The Dog and the Fisherman's Hut - Whitstable
Do you ever go to the beach and wish that you lived right on it? Or that you at least had somewhere to saunter from to see the sunset, with the humans carrying their fizzy stuff, and our water bottles (I am still working out how it is that we only ever get water, and humans seem to have a wide variety of beverages to choose from).
If you have these wistful dreams, then the Whitstable Fisherman's Huts might just be for you. My Mummy has stayed in them twice: once in Number 14, and once in Number 9. Number 14 was before I entered her life, and apparently she was scared most of the night because the Hut is separated from the rest, and other than happy midnight revellers, there was no-one around once these revellers were tucked up in their cosy beds. She spent most of the night wondering what each noise was ... it was late winter, and she had been reading too many thriller novels for her own good. Had I have been with her she may have felt differently; despite being Little Rea, I am confident of my defending skills when anyone I don't like comes near my Mummy.
Number 9 is very different to Number 14. It is located within a row of other Huts that can be rented out from the Hotel Continental, and has parking outside (I'll come back to this). Number 9 is smaller, but just as cute.
The Huts are perfectly situated near the High Street, which is well equipped with everything you need. In fact, we didn't pack the car with food or supplies because eating out is so much fun in Whitstable; you don't want to be trapped inside with a microwave meal when life is happening outside. This brings me to the Hut's facilities ... we can't vouch for all of them, but both Number 14 and Number 9 were microwave, kettle and fridge only. The Huts are small, so think small and don't bring much. They are perfectly formed though, and beautifully finished to a high standard. Everything is whitewashed, clean, and the Huts inside have a kind of modern but rustic feel that suits their location.
To the right of them is The Forge. The Forge is a licensed shack that sells local beer, wine, hot drinks, freshly made doughnuts, ice cream, fish and chips and the world famous Whitstable oysters. It is an excellent place to grab some food and sitting on the beach right opposite the Huts, with the boats' masts clunking in the breeze.
Before I tell you about Whitstable itself, I need to give a mention to parking. Now ... I rarely hear Mummy swear, but the parking for Number 9 was something that made me cover my face with my little paws because Mummy swore quite a lot ... in fact, I think she swore more than my young ears had ever heard at that point of my life. Each Hut has its own allocated parking slot and Number 9's is right near the end. If there are other cars parked in a silly manner, the turn and angle are like squeezing me into a Christmas Cracker. Mummy managed to do it with the help of a fellow doggy lover living next door to us, but it took a lot of profanities, and a few other cars shuffling themselves around too. Top tip, smile at your neighbours everyday because they are probably there with other doggies too and we all looked after each for a few days. However, don't let the parking put you off because Hut Number 9 doesn't have parking directly outside of it either, which meant I could set my sun tent up and watch the people passing by while Mummy made my tea.
Now ... let me tell you about Whitstable, if you have never been. Whitstable has traditional charms; with its arts culture and rich maritime history, there is always something to do there. It's main claim to fame is its oysters, which remain an intrinsic part of its character and are celebrated every July at the Oyster Festival. Oysters and other delicacies from the sea can be enjoyed at the local restaurants and pubs or taken home from the fresh fish market at the harbour. It has a lovely quant little port, surrounded by sea food shacks, and sounds of boats in the breeze.
Along from the small port is the market, which is a haven for all things interesting and cool: (The Whitstable Dog Company does some lovely doggy accessories and you can watch them being made). When you have done enough shopping, there are numerous places to grab hot street food, or you can relax in one of the many cafes along the main High Street. The Beach Cafe lets us doggies in, and does some scrummy bacon and eggs, although you won't need it because the Hotel Continental includes breakfast in the hire of the Huts, and I was allowed in to eat with my Mummy: I even got my own bowl of scrambled eggs. The Seaview Cafe, further along the beach, is also a fab place that I was allowed in with Mummy ... we sat outside with a well deserved ice-cream after a long walk. We found Whitstable really dog friendly and every time we wanted to take in some refreshments, Mummy popped in to ask if I could come with her. We rarely heard the word 'no' and found ourselves loving Whitstable even more.
It doesn't matter that the beaches don't have any sand on them (mainly shingle), because the ambience and vibe of Whitstable is just so free and happy that the sand became irrelevant to us. We enjoyed so many things together, which can only be told by pictures really, so here is a little slideshow.
The sunsets at Whitstable are incredible; Mummy said the best thing to do is grab a blanket, a bottle of fizz, and wander up to the Oyster Sheds. The best views are from there, and there are tables that everyone can sit at. Some people take table and chairs themselves, and have champagne and chips whilst watching the sky turn like a kaleidoscope into different variants of oranges and reds ; they really are some of the best.
The beach is pretty much all shingle, divided by surf breakers. This can make it difficult to take a long interrupted walk but once past these, either left or right, they space out a lot more. There is also a long coastal footpath and we saw lots of dogs running off lead both on the beach and on the path. Mummy didn't let me off on the path though as bikes tend to speed at silly speeds and I used to have a habit of chasing them ... in fact, it was during my Whitstable adventure that Mummy discovered this obsession of mine and nearly lost me, in more ways than one; we have been working on this obsession ever since and I believe I am a 'recovering chaser' now, although I may never be totally cured.
Know before you go: Some of the Huts don't have beach views, so make sure you check when you book. Some of them also have exceptionally steep stairs, so again, check the details of the Huts on the website and over the phone. The last thing you want is a Hut with steep steps and no view, because the joy of the Huts is opening those windows and smelling the sea air, mingled in with morning coffee, the smell of chips, and the sweet doughy smell of sugary donuts. If you don't have these delights for your senses, and you can't get up the stairs to your bed, it's going to be a miserable weekend.