This past weekend was a bank holiday here in Jolly Old** and that meant time for an excursion from the big smoke. We decided last minute to take a trip to the country side. So, what did I do, i asked my twitter followers. I must admit this was better than Yahoo! Answers as the recommendations were from people I knew and knew me. Sweet.
We ended up choosing Whitstable in Kent which by the way is the setting for Tipping the Velvet. As usual, I waited until Friday night to secure a place to stay and it appeared to be too late. I didn't tell J that we were landing in Whitstable stableless until we arrived. We really did feel like Mary and Joseph wondering in to little inns and B&Bs asking if they had room and they all said "no room at the inn" and sent us on our way.
By luck (longer story) we ended up finding a Bed & Breakfast that had room for us. It was WAY better than a stable; in fact, it was perfect. I'll write a full recommendation on the Gallery House later on Qype but Gary and Penny were great hosts and we loved our room - so clean and bright. Penny really did think of everything from a toaster and tea to filtered water.
Now on to the activities of the weekend. It was jam-packed with what we love most: eating, walking, drinking, eating, drinking, listening to music and shopping (in that order)
After some fish & chips at the local Harbour Street shop, we walked the coast from Whitstable to Herne Bay. Along the way, we passed hundreds of colourful beach huts which were mostly boarded up waiting for the real summer to begin.
As you can tell they are quite small. They are only big enough for a little day-bed, changing area and kitchen. Each one was painted and decorated to suit the owner's style. I loved the green and pink one the best as it reminded me of Pippi Longstocking's home in Gotland, Sweden. (I was lucky enough to visit Gotland years ago on a cycling weekend with friends) I wonder if the owner is also a fan of Pippi who I secretly still want to be.
Later we had dinner at an Oyster restaurant right on the water (The Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company) . You can see from some of the shots that we were treated to an amazing sunset. Oh bliss.
The food was nice and I even had a go at Oysters (when in Whitstable!)but not as wonderful as the spot and the company (awww! gag!)
After dinner, we wondered down the beach capturing images as dusk fell. We were going to have an early evening until the sounds of live music drew us in to the Old Neptune.
Bonanza! We hit gold. The Old Neptune was definitely the place to be. The pub was heaving with locals, weekenders and tourists. Not only did we enjoy the actual entertainment - a wonderful blues guitarist with a drummer and base player - but loved the people watching this place had to offer. What a diverse crew all with the same goal -- having a good time. We found ourselves giving them names. Here were a few of our faves:
- Reboot: The guy who kept stalling. He clearly had smoked more than a few joints
- Work the Room: The 40-something pick-up man who was busy chatting every lady in the house. He even asked me if I was French (that was before he saw J)
- Mr. Guiness No Rhythm.: The name says it all. He tried so hard to find the beat but in the end was only able to find the bottom of many glasses of Guiness
Sunday was spent doing more eating, walking and some shopping. I won't describe in detail, but here are a few shots to capture the walk that day.
I also would be remiss if I didn't call out an adorable shop called FRANK on Harbour Street. It sold a collection of incredibly sweet hand-made goods and prints from the UK. She seemed to have a special liking for birds. As you can imagine I kept thinking of Tania and Steve.
All in all a wonderful 24 hours out of London. Thank goodness we can still be spontaneous in our older age ;)
** Jolly Old was what my Aunt Barb & Uncle Ken always called England. Frankly, I can't think of something more incongruous when I think of my East End London neighbourhood -- Jolly is NOT what comes to mind.