Last week-end was one of the best this year.
We travelled straight to Whitstable on the north-east coast of Kent.
This is one of my favourite Kentish sea-side towns. It has never been commercialised, and was popular with the less well off middle-classes as a place to retire. Consequently, it has retained a charm lost to most southern English coastal towns. It seems like a town from the 1930's, with a lot of much older wooden-clad buildings.
Recently, the smart set from London have discovered Whitstable and prices have multiplied.
The man who owns much of the town is charging £100 a night for Londoners to sleep in a wooden hut about 3 metres X 4 metres.
We had a traditional cream-tea in a place called the "Tudor House," and then went for a walk.
The town has a very long promenade which carries on in either direction to Herne Bay further south, or Faversham, due north. Just before Herne Bay there are some sea-lagoons with small fish, shrimps and shell-fish.
We walked about 2.5 miles(4.3km) to get there and passed dozens of bathing-huts all painted in different colours. They are still popular in these old English resorts. The local council usually rent them out on an annual basis.
The sea off Whitstable is usually calm, being sheltered by the Isle of Sheppey some 5 miles(8.05km) away.
Two seas meet just outside the town resulting in a shingle bank about 14 yards (12.74m) wide and going straight out to sea for over 350 yards (318.5m). As the tide goes out, people start walking out on "The Street" as it is known locally. At first, it looks as though they are walking on the water. The Street is only about 1ft (30cm) above sea level at half-tide and when the tide turns, it gets covered very quickly.
I got my feet wet two years ago when I was just 100 yards (91m) out.
The bank was covered quicker than I could walk that distance.
We managed to get the best table in Pearson's Crab and Oyster House later that evening. The table is by a window facing west across the bay.
As we ate, the sun set, slowly changing the scene before us.
After the meal, we walked along the beach in the dark and enjoyed the many stars and the "Milky Way" in the sky. On the Isle of Sheppey, across the sea, we could see a distant fireworks display, very atmospheric.
I managed to book a room in "The Granary," for Saturday night. It is in a lovely isolated area of apple orchards. On Sunday, after a good breakfast and some excitement when the landlady managed to set fire to the grill, we travelled to the village of Chilham.
Chilham must be one of the prettiest villages in Kent. It has a main square with a number of medieval houses around it, with a large gate leading to Chilham Castle. We walked over the North Downs, past some tiny hamlets and some large mansions, including Godmersham Park, which was owned by Jane Austen's brother Edward. She often stayed there and used it in two of her novels,"Pride and Prejudice" and "Mansfield Park."
Nearby the river Stour runs through the grounds and we kept coming across it on the walk. Several miles later we passed "Mystole House," a very pretty cottage once owned by her friends, the Faggs. She stayed there too and must have enjoyed walking along the Stour there.
As we crossed the river, I looked into the water from the various bridges over it and saw a large trout from one of them. A five-storey water mill stands by the river about a mile from the cottage.
It looks quite old and there aren't many of them around.
The weather was unusually warm all week-end, I only wore a short sleeved tee-shirt the whole time, including at night. So we were able to have an apple sitting on top of the downs, surveying the castle and hills all around us.
Back at Chilham, we had another cream tea in one of the houses in the square. It's the sort of tradition I excuse myself for indulging in, by saying that I need to restore my strength after walking for around 11 miles (17.71km).