You don’t have to survive an awful shitty week to pack some clothes and wine glasses and along with a lovely foodie friend – Andra (Mint and Rosemary) in my case – spend a delightful weekend at Whitstable, a seaside town on the north coast of Kent in south-east England, 5 miles north of Canterbury and 2 miles west of Herbe Bay, with a population of about 30,000.
Whitstable’s main claim to fame is its oysters which remain an intrinsic part of this sea town’s character and are celebrated every July at the Oyster Festival (if you have a spare room for a couple of days that week, please get in touch). Oysters and other delicacies from the sea can be enjoyed at the local restaurants and pubs or taken home from the fresh fish market at the harbour.
We booked a room at The Marine and we fell in love with it the second we stepped inside. White, welcoming and stylish, with a lovely seaview (of course we went for the seaview) and delicious breakfast, it was the place I wish we didn’t have to leave at the end of the weekend.
Along the coast at Tankerton, grassy slopes dip to meet the sea throwing out an invitation to visitors and locals to walk along the prom and take in some bracing sea air.
Our first pit stop was The Lobster Shack, right where the beach ends. Whitstable is one of a very few in the country that has a pub on the beach. I don’t remember going away for the weekend and sunbathe as much as we did while drinking champagne, eating oysters and instagramming the sh*t out of them. Perfect weather, England! Well done!
Whitstable Oysters – The native or flat oyster (Ostrea edulis) is the oyster that made Whitstable famous. When the Romans arrived, the shores of Whitstable were abundant in these bivalves due to Whitstable’s favoured position on the Thames Estuary. There, the nutrient-rich waters that flow down the river when mixed with the saltwater of the North Sea in the shallow warm water of Whitstable provide the perfect growing environment for the microscopic algae which form the oysters’ diet. As their name suggests, these native oysters are indigenous to their shore with a reproduction cycle adapted to their waters. During their breeding season in the summer months the native oysters are unpalatable. They are only fished in the winter months (those months with an ‘r’ in them) September to April. The more common rock oyster (Crassostrea gigas) was introduced from the Pacific specifically for farming as it is more resilient than the native oyster. Rock oysters are available all year round and it is these that are consumed in abundance at the Whitstable Oyster Festival every July. (http://whitstableoysterfestival.co.uk)
Pearson’s Arms was on our ‘where to eat’ list; sadly, we got there 10 minutes after the kitchen closed and we had to settle for Old Fashioned’s and red whine. Close to midnight we (of course) got hungry, popped into a small fish and chips shop and had the best fish and chips ever. Wrapped in paper. Amazing! I wish I could remember the name of that place…
Tourists can also be delighted by the town’s bohemian charm with independent craft and gift shops, galleries, delicatessens and fashion shops trading side by side with butchers and bakers. Whenever you need to recharge with a drink and food you will be spoilt for choice with a wonderful choice of cafes, restaurants and pubs.
Eventually, you’ll end up at the working harbour. Constructed in 1831, the harbour has an interesting history including diving, shipbuilding and fishing. So much more than a market, Whitstable Harbour Village is a unique seaside community of leading artists, artisans, food producers and local independent retailers, all trading from their own traditional fisherman’s huts on the quayside in Whitstable Harbour.
Another lovely place we got to discover was The Forge, a licensed seaside shack selling local beer, wine, hot drinks, freshly made doughnuts, ice cream, fish and chips and the world famous Whitstable oysters. Ideally situated right next to the huts it’s perfect for getting a drink or the kids something to eat, open year round though might be shut if the weather is really atrocious.
Also, do try the doughnuts they sell at The Forge. They say they’re the best on the East Coast, you don’t want to miss that. 🙂
I wiss I could tell you more about this lovely town, but we did actually spend all the time eating and/or drinking. Lovely, do trust me on this one! And some more random photoes if you fancy 🙂