Tuesday 14 May 2024

March Round Up Part Two.

 March part 2! Finally!!

I realise I managed to forget to mention in my last post we had a dinner for incoming students in the amazing setting of the Natural History Museum in Oxford. What better way to convince someone to come to our programme? 

must admit, lovely as it was to be able to wander at will around the museum out of hours and with a glass of prosecco in hand, I do find it somewhat unnerving having food and drink near priceless exhibits!

How often do you get to eat with a dinosuar looming over you?

Alongside everything else at work, we basically had 3 Fridays in a row where we also had something on in the evening we had to attend, well I say had to, I managed to miss out on the last one by booking some holiday.


I had seen the item on the national news and read the article on the BBC website about Bagpuss turning 50 and in it they mentioned an exhibition around him in a museum in Canterbury.

For those who don’t know Bagpuss is the main character from a stop animation children’s television programme form the 1970’s. In a nutshell he is a toy cat who lives in a shop window and his owner Emily brings him gifts, usually random lost or broken things she finds whilst out walking, she then recites a special rhyme;


Bagpuss, dear Bagpuss Old fat furry cat-puss. Wake up and look at this thing that I bring. Wake up, be bright. Be golden and light. Bagpuss, Oh hear what I sing. 


This wakes Bagpuss and once he is awake, all his friends wake up too. They look at the object try to decide what it is, then usually Bagpuss tells a magical story at the end of which the item is restored to it’s full glory.

I was enchanted with this series as a small child and have basically adored Bagpuss ever since. I still have the Bagpuss backpack my parents bought me, and various other Bagpi (as Himself calls them) that friends and family have given me over the years, so as you can imagine the chance to not only go to an exhibition about the show,  but see the real fat furry cat-puss in the flesh so to speak, was not something I was going to miss!


It’s been 2 years since Himself and last went to the Isle of Thanet in Kent, so I floated the idea of combining a trip down to see friends with a visit to the exhibition. Thankfully, he was more than happy, so I quickly checked the lovely B&B in Broadstairs we stayed in last time. They had a room free, without breakfast, but at a great price so I booked it ASAP.

Next, I messaged my friend Kay to see if and when she was about. She could do the Thursday evening, so we planned the rest of our trip around that evening and when the museum was open. The stars aligned there as the museum would be open on the Friday and the weather that day was due to be horrible that day, so we figured a trip to Canterbury and being inside was a good plan. Himself also contacted his old boss Pete, who now lives just outside Canterbury to see if he was free the Friday evening to meet us for a drink. 


Monday & Tuesday were long days taken up with getting as much work done as I could before we headed off on the Wednesday. 

We had a good journey and arrived at the B&B at about 2pm. As check in wasn’t due until 4pm I had emailed to ask if we could come earlier, even if it was just to drop off bags and come back after 4pm to check in properly. I hadn’t heard back so we took a punt anyway. We were met by a slightly flustered young man who said we could check in but couldn’t find the room key, after a fruitless search he ended up giving us the housekeeping room key. We went up, unpacked and then headed into town and straight to Morelli’s for an ice cream. First opening in 1932, and with it’s slightly kitsch 30’s décor unchanged, it is an absolute icon and famous not just for delicious ice cream but also for coffee.  It was lovely to see it busy and buzzing even on a mid-week afternoon.

The View from outside our B&B

We had a gentle mooch around the town to see what had changed before heading back to our room to chill before changing for dinner. I had brought my work mobile with me because when I set up my booking.com account years ago I had done it from my work email address. I’m not quite sure why I looked at my work emails but I saw I had had a frantic message from the B&B owner, which my colleague Hazel had also forwarded to me via whatsapp, as he had sent it on to the generic work email address after getting my out of office. 

Something to do with the room key and could we come back ASAP as he needed to go out that evening. Clearly, he hadn’t thought to try knocking on the room door as we had been in the room the whole time! 

I quickly jogged down the stairs in my socks, not even stop to put my shoes back on, and made him jump out of his skin. It turned out that they had a regular guest who ‘always booked room 8.’ To the point she had actually taken the room key home with her as she considered it ‘her room’ which was why the other guy hadn’t been able to find it when we arrived. 

This guest was also there and clearly extremely put out. I briefly considered offering to swap rooms with her, but she was so hostile and rude, I thought fuck you then, and stood my ground. With great reluctance she went and fetched the room key from her car whilst I had a chat with the owner and petted his dogs. Once I had the correct key I handed the spare over and headed back upstairs.

We had a table booked at our favourite restaurant Posillipo Pizzeria, a wonderful family run Italian that has been in Broadstairs for 30 years. I literally could not choose what to have but in the end settled for gnocchi with gorgonzola which was to die for. The restaurant was packed full but we weren’t rushed and the manager even brought us a free glass of limoncello to end the meal. I’m not a fan so Himself got to neck two!

From there we went to the quirky Chapel pub. I mentioned it in my post from 2 years ago here. It’s a very old tiny chapel that was converted into a bookshop. When the owner retired he just left it as was. Whoever bought it left most of the bookcases and many of the books in situ and just fitted a bar and some tables and benches. 

It was also busy with many games of chess being played but we managed to snag a tiny table and spent a pleasant couple of hours drinking beer for Himself and cider for me looking at books. We were having hysterics about the name of the author of a biography on Robert Redford called Minty Clinch. Himself sent a picture to his sister and it turns out his late mother who was a huge Robert Redford fan had had a copy of the book. We had to google the name and it turns out not only is that her real name (Araminta Clinch) she actually lives in a nearby village to us! Small world…

As we left the pub, we spotted the lighthouse was working, something I can’t recall ever seeing before. Even thought it was dark you could see this wall of white fog rolling in across the sea it was very atmospheric. Thankfully it had cleared by morning.


The next day we had a leisurely start as we didn’t have to go down for breakfast. Our schedule for the day was to walk the coast from Ramsgate to Margate so we caught the bus to Ramsgate with the plan of getting breakfast somewhere at the harbour before we started. 

There were a couple of cafes to choose from, so following lessons learnt over the years we plumped for the one that was busy with workmen, you can always trust them to go for the best breakfast!

Sure enough, Ship Shape Cafe lived up to our expectations, with a delicious full English for Himself, and as I’m not a fan of meat at breakfast and don’t eat sausages, a vegetarian breakfast for me. When they arrived, I gained his tomatoes & mushrooms and he got my veggie sausage in exchange (this is why we work as a couple.)
 I was also enchanted with their tiny nautical themed toilet, wishing I had taken my bag with me so I could have taken a picture in there.     

Replete with food we walked to the end of the jetty and started out walking apps.

The day was cloudy but not cold so perfect walking weather really. We walked past our B&B as we passed through Broadstairs but looking up at it from the beach. We also took a detour to Botany Bay as there are meant to be fossils there.

We found some shells and sea glass but sadly nothing prehistoric. 

As we got towards Margate there were clear signs of how violent the recent storms had been with this set of steps being completely buried in sand! 

It was sad to see the Winter Gardens and Lido looking so derelict (we actually met at the Lido all those years ago) 

I gather there may be some levelling up funding going to the Winter Gardens so fingers crossed it can become a vibrant venue once again.

 There was some amazing street art though. 

We finished our walk at the end of the jetty in Margate before decamping to Barnacles for a drink, the scene of many a date for us, and Himself’s parents’ favourite pub when they were both alive. From there we had a bit of a mooch before heading to the train station.

Once back at the B&B we both freshened up and caught the bus back to Ramsgate where we met my friend Kay in the huge Wetherspoons on the harbour. Himself stayed for a couple of pints before his friend Paul called to say he was outside waiting to pick him up. It was wonderful to catch up with Kay, we grabbed some dinner and had just finished eating when her partner Andy arrived. It was lovely to catch up with him in person as I haven't seen him before lockdown.

Once it was time to head off, they both walked me to the taxi office which turned out to be closed! 

I ended up having to google some firms and call for one instead, which some pissed bloke also waiting, refused to accept was mine not his, so I ended up having to call another! 

Finally in a taxi we picked up Himself enroute who was absolutely freezing having been standing waiting whilst all that drama happened.


Next morning was Friday and Bagpuss day. We called in at Tesco and bought some bits for breakfast which we ate on the train over to Canterbury. We headed straight to the museum The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge. which is fairly small in museum terms, and was filled with school children. 

There was an interactive map for the Bagpuss trail you could buy, which involved finding clues and characters in the different galleries and collecting a stamp from the staff on duty in that room. I loved that it made the children goo to all the rooms and hopefully learn lots of different things whilst they searched for Gabriel or the Soup Dragon.

Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin who created Smallfilms that made Bagpuss and many other much loved children’s TV shows have donated a lot of their equipment and props to the museum, there is a small gallery space named after them for showing temporary exhibitions and this was where an exhibition about them and their work was running alongside the Bagpuss trail. They mostly used stop animation and it was fascinating to see how programmes were created, particularly the ingenuity, like adapting cameras with pieces of Meccano!  

For someone who grew up watching their programmes, to actually see The Clangers and of course Bagpuss himself, as in the actual one they filmed, it brought a tear to my eye.  

We did look in all the galleries. I particularly enjoyed the range of art work going right up to the present day with Banksy and Grayson Perry, 

and yes I may have treated myself in the gift shop!

I bought a tea towel and the tiny wheeled elephant on the left to add to my small collection of wooden elephants on wheels. 


By the time we left it was pouring with rain and we both wanted a drink and something to eat, and for me just a few quiet moments to just absorb all I had seen. 

I’d read an article that had mentioned this great café in Canterbury hidden behind a tiny doorway next to the Roman Museum that was tardis-like when you got inside and did great food. We found it and managed to secure a table in the big bay window on the second floor. The flatbread sandwiches were huge and delicious, mine was full of aubergine, humous and salad YUM! 

No room for a piece of cake afterwards even though they looked amazing.


My only other plan for the day was to see if Cosmo China was open, it had been closed on our last visit. It has a branch in London and Canterbury and features work by several of Peter Firmin’s daughters amongst others. 

It’s expensive, so I only planned to buy small jug to add to my collection. Only they had a Bagpuss range, I really wanted something but I couldn’t justify spending that much, so ended up choosing an eggcup. 

Luckily for me I noticed a basket of seconds, in there I found a Bagpuss and Clangers plate! Happy me.

(The Ivor the Engine mug came from the Museum shop.)

We spent the rest of the afternoon going in whatever shop took our fancy, I got a couple of bits in Siesta and some Cadfael books in Oxfam, some seasalt fudge in Roly’s and a bracelet in another charity shop. Tired and damp from the relentless rain we decamping to The Lady Luck our favourite pub in Canterbury for a restorative bottle of brown (Newcastle Brown Ale) or two. 

We had planned to go to this lovely Italian restaurant we had found on our last visit, but we were still too full from lunch, so instead just headed straight to the Wetherspoon’s nearest to the train station where we had arranged to meet Pete, Himself’s old boss and good friend. It was very busy, but we finally managed to find a table and had just sat down with our drinks when he arrived. Again, it was lovely to catch up with all his news and hear what his children have been up too. We ended up staying there all night and ordered some sharing plates to pick at.


The next day we again had a more leisurely start checking out at 10.30am. The saga of the ‘regular guest who always stays in room 8’ had one last fling when it turned out they had added her food to our bill! This took a bit of time to rectify but we got there in the end. Not withstanding that I would definitely stay there again.

It was a lovely morning and we were in no hurry so we walked along the seafront calling in at Morelli’s so Himself could buy some coffee to take home, and the local bakery to buy a loaf and some freshly baked hot cross buns that smelt too delicious too leave. We also grabbed a sandwich and drinks for the train home. What a wonderful much needed mini break it turned out to be.


I finished up the month with a trip to the dentist with my Mum for a check up then on to tea at a local garden centre where I managed to avoid buying any new plants.

Plus a trip to the cinema to see the latest Ghostbusters film. I have loved the 2 most recent ones so was very much up for this even though there was no real reason to make it, the story had ended well with the last one. Overall it was a bit of a mess, a bit too long but with some really great bits which redeemed it from being completely terrible.


So that was March and now I need to find time for April which was just as epic with the Biba exhibition and the highlight of it all Abba Voyage! More anon.  


  1. Dinner at the Natural History Museum sounds amazing!
    I loved tagging along on your trip to the Isle of Thanet and thank you for the introduction to Bagpuss, whom I've heard of but didn't know much else about! xxx

  2. You certainly pack a lot in between blog posts, Gisela! Jon would love that Bagpuss exhibition, excellent finds on the Clangers and Bagpuss merch.
    I know nothing about that part of the UK apart from the Canterbury Tales and the Charles Dickens Broadstairs connection. They both look lovely, especially The Chapel pub. I quite fancy Margate and the arts scene, I love the shabby around the edges look to the place.
    It's not yet 9am and I'm already craving Gorgonzola! xxx

  3. That sounds like my sort of holiday. Bagpuss and Clangers have both made it over here. I'd have loved seeing the museum.
    Good on you standing up to the regular room person. The sense of entitlement some people possess!