February 24, 2012 in inspiring places
It was yet another grey day that we chose to visit the coast during the school holidays last week. The sun hid behind the clouds all day, but it didn’t really matter as a visit to the coast is always a treat for us city dwellers, whatever the weather. Being by the sea with the salty, bracing air is refreshing and we all love the change of scene. We packed the car up with snacks for the journey, an optimistic blanket to sit on the beach, the camera and turned the radio up for our drive out of London to Whitstable on the Kent coast.
We had rented a little cottage for a week’s holiday a couple of years ago and the whole family loved it, so thought we would return for a spontaneous day trip. It is a charming fishing town, without being overly touristy or sickly seaside sweet, and its working harbour makes it feel real rather than just a summer destination. Wandering the side streets and along the beach wall reveals gorgeous shiplapped cottages, fisherman’s huts and buildings.
First stop was lunch at the excellent Whitstable Oyster Company restaurant overlooking the sea, a special treat. We all chose a different seafood – oysters, squid, crab, mussels, sardines – so we could have a taste of each others and they were all delicious. The children love trying different things and my son even tried an oyster!
There are some interesting vintage and antique shops at the top end of Oxford Street like Valentines Vintage and Warehams among others, as well as the usual myriad of charity shops you find in coastal towns. At the other end of town, Harbour Street has lots of great, independent boutiques to browse including The Sugar Boy old fashioned sweet shop, Sundae Sundae for a fun bit of everything, Buttercup for children’s toys and gifts and the fab Frank for British graphic screen prints, handmade stationery, books and other goodies. The harbour also has a fresh fish market and is great to wander around the black, wooden huts and watch the fisherman (grab a pot of winkles or cockles in vinegar or the delicious local oysters).
And the traditional British favourite, fish and chips, is a must-have; taken away, eaten from the bag, sitting on the harbour wall, over-looking the sea. Yum.
We hopped back in the car after dark, missing the traffic and returned home, the children drifting off to sleep in the back.
I’m already looking forward to our next family day trip to the seaside, but where next?
Sania Pell is a freelance interior stylist, art/creative director and consultant based in London. She is a Contributing Stylist at Elle Decoration magazine, with whom she has worked for over 20 years, and is well known for bringing a unique aspect to photographic shoots for national publications, leading international brands and retailers as well as style consultancy for architects and property developers. She is the author of best-selling book The Homemade Home and The Homemade Home for Children. A trained, former textile designer, Sania is also involved in many multi-disciplinary creative projects.
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