Thanks to Millie’s picture colouring prowess we had a free trip to picturesque Whitstable at the weekend. You may remember she won a competition with Southeastern Trains, giving us a daytrip to anywhere on their network.
So we visited lovely Whitstable.
The weather forecast was cloudy, cool and wrong – we all came home a touch sunburnt – but that was the only downside to a day that saw us in the sea, saw the Red Arrows, saw the last Vulcan bomber fly, saw a lifeboat launch, saw a Punch and Judy show and even saw Amber go on a big wheel (that’s a Ferris Wheel for all my US readers).
Leaving Whitstable station we instantly got a bit lost and somehow ended up at the next place along the coast: Tankerton Slopes. We could have checked a map, yes, but then we’d have missed this lovely lovely spot with its funfair and unrivalled collection of interesting pebbles.
And this is where we saw the Red Arrows do their thing. On the way down, we got chatting with some people who were visiting Herne Bay (the next town along) for an airshow – which is when we heard about the Red Arrows but also, much more excitingly for me, a fly past by the last remaining airworthy Vulcan bomber!
So, while the girls braved the chilly, pebbly sea, I was watching the skies for the huge distinctive shape of the Vulcan, first glimpsed at the RAF Museum back in 2011.
Still a bit early. But we spent a lovely hour watching the sailboats float past, finding interesting rocks and shells and crushing most of those interesting rocks and shells with bigger rocks.
Then we walked up the Tankerton Slopes to the funfair, from where the Red Arrows could be seen giving one of their always-impressive displays. I took the girls on the big wheel (well, biggish wheel) and they screamed with delight the whole time. Sure, it took a few revolutions before Amber joined Millie and I waving our hands in the air, but she got there in the end. 🙂
Realising our mistake, we then headed back to Whitstable proper (still no Vulcan…), which had a little artisan market going on – a strange mix of smelly fishing boats and what we call I-saw-you-coming shops. I discovered, now the sun was well and truly blazing, that I’d lost my trusty hat – and my shiny bald head was beginning to get unpleasantly hot.
I also discovered that it’s very hard to buy a practical hat from I-saw-you-coming shops. Ouch.
Fortunately, the Vulcan bomber suddenly appeared away over Herne Bay and I forgot all thoughts of my fiery bonce. Even from a mile or so away it was majestic: a huge triangular monster, mooching about the skies like it owned them. Twice flying our way, only to turn off and disappear behind a stupid hill.
Still, I felt lucky to have caught that glimpse. 🙂
The girls and the Lovely Melanie were waiting for me on a “beach” made of crushed shells, and I was nearly run over by the lifeboat launching across it (not for an actual emergency, just a display). The girls put their swimming costumes and dived into the sea once more, leaping between the endless stream of sailboats now returning to shore.
And that, by and large, was that. We had fresh fish and chips for tea, bought some rock and sugar dummies – Millie even bought one for Amber, who had spent all her pocket money (an act of sisterly generosity which surprised everyone, especially Amber) and then caught the train back home to Bexley: tired, a bit pink and happy.