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Sunday, 14 August 2011

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside....

If only...
No this isn't my Beach Hut, but I am photographed in beach hut heaven, aka Whitstable; a quaint little seaside resort on the Kent coast. I first came here in 2001 and remember thinking this was a place that had a personality like no other. I returned in 2005 to do a photoshoot for a magazine. We shot inside a beautiful home that was a refurbished school. I also travelled through briefly when I was camping on the Kent coast in 2009 but a fortnight ago when the sun was shining, I went on a daytrip, to properly reminisce over that first trip, enjoy the sights and indulge in being a tourist.
Beach hut paradise
Beach huts are the backdrop to Whistable in bright, bold colours, all with different themes. Looking inside them and seeing how people use them is fascinating - some people have beds, kitchens, children's buckets and spades or they really go to town with elaborate themes; most look like they belong in the pages of an interiors magazine. If I had one I wouldn't know where to start - there's so many possible design ideas and obviously I would love a crafty one where I could keep my sewing machine and make things whilst looking out to the sea. This photo was taken while I was standing in the water looking back at the huts. It was very shallow in parts, you could walk right out and from a distance it seemed like people could walk out to the horizon.
Fresh oysters
Whitstable has an international reputation for being the best place to eat oysters in the UK. I had never tried an oyster in my life as I don't get the concept of eating oysters and champagne indoors...outside with sea air, feels so much more natural. And so here I was in the land of oysters, it was time to finally eat one! Bought from a stall on the harbour, the woman there explained if I'd never had one before I could pick it out with a fork and swallow if I didn't want to chew. Nah...I wanted to do it properly so I tilted my head back poured it in and chewed it up! It was incredibly fresh and creamy in texture and so fun to eat that I immediately ordered another one. They were 60p each and as I went through town I noticed the prices varied - this was the best deal by far.
No they aren't all my shells!
They certainly get through their oysters here! Shells were randomly piled up all over the place, though I didn't work out what they do with them...
Shell art
Apart from that some people use them for their art. I thought these miniature paintings were a brilliant idea. I spotted them in amongst the market stall huts on the harbour; a hive of crafty goodness and  fresh treats to eat.
Crafty shopping
I bought some pretty beads from this bead hut, 1/2 the price of what they are in London!
Fab window display
And it the main town centre was intrigued by the fancy window displays left over from a recent competition.
Knit-tastic bike
These knitted bikes however topped off the day. Parked outside an amazing store called Taking The Plunge filled with all sorts of handmade loveliness they were made a group calling themselve Incogknito. I don't know anything about them as their website doesn't work and all I found whilst researching was other people who photographed the bikes for their blogs. However I did find out that the artists involved are called Dropzitch, Beat-Knit, Knit-Nurse, K.1. P.1, Ann Gora, 2 ply, Sal Paca, Knit Whit...I would love friends with names like that!
Yummy bike
I also visited the exhibition space inside The Horsebridge Arts Centre. It was filled with beautiful works, many of which were made my local people. I was most drawn to this...well who wouldn't be? It's just the kind of bike I want!
What's that smell?
And if you think you've seen it all when it comes to lavender, you need to pop to Whitstable Lavender - a whole shop selling lavender products, I picked up some fragrant lavender fudge (I have a thing for lavender in food) and a wheat bag since my two at home have been mauled through by mice. 
I also managed to have a relaxing nap in the sun, watch boules in the castle gardens and stop off for fish and chips which is compulsory when you're visiting the British seaside. The trip was made even more special because I was tweeted some tips of what to do and see by Catriona Campbell who runs creative workshops and breaks in Whitstable called 'Escape to Create.' It certainly was an escape and reminded me of the power just a few hours visiting somewhere can have. A good daytrip gives you the same relaxed energy as if you've been away for a few weeks whilst knowing it was so much cheaper! Whitstable differs from other parts of the coast because it has a genuine creative energy with a focus on the natural beauty and local produce rather than chain shops, arcades and tourist tat. It's warm and welcoming and very relaxing, even if you can only pop here for a couple of hours, do!

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