miss with passersby. Cheerful, upbeat & unpretentious pretty much summed up the buzz of the town.
Despite staying just a stone's throw away from the high street, night time was extremely quiet and restful. Even the seagulls took the hint and simmered down. Important stuff when your (almost) forty and (definitely) frazzled.
Perhaps Deal owes some of its appeal to the location. Getting to Deal is a little out of the way, even for us Kentish maids. You basically head down to Dover and just before you get your toes wet, turn left. Deal sits far beyond the Kent commuter belt. It has escaped the commercial demands made upon neighbouring Dover. And, to me, it is all the better for it. Instead of whizzing past a turning on some motorway, you visit Deal with a specific purpose - to rest, shop, enjoy the beach or meet up with friends. This might be why the traffic felt easier and strangers chatted, passing the time with each other. Very fitting of the town's motto - "Adjuvate Advenas" - Befriend the stranger. It well and truly won us over.
So, although it pains me to say it, visit Deal. It is a vibrant little seaside town that offers the perfect escape away from it all. Just don't tell everyone...