Travel: Day Trip to Whitstable & First Outing for Fuji X-T2

Colourful row of houses and white picket fences on Whitstable seafront

A few weeks ago, I went to Whitstable for a day trip out of London with one of my best friends. We discussed doing some weekends away to get out the city this summer and see new places, but with busy schedules we ended up making our first attempt a day trip. For me, nothing beats a road trip, even if its a short one! I love the feeling of freedom – being able to jump in a car and go anywhere you want, at any time. 

We chose Whitstable because I know a lot of people living on the Kent coast who love it, and it was within easy driving distance (about an hour and fifteen from Wanstead in East London). Having just bought tickets to the ‘Silent Alarm’ anniversary tour that week, we pretty much listened/sang along to Bloc Party the whole way there.

Old architectural details on red brick building in Whitstable

Arriving at lunch time, we parked up in the centre of town and walked down the high street, towards the coast. The high street was just as you would want – beautifully quaint and with a true sense of being by the seaside, but not in a cheesy way. There were so many trendy boutiques and vintage stores – honestly, without restraint I could have spent a fortune.

Day trip postcard from East Quay Venue, Whitstable

We came out by the Harbour and wandered round the market – there were some really beautiful pieces of art, including some incredible landscape photography. We carried on down the seafront towards West Beach, stopping at the Old Neptune pub on the beach. Down this way, there were endless brightly coloured beach huts along the pebble shores.

Wide shot of Whitstable's west beach and the Old Neptune pub

After walking all the way down the beach, we backed up on ourselves down Island Wall. I loved walking past all the white washed buildings and choosing which home we would like to live in. They were all lovely and there was the real feeling of history. Whitstable is also home to a number of tiny alleyways leading off to who knows where!

Young woman walking past colourful beach huts

We stopped for a very traditional seaside lunch at Elliot’s, No 1 Harbour Street. Can definitely recommend it – we got chatting to our waitress, who also suggested we stop in at the New Inn pub, which we did after another coastal walk. We had headed towards the castle, which has really lovely gardens, and would be a gorgeous wedding venue! If you carry on up the seafront towards Tankerton, you pass loads more coloured beach huts, and can see for miles, out towards Clacton-On-Sea. Once we got back to the harbour, we came across the Oyster Shack. As we had already eaten, we didn’t stop in, but it would make an amazing date location or place for a beachside beer.

Over all, we had a great day on the Kent seaside, and I came home feeling like we’d had a proper break, despite only being there for the afternoon! This was also the first time I took out my new Fuji X-T2. I’ve bought it as a travel camera – it’s around half the size and weight of my Canon 5D, so definitely something more appropriate for just sticking in your handbag and carrying around all day. I can’t tell you how different I found it though – the EVF (electronic view finder) really threw me for the whole day! It’s a bizarre thing to get used to. Also just buttons being in different places, and actual dials for settings meant it took me forever to set up a photo (I always shoot in manual). It’s going to take some used to, and I can’t wait to properly test it out more after wedding season. Any images you see in this blog were taken on it, with a Fujinon XF 18-55mm. I want to gradually invest in some other lenses, but figured this was a good starting point. I’ve also bought an adaptor which means I can use my Canon lenses on it for now (only in manual focus). Photographers amongst you, keep an eye out as I will probably do a more lengthy review of the XT2 once I’ve had a good chance to play with it.

Caroline x

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What I loved this month: April 2018

Speeding through 2018 aren’t we? I’m happily sat writing this at my new desk, absorbing these moments of peace – from now, my diary is completely full booked until August. What madness, but excited for plenty of weddings and fun times.

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This month I’ve been really focusing on trying to balance a crazy work life, with finding time to destress and relax. This has been something I’ve been increasingly working on for the past year – possibly through me getting older(!) and generally getting more mindful about how I spend my time and what makes me happy.

So in line with that, you may see some certain themes popping up in this month’s post of what I’ve been loving:

Happy Place podcast - Fearne Cotton

  1. Happy Place Podcast by Fearne Cotton

I’ve really gotten into my podcasts this year and tried out Fearne Cotton’s ‘Happy Place’ this month. They’re a joyful listen and she has some great speakers on, talking about how they find happiness and peace in their busy schedules. Dawn French was one of my favourites!

2. Exploring Scotland – The North Coast 500

So this technically was only this month, and it already feels forever a go, but our trip to Scotland at the start of April was so needed! We drove the North Coast 500, billed as the UK’s version of Highway 1.. and boy, I can see why. Driving through, there were several bits which reminded of Big Sur. It was so scenic, with ever changing landscapes – lochs, snow covered mountains, plains, the seaside.. everything you could want. I’ll write a separate blog on this as there was just so much to talk about, but I can definitely recommend this as a trip.

Wide image of Kylesku Bridge and surrounding mountains

3. Engagement season kicking off

Well, wedding season has well and truly started, with pre-wedding shoots galore this month. My first was Hollie & Jon’s Brick Lane shoot. I’ve never done a proper urban shoot like this before, so really enjoyed doing something a bit different, and these two were super lovely. Check out my blog post to see the shoot in full.

4. Throwing myself into plenty of books

I’ve read so much this month! It’s been completely blissful 🙂 This month I made it through:

  1.  The Mountain Shadow –  Gregory David Roberts. The sequel to Shantaram, I bought this immediately after I finished the first book. I have to say, I was so disappointed! The plot was just terrible, and it had all the feeling of ‘I have to write this as a follow up, but I’m not really sure where I’m going’. It had lost all the magic of the first book. Sorry, Shantaram.  2/5
  2. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood. Set in a dystopian future, I’m sure loads of people have heard about this book through the TV series. For something written in 1985, it was so ahead of it’s time in picking up on challenges the future may hold if we don’t change our way. Obviously, it took it to an extreme, but the concept was fascinating. I ploughed through this in just a week! 3.5/5
  3. Bossypants – Tina Fey. I figured I would go for something a bit lighter after the last two books, so went for Tina Fey’s autobiography. A short read, it had me laughing out loud on the tube and is worth reading if only for her responses to internet trolls. 3.5/5 

I’ve now gone old school and am reading ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ – my first ever Agatha Christie novel!

5.  Whitstable

A few weeks ago, I took a random road trip with my bestie to Whitstable. It was the perfect distance away for a day trip from London, and we had a blast driving down there singing loudly to Bloc Party the whole way. Whitstable itself was gorgeous – so quaint and  relaxed, it was exactly what I wanted from a British seaside town! We walked along West Beach and stopped at the Neptune Pub, saw a ridiculous amount of coloured huts, roamed the back streets of white washed buildings, and had a traditional seaside lunch before heading home. I came back feeling like the weekend had been really well spent, even if we had only been there a few hours! We definitely want to do more day trips, so if anyone has suggestions of places within easy reach of London, comment below 🙂

Wide shot of Whitstable's west beach and the Old Neptune pub

Let me know what you’ve been loving this month! Caroline x

Travel: 5 days in Malta

Last month, I travelled to Malta for a short holiday. I went mainly to support my sister who was playing in the Women’s World Snooker Championships, but I’m also not one to pass up the opportunity to see somewhere new.

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As part of my ‘wedding bucket list’, I’ve always wanted to shoot a beach wedding so I decided I would also plan a styled shoot while there. I’ll writing a seperate blog on that, so keep your eyes peeled. Amongst all of that snooker watching and having wedding cakes/flowers etc arrive at my hotel, I’m glad to say we did manage to explore Malta 🙂

Loving a good road trip, we hired a car – always my favourite way to explore somewhere!

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On our first day, we headed to the north of the island and found a gorgeous secret bay, off a back road somewhere. This was probably my highlight of the holiday – the place was so secluded and peaceful. While there, we drove round another back road and came out in Imgiebah Bay, where we met a retired man walking. He was telling us he spent every winter in Malta, walking most days around the coast of the island. Sounds like my retirement dream! This coast line was so incredible, I can definitely recommend making time to walk there.

The west of the Island

Another day, we headed more to the West of the island. On our way to Dingly Cliffs, we stopped at Mdina, the ‘silent city’. We had a quick walk around the fortified town, exploring the narrow lanes within the city wall. It was seriously beautiful – very quaint, with gorgeous architecture and plenty of interesting nooks and crannies to find.

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Carrying on past Mdina, our sat nav sent us on what seemed the most random route – the track took us between farm fields, and then into narrow lanes which we barely fitted through (despite only being in a small car). Great fun though, and we eventually reached Dingly Cliffs. This side of the island is stunning – very dramatic coastline, and you can see for miles out to sea!

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We took the coast road further south and found the Blue Grotto, a natural cave formation in the cliffs. We stopped off at the small seaside resort next to it, Il-Qrendi, and had a stunning outdoor lunch by the sea. It couldn’t have been more perfect, as it was also the hottest day on the island since we’d been there.

Valletta

One evening, we drove into Valletta, the culture capital of Europe for 2018. We needed to cheer up my sister who had been knocked out the snooker, so stopped for cocktails at the Hard Rock Cafe in the harbour, before wandering up to the old town for sunset. And what a sunset we had! The skyline was absolutely stunning and I really enjoyed walking through the old streets as it got dark. We dined al fresco in a lovely square covered in fairylights, before heading back to the hotel. It’s a truly stunning city.

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Gozo

On our final day in Malta, we decided to catch the ferry to Gozo, having had recommendations we should see The Azure Window, a natural door formation which recently collapsed into the sea. It was such a windy day we thought we were going to get blown over the edge when looking into the Blue Hole, a natural swimming pool in the rocks next to the collapsed window. I can imagine what a gorgeous spot it must be for a swim in the summer.

As it was the final of the snooker that day, we decided we would squeeze in one more bit of sightseeing before rushing back to the hotel to watch it. We drove north to the Wied Il-Mielah, another natural door forming in the cliffs of Gozo. It was a lovely spot to see, although I stumbled up the steps and dented my wide lens… massive fail.

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Before heading back to the airport for our flight home, we were meant to visit the small fishing town of Marsaxlokk, but thanks to it being the closing ceremony of the snooker, and St Patrick’s Day the evening before, our heads were a bit sore! Cue napping before a slow journey to the airport. However, there is always next time! Would love to go back to Malta in the summer and make the most of the coast and secluded bays 🙂

Caroline x

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