On Monday (Columbus Day) we had elaborate plans to explore the neighborhood of Chelsea, which we haven’t gotten around to yet after a year in London. But it suddenly sounded like a lot of effort…and it was supposed to rain all day. And I still have a ridiculously long list of things I really want to do. So instead, we hopped on a train and cruised over to the town of Whitstable on the north east coast of Kent.

Whitstable is very cool for a couple of reasons. The first is oysters. It is home to one of England’s ancient oyster beds…shells from which were supposedly found in the Coliseum in Rome. Second, it was once the home of Peter Cushing, a British actor famous for playing Baron Frankenstein, Dracula, Sherlock Holmes and Van Helsing many times throughout the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. He also played Governor Tarkin in the 1977 Star Wars! The novelist W. Somerset Maugham also wrote two novels (Of Human Bondage and Cakes and Ale) that were based loosely on his own childhood there. Plus it’s just a quaint little British seaside town.

Whitstable is about an hour and a half by train from the 19th-century gem that is Victoria Station in London. And tickets are pretty reasonable…about £29 return. There was even a tea service on the way back. It was also interesting to see all the school kids who commute in packs on the train from their hometown to wherever their school is located one or two stops away. Nothing like eavesdropping on a group from the local all-boys school. I’m not prone to blushing, but good lord…the things those boys said in public! Something our son would look forward to, I’m sure. 😉

After arriving in Whitstable we wandered around a bit and looked at the harbor and some of the shopping streets where we bought some yummy local cheddar, brie and goat’s brie, which I haven’t come across before. Then it was off to lunch!

I’d tried to make reservations at The Crab & Winkle, which has a nice harbor view. But they’re apparently closed on Mondays until next summer. So the other choice was the Whitstable Oyster Company, which was also super cute inside and right on the beach with about 600 years of history. We shared half a dozen raw local rock oysters topped with vinegar and shallots (they don’t do horseradish with oysters) and a bit of cocktail sauce, and washed it all down with a robust Oyster Stout.

For our mains, my hubby picked clean a whole plaice (flatfish similar to a flounder) with anchovy sauce, and I indulged in a whole Maine lobster. I know, I know, why order American seafood in a British restaurant?? I couldn’t help it. It was so nicely presented! And it was served chilled with lemon and tartar, which was different for me. And I hate fish for the most part…unless it’s salmon, halibut or tuna.

After our fabulous meal, we walked around town a bit more then made a beeline for The Peter Cushing. That’s right! Not only is he from there, but he has a venue named after him. And not just any venue, but a pub that used to be a movie theatre. What a perfect combination! And they did a fabulous job of recreating the ambience of the Golden Age with all kinds of great Art Deco details and Peter Cushing movie memorabilia. Even the walk up the stairs to the bathrooms was cool.

On the way home we spotted a potential next adventure. As we whizzed past the town of Rochester we couldn’t help but notice their massive cathedral and castle keep. But in the meantime, if you get the chance, I highly recommend a trip to Whitstable. 🙂

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Whitstable harbor at low tide.

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The Whitstable Oyster Company.

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Royal warrant for the Royal Native Oyster Stores.

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Rock oysters, yummy!

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Whole plaice with anchovy sauce.

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Whole lobster, nicely cut in half and chilled.

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Me hanging out on the rocky beach between erosion barriers.

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The Peter Cushing! (photo stolen from the internet)

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Peter Cushing memorabilia.

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Interior of the pub.

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Me at the Peter Cushing.

 

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