29th January 2014- Whitstable
An English beach in the middle of one of the wettest winters in history isn’t everyone’s idea of a relaxing getaway but with a habit for bucking the trends and (more likely) the eye for a bargain, that is exactly where I ended up one week this January.
The blustery beach in question was Whitstable, a cute pebble beach town in East Kent, conveniently nestled twenty minutes from my University campus. It had been my boyfriend’s birthday the Monday before and so I was treating him to a mid-week night away in one of Whitstable’s converted fisherman’s huts (http://www.whitstablefishermanshuts.com). They were running an offer in January, enticing guests with a reduced rate of £75 and the huts were simply too cute to resist.
Turning up on the bus isn’t the most glamourous way to arrive at your romantic retreat but we made do student-style and trudged from the bus stop to the Hotel Continental where the fisher man’s huts are run from. After collecting the keys to our very own cabin we trudged back along the harbour to our new home. Did I mention how cute they were?! The little cabins were painted in their original black and green yet the insides were sleek and modern with white walls and nautical paintings adorning the walls. The huts are as close to the sea as you can get, I expected the waves to be lapping at our door at high-tide.
Whitstable is a great town and I would heavily recommend a nose around the throng of unique shops and eateries which line the high street. After a meal at Zizzi (we had vouchers of course), we wandered past the local pubs, many decked out in fairy lights and candles and mentally noted down which ones to drag our friends back to in the summer.
Avoiding the rain we went back to our hut and spent a very comfortable night trying to made out the sound of the waves and the clinking of the sailing boat’s masts. It seemed comforting being in our little hut-bubble, so close to the stormy sea yet perfectly isolated from it.
The next morning we said goodbye to our little hut, seeing it off with a massive English breakfast back at the Hotel Continental. We spent the morning taking in Whitstable, checking out the little charity shops which provided the boyfriend with amazing bargains and me, obviously, with nothing. It was then back on the bus again and a quick ride took us just down the coast to Tankerton. A less desirable resort than Whitstable, Tankerton’s beach is still equally if not more lovely than Whitstable’s and was completely deserted when we arrived, its wooden groynes regimenting the unruly pebbles, creating a rather impressive spit when the tide is out far enough. After a ramble along the seafront we headed to the highly recommended JoJos Restaurant (http://www.jojosrestaurant.co.uk/) for a quick spot of lunch. JoJos specialises in local produce and ingredients as well as low prices. The food is incredible, somehow a simple Chilli Burrito and slice of Toffee Fudge Cake were transformed by fresh and surprising flavours. I’m no food connoisseur but that was some good stuff.
The night away made me realise how many great little places are on my doorstep, even in winter-time. Our local seaside towns needn’t be neglected during the winter months, just visited in a different way. It wasn’t often that I purused Whitstable’s shops or lingered in its restuarants. In summer it was all about the beach and in winter I could take a step back and appreciate the town itself. It was also refreshing to take a break away from Uni and take time for a breath of fresh air. Just be prepared for the bump back to earth…