Thursday, 27 August 2009

Beside the seaside

This morning we found ourselves without incumbrances for a little while,  so we went on holiday to Whitstable, just for a couple of hours. Whitstable is now such a buzzing place that on summer Saturday afternoons parking spaces are not to be had, and the crowds spill from the pavements on to the road, but at ten on a weekday we had no such problems. Perhaps the clouds were keeping the crowds away.

But it was not always that way - fifteen or twenty years ago, Whitstable, like Faversham, had a rather sad and down-at-heel air. These were small towns which seemed to have been left behind as the century moved on, towns where money was tight and the small shopkeepers appeared to hang on by their  fingertips.

But as the world became wealthier so have these towns gained an air of prosperity - Whitstable especially. Where once there were only one or two interesting little shops, to be visited occasionally when there seemed nothing better to do, now each year the number of chic and trendy emporia seems to expand exponentially. And all the lovely old houses in the centre of town sport a new coat of paint.

Now dear old Whitstable boasts shops whose style (and sometimes prices) speak more of London than East Kent. It is no longer a backwater but a charming, stylish, happening, place to holiday - and a fun place to visit, quite apart from the delights of sitting beside the sea.

Faversham, lovely old town that it is, struggles a bit more. Yes, there are some great gift shops and a wonderful market, as well as some other little gems - but it cannot support the range of independent food shops that you find in Whitstable. And the reason, I am sure, is that on one side of the town is a large Tesco, and on the other the old Co-Op is soon to be a Morrisons supermarket.

So it was very worrying today to see that planning permission is being sought for a large supermarket in the centre of Whitstable. I hope that doesn't happen, for what would become of the wonderful cheese shop, the butchers (plural), the delicatessen, the cupcake shop, the sweet shop, the ice cream shop, the greengrocer selling the sort of produce you could have grown in your garden if you had one ... In truth, all the things that make Whitstable such a wonderful little town.

And today - what did we visit on our holiday outing? We had a quiet coffee in Samphire, and I knitted for a bit. (You can tell by the name of the cafe that it was a very good coffee.)

We spent rather a long time in the bookshop on Harbour Street - which in a tardis-like way has the most wonderfully compendious and comprehensive collection of books on knitting, crochet and cookery - it has other books, too, but you can probably guess where my interests lie. Not only that, it does cards, and mugs, and notebooks by Rosehip and Moleskine. I could have spent all day there, but parental duties called, and once more we found ourselves in company and homeward bound.

But I thought of you, too, and brought back some lovely photos to show and tell - the joy of small things, once again.


Insomniac Mummy said...

Beautiful pictures.

It's a shame when little local shops are lost to big suprmarkets.

I love quaint little seaside villages. My fqavourites are Robin Hood's Bay and Staithes.


Tabiboo said...

'Oh' how true and it's spreading further along the coast with more people wanting to live near the sea.

Nina x said...

Love your photos! Thanks for your comments and your original blog award too! love it! Suzie. Suzie. :)

Menopausal musing said...

The name "Samphire" conjures up all sorts of lovely things. Would love to drink coffee in a place with a name like that. x

meplusmolly said...

Oh no to the big supermarket! I love Whitstable as it is, with all it's small independant little business's, they are an absolute delight to visit and shop at. That's what makes Whitstable so nice, no big high street retailers. I'm sure they must have a campaign against the 'big' people coming! ?
Lovely post by the way ;0 x

Isobel said...

Lovely pictures, looks like a great place to visit on a calm day where there won't be so crowdy.

Michela said...

Thank you so much for thinking of us! What a pity to spoil such a charming town with a big modern supermarket!

Cottage Garden said...

Whitstable is such a lovely place - we often visited for the day when we lived to the south of London; many years ago, before its resurgence as a chic holiday place.

It's always had a wonderful charm all its own and it will b a great shame if the independents are pushed out by the likes of Tesco.


Chrissie said...

Oh how lovely to go on holiday for a couple of hours to such a smashing place! Thank you for sharing!

heidi said...

your pictures remind me of mine,i cant resist a boat on the water or moored up,you will always find me snapping away happily!
like you say 'simplicity' is a wonderful thing,keep snapping!!
lovely wishes heidi. x

A Bun Can Dance said...

Hello Pomona
Thank you for our virtual trip to Whitstable, a place I've never visited before.
I love your photos and your words giving an insight to the place. I love small seaside towns, and inland market towns too.
Have a super weekend

janie said...

You know I love Faversham but I think Whitstable is so charming too and I am a huge fan of Wheelers! You're making me homesick for this lovely part of the UK.

JuliaB said...

Oooh that looks like a lovely place. Why do Supermarkets always have to go and ruin things!! aren't there enough everywhere? grr... Lets hope they don't get permission. xx

wonderwoman said...

hi, just popped over from Poppy cottage's blog! what lovely pictures - i do hope you don't get asupermarket, that would be such a shame.


Frances said...

What a beautiful site you have! I have visited you via Sarah London, and know that I will be back again.

Best wishes.

Nicki said...

Lovely photos of Whitstable. I'm originally from Kent and my Nan and Grandad lived in Faversham (Ospringe)...we often went down to Whitstable or to Seasalter....I have such fond memories of those places.

and now I'm in Dorset....a smallish market town (Bridport) which is fighting to keep it's little shops (despite a big Morrisons, a new Waitrose and the possibility of a Lidl on the outskirts!!)
So far it's managesd to keep interesting little places....but it does worry me that it'll lose it's charm (even the run down bits0 for the sake of 'convenience'.

nicki x

sarah said...

hi Pomona

not sure if you'll get to read this now but we found Whitstable about 20 years ago and loved its scruffiness then...slowly the trendies took it over in my humble opinion, not sure of how much of a local you are and what you think about that

when we first went down there, there was a beach hut for $1000 a few years later, we were about 22 or so, and REALLY wanted it but couldn't afford it - it was down the east end so not a prime spot but anyway - as it got trendy those 'huts' errrrm were just a bit more expensive lol!!!

our last trip there a group of yuppies set up beside us with there wooden chairs, ice bucket with a case of Dom Perignon and a catered picnic - I will never forget that, so ruined it more me

anyway I am rambling, that's why I called my bag SeaSalter...

love your blog but I have to say it makes me oh so VERY homesick :-)



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