In the latest of our Instagrammer guides, blogger Clementine May takes us on a tour of her home town of Folkestone.
Located on the south east coast of Kent, Folkestone is a seaside town with a thriving artist community and a unique selection of independent shops. It’s just an hour from London by train and makes for the perfect day trip. In the summer months people flock to the Harbour Arm to enjoy street food, pop up bars, live music and even a champagne bar in a lighthouse. But a walk along the cobbled streets of the Old High Street is the perfect way to spend a couple of hours anytime of the year. This part of town (also known as the Creative Quarter) is where independent shops nestle alongside artist studios, coffee houses and a mix of old and new architecture.
Located on the bustling Old High Street, this shop is like a breath of fresh air with its colourful and vibrant designs. Catherine Nice (founder of Kitty McCall) is a graphic print designer living and working in Folkestone. With fourteen years experience working in the creative industries this shop has become home to her bright, bold, tropical prints. Her beautiful designs adorn a whole host of lifestyle products ranging from lampshades and stationary to framed prints and wrapping paper.
Moo Like a Monkey
This shop is a little gem; filled with beautifully designed toys, books and clothes for children. There are handmade wooden toys, a unique selection of clothes with colourful Scandinavian designs and a selection of books celebrating diversity and the individual. Although Moo Like a Monkey has only been open a year, the ethos is strong and all items have been thoughtfully sourced from new designers locally and from around the world. Everything is unique and sustainably made; making this the perfect place to pick up a special gift for the little ones in your life. The shop is also brilliantly child friendly; the kids are encouraged to play with anything within their reach so they are kept entertained while you can relax and browse.
Workshop Number Twenty Nine
Although this shop is compact it is filled (inside and out) with a selection of beautiful objects. Everything ranging from old posters and signs to chairs, tables and light fittings. I love looking through their selection of kitchen utensils and the more useful, everyday items like clothes pegs and door knobs all with individual style and attractive detailing. The items have been artfully curated from architectural salvage and lovingly restored. When the weather is fine, pieces are stacked up outside the shop making it almost impossible to walk past without feeling the need to step into this elegant shop front for a closer look. Keep an eye on their beautiful instagram account to find out opening times (currently Saturdays only).
The Potting Shed
Also located on Rendezvous Street and just opposite Workshop Twenty Nine is The Potting Shed; a new take on the old antique shop. With a selection of decorative pieces and furniture, each object is unique and with a story to tell. When I visited there was a 1940s hand-painted fairground sign, mid-century armchairs and a selection of ceramic and glass vases. Everything has been styled to create a beautiful setting against the backdrop of the shop’s very own indoor potting shed.
Pot and Vessel
This little plant store is an oasis of succulents and cacti with a range of beautifully made ceramic and terracotta pots (both modern and vintage). All the plants are lovingly tended to and with so much choice there is a plant here for everyone. This shop is a little further out of town but it’s worth the walk. It's hard to leave without picking up a little plant complete with pot and a whole wealth of plant care knowledge and advice. Keep an eye on their Instagram as they quite often have workshops and pop ups on the old high street in town and elsewhere in the area.
A walk to Sandgate village
If you have time for a wander along the coast then I would recommend walking through the Lower Leas Coastal Park that stretches from Folkestone to the little seaside village of Sandgate. Pick up the path at the old vernacular Leas lift and follow it through the gardens and adventure playground or veer off onto the pebbled beach promenade. This shoreline route will take you past the Mermaid Beach and ice cream coloured beach huts. With a farmers market on the first and third Saturday of the month and numerous antique shops, Sandgate is full of mooching potential. I like to explore the quaint fisherman’s cottages that are dotted around the back streets (Wilberforce Road offers a pretty selection) and if you are feeling energetic take the footpath at the end of this road (you will find it in the car park) to the woods behind the village.
Orchard Lane Coffee House
This little coffee shop on Sandgate high street serves an impressive range of vegetarian food and vegan cakes. Just a stone's throw from the beach it’s a perfect place to grab lunch or a bite to eat after a walk along the coastal path. If you don’t manage to make it down to Sandgate then Orchard Lane also have a coffee bar in Hot Salvation Records. This laid back record store sells a wide selection of old and new vinyl on Rendezvous Street (just next to the Potting Shed) so you can browse their records while enjoying the Lane’s excellent coffee and vegan muffins.
The Bayle Folkestone
This beautiful Georgian house located in the pretty Bayle area of Folkestone has been stylishly renovated and decorated by Sophie Rowell (owner of Folkestone based interior service Côte de Folk). This elegant location house is available to rent. Sleeping eight people it is the perfect place to bring friends and family for a long weekend by the sea. Sourcing objects from Morocco and France as well as closer to home, Sophie has created a beautiful, functional and serene home from home. Cote de Folk is involved in a number of creative projects across Folkestone, you can find out more via their Instagram account.
Photography by Clementine May unless otherwise stated.