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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… 

 

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.

 

Days out in Warwickshire: Rugby

Days out in Warwickshire: Rugby

What’s it like to be marooned in the West Midlands? We stumbled across the town of Rugby when searching for ideas on days out in Warwickshire. Have a look around in our vlog, and some itinerary highlights below.

Days out in Warwickshire – travel to Rugby, England

From the church to the pub

Not necessarily as dodgy as it sounds!

Yesterday morning as we looked at our options for upcoming days out in Warwickshire, we considered the reasons why we wanted to find out more about Rugby.

As we were driving by our favourite new watering hole, The Bull Inn, we enthusiastically started a conversation with our cabbie – they’re always great for advice, right? He of course happily obliged, and started a yarn about how he’d lived at that very pub growing up.

At that time (about 50 years ago), he said the place – Rugby and Warwickshirewas – was very different.

His family lived above; the pub didn’t serve food, but was designed as a labyrinth of little spaces that were nick-named ‘snugs’, so you could snuggle up to others when it was chilly.

He told us of a secret tunnel that runs underground from the pub to St Mary’s Church across the road. It’s an old tunnel, now closed off but once used by the priests for safe passage.

He said that often in England you’ll find (or would have before churches were burned down or dismantled over the years) churches and pubs right next door to each other. Apparently this was so the church labourers had somewhere to go at the end of a long day.

I’m having a hard time verifying this, so if you have more detail on the history of this set-up in villages across England, please let me know in the comments.

Rugby UK - ideal to visit on days out in Warwickshire

He also shared that apparently soccer (football) started in these parts, as a game which could go on for days and with the aim of being the first team to get the ball from one church to another. Then they’d go to the pub.

Seems that everything begins at church and ends at the pub – in the most respectful and affectionate of ways, of course.

Best laid plans

And that sets the tone of our time in Rugby, a place that’s full of stories and story-tellers, proving that sometimes the best-laid plans aren’t what’s best for you.

It was from our base in Rugby that we had planned to hire a car and set off for a few days out in Warwickshire.

We would also do the few-hour round trip to visit Cotswold hotspots including Broadway, Chipping Campden, Bibury and Moreton-in-Marsh.

Days out in Warwickshire - explore Rugby

All was going along just fine. We checked into our utterly gorgeous little Airbnb country escape overlooking the countryside, complete with excellent pub and quaint main street just on our doorstep.

But when Saturday arrived, it seemed we were not meant to get to the Cotswolds – between several transport mix-ups in the space of a couple of hours, the illusive location of the car hire company, a lengthy wait to secure a pre-booked vehicle when we finally found the car hire place.

Then we realised mid key hand-over that there was no way to return it until after the long weekend – we ended up with no choice other than to explore present surroundings. Our days out in Warwickshire turned into a focus on one little town, but we were determined to make the best of it.

Cooper was a bit disappointed because after a couple of years not being behind a wheel (we only use public transport in London), he was excited about driving.

But, on a promise from me that we’d come back to explore lands lost to us on this trip, and the reminder we were standing in the home of the game they play in heaven (apparently), his cheerful demeanour returned.

Days out in Warwickshire - Clifton upon Dunsmore

To be honest all the diversions that kept pushing us further from our original goal did have me wondering if it was actually all for the best.

As it turned out, the weather was beyond terrible for most of the weekend, so any photos we had hoped to Instagram were as good as non-existent either way.

Rugby is a market town on the river Avon, positioned in the middle of the country on a train line between London Euston and Birmingham.

It’s quite big with all the amenities you want and need on a trip away including plenty to do, see, eat and buy (‘fun shopping’, I call it).

Under normal circumstances when you have access to a car, Rugby is a great base to explore from, because it’s central to a range of wonderful cities and villages across Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and Gloucestershire including the Cotswolds, enchanting National Trust sites, and even top tourist attractions like Blenheim Palace, Oxford University and ‘Shakespeare’s land’ around Stratford upon Avon.

Days out in Warwickshire - Rugby school

Why did it turn out to be just fine to be marooned in the West Midlands though?

7 reasons why you should visit Rugby in England

What’s in a name?

Whether you’re a fan of sports or not, you can’t help but be a little impressed by the grounds at the Rugby school.

One of the region’s most significant events was the founding of the school in 1567 thanks to Lawrence Sheriff, a grocer who upon his death left money to set up an educational institution for local boys.

Lawrence’s significant legacy in these parts and his name is all over streets, pubs and other memorials.

Days out in Warwickshire, Rugby architecture

Of course, everyone associates this place with Sir William Web Ellis, who in 1823 picked up the ball and ran with it!

Legend has it, this was the beginning of the game of rugby as we know it. Indeed, during the World Cup tournament, teams play to take home the trophy that bears his name.

Most of the year, you can stand on the spectacular field where this all happened, and where lucky young students have the chance to be educated in one of the most well respected schools in the country.

Informative tours are usually available too, and there are excellent museums all over town where you can learn about how this place has influenced not just the game of rugby, but most other ball games we know and enjoy today.

Unique wares

A friendly cab driver pointed out this most eclectic place: part vegetarian café, part homewares store and quirky gift shop – described to us as, ‘a place you just have to visit’, we totally agree!

Cooper even vouches for the yummy vegetarian fare on offer and we recommend it for a hearty, good-value lunch.

Summersault is located in the centre of town, off the main mall or street opposite the Rugby school.

Days out in Warwickshire - Rugby, Sommersault

Interesting architecture

Rugby proves to be a neat, pretty town, sprinkled with interesting architecture dating from medieval times through to the past hundred or so years.

The Rugby school owns a large amount of land where stately buildings stand and school staff reside.

A number of other colleges plus many old churches steeped in history are all over the city.

We found that no matter what the religion, if the house was open, we were welcomed in to enjoy a respectful wander around.

Particularly interesting (with a particularly lovely community) was Saint Marie’s where we met Fr David Tobin who enthusiastically shared stories about the rich history of the establishment and its founding family, the Hibberts.

Days out in Warwickshire - Rugby, St Marie Church

Market town charm

There’s plenty to see and do here, and the charm is magnified when you realise actually how much the town has contributed to contemporary life as we know it.

From ballgames to the Olympics, English gentlemen to jet engines and something else close to our hearts, radio… the BBC has put together an interesting read here on how all this relates to Rugby.

People with heart

I think pretty much everyone we met in Rugby were helpful, kind and friendly to us.

From the cab drivers (we ended up meeting a number of them because we were based out of town so relied on their service while visiting) to dog owners, publicans, our Airbnb hosts and everyone in between, we found the locals to be generous with their time, stories and hospitality.

In fact, it was thanks to their openness that we learned about little snippets of the area’s history and about things to do for fun.

Oh, and they let us pat their dogs too. That’s always nice!

Special thanks to Wilmer the Weimaraner puppy’s mum, Riley the sheepdog’s dad and Polly the 9-month-old-pup’s owner!

Days out in Warwickshire - stay in an airbnb in Rugby

Leisurely fun

Our ‘local’ (as in, five minutes’ walk from our accommodation) was called The Bull Inn.

As with any place in England, there are public houses on just about every corner.

Rugby is no exception, and the city boasts a number of cool establishments with rich histories attached to their walls.

Our favourite though, was The Bull Inn, so it’s a good thing we ended up staying near it.

The food, vibe and space (including a huge outdoor area for when the weather is nice) were all terrific and we wish there was something like it near us in London!

Days out in Warwickshire, Rugby, St Marie church

A country escape

The highlight of this trip ended up being the accommodation, which was a lovely little space overlooking the countryside in Clifton upon Dunsmore which is on the outskirts of Rugby.

We chilled out, wandered to the pub, cooked some nice dinners and listened to the rain in a different way than you do in the city – almost reminiscent of the summer rains that fall in the wet season over our home in north Queensland.

If you’re seeking a country escape that still has all the conveniences of city life on your doorstep, then this is a perfect option.

Days out in Warwickshire - Rugby school


Getting around:

As we discovered, you’ll need a car for days out in Warwickshire. In Rugby, walking or riding a bike around is easy.

If you’re based a little out of town as we were, cabs are easy to catch or call and are not very expensive. It’s about £5 to anywhere.

The central train station is where you’ll end up if you’re moving on from the district.

There is also a local bus service which would be worthwhile using if you were in town for longer. We’d suggest a car is a good idea though, if possible.

 

Looking for other ideas on easy trips out of London? Have a browse here for inspiration 

 

Do you have any tips on this part of England, or questions? Let us know in the comments.