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From London to the beach at Whitstable

From London to the beach at Whitstable

If the sun comes out we want for nothing more than to head to the seaside, and the beach at Whitstable is absolutely accessible by train from London to Whitstable for a day trip or weekend.

Whitstable is a quaint seaside destination in Kent. The train London to Whitstable is just over an hour’s ride from St Pancras (at Kings Cross).

Escape to the beach at Whitstable

A Whitstable day trip on the train from London means you can enjoy quirky shopping, seafood aplenty, oysters, oysters, oysters… and best of all, there are dogs everywhere!

Kent is a beautiful and accessible destination from London.

We love it because it’s easy to get to the beach in around an hour; the scenery, energy and vibe of similar beach-side destinations like Broadstairs and Botany Bay means that just one day away from the big city energises you! Well worth the time.

For those seeking swimming opportunities, do your research – the beach at Whitstable is great for paddling and water sports, as well as people watching and lounging about.

It’s not the sandiest of beaches, from what we saw, but it has the best of any seaside experience.

Beat the crowds on your Kent beach day trip

Our major travel tip is be to go early, because if you strike a lovely day, by around midday this little town (and others like it) is packed.

Whitstable is famous for its an annual mid-year Oyster festival.

To give you some idea of how popular this is, the town’s is population is around 32,000 and during this festival attracts an additional 40,000!

Take a look around at our Whitstable beach and seaside escape.

Hopefully you’ll be inspired to book your train from London to Whitstable next time the sun is out.

 

Got questions about travel in and around London? Or your own travel tips? Let us know in the comments… 

 

LoveFit 2017: music and fitness festival UK

LoveFit 2017: music and fitness festival UK

 

Congrats to the producers of this weekend’s LoveFit 2017 festival in the UK – the first of its kind – that combines dance music with health + fitness activities.

It was fun to be invited along.

While in this instance we did more spectating than participating in classes, we applaud the overall message from wellness experts and speakers like Andrea Corbett about fitness being the best way to a happy mind and life.

Here’s a sneak peek behind the scenes:

 

 

Visit Greenwich in London by boat

Visit Greenwich in London by boat

oh summer in London, how we love you!

If you’re visiting the city, don’t forget to explore via the Thames as well. The river bus isn’t very expensive and gives you so many beautiful, historical old views of this fab city we are lucky enough to call home.

#happyexpats

Here’s a recent adventure we embarked upon starting at the Tower of London and riding the Thames Clipper to Greenwich.

Bournemouth and the English seaside

Bournemouth and the English seaside

We recently had the opportunity to visit the lovely seaside city of Bournemouth for the weekend.

Actually, we’d intended to visit here for a long time. We have super lovely and creative friends from the Gold Coast who lived and worked here for a few years and loved it (shout out to Lou and Iain from P’s in a Pod); and as Aussies, we are always on the lookout for a ‘real’ beach.

As far as seaside cities here go, I’d describe Bournemouth as being a contemporary destination, conveniently located just two hours’ train ride from London; the beach is actually beautiful, there’s a pier, and plenty of bars, restaurants, serene hotels and accommodation to keep you happy for a sunny weekend escape.

We appreciated how the city has been designed – there’s a central mall with shopping – at the top of that is a spot called ‘the triangle’ that boasts some nice bars and eateries like Smokin’ Aces and Koh Thai. A wonderful park and landscaped garden area (including mini golf) leads explorers through the town towards the beach and Bournemouth Wheel. Either way along the beach you can wander the promenade and discover ice-cream, coffee, cocktails and markets. Truly charming.

Recommended

Cheap treats

The Moon in the Square (Wetherspoons chain pub with rooftop terrace)

Coffee

South Coast Roast (just off the top of the mall)

Eat

Koh Thai – for delicious food and a nice atmosphere including music

Drink

Smokin’ Aces – for 2-4-1 cocktails 5pm to 8pm and check-in on Facebook for a free shot!

Sixty Million Postcards

Stay

Chocolate Boutique Hotel

Hallmark Hotel East Cliff (request a sea view room)

 

Do you have tips on where to dine, shop, play and stay in Bournemouth? Let us know in the comments.

Magical light tunnel: Norwich’s Tunnel of Light for Christmas

Magical light tunnel: Norwich’s Tunnel of Light for Christmas

We’re Australian and while we sometimes miss the sun and prawns at this time of the year, there’s a certain magic to Christmas in England.

We found extra sparkle in a special light tunnel – the Norwich Tunnel of Light, an easy day trip from London.

*Update: the Norwich Tunnel of Light is back in 2018 – make your way there to have a look, and let us know in the comments below what you think of it.

Christmas in England and a magical light tunnel

This unique Tunnel of Light Norwich installation is a one-of-a-kind in Europe and intended to simulate the Northern Lights (or aurora borealis).

The trip from Liverpool Street is about two hours to Norwich, and it’s well worth it for a few reasons:

  1. The city has a really nice vibe and boasts clean streets, pretty views, a cathedral and cool pubs (important here in England!).
  2. There are lovely markets in the city, undercover so it doesn’t matter if it’s raining. At the markets you’ll find sweet hand-made goods and delicious fresh food to get stuck into after a hard day’s worth of shopping. At Christmastime there are festive markets open too.
  3. We discovered a fab little shop called Cupcakes & Bubbles – yep, champagne and sweet treats. Amazing.
  4. Plenty of cute dogs in the area too, and it was lovely to see a group of people in the town centre raising awareness for Action for Greyhounds, an organisation that campaigns for these lovely dogs who can sometimes be mistreated when their owners are finished racing them.
  5. If you visit Norwich, don’t miss a lovely waterside dining and entertainment precinct (just around the corner from the train station), Riverside Norwich.

Then of course there is their very special light tunnel, the Norwich Tunnel of Light, right in the city centre.

Light tunnel: magic in Norwich

 

For more on the area and the Tunnel of Light, take a look at the city’s official tourism site, Visit Norwich. We bought train tickets in advance on Trainline which meant for two of us it cost around £35 return trip on Greater Anglia trains.

There’s plenty of amazing festive experiences on offer at this time of year. You can travel within the UK, or might we suggest further afield to Amsterdam or Paris?

Let us know in the comment what your favourite thing to do in the holiday season is.

Days out in Kent – Broadstairs and Botany Bay

Days out in Kent – Broadstairs and Botany Bay

Determined to dip our toes in the ocean just once before ‘summer’ in the UK is over, we followed advice from friends about serene days out in Kent.

We boarded a train from London headed to Broadstairs and Botany Bay, ready to explore the gorgeous Kent English seaside.

Discover our itinerary and have a look around for yourselves…

Days out in Kent – take the train to Broadstairs

🌞

I’d read a magazine article somewhere about the UK’s prettiest beaches, and Broadstairs was in the list as being ‘most Instagrammable‘ (in other words, great for photos).

I figured the destination would be right up our alley.

Plus, at just an hour and a half from London’s St Pancras, this quaint beach-side haven in Kent is easily accessible for us.

Days out in Kent: Broadstairs town

Broadstairs – beachside beauty for a day out in Kent

Broadstairs is a favourite among families for a summer’s day at the beach.

Indeed it was reportedly author Charles Dickens’ most loved holiday spot in England!

While we were blessed with sunny weather, I wouldn’t exactly say it was warm on Saturday.

Many dogs and children ran carefree along the beach and there were brave windsurfers and boaties heading out into the great, cold blue.

If jumping in for a swim, isn’t your thing (we concur), there’s plenty more to do on a day trip to Kent in and around Broadstairs.

Days out in Kent: Botany Bay cliffs

A day out in Kent, top ideas include:

– the Dickens House Museum

The Old Curiosity Shop

– Broadstairs’ historical pier and boathouse

– Bleak House (built in 1801 and later Dickens’ holiday home)

Admiralty Cottage (1815).

Broadstairs in Kent offers the curious visitor stories and history around every corner, and helpfully, a self-guided walk has been devised.

You can download a map of the Broadstairs Town Trail, or find out more at the visitor information stand at the entrance to the beach.

Days out in Kent with dogs and their humans

We had embarked on our days out in Kent adventure for the scenery in particular – Cooper armed with his vlogging equipment and me with my beloved Canon EOS camera.

 

 

A day trip to Kent – around the area

Broadstairs is part of the Thanet District in Kent, which includes two other major settlements, Margate and Ramsgate, that are both served by trains coming in and out of London.

It’s possible to walk or hike along the coast (being mindful of tide times), to enjoy the seven bays of Broadstairs.

Days out in Kent: Broadstairs beach

If you take a look at a map, you’ll see that from the beach at Broadstairs you can wander left and you’ll come across Stone Bay, Joss Gap, Kingsgate Bay and Botany Bay before eventually coming into Margate.

To the right, you’ll discover Viking Bay, Louisa Bay and Dumpton Gap.

Actually, further along the coast in this direction you would come to Dover, which means directly across the water is France!

The Viking Coastal Path is a route you can walk along in either direction.

There are plenty of signposts showing where you are and also explaining the history of the bays, including smuggling, wartime and shipwreck stories.

Days out in Kent - Botany Bay offers lovely scenery

Botany Bay, UK

We were destined for Botany Bay this particular weekend.

It took our fancy because it’s of the same name as somewhere very significant in our Australia’s own history; plus the spectacular chalky cliffs were something we wanted to view for ourselves.

Next time we visit, we will head to Ramsgate because the visitor information guide said there are really nice bars and facilities along the waterfront… my interest is piqued.

Days out in Kent: beach fun and paw prints

The scenery here is very ‘white cliffs of Dover’ style; dramatic and quintessentially English.

The beaches are real, so you can get sand between your toes, happy dogs can run, bark and play; and the air is crisp and fresh. Just what we all need to clear the mind and free the spirit.

Days out in Kent: Kingsgate town and Botany Bay

Because we only had a few hours scheduled for our day trip to Kent, we didn’t end up walking from Broadstairs to Botany Bay.

Under normal circumstances this would take an hour, but we didn’t have the time to spare so jumped in a cab.

We want to give a shout-out to Broadstairs Taxis because the drivers who helped us were really friendly and informative.

Also, they sent a text to our phone to let us know how far away they were – all round good service. And, between one destination to another it was only £5.

Days out in Kent: Kingsgate Bay and Botany Bay beach landscape

Picture perfect days out in Kent

Botany Bay and neighbouring Kingsgate offer picturesque views on beautiful days out in Kent, like the one above.

I spotted a wedding shoot taking place on a cliff-top and a music video being shot beneath; a lone wind-surfer enjoying time on the waves and the beaches were pretty and rugged, winding around the coast.

We were rugged up but the visit here was a chance to satisfy a creative longing to video and photograph this country we’ve come to love so much.

Of course, it came time to eat, and we had our sights set on the Botany Bay Hotel, which offers pub-like dining in fine surrounds opposite the ocean at Botany Bay.

The place is really dog friendly (yay!) and quite well priced.

If you’re there as we were for lunch, you can’t book, but evening you can reserve a table.

You can stay in the hotel too, which is perfectly positioned for anyone who wants to spend more time playing, hiking, writing, photographing or simply being mindful by the sea.

Days out in Kent: Kingsgate Castle on a hill

After a big meal (and maybe a beer), you can walk off any indulgence by heading around the Viking Trail just ten minutes to Kingsgate Bay.

You’ll pass a golf range and spot the extremely grand Kingsgate Castle on the cliff overlooking the ocean (pictured above).

It’s now filled with apartments inside but looks really cool from the outside, and views include the sea doorway and white cliffs as pictured above.

If you’re thirsty after this coastal expedition (wandering along the top of the cliffs or walking down to the sea front below), you can pop into Captain Digby Tavern, another cliff-top pub.

Days out in Kent: Broadstairs beach life

Out and about on a day trip in Kent

Life certainly is better at the beach, and our day trip to Kent included breathing in the fresh ocean air, patting plenty of puppies, enjoying a pub lunch with a view and feasting on the scenery this coastline offers.

We can’t wait to get back this way, and would highly recommend the easy trip if you want to experience the English seaside.

A gorgeous alternative (also in Kent) is Whitstable, or head for the bigger fun of Brighton.

 

Trip details

Time: about an hour and a half by train to and from King’s Cross in London; we would suggest four to six hours here for a decent day trip.

Cost: our day trip cost around £55 for two return train tickets, £10 in cab fares as we were short on time, but we wanted to take a look along the coast, and £10 each for a nice lunch.

Train booking: we booked our tickets through trainline.com.

Cab: Broadstairs Taxis, phone 01843869999. 

Tourist information: try Visit Thanet or Visit Kent.