My Mum and I took my very French cousin William and his very French friend Kevin (Not such a French name) on a very English seaside trip to Whitstable. We had packed a picnic and despite the weather being a little overcast, windy and about to rain we put down the picnic rug and carried on regardless. I'm not sure what Kevin and William made of all of this, but they did seem to be rather relieved when we retreated to the car for a cup of tea and home-made flapjack. I had been to Whitstable a couple of time before, but only to the beach, so I had not really explored the rest of the town. I really love a trip to the seaside, but what I love about Whitstable is that it has retained to many of the old features and whilst it does have lots of "mod cons" the high street still has a unique character and has not been turned into the generic high street that so many towns now have.
After our tea and flapjack, we set off to explore the harbour which is still very much a working harbour.
There were posters up campaigning to keep the harbour as a place of work and not to turn it into a shopping district. There were several beach hut style buildings that looked like they housed craft shops, but as we were there on a week day they were not open. I am a vegetarian and do not eat fish, but I think it is important to keep local industries working. Many of the restaurants advertise the fish on their menu as having come from straight from the sea, fresh and local. And whilst I don't eat it myself, I bet it tastes so much better than something that has been sat in a freezer for a few weeks. So with none of us sampling the local catch, Kevin didn't like that look of the cockles, we headed off to the high street.
It is very exciting to wander up the high street, many of the shop fronts have kept their original features but inside are all sorts of wonderful shops.
The ice cream parlour, Sundae Sundae... a Seaside Store, is a real treasure trove. Selling local handmade ice cream, it also has lots of souvenirs that look back to the days when people used to go on holiday to the seaside. I bought some 1950's inspired liquorice allsorts napkins. Another shop selling lots of lovely things, bags, tea towels and books had a lovely garden at the back. None of these shops had very much room, but every last little space was filled with something pretty and interesting to look at.
We continued up the high street, through to the Horseybridge arts centre which hosts a whole variety of things and back onto the beach where we saw this pile of crates.
It is actually an oyster shell recycling point! Whistable really does seem to be proof that trade and tourism can live and work side by side, with a bit of recycling thrown in for good measure. I'm sure I will be back there again and again...