Delight everyone as you visit Deal, a seaside gem that’s great to explore
AT the end of the prom in the Kent seaside town of Deal, a common blue butterfly flits from mari-gold to dahlia before settling on a pink ball of sea thrift in Sandown Castle Community Garden.
On my way to the gardens, created on the ruins of a castle built by Henry VIII, I’d spotted a grey seal swimming back to its colony at nearby Pegwell Bay, while overhead a skylark soared bursting with lyrical song.For a perfect staycation make sure to visit the stunning town of Deal, a seaside town in Kent with activities to make everyone happy[/caption]
I order a freshly roasted coffee from The Hog Box, which stands in the adjacent Captain’s Garden, and take in the view.
Cowslips, delicate blue forget-me-nots, and towering kniphofia (red hot pokers) are a riot of colour against a glistening pebble beach and silvery blue English Channel. It’s a moment of pure summer bliss, in a town that wasn’t always quite so serene.
Once packed with taverns and brothels, with a history so villainous that only the reckless dared trade there, in 1784 Prime Minister William Pitt sent soldiers in to burn the smugglers’ boats.
On Beach Street you’ll find 1930s flying saucer-style rain shelters and a rainbow of pastel-shaded Grade II listed 17th Century fishermen’s cottages and grand Victorian abodes. Small streets, with names such as Golden, Silver and Brewer, give clues to the town’s past pre-occupations and lead to Middle Street, where smugglers’ tunnels run from house to house.
At The Ship Inn, you may hear a yarn about the feuds and murders of the regulars’ ancestors, or tales of the antics of the local actor Charles Hawtrey, of Carry On fame, who was regularly banned for bawdy behaviour.
“Do you serve food?” I make the mistake of asking. “Crisps and nuts,” comes the reply. This is a pub for conversation and beer — no need to complicate things. Not lively enough for a hen or stag do, Deal’s bar drinking holes are eclectic, from Bloody Mary’s, a wine bar that closes at 8pm out of consideration for residents, to The Just Reproach — a micropub that serves beer straight from the cask; and candlelit wine bar Le Pinardier, which is moody enough to conjure up a feel of Deal’s shady past.At The Ship Inn, you may hear tales of the antics of the local actor Charles Hawtrey, of Carry On fame, who was regularly banned for bawdy behaviour[/caption] Make a pit stop at Hut 55, a café in a beach hut with bikes for rent[/caption]
Devoid of vast amusement arcades, for kids keen to push pennies into slots the bijoux Deal Arcade is a family-run gem and there’s also a small children’s pool and pitch and putt near Walmer Green, where during summer months concerts are given from the bandstand.
The retro Deal Parlour evokes 1960s seaside fun with its knickerbocker glories and chocolate sundaes. For dogs, they even serve a canine ’99.
Deal’s High Street has weathered the pandemic well, with recent openings including Arno & Co grocery (try the toasties with anchovy, parmesan and thyme); Mrs Lang, for upcycled, unique handmade clothing; and handcrafted goods for dogs and their owners at Barkened.
In Dunlin & Diver, I lust after coast-inspired Head West tote bags made from recycled cotton yarn by craft-maker Michele Skelt; and on Sondes Road, The Village market brims with goodies from other local makers (look for Jenny Preston’s seaside prints).
For foodies, there’s acclaimed restaurants such as The Rose, 81, and The Dining Club, with Victuals & Co and Frog and Scot (a favourite for oysters, followed by steak frites) listed in the Michelin guide.
Deal’s 313metre-long brutalist concrete pier, built in 1957, has a stark beauty. Stroll along it, past fishermen wearily throwing back dogfish, to The Deal Kitchen, perfect for summer evening sunsets and far-reaching views to France.From Hut 55 it’s a leisurely beachside pedal to Kingsdown, past coastal gardens brimming with red valerian and striped beach huts[/caption]
Spooky hide & seek
From Hut 55 — a café in a beach hut with bikes for rent — it’s a leisurely beachside pedal to Kingsdown (location for the opening of BBC drama Baptiste), past coastal gardens brimming with red valerian and striped beach huts, where The Zetland Arms sits prettily on pebbles.
Deal Castle (also built by Henry VIII, in 1539) is designed in the shape of a perfect Tudor Rose.Deal Castle is designed in the shape of a perfect Tudor Rose and is the perfect place to enjoy a spooky game of hide and seek[/caption] Deal Castle was also by Henry VIII, in 1539[/caption]
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Full of dingy nooks and crannies, with a low circular keep at its centre, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a spooky game of hide and seek.
Meanwhile, back at Sandown Castle Community Garden, a red-tailed bumble bee zips towards a slender purple allium.
Soon kaffir lilies, agapanthus and daisy-like gazanias will join the summer party in this idyllic garden found in a town fit for a king.
GETTING THERE: The high-speed rail link from London St Pancras to Deal takes 90 minutes.
STAYING THERE: Double rooms at The Royal Hotel start at £125 per night. See theroyalhotel.com.
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