Made in Margs: The diary of a renovation #2

Month three of ‘project bungalow’ and I have become obsessed by two things – the sky and the tide. Who knew a committed city dweller like me would be buying a book on tide tables (apparently there’s also an app) and timing her Saturday out to coincide with the sun going down.

But there is a reason Turner chose the Kent coast to inspire his paintings, saying “…the skies over Thanet are the loveliest in all Europe”, and one cannot fail to be moved by the magnificent giant skies, both by day and night. In fact the sky in the above picture was so impressive that the dog and I got soaked in a thunder storm, as I couldn’t drag myself away from it in time.

Walking on the beach early morning and evening is very special, as the light is constantly changing, the air is fresh and the horizon gives one a sense of perspective (literally) and I can (almost) see why one would want to live by the sea permanently!

The house renovation is coming along well – mainly because M.I.D is a DIY genius and can turn his hand to almost anything. So far he has pulled up all the horrible carpets, ripped out the grubby kitchen units, stripped all of the wallpaper and removed a hideous lean-too and dangerous greenhouse. Give him a power tool and a project and he is at his happiest and I rather traditionally (for me) am resigned to dog walking, tea making and attempting the garden.

My compulsion to make even grimmest of interiors homely means I have been picking flowers from the over grown garden and trying to make corners of loveliness among all the chaos. The furniture from my parents old house looks perfect alongside our new Ikea chair and Anglepoise lamp and our collection of vintage vases are slowly starting to make their way to Margate from London.

The garden however is a complete mystery to me – having only had a small decked yard filled with pots in London – and having attempted a back breaking weekend of weeding – I realise I have no gardening knowledge whatsoever and need expert help, as well as some good gardening books.

Unfortunately the previous tenants decided concrete and paving stones were a practical solution and we are now faced with the huge task of removing them, so I am investigating fake grass which has come on leaps and bounds in recent years and now looks very real. It may be the ideal solution – especially since we won’t be there full time to cultivate real turf. Watch this space and if you have any experience of this – please let me know.

It isn’t all work, work work, however, as this weekend Dreamland opened for the summer season (by ex local Tracey Emin) and we took a stroll along the seafront to see what it was all about. I’m not a huge fan of theme parks, but Dreamland has been sensitively restored and is a great combination of vintage and modern rides, good quality food trucks and excellent music events. Entry is free, so if like me you are not one for rides, it possible to just hang out and take in the atmosphere. I will however be trying out the roller disco one night in the future!



  • Lynn in VA says:

    I have turf at a vacation house at the beach, and I have the best lawn in town. People stop all the time and ask what I’m doing that it looks so good. It needs to be raked every spring to get rid of leaves etc. and I have someone use a leaf blower on it in the fall. Every few years you need to top up the little beads that keep the blades upright.

    Brands in the US will be different, but my advice is to walk barefoot on the samples. I picked the one that felt most like real grass.

  • Susanna says:

    I have artificial grass in Richmond. Quality has improved hugely over the recent years and I have one that looks very realistic. Tips are to get as many samples from as many suppliers as you can possibly bear and then put them on a real lawn. This will give you the best colour and texture option…. the temptation is to choose a green which is too bright; a dead giveaway. Over those slabs you’ll need a good base of sand to give an even finish and good absorbency for dog wee! Just had my garden open for visitors and the main question asked was about my grass and how many people loved it! S x

  • Marie says:

    Please don’t use fake grass, my son put it down over the only play area for our two new grandchildren and in summer it’s so hot you can’t walk on it or play on it …the wonderful grass smell and texture is a real missing. It was very expensive and he had to level the ground etc, so if you are going to do all that work and go to that expense, I’d put grass and flowers down every time

  • J, fill the garden with hydrangeas, there are many fabulous ones. They are very hard working and so easy to look after. Get M.A.D to put in an irrigation system (all good garden centres have ’em) and they will thrive. What do you need a lawn for anyway? Ax

  • Sue says:

    Jane, could you get a builder (someone with a mini digger) to help you with the concrete? That’s what we did, then ordered some soil and those rolls of turf like carpets. I am the world’s worst gardener and it seemed to work ok with just minimal effort. Didn’t die anyway.

  • Poppyseedbagel says:

    Please don’t go for fake grass: it’s dead!

    You could have a sensible-sized paved area, and then beds filled with real Iiving things that the bees and butterflies love. Subscribe to The English Garden magazine (available on Zinio for free from some libraries), and get ideas of the sorts of lovely small spaces you can create that are easy to look after and that are alive.

  • Jane says:

    yes Sue thats another thought – the problem is also the watering as we won’t be there all the time. J x

  • Nice post. Thanks for sharing this post.

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