I've just had a lovely girl's weekend in Whitstable with a couple of friends - staying in the perfectly appointed and beautifully decorated Curlew Cottage in the centre of town, just a stone's throw from the harbour. We arrived on Thursday and spent a few hours in Canterbury (didn't have my camera, with me I'm afraid) and then spent Thursday evening talking one of our party into the idea of visiting Margate the following day (I'm guessing she thought we'd try to drag her to Dreamland!) but managed to convince her that with the new Turner Contemporary gallery, Margate was now the happening place to be. The gallery was brilliant -
Photographs were not allowed in the main gallery area, but we were allowed to take a couple in the foyer. I think there must be a lot of unhappy youngsters around, judging by the slogans on these T-Shirts
And we loved this 'then and now' display of photographs of the models when they were teenagers, and how they look now - it was fascinating to see how they'd changed.
When we came out of the gallery - I did wonder if the doors of these lock-ups around the harbour were painted by chance, or if they were designed to be a bit of artwork themselves.
We HAD to stop here for coffee and cake
And I insisted the girls pose here, much against their better judgement
At the end of the day, having visited - and shopped at - numerous vintage shops and second-hand bookshops, we all agreed that despite our preconceptions, Margate is well worth a visit.
On Saturday, we stayed in Whitstable. I loved it - no sign of any Tesco supermarkets (always a bonus, in my book) and absolutely NO chain stores that you get everywhere - just lots of individual, independent businesses - a fabric shop, a wool shop, lots of second hand shops, and independent clothes shops covering all budgets. Oh, I lied - there was one chain. When we had first driven along the High Street, I thought this was a cinema.
However, on closer inspection, it turned out to be a Wetherspoon pub converted from an old cinema, and named after one of Whitstable's famous residents. And what a fabulous conversion - we popped in for coffee, and it was as beautiful inside as it was outside.
I can't say I'm much of a Wetherspoons afficionado - but this is without doubt the loveliest I've ever visited. I'd definitely go there again.
We spent the rest of the day pottering, and also visited a fabulous textile exhibition at the Horsebridge Arts and Community Centre by 1IN2textiles. I came away very inspired and itching to stitch.
On Sunday, despite a slight drizzle and a chilly wind, we had a wander around the harbour, where some of the fishermens' huts have been converted into an Art and Craft market.
Obviously, you can't have a trip to the seaside without a dip in the sea, but sadly the photos of me swimming didn't come out, so you'll have to take my word for it. Would I lie to you?
Peter Cushing Lives in Whitstable - The Jellybottys
and in case you are doubting me - it really IS a song title.