My Kent Bucket List

Its official – my time living in Kent is nearly over! We have now found a house and hopefully will be moving in a few months, fingers crossed!

If anyone new is reading my blog right now (anyone???…*tumbleweeds*) – my parents and sister are relocating to the Isle of Wight, and Rob and I are hoping to move to a different part of the country soon. (I promise that I will reveal where we are moving to in an upcoming post. I just don’t want count my chickens before they hatch etc! Not that anyone is sitting on the edge of their seats dying to know, but hey ho!!)

So while I am not exactly sad to leave, I am a sentimental person. (Although I am trying to stop that, because sentimentality stops you from letting go and doing new things!) Kent is not a bad place to live and it has a lot to offer. I have made the most of living here for 35 years and have seen and done plenty. There will be places that I miss, but I have the memories. For instance, I will miss parts of the coastline as I have good memories of staying with my grandparents who lived in the Thanet area when I was a kid, and I enjoy seaside day trips with Rob and my family. But my grandparents are gone, and soon my family will no longer be in Kent. So its time to make some new memories in different parts of the country.

I am a going to write a list of things that I want to do in the county before I leave. Some will be silly, sentimental stuff, some will be things that I have never done before, some will be very geeky and most will be very mundane and boring.

To be honest, I will probably never get round to doing them because of a lack of free time due to working and packing and lack of funds etc. But if I write them down here it might encourage Rob to take me out for an afternoon and then we can go for a nice drive in the camper!

Visit the coast – I am not too worried about going to Whistable before I leave (done it to death), but going back to Westgate where my grandparents lived in the 80’s is a must.

Beach huts at Westgate

A photo posted by @helshelshels on

Go to the American diner in Sevenoaks – We know a lot of VW owners and there has been talk for years of the VW crowd organising a convoy down there to one of the classic car events that they hold. I would also like to do this because I will get to eat a great big greasy fat chicken or veggie burger (I will travel miles for a good burger!) If we cannot organise this in time with our VW friends, then I would like to go with my nephews. Its right up their street. And mine TBH, because I am a big kid when it comes to American diners!

Go to New Ash Green and take some photos of the Span housing – Because I am a big geek when it comes to mid century architecture. And you never know, I might even be able to squeeze a blog post out of the trip!

Visit Rochester – Its been a while. In fact, in the 6 years since we moved from Chatham to Maidstone, I have only been back there once! Because it is such a s**thole, after we moved I said that I never want to go back to the Medway area ever again! But Rochester is nice, and it has improved since we moved (which was in the middle of the recession). The town has a bit of history, nice coffee shops and a good second hand bookshop, so its worth me taking a bus trip over there on a day off. Plus, I want to wander around Chatham high street to remind myself exactly why we are moving!! And it would be nice to have a nosey at my old house before I leave. What can I say, I am a sentimental old so and so!

Rochester on a sunny winter Sunday

A photo posted by @helshelshels on

Visit Canterbury – Again, its been years since I last visited.

Climb up the North downs to Thurnham Castle – We love this walk/climb. But its been off the agenda over winter because of the mud. I am not afraid of a muddy walk, but mud and steep, steep hills are not a good mix. Think Glastonbury crossed with Mount Everest. I feared for my life the last time we did this walk!

Visit Rye – Because its nice. And again, its been a while……I really don’t get out much do I?

Up To The Table!

I have a new mid century obsession! And much like my interest in Aussie MCM, its one that requires a little bit of effort on my part to research it….

….And by effort, I mean that I need to do a bit more Googling than usual as there is no Wikipedia page on the subject that I am currently fixated with.

Anyway, my latest MCM obsession is Arkana furniture!

Anyone heard of it?

Not me, until recently anyway!

Let me explain how this all started. I was googling how much an Eero Saarinen Tulip table would cost. I have always liked the look of them and quite fancy one myself. Designed around 1955 these stylish tables and chairs are associated with the 60’s space age era and a design classic.

Eero Saarinen tulip table and chairs. Image from madaboutthehouse.com

Eero Saarinen tulip table and chairs. Image from madaboutthehouse.com

Eero Saarinen tulip table and chairs. Image from chinaadyea.com

Eero Saarinen tulip table and chairs. Image from chinaadyea.com

Obviously I cannot afford a vintage or current Tulip table made by a licensed manufacturer, so a knock off cheap and nasty, plastic, reproduction would be my only option.

But then I came across various Arkana dining tables and chairs listed on Ebay. From what I can gather, it seems that Arkana were a British manufacturer in the 1960’s and 1970’s that basically ripped off Saarinen’s Tulip designs. So there is a chance that I might be able to afford a genuine knock-off vintage piece from the era!

Image from bullet.org.uk

Arkana table and chairs. Image from bullet.org.uk

Arkana table and chairs. Image from haussmith.com

Arkana table and chairs. Image from haussmith.com

Now I don’t condone copying in any shape or form, especially when it comes to MCM design* – has anyone else noticed the amount of fugly chairs out there with Eames shells, but with different legs?  Yuck! Just no really, please stop messing with perfection!

But for some reason this furniture does not offend me. Maybe its because its British (the factory was in Falkirk, Scotland and the head office in Bath) and was designed by someone called Maurice Burke? I mean, can you get a more British and seventies and un-designer-like sounding name than Maurice Burke?!!

Or maybe its because Arkana seem to be a bit of an underdog in the history of MCM British furniture design that have been almost forgotten about?

To be honest, I think I slightly prefer the four legged look of the Arkana Tulip chairs rather than the original Saarrinen designed Tulip base. But that’s just me. And I do love both designs!

For now, this post contains all the information that I can find on the company and its pieces. I am guessing that back in the day they made relatively high end, expensive furniture. My guess was made only because not a lot of people owned their pieces (or rather, there is is not a lot of it around today) and Arkana are not as well known as other furniture manufacturers of the same era, like G Plan or Ercol.

What pieces I have found on the internet are pretty swish. They are of the era and they scream 1960’s/1970’s, but thats what I love about them. You can just imagine people sitting around them in polo necks, with huge framed glasses, interesting facial hair, eating fondue and talking rubbish drinking mass produced cheap white wine all night long. And doing the same thing back in the 70’s too! Boom boom!!!**

Image from Pinterest via firstdibs.com

Image from Pinterest via firstdibs.com

Also designed by Maurice Burke in the 60’s is the Mushroom table and chairs. Which I was not super keen on at first, but it has grown on me more and more. A bit like a fungi. (Sorry, I couldn’t stop myself!)

Image from pamono.com

Image from pamono.com

Image from Pinterest (sorry not sure of original source)

Image from Pinterest (sorry not sure of original source)

Image from theguardian.com

Image from theguardian.com

And we have the Safari or Chelsea chair.

Image from firstdibs.com

Image from firstdibs.com

We also have this chair designed by Geoffrey Harcourt and manufactured by Arkana in the 70’s. Not to my taste, but I can appreciate its design appeal and retro factor.

Image from modernism.com

Image from modernism.com

P.S I consulted my collection of MCM design books and the only mention of Maurice Burke or Arkana that I could find was a credit in a photo for the table top in a home tour on page 501 in Mid Century Modern Complete by Dominic Bradbury.

P.P.S I found a Facebook appreciation page with a grand total of 47 likes!

*I will make an exception for pretty milk glass cake stands though!

**Sorry, its far too easy to make fun of hipsters!