Seaside and Fish and Chips

Trip Start Sep 30, 2005
Trip End Jun 04, 2006

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Flag of United Kingdom  ,
Saturday, January 28, 2006

Dad's birthday and a family get together. They are, with time, becoming increasingly rare events. I don't doubt that this is true of most modern families and truth be known we're probably lucky that we are still all able and willing to get together every so often. I don't think that you could put the reducing frequency town to any one thing. If anything, it's a sign of children grown up into fully fledged adults as free-spirited, independent minded and dare I say it as occasionally stubborn as their parents. Whatever the reason it's always nice to catch up with my sisters and parents. I wouldn't say I'm ever doing cartwheels excited about them in advance but there is always a pleasant, reassuring warmth in knowing we'll be getting together.

Much as all of us love spending time outdoors, February in England and planning outdoor activities is something of a climatic lottery. Today we're lucky as this is a brilliant day to visit Littlestone beach with the dogs. The tide is half a mile out baring the hard packed sand and mudflats The shallow slope of the beach always guarantees small waves, but these are given a few extra white caps by the mordant wind that's ripping into the bay. The only saving grace is that it's a south westerly and not a zinging spring north easter, because it's mighty cold. Those not wearing a hat are going to get a headache today and there will be one or two on the ferries we can see going in and out of Dover who are going to have a stomach ache too. The beach is stunning when it's like this, although not in the holiday brochure sense. It's not idyllic, peaceful or overflowing with gentle imagery. This is raw and fierce, it's big, bold and brassic. Mother Nature's baring her teeth through a late winter smile.

Having retired from battle with the wind after less than an hour and left the beach to the kite flyers and sandboarders, we head for The Pilot, a local fish and chip restaurant of some renown. You could easily miss it, built as it is in the low slung style of the old fishermen's beach homes with shingle for a garden. Inside, apart from the welcome warmth, it's equally unimpressive with simple dark wooden furniture, random seafaring memorabilia and a second hand book collection to peruse with your meal. There are no reservations to be had here, you just roll up, find a table and order from the simple menu at the bar. And then the food arrives. And the table disappears if you're having fish and chips. The portions are not only huge, but deliciously fresh and crispy. This is simple cooking done well and is all the better for the choice of real ales at the bar to wash it down with. A warning though, do not make plans to eat for the next 18-24 hours if you take on a large serving as I did. It felt as if there was a rock in the pit of my stomach for the next day or so. Next time, we'll need to battle with the wind on the beach a little longer to work up a bigger appetite!
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