As the third long weekend dawned on me – the same week Kate & Wills tied the knot – I decided to get away from the reality of it, and by the time they were officially Man and Wife, I was watching it back on TV in the BnB. Ahh, Whistable, smell the sea and sand.. and I did pray for last minute cancellations at The Sportsman. Alas, that did not happen.
I called a week before my trip, and begged for a table over the phone, but she didn’t shift her stance budge. “Royal Wedding mate, we’re all booked up for the next six weekends.”
The first thing I did when I placed my bags in the B&B (The Pearl Fisher, run by Jan & Gary and Baby (the cat) , which was a lovely stay) was make to another phone call to The Sportsman. I pleaded again “Look babes, I took the train all the way from London, just so I could say hello to you in person, I’ll swim across the English Channel for you, please give me a narrow space on anyone’s table, tonight.”
Twice she denies me. “I’m afraid it’s a no sir. I’ve already a waiting list, the length of my arm, sir. I’m so sorry.”
The feeling of utter doom came over. But then my staycation had only just begun, and I of course had a back up plan, and the back up plan was to head toward the coast line, and eat whatever seafood was being peddled during that weekend.
Along the way, we stopped by Wheelers to ask for a table; this would be a seafood bar with a 150 year old history, though truth be told, there are only a handful of places to eat in the sleepy seaside town anyway, so the choice was practically made for us before we arrived. The only slot we could get was an exceptionally early five o clock in the evening.
And it’s pink!
Ain’t this the life eh. We sat at the bar and picked from whatever was available and fresh on the day. The restaurant was BYO, so I ran across the street to the Whitstable wine shack to grab a bottle of Chardonnay.
Two really massive prawns, £2.30 each.
Juicy, sweet and chunky, they may as well have been lobsters in shrimp shells.
Whole split lobster, new potatoes, salad, £16.
Mmmm, cheap, fresh, sweet, juicy and just simply awesome. The joy of the British seaside.
The last of the Natives, 6 for £9.
The last day before oyster sex season was to begin in full bloom to be exact. And truth be told, we were not too impressed with these, they were a little flaccid… ironic considering the species’ seasonal circumstances.
Rewinding to earlier in the day, we were already tanked up on about two dozen (or probably more) Whitstable’s best rock oysters (which are available all year round) at the fish market by the harbour.
We also managed a giant cod and chips (which was really awesome) , washing it down with a bottle of Whitstable Bay Ale, along with tubs of crayfish and whelks.
So.. the test run was successful. The 90 minute escape to the sleepy Whistable offerred a serene weekend to recharge spent fuel rods away from the smog and noise. One cannot go wrong with cheap, fresh seafood and a greasy breakfast the next morning afterall.
Nevertheless, this was but a test run. The Sportsman continues to elude, but it won’t be for too much longer.
The Gist of It
Wheelers Oyster Bar
Anglais, £20pp or more.
8 High Street, Whitstable, Kent.
Tel: 01227 273 311
National Rail : Whistable