We’ve never been away in half term before, we usually only have one holiday a year and that’s in the summer. But as this year we’re not having a summer holiday because we’re so busy, we popped down to the seaside for a couple of days during half term. Friends of ours have a little flat in Whitstable and very kindly said that we could use it. The kids had to share a sofa bed, which Emily found a little tricky because George fidgets so much in bed, that she opted to sleep, instead, on the recliner chair. Still it all worked out well in the end. The drive down was very pleasant once we’d got out of the town where we live. What idiot decided to have 3 sets of road works on the main routes out of town right next to each other? It caused chaos on a major roundabout. Still once we’d got past that it was plain sailing, even on the M25!! We got to Whitstable around lunch time and once we’d unpacked (not much as it was only 3 days) we went for a walk along the beach which is rather stoney but has some sand when the tide is out. We had to take the obligatory family selfie.
It only takes 5 minutes to walk form where we were staying to the beach, it’s not far at all. There are loads of fish restaurants selling locally caught produce, and loads of oysters. Now I’m sure they taste great, but I’m just not keen on trying them. I think it’s the fact that they’re raw and rather slimy. I wished one man who was opening them, was wearing a glove, but he must know what he was doing. For lunch Emily and I shared half a lobster and chips and the boys had cod and chips. The lobster was gorgeous and you get very messy eating it, but boy was it worth it!
After lunch we went for a gentle stroll along the beach. The tide was way out and the sea was calm. The kids rolled up their trousers and took off their shoes and went for a paddle. It’s the North Sea at Whitstable, I’m used to something warmer like the Med, so I didn’t go in. We came up to one section of beach and it was littered with crab shells, fish heads, mussel shells and fish skeletons. It was like a sea massacre had happened. Our two being intrigued by this sort of stuff went and explored and picked up various things and flipped over the fish heads (don’t worry they washed their hands afterwards). Emily was fascinated by the insides of a lobster head and then found a tail. She keeps complaining that they don’t get to dissect anything at school.
George on the other hand just likes to find the grossest things imaginable. But then he’s a boy, and as I keep telling myself “That’s what boys do!” Lots of other kids were very squeamish when they saw the fish heads and other gross things and some parents wouldn’t let them touch anything. Still each to their own.
Once hands were washed very thoroughly we went off to get an ice cream. We got ours from Mr and Mrs Whippy, who were this elderly couple in an ice cream van. They were so very sweet and polite and helpful. We then walked through part of the town on our way back to our holiday home and walked past a lovely little greengrocer called “Staines Farm Shop”. I was very impressed by their display of a majority of local produce, but especially their Heritage Tomatoes.
And then to top it all off they sold Tomatillos…which I’m growing this year. I’ve never seen these in any other shop before. I think the lady thought I was a little odd getting really excited about them, and then taking some photos.
Whitstable town is very beautiful with some very old fashioned shops, all very individual, but no massive supermarkets which is wonderful. It’s what I would call a perfect little seaside town. Everyone is polite and friendly, I think I could live their quite happily. Mark and I did look at “House Porn” as we call it. We saw a wonderful place just slightly more inland and not far up the road. 5 bedrooms and on about 7 acres!! It was the same price as a 4 bedroom house with a tiny garden round were we live. If the kids didn’t have to stay at their schools because of exams….well we can always dream. Mark and I did fantasise about what our days would be like, it was lovely. But now back to the real world. We then all had a little nap (well we’re on holiday after all) and then went out again in the evening to find somewhere to eat for dinner. I was quite happy to cook, but I wasn’t allowed to. I wasn’t going to argue. We found a lovely restaurant called Birdies, which was lovely unpretentious food. Excellent service and very friendly. Nothing was too much trouble for anyone. After another stroll along the beach and all of us trying to throw stones into the sea as far as we could, (George and Mark are great at that, Emily is good and I’m pants at it) we walked back home and were all in bed by 10pm exhausted!!
For breakfast the following morning, Mark and I popped down to the local Hubbards Bakery which is about a 2 minute walk away and got some croissants for breakfast. We then walked along the other part of town that we’d not seen and saw the Whitstable library. I wanted to go in and see if they had either of my books, but Mark said they most probably wouldn’t but we can always have a look just incase. I found the children’s section and sure enough they had “L&D sow Carrots”. “Sunflowers” must have been out on load. I was a very happy bunny.
We walked along more beach before we stopped for lunch, which was more fish, but this time in a different place. Mark and I had Scampi and the kids had Prawns, all with chips of course. Now I do like beer or lager, so at any opportunity I would have to try out the local ale. I can thoroughly recommend the Whitstable Bay Pale Ale. Very tasty!! After another late afternoon nap we went and had dinner at The Tapas. We got a variety of dishes that we all shared. All were very scrumptious, and we even managed pudding this time. After a late night walk along the beach it was time to head back home for bedtime. We did start to watch “The Thing” but didn’t get far as we were all very tired. I’m sure we’ll watch the rest another time, it’ a bit gross, but the kids, especially Emily enjoyed what she saw.
After more croissants for breakfast on our last day we went for another wander around the shops. The kids wanted to buy a few last minute bits and pieces so we visited The Sugar Boy Sweet shop, The Cheese Box where Emily and I tried some cheeses before we bought them, The Offy for some Whitstable Ale and Wine for our neighbours who looked after the chickens whilst we were away. Once we’d shopped, we then packed everything in the car and drove off to Herne Bay. It’s not on the way home, but is only a few miles up the road. The reason for going here is because way back on 11th September 1971 my parents got married and had their honeymoon in Herne Bay. I wondered if The Hotel St George they stayed in was still there. Dad had emailled me where it was, so we parked and had already looked up the hotel on line so had an address to go by as well. Sadly the hotel is no longer a hotel, but had been made into flats. It was closed in 2003 and then demolished in 2006.
We then walked down into the town and found a lovely restaurant to have dinner in. Again they were wonderful, and the food was amazing. We found a plaque on the wall telling you about “Famous Faces” from the area. Some are well know like Bob Holness and Ken Russell, but I really think they’re scraping the barrel at the chap who always played Father Christmas each year. Still I’m sure he’s very important to them, so who am I to criticise.
We walked out onto the Herne Bay Pier which used to be over a kilo meter long apparently, but a huge section of it got destroyed by a storm in 1978 and then they took a load of the damaged section away. The end section is still standing way out to sea although you can only get to it by boat. George wanted to go on the Helter Skelter, which once you’ve gone on the rides at Disney it’s really a bit boring. Still he enjoyed himself.
We then found a lovely spot on the rather stoney beach to sit and relax. They kids played in the sea, the breeze was slight, and the sun shone. By the time 3pm came we were all ready to leave so we visited the facilities that didn’t have hot water, soap or drying facilities (not very impressed) and then drove home. The traffic was again minimal, even the M25 which was rather bizarre, and we only got stuck about a mile or so from home. We arrived home just after 4.30pm. Even though it was only 3 days away it felt much longer. We all feel refreshed and ready to battle anything now. There’s still a few more day until the kids go back to school and me work, but having that little break away has done us wonders.
Sounds like a wonderful family trip. You didn’t by any chance sign the library’s copy of your book did you? That would appeal to my sense of humor and of course what a nice surprise the next time someone checks out the book. Have a great weekend Claire, my wife and I love reading your posts, it certainly keeps me motivated in my own gardening.
Mike & Susan (Vermont, USA)
No I didn’t sign the library book. I was tempted to though, but they might have thought I was defacing it!!