Created in Whitstable

Horsebridge PosterI’ve recently started painting again after a break of too many years and have my first solo exhibition, Colour by Catriona at the Horsebridge Arts Centre in Whitstable from 2-8th April. It would be great if you can call in and say hello. 

If you’re visiting Whitstable for the first time I’ve written about some of my favourite places you might enjoy too.

Whitstable is in a great situation on the north Kent coast, just 6 miles from the beautiful city of Canterbury, one stop by train from the historic market town of Faversham and close to pretty countryside that provides much of the food served in the town’s cafes and restaurants.  Food is one of the reasons Whitstable has become so popular in the last few years with a great choice of places to eat. The only downside to the restaurant scene is that on week nights many places stop serving at 9.00 pm and at week-ends many restaurants book up very quickly so do make sure you book ahead.

For a late breakfast or lunch The Beach Cafe  is, as the name suggests, a few steps from the beach at 3 Beach Walk whilst Windy Corner Stores tucked away in a residential street (110 Nelson Road) offers good choices for vegetarians as well as meat eaters.

Becca and Libby, owners of Waltshaws , celebrated their 1st birthday in their current location (19 Harbour Street) last week-end and their ‘Pantry’ is a great place to pick up a pic-nic. I have to resist calling in too often to buy their salted chocolate brownies!

Eating fish and chips from the wrapper is popular with residents and visitors and on sunny days queues outside  VC Jones often stretch far along Harbour street.

I love the Michelin starred  Sportsman at Seasalter for a treat. It’s nearly always fully booked which is probably a good thing for my bank balance. It overlooks the marshes at Seasalter and you can see most of the food you eat from the window like salt marsh lamb and pork from Monkshill Farm and foraged ingredients from the marsh.  They also make their own butter and sea salt.

Wheelers Restaurant WhitstableJo Jo’s  in Tankerton is a wonderfully atmospheric airy space overlooking the sea offering freshly cooked food with Mediterranean tapas style. Owners Paul and Nicky (who is head chef) and her brother Jo know many of their regulars by name. Everything is prepared and cooked in the open kitchen and there’s the option to take your own booze but they don’t take credit cards.

For beautifully presented Indian food with subtle flavours my favourite place is Krishna, behind an unassuming exterior opposite Whitstable station in Bridge Road.

Wheelers Oyster Bar in the High Street has been trading in Whitstable for over 150 years and reopens this Friday (4th April) after its refurbishment. The food is sublime and I bought my husband their cookery book as a hint. I’m also keen that he participates in one of the fish cookery workshops run by chef Mark Stubbs.

Almost next door to Wheelers, Samphire is another favourite place and  The Oxford in Oxford Street, a relative newcomer to Whitstable is gaining a loyal following including me and my family!

Whitstable beaches, view towards Old Neptune Pub, KentIf you prefer to cook rather than eat out, Whitstable has a huge variety of independent shops selling local produce. Just walk to the harbour for fresh fish – and you can buy it from Phil the Fisherman on Saturdays mornings. You’ll find a huge variety of cheese at the Cheese Box in Harbour Street and you can walk along the high street for locally sourced free range meat. Every 2nd and 4th Saturday the local community centre hosts a farmers market.

My favourite walk is along the beach from Seasalter past Peter Cushing’s old home and the Neptune pub, one of the few pubs located right on a beach in England. Further along the beach, between the Royal Native Oyster Stores and Pearson’s Arms is The Horsebridge Arts and Community Centre. The staff are really friendly and helpful and sometime resident Labradoodle, Bailey, is a big hit with visitors too. There’s a great programme of events including music, comedy and theatre and ever changing art exhibitions- including mine!  

Sailing Boats off Whitstable shore, Kent

If I have the time I’ll walk further along the beach, past the sailing club to Whitstable Castle to enjoy the beautiful gardens. It’s where I got married  (8 years ago next week!) before it was upgraded thanks to a successful Heritage Lottery Bid. From there I might walk towards Tankerton and wander out along “The Street ‘which appears at low tide and  look back for a different view of the town.

Whitstable has some great shopping opportunities and lots of people have written about why the town has survived and thrived in the recession. As well as two greengrocers, four butchers and two bakers, (plus a Budgens and 2 Co-ops) it has a good mix of independent shops selling original and quirky products like  Frank in Harbour Street and Taking the Plunge in the High Street.

Lisa_Chris_111213-001For original art there are many galleries including the Fish Slab , a small, artist run contemporary art gallery located in the High Street near the Whitstable Museum and Art Gallery.  Whitstable Framing (5 Oxford Street) next door to the Museum bills itself as the smallest gallery in the town.

At week-ends, bank holidays and weekdays in the high season, Whitstable Harbour Village hosts a community of local producers, designers, and artists. Housed in traditional timber fishermen’s huts in the harbour, overlooking the fishing boats and next to the Thames sailing barge, Greta, that offers sailing trips.

My suggestions for creative events you can enjoy in Whitstable and close by in the next couple of weeks include;

Whitstable Harbour, KentEast Kent Printmakers at Whitstable Museum – Thursdays to Sundays, 11am to 4pm (ends 18 May). On Sat 3 May you can try printmaking for yourself too.

Wise Words Poetry and Storytelling Festival in Canterbury 2-4 April.

Making Painting at the Turner Contemporary in Margate (ends 11 May).

Looping the Loop Festival  – A festival of performance taking place in venues thorughout Thanet – 10-21st April

Looking further ahead;

WhitLit  Whitstable’s 1st Literary Festival 8-11 May

Mondrian and Colour  at Turner Contemporary starts 24 May

Whitstable Biennale Festival of Contemporary Visual Art 31 May – 15 June.

I started the Kent’s Creative Coast campaign to encourage more people to visit Kent’s coastal towns to enjoy creative activities and events and to help creative people collaborate with tourism people. You can sign up for my regular e-news on this site and meet many creative and tourism tweeters if you join in with the #createinkent virtual Tweetup every Monday evening.

All the photos in this blog have been provided by professional photographer Tim Stubbings who lives in Whitstable but who travels throughout the country for his work. He also offers tuition for individuals and groups.

 

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