There’s nothing better than the unexpected to shake you up. Whatever it is you do, stepping out of the routine has the potential to make you feel really alive and appreciate the vast choices available every day. This weekend has done exactly that for me.
After a lovely catch up with some of my old workmates on Friday, Saturday had the potential to be a complete write off. However, it turned out to be just the beginning of a sundrenched, beach filled weekend.
Having left me passed out first thing to to do befriending, when Elaine came back she floated the idea of going for a drive. We didn’t know where – but decided to pack a few bits just in case the notion took us to stay over.
So that’s how we ended up walking along the white cliffs of Dover. As it was my first out of London walk since the ill fated Windsor ‘walk’, I felt a bit nervous setting out. But with the below image as the backdrop, it was quickly impossible to feel anything other than humbled by the beauty of the National Trust cliffs.
We spent around an hour climbing up to the South Foreland lighthouse and each corner we turned around was more beautiful than the last. My legs held up well all the way up to the lighthouse and my feet didn’t even have a hint of a blister during the 4 mile jaunt. On the way back, we took the higher route which had more climbing – all good practice for the Pyrenees in a few weeks time.
Rather than feeling tired from the walk, I felt full of energy and not ready to go back to London. So following that feeling, we booked a cheap as chips hotel in Folkestone (with a sea view thrown in our night came to £29). Best decision of the weekend.
While the hotel had more than a hint of the faded glamour associated with Victorian seaside resorts, I fell in love with the place itself. With a contagious out of the way stillness, beautiful beaches with wild landscaping and quirky places to eat and drink with friendly staff, it’s somewhere I’ve already vowed to go back to (if not live one day). We had an antiques shop all to ourselves for dinner (Follies), heard an amazing blues band play (The Chambers), got lost in the winding path at the beach full of caves and vegetation and even managed to pick up a few bargains before setting off in the town shops.
Having fallen in love with Folkestone, we drove on up the coast back through Dover to Deal (also incredibly cute), Sandwich (even cuter), Ramsgate (great selection of pubs at the harbour), Margate (we had planned to get out but it’s very run down) and then finally to Whitstable.
With a more touristy vibe, we walked away from Whitstable, of Oyster fame, to Tankerton along the front. We kept walking as the colourful beach hits kept pulling us in. With the hundreds of dogs along the way, sadly my legs started to feel a bit shaky because of my phobia rather than fatigue. The gorgeous walk had a few surprises including a camper can meetup and a canon.
After a couple of hours of walking, we headed into Whitstable finally and, after climbing over oyster shells, decided to pick up another kind of seafood – fish and chips.
Making the last of the glorious sunshine, we found a picnic table to eat our fish and chips and made promises to ‘do this’ more often. While we could have done more miles over the weekend, we did enough to warrant saying we had good walks on both days. Plus the sense of calm of being at the quiet (and not so quiet) coast and the sheer joy of exploring new territory made this unexpected weekend an absolute pleasure.