A port town on the English Channel, in Kent, south-east England lying between two cliffs, Folkstone is around a two-hour commute from central London. Kelli, Sara, and the boys arrived on a Saturday afternoon and booked a room in the hilariously tacky, Grand Burstin Hotel which sits opposite Folkestone harbour.
After our long drive to Folkestone, we decided to take a stroll and stretch our legs along the not so sunny, Sunny Sands. The high tide kept us to the concrete path which was enraged with huge waves along either side. Soaked wet through from our rubbish attempt at dodging splashes from the sea, we still managed to spot the Folkestone Mermaid made by artist Cornelia Parker, inspired by the story of The Sea Lady by HG Wells.
Popping into Harbour Mini Market on Sandgate Road we grabbed a cider beverage for the reasonable price of £1.50. We paid for the drinks whilst awkwardly disrupting a video call between the shop keeper and his mother. Beers in hand, we headed towards the Cultural Quarter via The Old High Street which homed a stretch of coffee shops, art galleries and music stores.
We found shelter from the heavy rain in the Happy Skate, skate shop, where we were greeted by owner Dan Joyce and Bobbie, the Jackie-Chow puppy. The skate shop was an impressive space and housed a mini ramp downstairs alongside a stage for music events. The shop offers a wide range of skate board decks, accessories, clothing, magazines and much to our delight there was art everywhere! Happy Skate slaps the world of DIY culture and skateboarding in your face, the moment you enter. It's like an exhibition celebrating skateboarding and creativity through memorabilia, polaroid pictures, historical skateboarding artifacts and cabinets of visual recording devices.
Before we left Happy Skate with our goodies, we made sure to contribute our ideas to the Harbour Plans postcard workshop, provided by Community Art Kent and left with Dan snapping our own polaroid mug shot at the door. Opposite Happy Skate you can find the new F51 skatepark which consists of three floors dedicated to skateboarding alongside climbing walls and boasts of the world's first suspended concrete bowl. As we were all piss wet through and damp as a dishrag, we decided give the skatepark a swerve and head to our infamous Grand Burstin Hotel for a cosy night in.
The hotel room was £99 a night and slept four people. One double bed and a single bed which also enclosed a pull out single bed from beneath. Being advised not to try the food, we made some noodles, had a swim and headed to the nights entertainment of 80's & 90's live music. We found the Ballroom where we enjoyed a pint whilst watching a sequinned jacketed duo sing Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go by Wham! Like a scene from Phoenix Nights, the show stopping performance lacked any 90's bangers, so we headed back to our room for a, slightly drunk, restful night's sleep.
Our morning headaches were diminished by the spectacular view from our hotel window, shower, and cuppa. Breakfast was needed so we headed back to the Cultural Quarter to find some decent grub. Along the way we popped in Vintage & Vinyl where Kelli purchased an Idles record and we had a delightful chat with the owner who informed us Folkestone was the first town to be crowned as a 'music town' in the UK. On Rendezvous Street we stumbled across Django's Cafe Bar where we tucked into a delicious breakfast which we would easily rate 5 stars. With full bellies we decided to end our trip with a dip in the sea on Folkestone Beach as the sun was in full beam, collecting stones along the way.
We all thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Folkestone and if you are thinking of taking a trip we would highly recommend you pop into Happy Skate to see Dan, check out the music collection on offer at Vintage & Vinyl, have a walk along the harbour, enjoy the food, coffee and art within the Cultural Quarter and if tacky is your cup of tea, book a stay at the Grand Burstin Hotel...but don't forget to get there before 2pm if you want a parking space.