This fine April weather has given my high forehead a decent bit of sun blush. “Look at your tan! Have you been away?” people keep asking me.
“Yes. Whitstable!” I reply. Not quite Grenada (as I watch a turgid test match unfold in the Caribbean), but very nice all the same.
We celebrated one Easter and two birthdays in a tall, thin house close to the seafront. Close also to the Old Neptune pub, reputedly the only boozer in England to be actually built on a beach. Doubly brilliant, it’s not a Shepherd Neame pub! Coming to this part of Kent, with the brewer based down the road in Faversham, it is inevitable that stale pints will be supped that are drawn straight from the estuary and filtered to the pumps through a mucky duster. Not a fan. So the Harveys on offer in the Old Neptune was eagerly consumed.
Bex and GC recommended the place to us. Their party had celebrated New Year here and I was a bit disappointed to find there was no leftover wine in the fridge, nor beer in the cupboard. Bloody cleaners…
The house had four bedrooms. More than adequate for the four of us, plus our friends Julie & Callum. Callum, however, didn’t need any of them. In some crazy dare-bet with Daughter no 2, he had accepted a challenge not to sleep in the bedrooms on any night of our stay, in return for the sum of £2. I’ll hold my hand up to any amount of mug punting, but even I would struggle to squeeze the value out of such a transaction.
His four nights, then, were spent in an upstairs linen cupboard, a downstairs utility room, a cloakroom over the cellar and the back of our car.
Callum went on to claim a further £2 from my spendthrift daughter by fearlessly wading out into the April sea up to his neck. Paying up, she said “Hmm. I wanted to see a bit more pain, really.”
We had stunning weather during our stay. Long walks along the beach whilst the dog exercised us. And long walks back into a headwind – hence the tan.
Great sunsets, too. (Well you have to...)
Despite this being Shepherd Neame country, we did well for ale. Local Whitstable brewery fare in the Pearsons Arms and Adnams in the Oyster Shack on the beach (reputedly the only shack to be actually built on a beach… oh no, maybe not.)
We met up a couple of times with our friends and Whitstable inhabitants Jan & Ian and their family. Every time I come to this town I like it more and more.
My only complaint was the lack of internet access. Yes, I’m all for low-fi-get-away-from-it-all breaks. Any time at all. Except when I need to make crucial, possibly life changing transfers in the jumps’ season Twelve To Follow competition. Going in to Aintree I was leading the hungry pack snapping at my heels, and feeling confident. It turned out that my inability to do any intensive web-based research into the stats, entries, forums, and general e-banter about the forthcoming Aintree meeting lost me the prize. Right there. Only I didn’t know it at the time. There will be more bleating and bellyaching about this in the next post.
Packing up for home, I was doing a last sweep for dirty socks and hidden glasses upstairs when I missed out a step between the loft bedrooms. I went down like Latalomne at the second last and smashed my head in to the door. I could feel the sinews in the back of my neck crackle as my head was thrust back. It really hurt.
I had only two thoughts. The first, as I looked at the blood smeared door panel was, ‘I hope we get our damage deposit back’; and the second was, ‘I hope I don’t get concussion that stops me going to Aintree’. On the way home the girls were told to keep poking me in case I fell asleep.
Very much like the test match in Grenada, it was all fine in the end. Although I did have a nice big bruise to go with the tan: a door-kissed and sun-kissed forehead. This season’s winning combination.