My Birthday Weekend

Day Ten – Back to London

My birthday eve and Kim and I cleaned up Smuggler’s Cove ready for an onslaught of guests the following day.  Then we headed back to New Eltham and Zac’s school fete.  I had a delicious Pimm’s and Lemonade and was put in charge of ‘queue control’ for Vicky’s face painting stall.  Vicky painted about fifteen Frozen related faces (including a sweet boy who insisted on being Anna) and a fox that had to be downgraded to a Ninja Turtle.

Afterwards, we drove up for dinner with Kim’s family in a fancy house.  We arrived just as dinner was being served so we timed it perfectly.  Some of Kim’s Hungarian relatives were there and one of them was more comfortable in German than English so I tried to talk with him.  I had a bit of language confusion and a couple of times used German, Japanese and English words all in the same sentence.  The problem seemed to resolve itself though as the evening progressed and the Pàlinka (Hungarian firewater) hit the table.  One shot and I was fluent.  Can’t remember which language though!

Day Eleven – Back in Seasalter

Front view of Smuggler's Cove

View of the sea from the lounge at Smuggler’s Cove.

Smuggler's Cove view out the back.

View of the countryside from the balcony off the kitchen at Smuggler’s Cove.










After cleaning up from the night before and having a cooked breakfast, everyone headed back down to Smuggler’s Cove for some relaxation.  The holiday let that Kim and Vicky have is very comfortable with terrific views.  It sleeps 7+ and there is a huge deck and two balconies.  You can easily walk into Whitstable in about forty minutes or get lost running along the seawall, also in about forty minutes.

I got multiple cakes, lovely pressies, cream decorated with my name and a hiding at connect four by a seven year old.  I also got to watch the Eagle’s thrash Adelaide with a real football fan and a confused Hungarian!  All in all, it was a wonderful birthday!


Dinner at Smuggler’s Cove – thanks Kim and Vicky!


Go Eagles!


My name in blueberries – somehow!

Day Twelve – Belfast (well a bit outside it actually)

Picked up my hire car at the airport, keyed into the sat nav my B&B and headed to the motorway.  I’ve got ten days travelling around Ireland from Belfast to Dublin.  A sign on the motorway told me it would take 80 minutes to reach Dublin.  So am now wondering what I’m going to do for the other nine days and 22 hours.

Best Pubs in Whitstable for Studying Your Masters

Day seven – Still in Seasalter

Whilst in the beautiful surrounds of Seasalter, my plan is to do some serious work on my masters course.  I have the draft of my next assignment due at the end of the month and I want to have a less stressful experience than what I had for the first assignment.  For this assignment, all I managed by the draft due date was an introduction followed by section headings as an outline.  When I finally found time to dedicate to writing the 5000 word essay, I decided to completely re-write what I had done up to that point so I ended up writing the thing basically from scratch the weekend before the Monday it was due.  This was quite a painful ordeal and I had to sacrifice a brunch invitation at the Park Royal Hyatt in Shinjuku to boot!  Although it all turned out ok in the end and I passed the module, I really, really, really want a smoother, less panicked lead up to this assignment due date.  And I definitely don’t want to be forced to turn down any eating experiences!

So, to this end, I’m taking time every day to work on my masters.  Sure, I’m also checking the FB way more than usual, blogging about my trip every day and enjoying time with my friends but I am on holiday after all!  Whilst in Seasalter though, I have made a lovely routine.  Every day I get up and work for a few hours at Kim and Vicky’s house.  Then I pack up all my gear and walk in to Whitstable which is about 45 minutes away by foot.  There I find a nice pub with wifi, have lunch and continue working for a while before heading back to Seasalter where I relax for the rest of the evening.

So I’ve decided to dedicate this post to the best pubs to study your masters in Whitstable!

Pub #1 – Pearson’s Arms

This pub has a big reputation.  Kim told me it is famed for its seafood menu and is very popular with locals and tourists alike.  Situated on the beach, it is in a very nice location but how is it for masters studying?  I’ve decided to rate the pubs on three criteria:


Just enough room for my wine on the table with all those electronics!

  1. Quality of food
  2. Price (I am a student after all!)
  3. Atmosphere for studying

So here is how the Pearson’s Arms did:

  1. Quality of food – I found the menu lacking in any plant based options.  The fish and chips came with the traditional peas but that was about it.  As a ‘ridiculously loose when on holiday’ pescatarian, I was trying to do my best to add some veggies.  I enquired if the fish pie came with a salad and was told that sadly, no it was just the pie.  So I ordered salt and pepper squid as I wasn’t really that hungry.  I couldn’t find the pepper for the life of me but it didn’t matter because it was delicious!
  2. Price – mains were about the £14 to £15 mark but the squid was an entree so was half that price.  The large house white that accompanied it was £6.50!
  3. Atmosphere for studying – very conducive.  Quiet background music.  Busy with patrons but not to the extent that it was too noisy.  And I got a table right next to a power outlet which was great!  Patrons were friendly and talked to me too which was nice to break up my work.

Day Eight – Seasatler still

On the way out of the Pearson’s Arms yesterday, I noticed another pub with a free wifi sign.  So here is my review for studying your masters at the Prince Albert (no snickering please!)

Pub #2 – The Prince Albert (come on!)

Whoops – drank the wine before taking the photos!

  1. Quality of food – A much more veggie friendly menu.  Again I wasn’t that hungry so I went for the crab cakes which were listed under the salad options.  A lot of the food had an Asian twist to it that made me feel at home and the crab cakes were no exception with a lovely sweet chilli dipping sauce and plenty of sesame added to the salad.  Yum!
  2. Price – Very reasonable and student friendly with even mains being around the £8 mark.  My large house white was again £6.50 which was almost as much as my lunch.  It was more than my lunch when you consider I drank two!
  3. Atmosphere for studying – music was a bit loud to be honest but spot on in terms of my era!  There was a power point near a small table though which suited me and over all less customers so less crowd noise.  Also less spontaneous interaction which I’m a bit sad about.

Day Nine – You guessed it, I’m still in Seasalter

I wandered into Whitstable today with no direct plan.  I walked up the high street and ended up in the, hmm, looking around the pub and can’t find the name of it.  Hang on, I’ll just pop outside…  The Quayside Freehouse!

Pub #3 – The Quayside Freehouse

Quayside Freehouse

Too nice a day to be inside but the wine deal convinced me!

From the exterior and a brief look in through the windows, I could tell this was a bit of a rougher style pub.  I took a deep breath and headed inside for today’s review.

  1. Quality of food – Finally a pub with a decent veggie option.  I had the grilled vegetable lasagne with chips and salad.  Very tasty.
  2. Price – Very economically priced for students.  My meal was just £7.95 and therefore the cheapest of the three pubs I’ve visited.  But that wasn’t the clincher.  On ordering my standard large house white, I was informed that if I intended to get two glasses (well duh!) then I would receive the rest of the bottle free!  “Done!” I said in triumph!
  3. This is the biggest pub I’ve worked in but not too loud or busy so quite good for working.  No obvious power outlets near the tables though so I will have to pack up as soon as my battery runs out.  I did help out a retired couple who were trying to get directions to a store from the waitress.  I brought over my computer and we looked it up on a map.  They were very happy!  What is it with old people and maps?  Mum, Aunty Peta – any thoughts?

So there you have it.  If you are ever in Whitstable and need to do some study on your masters degree, hopefully this post will help you decide the best places to do it!  I’m sure this is a niche worth covering!  🙂

Image Credits

All photos are by Merilyn Winslade and shared on Flickr.

The Importance of Planning

Day eight – Still in Seasalter



Note to self – when in a foreign country, look up a map before going on a forty minute run!

Today I headed out thinking for my run that I’ll just keep the sea to the right for twenty minutes and then keep it to my left for the next twenty minutes.  So I started off running along the sea wall.  I don’t like looking at my phone all the time so I decided to judge the time by counting the number of songs that had played.  I estimated that each song was roughly three minutes long so I decided to run for seven songs along the wall.  It was a bit slow going along the wall and so I thought I should go a bit longer than half way and when it came time to turn back, run along the road a bit faster.

After seven songs, I came a long a gravel track heading back to the road so I took it.  It didn’t lead back to the road.  I went up a hill, down a hill, along a bit, around a corner and two kilometres later, finally hit the road and the way back to Seasalter.  I had only run along the road for a few minutes when my phone told me my forty minutes was up.  I thought about keeping on going but I was really tired.  I had walked into Whitstable and back earlier in the day.

I checked the route on my phone and I was about five kilometres away from my starting point!  I began walking along the narrow road and I decided to hitch a ride back.  I stuck my thumb out but car after car passed me by.  I’ve hitchhiked in New Zealand, the US and even Botswana before and I never had trouble getting a lift in those places.  Did I look particularly threatening in my running gear?  Lots of bikes passed me by too but they were the flimsy racing type and there was no way I was scoring a dink on those!

In the end I had to resort to putting on a limp to get a lift and finally a nice lady stopped to pick me up.  She drove me back to Smuggler’s Cove.  As I alighted from her car, some of the cyclists that had overtaken me earlier went passed.  They yelled out at me that I had cheated.  I agreed with them!


At least I had time to snap a few selfies!

Image Credits

Photos taken by me and shared on Flickr.

Packing for English Summers

Day six – Seasalter

It is hot in my old country of Australia during summer.  It is hot in my new country of Japan too.  I had forgotten that it isn’t hot in England during summer.

Just before I left to come to London, the BBC headlines were all about the heatwave in the UK.  I only noticed the headlines and didn’t read the articles.  If I had, I would have noticed the the sweltering temperatures they were talking about were low 30’s and sometimes just high 20’s.  Unfortunately, it was on the headlines and not the articles themselves that I based my packing.  I generally pack light anyway, but I may have gone a bit far this time considering I’m here for a month.  This is my packing list:

One Aussie’s comment on the UK heatwave published on the BBC!

  • 3 x t-shirts
  • shorts
  • jeans
  • green hoodie
  • dress/shoes for wedding
  • 5 x knickers
  • 2 x bras
  • 2 x sports outfits
  • hat
  • sunnies
  • thongs
  • sneakers
  • 3 x socks
  • pj’s
  • toiletries
  • a large variety of electronics and associated paraphernalia including selfie stick

So far, I’ve had two problems.  Firstly, since I didn’t specify the toiletries to take, I forgot deodorant.  This meant I arrived at Kim and Vicky’s very, very smelly.  Secondly, I believed the headlines and indeed, the day of my arrival, it did feel a bit hot.  I was definitely hot on the train to New Eltham and this combined with my no deodorant problem, meant myself and the passengers surrounding me were particularly uncomfortable.

The heatwave ended the day after I arrived as it rained.  It hasn’t been hot since.  I have been wearing my one pair of jeans and my one hoodie ever since.  I went shopping to get some more clothes on Friday but all they are selling are ridiculously short shorts (the type you bottom falls out of) and skinny jeans.  I can’t wear skinny jeans because I’m not skinny.  So the shopping trip was a total failure and I’m now stuck wearing the same pair of jeans and the same hoodie until the 17th.

Why the 17th you ask?  Because that is the day of Ruth’s wedding and I’ll be wearing a summer dress, freezing my arse off and popping my jeans in the wash so they are ready for wear again the next ten days of my holiday!