Half Day Holidays is the experimental arm of Hackney Tours. Finding the beach literally as well as metaphorically, Londoner Simon Cole is originally from the coast and has been reconnecting with the sea. He has been finding out that the seaside is not just a place to relax, but a stimulating jump-off point for art projects and all kinds of physical and mental exploration, particularly in Kent with its incredible maritime history.
Under the experimental guise of Half Day Holidays, Simon Cole (AKA Hackney Tours) started coming down to Margate to reconnect with the sea. Decompressing from the intensity of London, he was following in the footsteps of East End charabancs, TS Eliot, JMW Turner and many more seeking a reset button.
But as well as revitalising him, it opened up even more avenues of exploration and led to two projects that both connect with the sea. ‘Container Cult’ ties the container trains that plough through Hackney with the ships off Margate, asking environmental and ethical questions of a hidden world that we are all dependent on but rarely see.
‘Lookers Watchers’ explores the eternal practice of looking out, through activities like recreating the forerunner of the Coastguard, the Riding Officer who patrolled the cliffs looking for smugglers or spies in the 1700s. Borders, criminality, local identity, state power – all these elements are alluded to in the persona of the ever-watchful and always curious Riding Officer.
On this interactive storytelling walk along the cliff tops we’ll explore both of these projects. Bring a spyglass - because looking and watching is something we all do and there’s always something to see!