Down From London
There is something that feels very British about a wind-swept, freezing cold beach in winter. Almost deserted, with just a few hardy souls dog walking past rows of empty beach huts wrapped up against the storms and salt spray. However, combine it with a seaside resort packed full of charming little independent shops, pop-up pubs, restaurants a-plenty, artists and writers in residence and a thriving local music scene and you have a perfect place to while away your free time whilst waiting for spring.
There is something very British and very much on-trend about Whitstable.
A cool weekend in every sense of the word, our visit was accompanied by sub-zero winds and blizzards, the opportunities to see and be seen were everywhere. A Sunday afternoon dancing to genuine Cuban musicians with an eclectic audience of young and old, modern and very retro-chic, with a few famous faces thrown in, was undoubtedly the highlight. But there were many other contenders, including a lively sea-front pub full of locals with a view of the most beautiful sunset, the very impressive Whitstable Bay blonde beer and the alternative beach front B&B with driftwood, hot-tub and resident adorable quirky dog. Even the parts that would not normally impress managed to find a way to be just that little bit different. The local Wetherspoons pub, a standard and mostly unremarkable sight on today's high streets, was based in a beautiful old cinema, named after famous actor and local resident Peter Cushing, and offered a display of film memorabilia and old cinematic equipment.
The locals have a saying about visitors (and some residents) being DFL or "down from London" and they are undoubtedly correct. It is close enough for commuting as well as weekending and is clearly attractive to Londoners, but that shouldn't count against it. A beautiful, quirky and inspiring place to visit, it has a positive vibe and feels like a town that is very much moving in its own direction.