Celia called for me at eight this morning, and suitably booted (well, I was; Celia had left her boots in Sussex so wore sturdy trainers) we set out for a day in Kent, walking from Faversham to Whitstable along the coastal path.
Rather wonderfully, both towns were new to Celia. I used to walk a lot with the South Bank group of the Ramblers and Kent was a favoured destination.
Faversham is so lovely that we could quite easily have spent the whole day there. It starts with an attractive railway station and just gets better. The Tourist Information Centre must be the best stocked and most helpful in the northern hemisphere. The volunteer seemed particularly keen we should not miss the public toilets, but we did.
We must have walked at least half a mile of our ten mile projected walk when we stopped for coffee at the edge of the town by the creek. Delicious coffee which we drank in the garden beside the garden centre attached to the café.
They were also selling home made cakes. Well, it would have been churlish not to have a slice. Do try the marmalade cake if you are passing.
Just about everyone else we met in the morning had a dog, sometimes two dogs. Most of the dogs had tennis balls. All had wagging tails.
Birds we could not identify flew in front of us, bobbing and swooping. A retriever bounded through the water. Yellow butterflies unfolded their wings beside us.
The colours were stunning. If an artist painted the water with the hues we saw today, I would think it artistic licence.
We drank cider in the pub at Seasalter and ate sandwiches on the beach beside a sand castle someone else had made.
The mood of the walk changed in the afternoon; we walked by caravans and holiday homes; beach huts and houses with eloquent views over the water. Families and more dogs and people enjoying being on the water replaced the quiet and the birds.
At Whitstable, we loitered. Celia thought she might have an ice-cream. I thought I might have a beer. In the event, we had neither. Nor any oysters. We watched the RNLI boat being brought ashore with a tractor; read the panels about the history of the town; enjoyed the relaxed and contented atmosphere.
And then we came home.