My bucket list of the top six places I’d like to visit

This year I turned 59 and so with my next big birthday milestone within sight I started to realise, without sounding morbid, just realistic, that time is not finite and that there were a lot of places that I wanted to see and so I’d better start making a plan.

I’ve never had a bucket list and that maybe is where lies the problem. I’ve always been quite flexible when making holiday plans, partly maybe because for the last 21 years, since having my youngest child, I’ve either been unemployed, although working really frickin hard as a full time mum, or freelance, since changing careers and becoming a stylist. So making plans a year or so in advance, as many people I know do, has never been a luxury we have afforded.

It’s always been let’s see how much money we’ve jointly earned and how much my tax bill is in April before booking anything and so plans have always been a bit more fly by the seat of our pants, kind of plans.

Well now that big birthday is looming, I’ve decided to get my act together and be more thoughtful about where I actually want to travel to and why. My why has been boiled down to architecture I want to see. Buildings that I’ve always longed to walk around and within and so this year I’ve made plans to tick two of these much revered buildings, in my mind, off my list.

1.Building number one is Eileen Grays E1027 modernist villa in Roquebrune- Cap-Martin, built in 1929. Agreed she’s not a household name, known mainly perhaps for her furniture designs, but Eileen Gray was the first designer I wrote an essay about in my first semester at uni and I learned that she had not only designed this building with her partner, as their holiday retreat, but had also designed every piece of furniture and textile within it and she had also mightily pissed Les Corbusier off in the process. His cabana was situated opposite and when she split from her partner and left the property for good, Les Corbusier famously went into it and defaced it with his own paintings on the white walls, whilst getting a companion to photograph him in the process, in the nude, doing so. The ultimate two fingered salute? Jealousy? (Le Corbusier was obsessed with the building)  perhaps a distaste for women architects and designers that might just have rivalled his talents? They were different times then as we know.  In more recent years the house has been completely renovated by French Government agency Conservatoire du Littoral, along with Le Corbusier’s cabana and I can’t wait to see what this Irish woman, so ahead of her time, created.

Eileen Gray E1027 House-Dezeen

2.Building number two, that I’m also visiting later this year, is more familiar to everyone and although I’ve often been staying near enough to visit, I’ve never quite made it there. It’s the formidable Moorish palace the Alhambra in Granada. The first time I wanted to visit was when we were staying in Nerja on the Costa del Sol. I tried all week to drag our son, who was then 5, out of the pool at the villa, that we were staying in, but he’d made so many friends, that I was wasting my time and over the years we’ve never been quite so close to that area again. So this year we’ve booked a week in Malaga and we’re going to get the train to Granada, visit the Alhambra and then stay over night to explore the winding streets of the old city.

The Alhambra Palace – BBC image

3.building number three on my new bucket list is Mies Van De Rohe pavilion in Barcelona. Again I’ve been to Barcelona 3 times but never made it this pavilion, as I’ve always visited Barcelona for other reasons, such as exhibitions, birthdays etc. The glass pavilion is a 1986 reconstruction of the original designed in 1929, for the Barcelona International Exhibition to showcase the talents of German design and architecture. Again this building was first introduced to me whilst I was studying at Uni and we were asked for one of our modules to design our own exhibition pavilion and build a model of it. Don’t be fooled into thinking an interior design degree is all about colour and decoration. As an interior designer it’s vital that students understand space and form and this is a masterclass in just that.

Mies van de Rohe Pavilion Barcelona-Iconic Interiors

4. Building number four is Frieda Khalos Blue House. Since I watched my first documentary about this incredible artist in which the viewer was taken on a tour of her home which she shared with her husband artist, Diego Rivera, I’ve been obsessed with visiting her beloved Mexico City and her home, which also houses a collection of clothes, shoes and head pieces from her wardrobe. I’ve heard conflicting reports about the danger of visiting Mexico City though and so that is slightly putting the brakes on me booking a visit there. If any of you have been and had a great experience or have any tips for travelling there safely, I’d love to hear from you. There is also the amazing Casa Barragan to visit if I make it to Mexico City. The house and studio of architect Luis Barragan built in 1948, which is a tour de force in the use of colour with light.

The Casa Azul-Getty Images
Inside frieda Khalos blue house-Indepest.com
Casa Barragan-xoio.de

5. Closer to home now and a house co designed and lived in by one of our most revered designers, William Morris. Red House in Bexley London, is the family home of Morris and the place where his friends, such as pre raphaelite artists Edward Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti often visited. It’s also the house in which Morris lived when he launched his design company, Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co, decorating the building with his various wallpaper and furniture designs. It’s now owned by The National Trust and has undergone a project of maintenance and preservation so that you really get a sense of how it looked when Morris lived there.

Red House the home of William Morris-RIBA

6. Finally in my top six is Hill House, just outside Glasgow, designed by architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh, for his client, publisher Walter Blackie. The house, the furniture and even the every day objects such as the cutlery, were all designed by Mackintosh in his now inimitable style. However, Mackintosh’s designs became a bit of a cliche in the 1990’s when they became so popular and over used, on everything to stationary and note cards, that the house fell out of fashion and into disrepair. But in 2017 The National Trust of Scotland ran an architects competition to build a visitor centre for Hill House and the new addition and the updated facilities has been so successful that visitor numbers are now much increased. I listen to the Podcast The Modern House and Matt Gibberd, the presenter and director of The Modern House estate agents, said it’s a must visit building for any architect or designer. Right enough said Matt, I’m booking my tickets! 

Hill House-Wall Street Journal

Ok that’s my top six, what are yours? Where is the most incredible building that you’ve visited or where you want to visit? Or if not buildings or places, then what’s on your bucket list? Let me know in the comments or via dm on my instagram here. I’d love to know.

6 of The Best Places I’ve stayed in The Uk

I’ve always loved exploring our little island and have had a vintage VW camper van for 20 years, but since our children starting getting older, we replaced those camping trips with all inclusive hotels abroad, to satisfy their needs over ours. As the saying goes, if your kids are happy, then you’re happy and it’s very true.

However over the last few years, during the pandemic, when we were allowed to travel around the UK, we did. Getting those holidays in when ever we could before our wings were clipped again. The amount of paper work and latterly flight delays and cancellations, meant to have a staycation was much less stressful and it gave us the opportunity to explore and revisit places we haven’t been to for years.

Obviously travel overseas, has now returned, more or less, to what it was pre pandemic, but if like us you are eager to explore the UK more, then these are the 6 best places that we’ve visited recently. Some of them have appeared in previous blog posts here, but I thought this would be a handy post to keep all my recommendations and experiences together to share with you.

1.Southwold

The first trip we took back in June 2020, when lock down measures were being slightly reduced, was to stay at my friend Sally Dennings cottage in Southwold. Sally is a very well known stylist and author of 2 interior books “Relaxed Coastal Style” and “Calm” and so we knew before arriving just how beautiful and thoughtfully designed this cottage would be and we weren’t wrong. Sally has since sold the cottage but it can still be rented through Durrants under the name Millies Cottage. It’s perfectly situated in Southwold, just behind the High Street and within a 5 minute walk of all the restaurants, opubs and the beach.

2.Deal

Later that year in September, we had a week in Deal Kent, which we absolutely loved. It’s a genteel seaside town but with a great selection of shops, bars & restaurants and a lovely coastal walk to Walmer where you can stop for a beachside coffee at Hut55. From Deal you can easily explore the Kent coast. We visited Margate, Folkestone and Dungeness during our weeks stay. If you want to read more about what we did, you can here. We stayed in an Air BNB owned by Emma who runs a lovely shop in the town called Barkened. The cottage was siutuated in the conservation area and a stones throw from the beach. Another fantastic place to stay, if you prefer a hotel, is the recently renovated The Rose which also has a fantastic restaurant and bar which we ate at. Delicious and stylish.

3.Norfolk

We were lucky enough to visit Norfolk twice in 2022. The first visit was in January when we stayed at Spinks Nest Cottage near Holt. I wrote a blog post for 91 Magazine about our stay which you can read here. The second trip was for my birthday weekend in May and we stayed at Settle Norfolk in a converted railway carriage. It was absolutely stunning and so beautifully restored and styled by the owners Jo and John. The site houses 3 carriages and a luxury cabin and a recent addition this year includes a group space for workshops and retreats. The idyllic space includes 3 lakes for outdoor swimming and an honesty shop for all your weekend essentials, plus a beautiful shop stocking all the interior objects that Jo has used to style the cabins, which you can buy and take home for your own space.

4.North Wales

Last year we decided to take our camper van out of her early retirement and spend some money on getting her back to her former glory. We’ve owned her for 20 years and are only the second owners from new, so the interior is immaculate but the body work needed some attention, as we all do in our later years! So back from the garage we decided we needed to book a few trips away in her, nothing too adventurous, just to North Wales which is literally an hour away from Manchester. I still don’t know how I found The Hawarden estate but I’m so glad we did. It’s probably the most magical campsite we’ve ever stayed on and we’ve stayed on many throughout the UK and France. It’s owned by the Gladstone family, Charlie being the great great grandson to the prime minister William Gladstone and general all round amazing entrepenuer. Founder of Pedlars Vintage, anyone remember that? The Good Life Society and The Hawarden estate Farm shop. As of last year, the estate now has it’s own campsite. There are a few pitches for camper vans, but no electric hook up, this site is aimed at getting back to basics but in a really stylish way. You can pitch your own tent in the meadow area or hire a canvas bell tent with a bbq and fire pit on a decking area. There is an outdoor lake which is available several times a week for guided swims with a life guard and once a week you can take a tour of the castle ruins which stand on the estate, walking past the grand pile where the Gladstones reside. This year there is also a bee keepers hut for rent and a cottage. All your amenities are catered for in the farm shop, which has it’s own bakery and butcher and is open until 10.00pm as a licensed restaurant. The estate also own The Glynne Arms gastro pub which is a short walk away in the village of Hawarden. I would tell you more but I’m afraid I’ve already given too much away and it will become too popular. Oh they also have live bands playing for free on a Friday night, whilst you sit around camp fires and let the little ones toast marshmallow, also available at the farm shop. See I told you they’ve thought of everything!

5.St Leonards

St Leonards near Hastings Sussex, was a place that I visited years ago and remembered nothing much about. However, after following Nicola @Oldtownhaus for years on instagram and seeing a beautiful flat she was renovating which would be available short stays, my curiosity and the beautiful design of her flat, got the better of me and we booked to stay for 4 nights in September last year. To say it’s now become one our our favourite places for a short break and that we are hoping to go again this autumn, says it all and if you want to know why then you can read more about our stay here. The flat is at the top of a grand mansion on Warrior Square, directly opposite the sea front, with commanding views from the huge curved window in the lounge. The interior design has been beautifully executed and styled, with every amenity and luxury you could want for a staycation. I’ll let the photos below do the talking for me. Available to book through Old Town Haus.

6.Bath

It’s around 30 years since I last visited Bath and when my friend, who was celebrating her 50th birthday in October last year, asked me to book a place for 4 of us to stay, somewhere within a few hours drive away, as she’s cabin crew and didn’t want to do any more unnecessary travel, it seemed like the perfect time to revisit. I haven’t written a blog post about our stay as it was four women who just spent 2 days and nights, shopping, eating drinking and laughing our way through the weekend. We did go to the costume museum and we did hop on the open top bus tour but that was the total sum of the culture partaken during the weekend. Nothing more to say about our trip really, but I was absolutely blown away by the architecture, which feels just like walking through a film set and there were so many wonderful places to eat and drink and shop and visit, that I know it won’t be another 30 years until I return. We stayed at a lovely Air BNB which I can highly recommend. Lots of amenities if you want to stay in and cook but close to everything if you want to eat out every night you’re there. Again beautifully styled and furnished and really comfortable for 4 adults or a family of 4. Since staying there I’ve also discovered a lovely small boutique hotel in bath, on Pulteney Bridge, Guest House No.15 which is a wonderful area of the city, should that be your preference, and if I go back with Mr B, i’ll most defintely stay here.

I hope these places have given you some ideas about where you might like stay for your next short break in the UK and I’d love to hear back from you with your recommendations.

A Day Trip to Rye East Sussex

So following on from my last blog post, which you can read here, we took a day trip to the Cinque port town of Rye, whilst staying in St Leonards.

It’s only about a 1/2 an hour drive and is a well established town, with a rich history and amazing historical architecture and is bordered by the beautiful beach of Camber Sands. There are lots of lovely shops and places to eat, including a great pub, with rooms to stay, above. The George, has a beautifully designed interior, with a bustling bar and great food.

Photos of The George Booking.com

As you enter Rye, you’ll be directed to one of the car parks near the train station, which is a good place to start your exploration of the town, as it’s situated next to one of the loveliest shops we visited. Soap & Salvation, is housed in a former chapel and stocks an abundant range of vintage and antiques, many sourced from Europe, including bread boards, stools, textiles and some really interesting mid century furniture, studio pottery and a vintage book section, situated on a mezzanine overlooking the ground floor shop. The lovely white interior is offset by the gothic arched chapel windows and it’s all just a wonderful, visual delight.

Pretty much next door to Soap & Salvation, is Merchant & Mills, a must for any sewer or anybody interested in making their own garments. This drapers store stocks a range of natural fabrics from linen to wool and checked and striped cotton textiles, as well as a range of Japanese Shibori fabric and a selection of their own garment patterns. A one stop shop for modern contemporary patterns and textiles.

Another favourite shop that we visited, was Sailors of Rye, which was tucked away at the time of visiting, but has now has a larger presence on the High Street. The stock all has a nod to the outdoors and includes work wear garments, knitted items, simple contemporary homewares and candles and skin care. They guys that run the shop are super friendly too.

This town again, like St Leonards and Hasting up the coast, offers many opportunities for antique shopping. One of the best shops, that I covet every time they post new stock online, is Puckhaber. It’s gallery like space, is sparse but everything they display is stunning and is the shop I would definitely buy from to furnish my home, should my lottery numbers ever come up.

Photo Puckhaber

McCully & Crane, run by two former Londoners, Marcus & Gareth, is an interesting and diverse shop for purchasing a mix of old and new art and objects d’art. The space is very cleverly and stylishly curated.

Rae lifestyle store offers an eclectic collection of vintage and antique homewares, mixed with textiles made from Rae’s own independant makers, together with a range of better known, branded, modern Scandi homewares. This is a shop I regularly buy from when sourcing props for shoots as there is always something just that little bit different.

Photo Rae

If you like to rummage to find your antique treasure, then you’ll enjoy a walk along The Strand to the quay side, where there are a myriad of antique and vintage shops, selling all kinds of household items and clothes. We bought a set of Judge Ware enamel pans from this area around 30 years ago, when we were in our first home and we’re still using them!

A walk along Mermaid Street is almost a requirement when visiting Rye. It’s one of the prettiest streets in any town I’ve visited. The gently sloping cobble stoned hill, is flanked by tudor buildings and period properties and in the summer months, each property is enveloped in flowers. As you turn from Mermaid Street onto west Street, you’ll come across Lamb House, former home of many literary greats, including US novelist Henry James. It’s now a National Trust property which you can pay to visit. As well as the house, which includes the library of Henry James, there is a beautiful well stocked walled garden and kitchen garden. A lovely place to sit with a book for a while if you can resist the pull of the retail experiences Rye has to offer 🙂

Photo National Trust

A Short Stay in St Leonards & Hastings Old Town

Many many years ago, when I was in my 20’s, my best friend relocated to Richmond in Surrey. She had met a boy on holiday in Greece and followed him there. Stick with me on this as this is heading somewhere & is connected to my stay in St Leonards.

Pauls dad (that was the boy) had a carvan in St Leonards and one sunny summer weekend, he loaned it to us. We spent that weekend exploring the area, visiting the De La Warr Pavilion at Bexhill (once an architect geek, always an architect geek!) We visited the pretty town of Rye, more on that in a later post and we drove to Hastings for the afternoon, but surprisingly we didn’t bother much at all with St Leonards. Too old and genteel, too much faded grandeur, for us bright young things!

Well recently I had been hearing that St Leonards was far from that slow and faded town now and was the new Brighton or Margate in the making, full of smart, cool London migrants, opening bars and restaurants and making St Leonards their home. So last September as the summer was slowly turning to autumn, we decided to spend a few days there to discover it for oursleves.

The perfect apartment for our stay was found on Instagram @oldtownhaus. I’d followed Nicola for ages and loved her style and just as fate would have it, she and her partner, had recently renovated a mansion flat, with sea views and we booked it for 4 nights.

It was the perfect staycation. Large and airy, with lots of period features, very contemporary furnishings and fixtures, a very well equipped kitchen and comfortable beds. With that magnificent sea view, there was understandably no TV, so we could immediately unwind. We cooked, we read, we listened to music and we watched the changing tides and weather from the large bay window in the lounge.

St Leonards, as we had read, is quite the culinary destination for foodies. Home to many great restaurants and old victorian pubs, that have been gentrified, such as The Royal which appears in The Michelin Guide and is run by James Hickson, latterly of Moro London.

A favourite place for us to have a drink and a snack during our stay was The Goat ledge which was right opposite our apartment on Warrior Square. A brightly coloured shack of a building, sitting on the shingle beach, which serves locally caught fish snacks and is a great place to have a sundowner. Open from breakfast until around 9.00pm, this is the place where many of the locals gather to listen to the live music acts which often appear and have a pint whilst watching the sun sink into the ocean, which is exactly what we did.

St Clements has earned itself a Michelin star and although we didn’t eat there, prefering to have a casual relaxing holiday with no plans in place, this restaurant is definitely on the culinary map.

ST CLEMENTS RESTAURANT SHOOT BY GEORGINA COOK, MAY 2021

Farmyard is a completely sustainable restaurant, serving only seasonal and local produce, natural wine and no bottled water. A beautiful fresh and constantly changing menu makes it a favourite of locals and visitors.

Image from farmyard.com

If you’re looking for something more casual and drop in as we were, then Heist Market is fantastic. A Street food bar and cafe with several restaurants under one roof, craft beer and natural wine and a great atmosphere. This was definitely a favourite during our stay.

We always like to ask locals where they eat when we visit anywhere, and several people recommended Three Faces of del Parc to us, which by day is a deli, by night a pop up tapas bar. The food is off menu so you are served what the chefs have made that day. If you’re a fussy eater, maybe this isn’t for you. I’m not, but I am unfortunately coelaic, however, a Facebook dm to the guys that run it, sorted that out for me and it was all fantastic and delicious. It’s not open every evening but if you check their facebook page, the days that they are open will be on there.

If you love vintage and antique shopping, then you’ll love the selection of shops in St Leonards. There are too many to mention individually and most of them don’t have websites to link to anyway, but one of the best vintage clothes shops that I’ve ever been in is here. Sunless Antiques is a fantastic shop run by a lovely couple who moved from London 8 years ago. They make regular monthly trips to France to source beautiful clothes for women and loads of fantastic French work wear for men, as well as the odd antique.

Image from Sunless Antiques

Shop on the corner of Norman Road is a beautiful store with a great mix of vintage and new homewares and clothes, some reloved.

Image @shop

The other great thing about staying in St Leonards is that you are only a 15 minute walk, along the sea front, to Hastings Old Town.

I can’t recommend anywhere to eat in Hastings, as we only went for the day. We walked there and as the weather was wet and windy, we just nipped into a cafe for a quick lunch, some warm lentil soup and some shelter from the rain, but there are some fantastic shops here, many of which I’ve been wanting to visit for some time, after fixating on their beautiful instagram feeds.

One of them is A G Hendy & Co which is literally like stepping back in time. Alistair Hendy the highly creative proprietor, has created a beautiful hardware store, from a time gone by. Situated on two floors, although the upper floor was closed, at the time of our visit, the store is a plethora of new and antique kitchen ware and the type of hardware items you didn’t know you needed until you stepped inside and then can’t possibly leave without. There are no amount of decriptive words I can use here to conjure up the atmosphere, you simply have to go for yourself.

Another must go to destination for antique lovers and general nic nacs and interesting gifts, is Butlers Emporium. The shop, which retains it’s orginal antique frontage, was originally a hardware shop and the shop fittings remain, instantly creating a wonderful visual atmosphere.

Another one of the loveliest shops we have visited, was Warp & Weft. On first entering, it looks like just another lovely small independant clothes boutique, but it’s much more than is at first revealed. As you climb the stairs you enter the atelier, where each garment on display has been hand made and can be recreated for you, made to measure, in a range of fabrics of your choice. It is a wonderful shop, with beautiful linen and wool garments and accessories made from the finest leather. A real treat.

There are also some very good antique and vintage shops in Hastings, again many without websites, so as you walk around you’ll find them, but one of my favourites, with a beautiful curation of garments, was Hawk & Dove. Feminine, gothic and other wordly would best describe the selection.

I loved this part of the country so much. there is much to see and do. St Leonards is still evolving, it’s not completely gentrified, which I’m really glad to say. It’s a little rough around the edges still, but in an interesting way which gives it an edge and character, like all the best places, I think. For my next post, I’ll cover the day we spent in Rye, which is a lovely cinque port town, completely the opposite and very smart, but full of history and lovely for it.

Oh and just in case you were wondering if my friend stayed with the boy, yes she did. They married and have two beautiful girls, one of them my god daughter, and have relocated back to Manchester. She loves Paul but not as much as she loves Manchester 🙂

A Stay in Deal on The Kent Coast

A trip to deal has been on my mind for many years and if anyone watched Liar, the TV drama which was filmed there and seen the sweeping coastline, lined with candy coloured period buildings, then they’ll know why.

The last time I visited deal was when our first child was a year old. we had gone away for a week to stay in a cottage and we weren’t sleeping that well, as anyone who has had a one year old will understand, and so one morning, I left my husband in bed to catch up on his sleep and myself and George drove to the coastal town in search of some breakfast.

We found the perfect cafe, at the end of the pier, frequented solely by fishermen, other than the two of us, who were tucked heartily into a full cooked English breakfast as rain misted up the windows inside and the waves crashed around us. As the skies cleared, with George into his pushchair, we went off exploring the streets. I remember being utterly charmed by the beautiful Georgian architecture and winding streets, as well as the High Street, which was very traditional, lined with hardware shops and grocers, selling fresh and seasonal produce, and I made a mental note to return and spend more time there one day.

That one day took 25 years but, when we finally arrived back in Deal last September, little had changed, other than the Deal Pier Kitchen is now a rather smart restaurant serving, breakfast & lunch and dinner two nights a week and the High Street has now been gentrified and has some lovely and interesting independent stores lining it. It was otherwise just as I remembered it with the Georgian architecture beautifully preserved thanks to the area around Middle Street, off the main road lining the beach, becoming a conservation area in the mid 1960’s. Pretty Georgian houses stretch seawards towards the coastline and are interspersed with little pubs and a fantastic fish and chip shop where queues form on a regular basis to taste the freshly caught and battered catch of the day.

We had chosen to stay at an Air BNB which was in one of the houses in the conservation area. It was perfect for it’s location and amenities and leant itself ideally for early morning swims every day of our stay, so close to the beach. The owner of this delightful Georgian house also has a really lovely independent store on The High Street, Barkened, selling homewares, gifts and a great selection of clothes. One evening we sat with a bottle of wine and some delicious nibbles from one of the towns many delicatessens, and we were still close enough to run back home for an extra layer as the the sun dropped below the pier.

If you prefer to stay in a hotel and have your food prepared for you, I can highly recommend The Rose on The High Street. There has been much press written about the restoration and renovation of this old pub into what is now a beautiful boutique hotel, and the press coverage doesn’t disappoint. Although we didn’t get to view the rooms above, we did eat at their restaurant, which was fantastic, and with just the right buzzy informal atmosphere that you want while on holiday by the coast, but smart enough to feel as though you could be dining in London.

Dining options in Deal are still pretty informal and limited a little to mainly pub food but other than The Rose, there was another fantastic restaurant opposite, Frog & Scot and a very atmospheric wine bar, La Pinardier with a wide selection of excellent wines and options of either a cheese selection or charcuterie board to go with your drinks. There is also often live music. Check the calendar of events before booking.

If you’re preference is for craft beer, then there are also some great options in Deal. The Just reproach bar has a wide selection of beers and gins. These aren’t smart gentrified bars but they are full of atmosphere & people with character. One of them, Smugglers Records, doubles as a vinyl shop, so if you don’t mind sitting with your pint whilst people browse the selection of vinyl, then you might find yourself having some very interesting conversations. We loved them and went along a few times during our stay.

If your idea of shopping heaven is for homewares and bric a brac then you’ll love the range of independent shops in Deal. Most of them are along High Street in the main part of town.

One of my favourites was Will & Yates which is part interior and lifestyle shop and part gallery. Owned by Jane Will an interiors stylist and Caroline Yates an artist, the shop stocks lots of rustic antiques and hand made interior items, natural skincare by Margaret Haeckles with works of art hung around the walls. It’s all beautifully displayed in a double fronted store.

A few doors away is Dunlin & Diver which is stocked with homewares, gifts and accessories and lovely hand made soaps.

Mileage Vintage is an emporium of retro and vintage furniture, lighting and prints and has a tearoom in the back for contemplating potential purchases.

Hoxton Store was once located in London until the owner moved to Deal and moved her business with her. The stock includes bright and colourful patterned homewares and clothes and accessories.

On Saturday mornings there’s a weekly market, which unfortunately we didn’t get to as we didn’t arrive until late afternoon but apparently it’s the place to go for bric a brac, Swedish bakes by Bygga Bo and epicurean cheeses etc.

If you walk out of town towards Walmer, you’ll find yourself at Deal Castle and opposite you’ll find the loveliest shop housed in the old captains stable building, in the grounds of Deal castle gardens. The Green and Found is a magical mix of antiques and vintage, hand made homewares, skin products made in Barcelona especially for the shop which smell divine, candles and plants. It’s all so beautifully curated and the displays are endlessly changing with the seasons and around the style of stock that’s been sourced. It really is a must visit destination if you’re in the area.

If you are feeling peckish after all this shopping walk along the coastal path parallel to the beach, just opposite Deal castle and you’ll find Hut55 which serves fresh coffee and home made cakes which you can eat whilst lounging on one of their red and white striped deckchairs or bean bags on the beach and if the sun is out and you fancy a cycle, they offer a bike hire service too.

Continue along the coastal path to Walmer and you’ll find 60 _Strand, an antique shop run by dealer Lou, which is an Aladdins cave of beautiful decorative antiques, art and furniture.

Further along this coastal path, which is a lovely walk, with the far stretching shingle beach, scattered with Fishermans wooden huts and flanked by stunning Victorian villas, you’ll come to Kingsdown, where you’ll find The Zetland Arms. This lovely pub, is approached down an unmade road lined with pretty cottages and is nestled directly amongst the shingles and pebbles on the beach. The menu serves up the fresh catch catch of the day amongst other fine food or you can find a seat on one of the wooden benches outside and sip a sundowner, whilst looking at the boats sailing across the bay. A beautiful spot to end your day in Deal.

If you prefer to be off the beaten track, then this part of the Kent coast is a perfect spot to stay and there’s a lovely holiday let right on the beach here at Kingsdown. The Victory can be booked through Air bnb & is ideal for getting away from the madding crowd, for beach walks, swimming in the open sea and with a great pub next door. What more could you ask for?

{All words & photography by Karen Barlow except the last 3 images which are from the Victory’s own images on Air BnB & the images of The Rose which are from their own Website}