Walk 2: Whitstable
May 27, 2013 § Leave a comment
This is technically not a walk, but as I walked so much today, I think it qualifies just as well. The four blue hot air balloons in the map above were dropped by me to indicate my route. I am shit at manipulating the map on my mac but just imagine that I have started my journey at the most southern balloon, went straight north, then right, then all the way back and to the very left hand side balloon and then back to the station from there. All in all I have calculated I have walked over 20 km, if the mac was to cooperate I would have drawn some nice colourful lines to indicate my route.
First, let me just say I started this journey with no map and no information to hold yet it was extremely easy to find my way around the town. The night before I have googled Whitstable to see which road I need to take as I leave the train station and that was all the planning I have done – I got off the train, bore left, then crossed the road and continued walking until I came out into the harbour.
But let us start at the very beginning, my train journey from Victoria was easy as I have bought my tickets well in advance so I only needed to collect those. I got on to the train to find out it was one of these mega annoying South Eastern services with the train dividing into two at Faversham station. May I just use this opportunity to say that I HATE DIVIDING TRAINS! I never know which coach I am in and I end up hyperventilating and panicking up until the point the bloody train splits in two. This time, a group of 4 Spaniards who sat down beside, me did not help. They kept yelling/talking to one another so loud that neither myself nor my fellow passengers heard what the driver was saying about the divine dividing of the train. I huffed and puffed and then I secretly hoped that since they are not listening, they might just as well go to Ramsgate or wherever the split end of the train ends up in.
Any-who, a notice came up in one of those electronic notice boards to say that I was in coach number 10 when the first 8 coaches were going to Whitstable, so I picked up my bag, my coffee and my kindle, gave one loud speaking idiot an evil look and stormed off to coach number 8. I found myself a quiet seat and when the train conductor came to check the tickets, learned that I was not the only one going to Whitstable and hurrah hurrah we were all in the right part of the train.
Whitstable itself surprised me – I was expecting a small (I read 30 thousand people live there) town and knew to look out for Harbour Street, it was all oh so civilised. I am not sure why I expect rural England to be stuck in a time warp of sorts, when there is nothing suggesting it, I guess my subconscious expects small towns of England to match small towns of Lithuania which differ from major cities dramatically – in every respect you can think of – be it the shops, the dress sense, the quality of the roads, the food on offer, the local drinking hole, the past times of local residents, meanwhile in England off you go to a small town to find the same post office, the same co-op, the same beers and the same music even. Not that different from London then! Well….I am getting off track here.
When I was choosing a town to visit, a few of my friends labeled Whitstable as ‘cute’. And cute it was. Soft to the eye but not the foot, bright in colour, windy, bubbly, yes, I believe I want to use that word and also peppered with dogs, yes, I do want to use that word. I must admit I did not touch the sea water, the notice said 12 degrees Celsius and I think I know very well what that feels like – imagine the wall in Game of Thrones, yes, that ice, yes, that is it. The rocks or the pebbles, if you wish for a gentler word, were little evil parcels of pain, walking on them for a few steps left me crying in pain, ah the brave people who sit on the rock and are zen enough to not mind it.
Even with the winds and the piercing rocks, and the oysters I do not like, I loved it there, I did, I felt the space around me, the seagulls singing, the sea inviting. I said hi to strangers and I sat on my own, I had my fish, I had my ale, I looked and yes, this was it, it felt like I was at home. The familiar smell of the sea and the gush gush of wind, the clouds like pillows of smoke….but as with all escapes from the capital, the moment I got on the train, I really did feel like going home at last.
I do not think I will go back to Whitstable soon, but it certainly impressed me. As for the beaches, I hear Scottish beaches are more like the beaches I am used to – light soft grain sand you sink into as you walk to the sea. Yes, add that to the list.