Journal: 16 January 2018

The best thing to spend on children is time.

We’ve long been admirers of the RIBA award-winning Shingle House in Dungeness. The beautiful combination of strong geometric architecture contrasting with the rugged Kent coastline creates a really arresting composition.

 

Arriving into Dungeness at dusk felt like we were embarking onto a film set.

We booked the Shingle House late last year – we thought that an escape together as a family would be the perfect start to 2018.

 

 

Both Bobby and I work full time and, being self-employed, it’s all too easy for work to spill into our family time. Whilst Stanley loves a gift, he’s not a child who asks for presents – perhaps that’ll change. We’ve always been more about sharing experiences as a family and creating memories we can cherish.

 

Being in the creative industries we’ve encouraged Stanley’s curious and exploratory nature. The week was about beach-combing, bird spotting and drawing. Stanley had our undivided attention for the entire week – which he thrived on.

For us, it was about living simply. We mixed cooking at home and tasting the local menus.

 

 

One day was an exception in that we left Dungeness and made the journey to Margate and Broadstairs. Bobby and I had not yet seen the Turner Gallery and I was interested to see Tracey Emin’s work exhibited in her home town. Stanley (with his passion for trains) was most excited about visiting the Hornby Visitor Centre (out of the town). And yet, most surprisingly, one of his most memorable parts of the stay was the Anthony Gormley’s sculptural work in the sea.

 

 

The house itself was big enough for a pair of families to enjoy, with two shower rooms, bathroom and separate toilet. There were four double bedrooms – we used the two next to each other on the ground floor (both with a view of the narrow gauge train line). The entire house was very well insulated with underfloor heating. Several evenings we did indulge in lighting the fire, with Stanley ably helping Bobby.

The muted interiors sympathetically support the vistas out of the windows. The craftsmanship and general attention to detail was truly exceptional. It’s clear to see how this is an award-winning RIBA house.

 

 

During our stay, Stanley had been using my Lomo instant camera to document our break. He’d been compiling a physical journal that he took into school on the Monday and, at the end of the day, presented it to his class. He was so proud of it (and so were we of him).

Whilst this holiday was one of the most simplest yet, it will be one of the most memorable.

 

 

My mother-in-law gave us a print when Stanley was born which read ‘the best thing to spend on your children is your time.’ She was spot on.

Words and photography by Fiona Burrage.

 

 

 

We booked The Shingle House for four nights via Living Architecture.

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