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Renowned for its succulent and creamy pearl of the sea, this quaint fishing village with shingle beach offers a delectable refuge from the hustle and bustle of chaotic city life.

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A quick guide to Whitstable

Where to stay

Reena Kumar stayed at Castaway Cottage, 35 Sydenham Street, Whitstable. For prices and more details call 07973 506104 or visit www.castawaycottagewhitstable.com

To see all the properties available from Whitstable Holiday Homes visit www.whitstableholidayhomes.co.uk or call 01227 281800

What to see

Explore Whitstable Harbour Village on the South Quay, where local artists display and sell their wares.

You can also pick up local Kentish produce and hot food. The huts are open every weekend and bank holiday from March until Christmas.

Whitstable Cycle Hire offers a vast selection of hybrids for a ride along the coast or to neighbouring Canterbury at hourly or day rates. Visit www.wcch.co.uk

The Horsebridge Arts and Community Centre was set up to provide a social and cultural and learning resource and offers exhibitions, classes, music events and more. Visit www.horsebridge-centre.org.uk

Where to eat

Pick up fresh seafood and cooked dishes at Wheelers Oyster Bar but book in advance as this place gets busy. It doesn’t have an alcohol licence so take your own. Call 01227 273311.

For a chilled out leisurely breakfast head to Tea and Times where you can browse the papers and eavesdrop on the locals who create a buzzing vibe. Call 01227 262639.

Richard Phillips’ Pearson’s Arms provides an extensive high quality seasonal menu and local ales and beers with views out to sea. Visit www.pearsonsarms.com

The Cheese Box, located on Harbour Street, offers a selection of British farmhouse and artisan cheeses.

Visit www.thecheesebox.co.uk

The quirky fisherman’s huts along the harbour open up an eclectic treasure trove of vintage clothing, records, fresh flowers and Kentish produce.

Nestled amongst the fishing boats, local artists display their creations in the heart of picturesque Whitstable Harbour Village where the folk are friendly and relaxed.

Whitstable is charming, steeped in a strong arts culture with a vast selection of galleries and boutiques and serves up a gastronomic melting pot.

Along the beach, which is separated with groins, lie rows of vibrantly adorned huts which become the homes of sea worshippers in summer months.

The quirky independent shops in Harbour Street including bakers, delicatessens, gift and craft shops offer a refreshing alternative to the standard high street.

Fresh fish sourced from the Kent coast is served up at the fish market where you can slurp reasonably priced juicy native oysters whilst looking out to sea with the essential dash of Tabasco for an extra kick.

These delights draw people to this part of the world annually for the Oyster Festival, which takes place every summer despite the season beginning in October.

Discovered in the Roman times, the native oysters were shipped back to Rome and hailed as a delicacy.

For a touch of decadence, head to Wheelers Oyster Bar which has a select range of sea pearls to feast on alongside a host of fish and seafood courses. Don’t forget to take your own wine though, as Wheelers doesn’t have a licence.

Our home for the duration of the trip was Castaway Cottage. It is easily accessible from the station with a ten minute walk through suburban bungalows peppered with playful gnomes and dreamy wind charms.

Located on a narrow terraced street, it has a pub and Chinese takeaway at the bottom. Don’t be fooled by the humble exterior, with three floors and three bedrooms, with one containing an en suite, there is plenty of room inside.

Situated just minutes away from the beach front, the cosy self catering cottage is tastefully decorated with work by local artists and a nautical theme running throughout the rooms.

Decked out with white washed wooden floors and walls, it has everything you need to feel at home including an iPod dock, kitchen fitted with all the mod cons and a Kenwood coffee maker.

Probably best to leave granny at home though as the steps are narrow and steep with a mere rope to hoist you to the top.

There is a decked garden too with table and chairs for lazy summer evenings.

The hip property has added details such as the wood fire in the lounge, which is fitted with a flat screen television and an array of carefully selected DVDs including an Almodovar box set (excellent choice) and some retro board games.

To inject some action into your stay head over to the Captain’s House in Harbour Street where Bernard from Whitstable Cycle Hire will help you chose from his extensive selection of hybrid bikes which are replaced every season.

Bernard goes the extra mile to ensure you are well equipped for your bicycle ride along the coast to Herne Bay or on the Crab and Winkle path to Canterbury with his custom made maps and advice on the best pubs and restaurants en route.

The beach cruisers - the Harley Davidsons of the bike world - come highly commended for a smooth ride along the sea front to Herne Bay or beyond.

The broad handlebars take a while to get used to but once you’re off with the salty sea air blowing through your hair you’ll feel invincible.

For spectacular indoor views of the sunset, stop off for a pint at The Old Neptune, which is positioned right on the beach front.

The intimate pub is popular with the locals and is a prime site to watch the sun go down on a bracing autumnal evening.

Richard Phillips’ Pearson’s Arms is a culinary jewel in Whitstable’s crown. Just a stone’s throw from the sea, the rustic pub offers quality seasonal British produce and local ales with friendly and attentive staff.

We were blown away by the delicate subtle flavours and well selected cured meats, chutney and pickles on the charcuterie board. You can’t go wrong with the combination of textures and creamy pate on offer, served up with wholesome nourishing bread.

The novelty starter of scallops baked in their shell with spaghetti of vegetables and ginger cream sauce was exquisitely presented with the shell encrusted in pastry but once I managed to prize it open, it was a little bland.

I had high expectations of the acclaimed chef’s third restaurant venture and the mains certainly did not disappoint.

The slow cooked lamb shoulder in wine infused with orange with roasted veg and creamed potatoes was hearty, exploding with flavour and the meat was beautifully tender.

My partner in crime opted for the 32 day hung rib eye steak served up with foraged woodland mushrooms, a selection of vegetables and Kentish blue cheese. The succulent beef was velvety and sumptuous and had to be attacked in two attempts.

On to part three and the spiced apple tart tatin with cinnamon ice cream was a refreshing culmination to a spectacular dinner, taking my taste buds on an epic adventure.

Just an hour and a half from central London, Whitstable is the ideal destination for a weekend getaway or a summer sojourn.

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