Making Memories

Coffee time in Whistable
‘Keep Making Memories’ reads the slogan on the Shearings coach we’re following on the motorway. An auspicious sign for our holiday break with Ma, perhaps. It also, along with treating people how you would wish to be treated, resonates with my personal philosophy of trying to make the most of every day. As a line from a particularly moving scene in one of my favourite films, Blade Runner, goes; ‘all these moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain’ - which is why every minute is precious.

Alas, our first holiday meal proves memorable for all the wrong reason. We’ve booked in to a Premier Inn at Herne Bay to explore the Kent coast. The Premier Inn itself is clean and efficient with polite, helpful staff; so helpful, in fact, that when our online reservation at the next door 'Table Table' appears to have failed, the receptionist remakes the booking and even comes to our room to assure us we have a table for three at 6.30pm.

Beach huts at Herne Bay
‘Sorry guys, nothing under that name,’ says the restaurant manager when we present ourselves. ‘Grab yourselves a drink while you wait and I’ll try to slot you in as soon as possible.’ Because it’s the first night of our holiday and we don’t want to kick off with a row we try to ‘grab ourselves’ a drink. Unfortunately this entails a fifteen minute wait at the understaffed bar. Grabbing ourselves somewhere pleasant to sit is even more of a challenge since almost every table is covered with a detritus of dirty glasses and crisp crumbs.

Needless to say that when we finally get to eat, my meal is the worst I have had in a very long time with flaccid greasy potato wedges and disagreeable greens that smell and look as if they’ve visited several other plates before mine. What really makes my blood boil though is seeing a steady stream of customers, many of whom are elderly and some of whom are infirm, all dressed up for their big night out and watching their faces fall as it dawns on them that the whole pack of cards has come tumbling down and they won’t be eating any time soon. It’s a shameful way to treat people.

I could go on… but all that needs to be said is that our polite complaints were answered with a polite apology, but nothing else (hey, at least we weren’t offered a free meal!) and the next day, after searching Trip Advisor, we found an absolutely delightful Thai restaurant, 'The Coconut Tree' where the three of us enjoyed a fabulous evening for less than the price of a meal at Table Table.

Our ghastly first evening aside, the memories we made this holiday were of sun, laughter and the joy of English seaside resorts.

Whistable Harbour
All set for a picnic on the beach at Sandgate
Prospect Cottage and garden, former home to Derek Jarman (taken from a distance)
View from within the Turner Contemporary at Margate
A hot day in Ramsgate
And finally, a visit to Ramsgate Harbour evokes memories of being gale-bound there on our sailing trip which inspired both Turning the Tide and Follow A Star, but it also reminds us of how much time has passed and of people who are no longer with us. Keep making memories, indeed.

And then!


Flowerpot said…
So sorry for the horrendous start to the break,but looks as if you found your collective feet after that and had a great time. This post made me weepy - I think to do with those who are no longer with us.... xx
Jane Lovering said…
What a fabulous sentiment 'keep making memories'. It's something I try to do with my (now quite large) kids, and something to be celebrated! I'm glad you had a nice time after your horrible start, those pictures look fabulous - I almost want to go to Margate now...
Chanpreet said…
I'm sorry the start to your holiday wasn't the best one. I'm glad things got better. The message you shared is lovely and one we all need to remind ourselves of from time to time and the pictures are lovely too!
Kathryn Freeman said…
Lovely message and photos to match. I'm glad you found a good Thai restaurant - excellent training for your trip to Thailand one day!
Chris Stovell said…
Sorry, Sue - I think it's the build-up to the Cardiff Half and thinking about all the lost loved ones so many of us will be running for. Yes, we were lucky with the rest of the break though and to have such fantastic weather.

It was wasn't it, Jane? It made me look at Shearings coaches in a new light - great slogan and it seemed to some up my thinking... although I thought it before I saw the coach... before I become the woman who took her philosophy from the back of a bus. Margate is fab - and the Turner Contemporary is free. Well done them.

Clare Chase said…
I really enjoyed reading this touching post, Chris – a real reminder of what matters in life. Glad you found somewhere great to override the Table Table memories!
Chris Stovell said…
It did get much better after that. Chanpreet - and the glorious weather helped. And thank you!

Kate, the Thai restaurant was so lovely - and the complimentary dessert was a real treat... we've got to save more before we can swap Herne Bay for Thailand though!
Sally Townsend said…
Beautifully observed, I especially like the sentiment of the green beans ! 'Making Memories' is just so important.
Chris Stovell said…
Thank you, Clare. Yes, thank goodness! I still feel cross thinking about all the disappointed faces there - still, without that we wouldn't have found the Thai restaurant so everything happens for a reason!
Chris Stovell said…
Thank you, Sally - I did enjoy catching up with your adventures!
Frances said…
Chris, this beautifully written post shows what a fine observer you are. I'd imagine that there might be all sorts of "back stories" to the woeful Table Table.

(Keep your notes and covert that first holiday evening into a scene in a future novel. From the point of view of someone working in the Table Table kitchen and also feeling awful about what was being sent out to the restaurant tables.)

Fun to see photographs of your Ma, and all those boats, too. Looks as if the sun was shining.

I read an article in The New Yorker magazine this summer about memories. I learned that every time we access one of our memories, examine it and then sort of re-file it, there's a great possibility that the memory will be altered. That's good if it helps us to overcome some past traumatic memory, but I'm not so sure about what the process might do to more pleasant ones.

As autumns officially begins, I send you best season's greeetings. xo
Cara Cooper said…
It's a lovely area and I'm so glad you had good weather. Making good memories is so important in life - it can be hard work, but worth all the effort
Chris Stovell said…
Frances, you've hit the nail on the head about revisiting memories, especially when it comes to writing them down. We can't help but become unreliable narrators of our own pasts! Having said that, the sun did shine, the food at Table Table will linger (especially as a scent memory!) for far too long, but my overall impression will be of a happy holiday! Cx

Cara it really was lovely to revisit that stretch of coast. Being in Wales, we rarely go there now and it made such a change. Thank you.

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