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(19 and 20 August 2017)

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  London | Salisbury | Whitstable | Oxford | Hereford 
  Stratford-upon-Avon | Winchester | Hastings | Broadstairs | Deal / Sandwich | The Wedding 

Bronwen and I decided that we'd love to visit the seaside and Whitstable was high on our list of possible seaside resort towns on the Kent coast.  She booked us a hotel for the Saturday night, as my birthday gift, and off we went early Saturday morning from St. Pancras station, this being my second and third days of my BritRail Pass.  Armed with breakfast for the 1hr 20m trip, we settled in and enjoyed the scenery whiz by.  We ambled into town from the train station (not very well signposted) and walked along Harbour Street.  What adorable little shops selling everything from typical seaside fare to quite upmarket clothes and housewares.  The streets are so narrow which made everything seem so much quainter.
Whitstable, Kent      

We spent a good deal of time wandering around and getting our bearings and looking for somewhere to have lunch.  We found Wee Willie Winkle's Kitchen, right on the harbor quay.  I couldn't resist taking a few photos of the beautifully presented fish for sale.  We both opted for calamari which was delicious!  We sat at a table outside and enjoyed the noise of the birds and the fishing boats gearing up to go out.  With our bellies full, we walked towards our hotel, the Marine Hotel, which was quite a way out of town and actually in Tankerton.  En route we stumbled upon a craft market in the harbor and a little farther on found the famous beach huts scattered about.  The beach was pebbly and had loads of breaker beams but there were people swimming and milling about.  I didn't like the stones on my already blistered feet so I stayed on the walk path.

We found the hotel and checked in and decided to have a cup of tea in our room and a short lie-down before some more walking and investigating.  Whitstable is not a huge place by any means, and although it's spread out along the coast, it's a pleasant walk to town from the hotel.  There is a bus service.  After our little siesta, Bronwen noticed a mark on her bed linen.  All sorts of hell broke loose and I also stripped my bed and found ghastly urine stains, coffee stains, and what looked like perhaps blood stains which freaked us out.  We called the manager and were told she'd come up later as she was busy with the wedding that was scheduled that night in the hotel.  We scoured both beds for more horrors and found them!  I called for the manager to come up immediately.  She did but wasn't as horrified as we were.  She apologized and said it would be taken care of.  For the rest of our linen story, complete with pictures of their filthy sheets, here's a link to my review.

Like so many coastal towns in Kent, Whitstable was rife with smugglers back in the late 1700s, and Squeeze Gut Alley is one you might enjoy.  So we took a walk back into town to see the Smugglers Gut Alleys and to get some postcards.  On the way we stopped at the Whitstable Castle which was enchanting in its smallness.  By castle standards, this was teeny, and was originally built as a home back around 1780, but there had been a copperas works on the land from about 1588.  The history is fascinating if you're into what happened when and by whom and to whom!  The castle gardens are fantastic with the most beautiful scented roses I have smelled in a long time!  Entrance is free!  Today the castle hosts weddings and other celebrations and I can just imagine the photographs!

More than once we enjoyed a cup of tea at the quaint little tea hut across the road from the hotel.  With a cuppa (or milkshake) in hand and an exquisite view of the ocean, nothing said relaxation more eloquently!  In the afternoon we heard that the next town, Herne Bay, was having an airshow which we got to see a bit of from our vantage point at the tea hut.  (I wish I could remember the name of the place!)  The Red Arrows, Britain's Royal Airforce aerobatic team of Hawk Jets, did their magical thing right above us.

Oysters are also famous in Whitstable and there are many outlets where you can try these delicacies.  Not our cup of tea so on Saturday night we opted for fish and chips at the highly recommended Lobster Shack.  Quite a walk from the harbour area, this isolated restaurant was buzzing.  So much so that we chose to sit outside even though it was quite windy.  The view of the pier and coastline in the distance was rather attractive.  However, the food was not.  Our cod was severely overcooked to the point of the batter being brittle and I had to chip away at it to get it off the fish.  The fish beneath was all mush, clearly overcooked.  As it was getting colder and more uncomfortable, we decided to scarf it down and get out of there, not before a young waiter addressed us as "guys" when he came to collect the plates.  A huge disappointment.

After a hearty breakfast at the hotel the next morning, but not before noticing the dirty stained coffee pots we were served with and settling the bill with a measly 25% discount, we embarked on a marathon walk along the beachfront, and two hours later we found ourselves in Herne Bay and right in the middle of an auto show!  This was a lot of fun as Bronwen's dad was a car nut and I couldn't stop myself oohing and aahing over the sparkly, and in some cases, ancient cars on show.  We quenched our thirsts with delicious milkshakes at Makcari's.

After the long Sunday morning walk and a bus ride back to Whitstable (my feet would not take me another step and we were extremely thankful that there was a bus service on Sunday from Herne Bay back to Whitsable!) where we picked up our left luggage and walked (yes, I managed to walk again) back to the train station, but not before we had another cuppa from our lovely little tea hut!  (My aim was to eat as much fish as I could.  Not so many chips...)  Before long we were back in London with sweet memories and lungs filled with fresh sea air!

Marine Hotel - 32 - 33 Marine Parade, Tankerton, Whitstable, Kent CT5 2BE
Tel: 01227 272672
Web: www.marinewhitstable.co.uk/
I would avoid this hotel because of their horrendously unclean bed linen.  I published my own review because TripAdvisor wouldn't initially publish my review.  Here's my own review and here is my TripAdvisor review (which may or may not work).  They charged my friend £170 (about $230) for this twin room with a balcony and sea view, BUT, offered her a measly 25% discount after we complained about the sheets.  I don't want to spoil this page with photos of our dirty sheets, so look at my review!  Both our beds were disgusting!

Wee Willie Winkle's Kitchen - The Crab & Winkle Restaurant, South Quay, The Harbour, Whitstable, Kent CT5 1AB
Tel: 01227 779377
Web: crabandwinklerestaurant.co.uk/wee-willie-winkle/

Whitstable Castle & Gardens - Tower Hill, Whitstable, Kent CT5 2BW
Tel: 01227 281726
Web: www.whitstablecastle.co.uk/the-castle
Email: enquiries@whitstablecastle.co.uk
Facebook: Facebook
Twitter: twitter.com/Whits_Castle

Lobster Shack - Follow direction on their website to get there.
Web: www.thelobstershack.co.uk/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/lobstershackwhitstable

Makcari's Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlour Herne Bay - 54, Central Parade, Herne Bay, Kent CT6 5JG
Web: www.makcaris.com/restaurants/herne-bay-on-the-corner/

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