There is nothing better than getting out as a family and exploring the UK. While of course going abroad is amazing, it involves more planning, more time and of course that isn’t always possible. But we have so many beautiful places in our country that are so easy to explore on a weekend or just for the day. So when Southeastern Railway offered to give us some tickets to head off and explore somewhere new, we jumped at the chance. We decided to head to the Kent coast, somewhere that I haven’t been before bar passing through to go to Dover. Originally we decided on Margate, but after having a brief look online at places to go, we decided we really liked the look of Whitstable, a small seaside town just a few miles away from Canterbury. We decided to go up on the Friday evening after school, so we would be ready to enjoy a full day together on the Saturday. We went having planned nothing at all, bar meeting our friends in Margate on the Saturday afternoon, preferring to go with the flow and explore and see what hidden gems we could find.
The South Eastern network covers London, Kent and parts of East Sussex. We hopped on a train at St Pancras International in London and got to Whitstable in just over 1 hour 10 minutes.
I’ve said it before many a time but we love to explore by train. Firstly our girls love it, they see it as such an adventure, and secondly we often find it easier than travelling by car. Since our baby boy came along, we definitely find it a lot less stressful to just jump on a train, rather than have him in his car seat for hours. At least on the train he can be cuddled and played with, rather than being confined to his seat.
Look at these excited little faces. They loved the fact we went down straight after school on Friday afternoon as it made it feel like a real adventure.
We arrived to a sunny evening in Whitstable after it rained heavily the entire time we were on the train.
It was around 8pm by the time we arrived so we managed to navigate our way into town (passing this cool street art on the side of a house as we walked) and headed to grab a bite to eat. It meant that we didn’t get to our hotel till gone 10pm. We put three very tired children to bed and fell straight asleep ourselves.
The next morning we awoke bright and early to find the sun streaming in through the windows of our hotel room. We headed down for a lovely breakfast in our hotel’s sunny little restaurant. We didn’t have a chance to explore the Crescent Turner hotel but it looked lovely and like somewhere we would like to stay again one day.
We hopped in a taxi to take us back into Whitstable town centre (you couldn’t walk from the Crescent Turner as it is too far but it was only a few pounds in a taxi) and headed straight where any family with young children would go in a place like this- the beach. We spent ages looking for the best stones and shells, Whitstable is famous for it’s Oyster’s and we spent an hour or so playing on the pebble beach and climbing the vast expanse of empty oyster shells that had been left nearby.
We then headed into the tiny little town to explore. The first thing that struck me was the fact there were lots of small little independent shops, Whitstable really felt like it had held on to its traditional seaside village vibe.
I mentioned on instagram stories that we were heading to Whitstable and someone recommended we head to Sundae Sundae for an ice cream- what an amazing hidden gem and a beautiful little find. Without a doubt it was one of the cutest shops I have ever been in.
Sundae Sundae was full of old retro toys and American candy, and there was an old little retro style table in the corner for people to sit- we were excited to see that it was empty so we pulled up a chair and had a look at what was on offer. We got chatting to the owner Chris, who has lived in Whitstable all his life. They make all the ice cream themselves, I had salted caramel with salted fudge pieces on top and I can honestly say it was one of the best ice creams I have had in a long time. Chris was a lovely man who seemed so passionate about his venture, he chatted to the girls and let them choose a shell each from his collection. It really was the cutest shop I definitely recommend a visit there if you are in the area.
After our delicious ice cream we headed down to Whitstable harbour to have a look around. There were lots of little cute stalls selling various bits and bobs and there was even a young guitarist busking and singing some songs. I genuinely would never have thought that there was so much going on in Whitstable, it was lovely. I only wish we had time to go down to the beach as I had seen some pretty little beach huts that looked perfect for taking some photos.
After a fantastic morning in Whitstable we headed back to the train station to catch another Southeastern train to take us to Margate, just around 20 minutes away.
Posing with ‘Crabby’, the toy Lottie bought with her pocket money from Sundae Sundae.
We tried to get a family photo of us all on the train, lets just say it didn’t work out as planned!
Margate is definitely a lot bigger than Whitstable and completely different in a way. Whereas Whitstable is more of a quaint small seaside town, Margate is more of a typical English coastal town- think arcades with old fashioned penny machines, candy floss and buckets and spades wherever you look, and your typical seaside shops. However there is more to Margate than just those things as we were soon to find out- there really are some cool, unique places that you wouldn’t expect to find there.
After meeting Alison and her family, we headed to a place called the Great British Pizza Company for a spot of, you guessed it pizza. Right on the sea front, from the outside this little restaurant didn’t look anything special and I must admit to having preconceptions when it came to the name- it sounded like just an average chain place. But when you got inside you realised it was something quite special. From the cool up cycled decor, the neon pink sign on the wall, and the lovely palm tree cushions, this wasn’t an average chain restaurant at all. The Telegraph gave the restaurant a very high accolade indeed, saying ‘it was the best pizza they’ve ever tasted,’ and while I am not sure I would go that far, it was pretty close. We all had a great time catching up over delicious pizza.
After lunch we headed to the beach to let the girls run off some energy and of course do some digging (why does every child enjoy digging so much?). I was so surprised by how beautiful Margate beach was. The sand was incredibly soft and the sea was genuinely really blue- it has won lots of awards for its beach and I can see why, it was lovely.
Then it was time to head to the arcades as after all what trip to the seaside isn’t complete without a go on the 2p machines? It is something I remember loving from my own childhood and my girls could literally spend all day there too. They were in their element running around and collecting 2p’s in their little cups.
After spending time at the arcades, we wandered around Margate for a while, taking in the sights, before it was time for one last cup of tea and catch up at The Cupcake Cafe. We love finding little independent cafes when we visit new places.
After saying goodbye to Alison we made our way back to Margate station, tired, windswept and with happy smiles ready for the train journey home. We had such a nice day together and it was really fun trying somewhere that we hadn’t been before. Whitstable really was stunning and Margate was so much fun with the most gorgeous beach, we wish we had been able to have longer to explore, but it is definitely somewhere we will go back to someday. It reminded us how much fun a day trip to the seaside is, if we go we normally head to Norfolk as that is our nearest coast by car, however we were so impressed with the ease of going on the train that we will definitely do that again in the future. Plus no sand all over the car at the end of the day which is always a bonus!
Here is a video I made of our little adventure to the South East seaside…
NB: Thanks so much to Southeastern for working with us on this campaign. All words and opinions are entirely my own. If you fancy booking a day trip to Whitstable/ Margate or somewhere else in East Sussex or Kent, check out the advance purchase offers from Southeastern this Summer starting from as little as £10! Find out more here.