Just before Easter weekend, we escaped the capital to spend a week down in pretty Whitstable. We visited last year for a weekend, and had so much fun we wanted to see more. It’s such an easy place for us to go, just 90 minutes from home but a world away in terms of lifestyle.
We were joined by my friend Katharine and her daughter Emilia (who is becoming a regular on our Easter trips away – I think this is our third break together!)
We booked into a cute little cottage called Saltway House a short walk from the coast and high street – it was very old and quaint – and a bit of a struggle for my 6’5” husband! The children all shared an attic room with stairs so narrow and steep there was a rope to help pull you up. But it was comfortable, snug and convenient.
The town itself is a lovely place to spend time. The children loved just playing on the pebble beach, skimming stones and clambering over the groins. We loved wandering along the boardwalk coast path. Alex and Sophie immediately remembered that Whitstable was famous for oysters and gamely ordered one each! Alex ate his enthusiastically whereas Sophie couldn’t quite manage it – but I’m so proud she tried (I certainly wouldn’t!).
During our week, we enjoyed some fabulous family friendly days out.
We spent a fun afternoon up at Reculver Towers, just up the coast from Herne Bay. It was a bit of a climb to reach it, and the girls were clearly worn out!
The dramatic towers and coastline were spectacular against the bright blue sky, and we had great fun playing hide and seek amongst the ruins. Alex rather creatively escaped being found by climbing up the stones – none of us spotted him until a passer-by subtly pointed at his hiding place!
The children spent ages in the excellent playground there and the little café did great ice cream and cakes.
A real highlight of the week for the children was our visit to Margate. We were keen to see the Turner Gallery, but rather stupidly, I didn’t check the opening times first and we turned up on the one day a week it was closed! But we weren’t too disappointed as we loved seeing the Antony Gormley statue out at sea from the pretty beach (and the children were much more interested in drawing patterns in the sand and watching the Lifeboat team doing exercises!).
[As an aside, this photo reminded me of one we took on our first holiday with Katharine and Emilia back in 2016 in Tenby – to quote a cliche, haven’t the kids grown!?]
We’d been unsure about whether to visit Dreamland, worrying it might be a bit tacky and expensive, but we knew the children would love it so we gave it a go. I’m so glad we did. It turned out to be really good value and perfect for the kids. Recently refurbished, the rides are all really high quality and totally accessible for our age group. Alex was able to ride plenty of the rides on his own which he loved (especially because we rather brilliantly bumped into another Herne Hill family from our NCT class there so he had a buddy to ride with all afternoon!).
There were even rides that the girls could go on together without us which they clearly loved!
Alex, Sophie and Emilia had so much fun – I know we’ll be back again!
Other Margate highlights for us were a delicious lunch in The Greedy Cow and stunning ice cream in Melt Gelato.
Close to Whitstable is Wildwood, an animal park set in pretty woodland. Being the week before Easter, there was an egg themed trail around the park with clues about the different animals there which kept the kids busy! It was a bit cold and damp, so many of animals were tucked up in their shelters. But we did see plenty, including wolves, bears, wild boar and some amazing owls. We particularly enjoyed the rope walkway above the bears (and I loved the sleeping dogs!).
But the absolutely highlight for the children was the brilliant adventure playground. We enjoyed a leisurely picnic while Alex, Sophie and Emilia had a blast on Kent’s longest drop slide!
After having a fabulous trip to Dover castle with the kids a couple of years ago, we were keen to show Emilia and Katharine. And it was just as brilliant as we remembered. We started our day with a tour of the wartime tunnels set deep into the White Cliffs from where the Dunkirk rescue was coordinated in 1940 (Sophie doesn’t look very serious as a soldier!).
Then we got straight to work on the English Heritage Easter trail around the huge grounds (which was actually really difficult and required some proper research to answer some of the questions!!).
We climbed to the top of the medieval Great Tower and imagined we were kings and queens, and explored the WW1 fire command post. Here’s Katharine and Emilia learning morse code at the WW1 post:
Sadly it was really foggy over the English Channel so we didn’t manage to see France!
This is getting to be a very long post, so I’ll share more photos of some of the other things we got up to in Whitstable in another one soon…