Recently on a bit of a whim, my boyfriend and I decided to go to Kent for the day. Living in London, Whitstable is actually quite close and makes for the perfect day trip for eating, drinking and of course, beaching.
It has a beautiful high street, lots of lovely pubs and a long stretch of (albeit pebbly) beach making it the perfect place for families, friends and couples alike.
We had been hoping to go to Whitstable for a while but with everything going on, it just didn’t transpire. We had considered it a couple of times but always had obstacles in the way. The big one was that we had some extremely hot weather here in the UK recently and we were very aware that all of the seaside destinations were ridiculously busy during that time (which was the last thing we wanted) so instead we waited until it had cooled down a bit as we thought it would be a bit quieter down there.
Perhaps we were being overly optimistic considering it was still an August weekend but we genuinely did not think that many people would go down there – it was forecast to be rainy, windy and not that warm. Surely not that many people would want to come down on a day like that?
Oh how wrong we were.
The train journey is only just over an hour from Stratford International but due to the packed train (including the presence of some very loud children) it felt much longer. We were lucky to at least have seats, but not everyone that got on had the same luxury and instead were left sitting on the floor.
That was only the beginning. From the moment we got off the train and walked into the town centre in search of a coffee/some food, it was incredibly busy.
Luckily for us, the bulk of the crowds were comprised of families which actually meant that the way we spent our day was quite different from other people and we didn’t cross paths with them too much.
Our first stop was Blueprint Coffee and Books, where we grabbed a takeaway coffee (great coffee there!) and went for a wander around the farmer’s market which was in the hall a few doors down. Inside were a bunch of different stalls including cards, cheese, vegetables, meats and pastries – we bought a couple of pastries (from a very nice man) and some plums, then meandered down to the beach.
It was an incredibly windy day, so we sat down by the groynes where we were out of the breeze a bit and it was absolutely delightful. We arrived mid morning, so were sat on the beach before lunchtime – watching the waves and taking in the scent of the sea. What more could you want from a trip to the seaside?
We were here for a while eating our pastries (and I even ate my first plum!) before walking along the seafront, picking out which beach huts we would buy if we could and admiring all the dogs out for walks.
By the time we walked back, the beachfront had become quite busy – the harbour market was swarmed with families and it was a bit much for us, so we did what any sane person would do… And headed to the pub.
We wandered a couple of streets back and out of pure luck ended up in ‘The Duke’ pub, which was so incredibly up our street it was almost as the interior design had been plucked from our own minds; full of antique toys, furniture and prints, we loved it. It was also mostly empty, even better!
As there were still other places we wanted to see, we only stopped for one pint but I have to admit, I didn’t really want to drag myself away.
After this we popped into a charity shop which was next to the pub, where I had seen a decanter for £5 in the window. We had been after one for a while so were so pleased to find one at such an affordable price. It now sits proudly on our makeshift bar in the flat and I absolutely love it. I haven’t worked out what to put in it yet but I’m sure we’ll figure something out!
At this point, we were quite hungry and had seen a good selection of food at the Harbour Market – we didn’t fancy eating indoors (especially considering how busy we had noticed it was) so even though it was still fairly busy at this point, we decided to chance it. Thankfully it had calmed down a bit and we managed to find a table by a fish stall to perch at, where we ordered a beer each, plus cod and chips, and two oysters (another first for me!)
Fred (my boyfriend) ordered them with lemon, as that was what the guy recommended if you’ve never had them before, and I have to say… I didn’t hate it. I’m not sure I would leap at the chance to try them again, as they’re quite rich and obviously, very fishy! I like fish but one was enough for me.
If fish isn’t what you’re after, there were plenty of other options at the Harbour Market – I think we would have explored the stalls a bit more if it wasn’t so packed. As well as food, there was some lovely local art, gifts and homeware options. A lovely place for a wander, for sure!
Once we had filled our stomachs, we walked up to the castle, where we laid on the grass and finished our beers (the interior was closed by this point) before walking back to the town, and catching a train home after a really nice day.
I think if it was a sunnier day, we probably would have spent more time at the beach but then saying that, it’s likely it would have been too busy to do that!
Although it was busy, we absolutely loved our time there and are looking to return in the autumn for a night or so. We both love autumnal weather – it makes everything (the beach included) so atmospheric and fresh, I’m very excited to return and experience it again.
I suppose overall I would have say that I had no expectations of Whitstable other than knowing it’s a popular beach destination (I didn’t even google it before going down there), so I kind of assumed it would be a classic, family beach kind of place – a funfair, lots of bucket and spade shops etc. But of course, it’s nothing like that. It’s much more middle class and actually, very cool.
Everyone talks about Margate being cool but you know what, Whitstable suited us pretty well. I mean, Fred and I even started looking at house prices in estate agent windows while we were there, so that probably says a lot in itself!