It was my birthday last weekend and TGH booked us a couple of nights away in Whitstable. It was my first birthday since I became a mama so we wanted to do something special. We have visited Whitstable once before and, in true British style, it was miserably cold and absolutely chucking it down. Obviously when we booked for a weekend in July we were hoping we might get some better weather than that but we couldn’t have hoped for better for the weekend – it was absolutely gorgeous. Wall to wall sunshine most of the time and with temperatures in the high twenties. Just perfect.
Before we left London for Whitstable on the Friday we decided to start the day (my actual birthday) with a little picnic on the common, complete with berries, cherries, lemon sponge cake and bubbles. This was such a special treat, especially given that it was such a beautiful day with temperatures forecast to be 30 degrees in London.
It was absolutely beautiful that morning and the common was practically empty. And to top it all of the little one stayed asleep the whole time we were out. Dreamy!
Having started the day with a picnic on the common our tummies were full of cake so we planned to arrive in Whitstable for a late lunch, knowing we couldn’t check in to our accommodation until 3 o’clock. After we arrived and unpacked at the Fishermans Huts (more about that later) we headed straight for The Lobster Shack. We’d heard such great things about the place and if fresh lobster on the beach doesn’t say “birthday lunch” then I’m not sure what does.
I can hardly even remember the menu but essentially it’s fish, fish and more fish. What were you expecting? They had some great looking seafood platters but we both went for the lobster and chips. There were a number of options for the lobster but we went with a simple olive oil and garlic. With lobster this fresh you don’t really need much else. The service was really quick – you order at the bar inside, give them your table number and the food is brought out to you. Knowing me as well as he does, TGH went in to order and returned with some prosecco and, rather than a glass each, we had two little bottles which I thought was very cute. We couldn’t have waited much more than 10 minutes until our food arrived. It was delicious, and a great birthday lunch.
After our yummy lunch we went for a wander around the town centre. Most of the shops were starting to shut for the day as it was nearing 5.30 but it was lovely to see all the quaint independent shops down this old street. It was a mixture of gifts, greengrocers, florists and, of course, fish and chips!
After our wander down the high street we headed back towards the beach front and down to the Fishermans Huts where we were staying. These have a lovely nautical feeling with all the white washed panelling. They are rather tight with low ceilings so if you’re tall you might want to avoid staying here or be prepared to bump your head a few times! Fortunately we didn’t have this problem (I’m looking at you TGH!) The huts are one hundred and fifty years old and sit directly on the beach front (although sadly in hut 11 we didn’t have a sea view – I think this is only one of a couple that don’t) and used to store cockle farmers’ clutter! Our hut had two double bedrooms, a shower room and a little kitchen with a table. We didn’t really use the kitchen that much except the fridge to store champagne – we were celebrating after all! We also had a travel cot in one of the bedrooms although we didn’t use this as we had brought the sleepyhead with us (if you know, you know) and we put this on the sofa next to us in the bedroom.
One of my favourite things about this place was that it had blue and white striped deck chairs hanging on the wall for you to take down to the beach. Such a great touch and very instagram friendly 😉 And obviously I had to have with me by “vitamin sea” hat made by my amazingly talented friend Hannah of Sunshine & Shade. If you haven’t already spotted her work on Instagram then check her out. You’ll thank me, but your bank balance might not as you’ll want everything!
After we had bathed the little guy in the sink (these quaint Fishermans Huts don’t have rooms for baths) and got him to sleep we headed out for a walk along the beach. It was such a fantastic atmosphere – due to the glorious weather there were people of all ages out enjoying being by the sea. Groups of kids skimming stones, people out for a friday night and couples and families having a bite to eat by the water. We grabbed some chips from the high street and some Oysters from The Forge along the sea front (you’ve got go have oysters when in Whitstable) and found ourselves a quiet spot on the beach to enjoy the sunset, before heading home to watch Love Island (#sorrynotsorry).
On Saturday morning we awoke to another glorious day. First things first, we headed over to Hotel Continental (about 5 minutes down the road) for our complimentary breakfast. Breakfast was straight forward but exactly what you need – lots of cooked options (including pancakes!), toast and all the jams, and some good fruit too. After filling our tummies we headed down to the beach to listen to the final Lions Rugby game. Very tense…and not least because our phone signal briefly cut off in the final minutes!
Having wandered back to the huts we jumped into the car and headed to Margate which is about 30 minutes down the coast. I’d heard mixed reviews about the town which is often referred to as “Shoreditch-on-Sea” but there has been a massive regeneration recently with the re-introduction of Dreamland.
Whenever we head somewhere new now I always check to see if there are any “must see” spots courtesy of instagram. Low and behold there is an instafamous pink door. Well hello number 27 Fort Road – you did not disappoint – with your bright pink loveliness and your bumblebee knocker. And, rather conveniently, it’s positioned up the road from a car park so we parked up here and headed down to the beach.
I think us and every other person within a 50 mile radius had decided to head to Margate’s beach. It was so busy! But that’s to be expected on a sunny Saturday in July. It had a lovely atmosphere though, full of families and friends. And my goodness the sand is so silky smooth. If I closed my eyes I could almost have been back in the Maldives. *Almost* (ish).
I’m glad that I’d heard about Dreamland before visiting Margate as it wasn’t obvious from the main street (other than the ferris wheel peeking through from behind the buildings). Dreamland actually dates back to the mid 1800s but was redeveloped a few years ago to bring the site back to its former glory. It has a fantastic retro feel and includes an arcade, roller rink, fairground rides and food and drink stalls. We didn’t test out any of the rides but had great fun walking around and sampling some of the treats available. I highly recommend you take a visit if you’re in the area, especially if you’re with children.
We had only put a couple of hours’ parking on the car so after some lunch made our way back via the town centre. It’s full of vintage shops selling fantastic homewares. If we hadn’t been travelling with a baby and therefore had our car filled to the brim with stuff already I could easily have bought lots of things. I spotted some old fashioned deck chairs for £15 each and I reeeally wanted them (who knows what for) but there was no way. *Sad face*
We got back to Whitstable in the early evening and the light was just perfect so we couldn’t resist a walk around some of the streets just behind the sea front, away from the town centre. There were some seriously cute houses with pretty coloured doors. The residents of Whitstable make such an effort with their house fronts and had overflowing pots of plants aplenty.
Cute little alleyways leading up to the sea, flooded with evening light.
We so enjoyed our supper on the beach on our first night so rather than go to a restaurant we decided to make the most of the beautiful weather again and take some nibbly bits, chips and champagne down to the beach. We were lucky enough to find a bench which made the perfect spot for our evening picnic. The little one stayed asleep the whole time and we had such a lovely time just relaxing together. Such a lovely feeling in the air.
On Sunday morning we wanted to make the most of the sea air before heading back to London so packed ourselves a little picnic of last nights leftovers and made our way down to the beach. It was a bit overcast when we woke up but the sun soon came out when we got to the beach, which made for a lovely end to a fabulous weekend.
The little guy even dipped his toes in the sea for the first time!
They say you should always leave a place with something left for next time. I hope we return to Whitstable and, if we do, we will certainly make sure we visit Whitstable Oyster Co for dinner. It had a lovely outdoor area covered with festoon lights, right on the beach, which would be lovely there on a warm summer’s night. And the inside of the restaurant looked beautiful for cooler days.
No doubt if you’ve heard of Whitstable you will also have heard of The Sportsman which is down the road in Seasalter. It’s described as a “grotty rundown pub by the sea” but with a Michelin Star and apparently the UK’s best restaurant it’s far from that. We had so wanted to visit this place and no doubt would have loved its incredible food in a laid back setting, however, when we cheekily called to see if they had a cancellation they politely told us we would need to have booked last November… So if you’re planning to head to Whitstable early next year then get yourself a reservation or, better yet, phone and find out their next available table and book your visit around that. That’s what we’re planning on doing. And at just under 2 hours’ drive from London you could even do it in a day.