City dweller or country bumpkin alike, there is something so magical about visiting the coast and seeing the ocean outstretched in front of you. Equally invigorating and reviving is being amongst the trees and fields, with only the sound of leaves rustling and birdsong. So, which would you choose - ocean or forest? Well, in North Kent, you don’t need to.
Living in South East London very near to where the Kent and London borders blur, North Kent is our go-to for some fresh air and countryside peace. Even with my partner growing up in the area, it’s so vast that there are little pockets that are discoverable even to him. A little area we found and ventured to recently was Blean, under an hour away from our flat.
Sat just a few miles away from Canterbury city, Blean is a little village on its own deep in the countryside with its own forest and nature reserve. Staying in an AirBnB bell tent on the border of the reserve, we got to scratch our camping itch for a weekend - compost loo, solar shower and all! It wasn’t until the first morning there and after our Aeropress coffee in the sun, did we realise just how close the coast was. An 11 minute drive whisks you to Whitstable seafront, just 5 more minutes takes you to Herne Bay and 8 minutes more on top will land you to the sandy beach of Minnis Bay. Who knew?!
Famous for its oysters, Whitstable has quite the food scene even if you take Michelin starred The Sportsman in neighbouring Seasalter out of the mix. The seafood on offer is everything you’d expect from the seaside town but with pasture also being so close, everything else is just as ripe and delicious too. With so many visitors and sitting in a genuinely interesting spot in the UK, the place has a rustic effortless style that makes it simultaneously impressive and comfortable.
Taking the road through to Tankerton (the ideal residential location for the benefits of Whitstable but with some more quiet), you end up at Herne Bay. The little market town isn’t as trendy as its neighbour but with a quieter beach which has sand underfoot in the sea, it’s a true pleasure to visit with a picnic for a day out and a dip in the sea. Going further south along the shore, the sandy beach of Minnis Bay is nearby. As you can imagine, the sand draws a lot of families with young children as does the calm and shallow waters.
Back in Blean, there are a few farm shops nearby selling their own or very, very local produce so you get to enjoy the fruits of their labour (literally) and feel like a fellow villager. My only pieces of advice for such shops is to be open with your meal plan as some specific ingredients might not be available, and to go during the morning so you’re not faced with a closed store if you go during lunch or later in the afternoon. Remember, outside of London shops are much more civilised with their opening hours!
I think the only the thing missing from this place would be some mountains, but I mean, how much more can we ask for here?! If you’re ever feeling indecisive about what you’d want for your break or having a bit of tiff about it with your holidaying buddy - go here. An historic city, forests and country walks and a few seasides to pick from all with the best meat, fish, fruit and veg available, it really is all ticked off here!