We watched the weather report with the fanaticism of the British and the stiff upper lips of antipodeans in need of summer Vitamin D. When it dawned clear and bright, we hauled ourselves onto the train armed with coffee, chatter and a swift touch of Google research past Canterbury towards the Kent coast.
Our mission was simple, to try the world–famous oysters whilst the ocean lapped nearby. This is what late summer days are made of.
Despite the pebbly beach woes we face occasionally (proper first world problems ala Brighton where character makes up for a lack of granular sunshine) we strolled off the train and followed the daytripping Londoners making like homing pigeons to the shorefront.
As we wandered along the beach taking science fiction, moving house and laughed at our uniquely expat dramas, we admired the grand old buildings that hug the coast. This isn’t carnie-style beach life, all flashing lights and wurlitzer rides, but an older, more Victorian style of nautical living.
Weatherboards that have seen many storms, cute nautical mosaics, balconies that called to us and bay windows that made us want to abandon our work desks and simply check-in for a week or so.
As we traipsed further along, model homes morphed into sea shanty filled huts where families set up gazebos and lit camping stoves for a cuppa and nattering. Pups young and old lolloped into the shallow ocean and their bemused owners patiently waited until it was snacktime.
We took roughly a gazilion photos of this seaside retreat – walking along little lanes as we gazed into front yards laid with rusting anchors and, er, occasionaly entire
ships sorry Dad boats.
With a lunch booking we wandered past piles of oyster shells (called “grotters” which are eventually returned to the seabed as encouragement for new oysters to grow safely) as our tummies rumbled, ready for a fresh taste of the sea.
We popped into our booking at the popular Crab and Winkle which was highly recommended, only to discover that the service though lovely was achingly slow.
Our platter of Oysters was scrumptious – and our request to try a couple of each kind (natural, grilled and battered) was met with a surprising “oh sure, no problem” which astounded our London-selves, so accustomed to chefs that ruled their menus with an iron ladle. The fish and chips were cracking (I had mine in the English style served with mushy peas and vinegar) and the starters of whole prawns and brown crab my date ordered in lieu of an unavailable main were generously portioned to say the least.
I am legitimately making this my PC wallpaper to get me through winter.
Realising that we hadn’t enough time to do the walk along to the next bay, missing 2 different friends who were randomly in the area (one who caught me photographing red-handed) and that I had severely misjudged the footwear situation for sandbar hopping we consoled ourselves with more huts, and a pot of tea at the Whitstable Castle.
Lucky enough to stumble across an affectionate local guide, who purred his way around the perimeter where we learned that this was more a rich man’s manor home than traditional princess castle.
But, when in doubt, a 99 ice cream at sunset should do the trick, it even temporarily cures blisters. Fact.
A reliable souce (in fact the one and only Emm in London
who we just seeing missed this very day by an hour or so) tells me
these wooden structures are called Groynes, embedded perpindicular to
the water’s edge manage coastal erosion by interrupting the water flow.
the harsh impact of the waves and controls the sand movement.
All I know is that we spent rather idyllic day dodging locals and tourists alike for a little taste of sea, sand and salt. I just want to go back to the beach now… perhaps traipse along the quirky shores of Rye and Camber Sands, the sandy beauty of Broadstairs or the private chalk cliffs of Botany Bay.
Have you been – are you an Oyster sipper?