Day 13 – Sunday 3 May 2015

It is possible that the paddling adventure of Krista and I, Falling Down the Thames, is unique in annals of transportation. It may be that as long as people have been paddling, never have two adventurers spent so much time in taxis, trains and busses.

Yesterday, Saturday, was to be a day of paddling from the community of Gravesend to Sheerness. This would have involved a little more than thirty kilometres of coastline composed of mainly mudflats. The weather was not great, and with few opportunities to paddle to shore if required, we spent the day quietly in Gravesend instead. Today was to be another long slog from Sheerness to Whitstable. Again, the weather was not in our favour. At times the water looked calm enough to paddle, but five minutes later flags would be flapping furiously, and the Thames would be covered with whitecaps. In the interest of safety, we decided to abandon that segment of the paddling adventure, and head to overland to Whistable.

This is where things got a bit tricky. The British transportation system tries to complete maintenance and repair work done on weekends so as to inconvenience as few people as possible. From Gravesend, we caught a train to the middle-of-nowhere. From there we took a bus to the back-of-beyond. Both communities are gloomy. If Kent is the “Garden of England,” small bits of it could use some weeding. An additional train journey brought us to the seaside community of Whitstable.

It is the May Day bank holiday weekend in Britain. I suspect that many families have been looking forward to a get-away for quite some time. Lots of those made holiday plans for Whitstable, hoping to eat oysters and take in the bracing sea air. Silly families! Don’t they realize that this is “Spring” in Britain? Krista and I felt as though we were kites in the wind. Holidaymakers huddled against the wind, and coffee shops and pubs did a very good trade.

If you know Whitstable at all, you will know that it is a seafood lover’s paradise. It is not a vegetarian’s paradise. When Krista and I set off in search of dinner, we passed four types of restaurants. Some served only meat and seafood. Some were fully booked. Some claimed that they weren’t serving food. The remainder were closed. After ninety minutes of walking we came across an establishment called Birdies. We enjoyed a thoroughly pleasant meal there.

As a result of the weather, we have thrown our timetable out the window. In the distance we can see the Maunsell sea forts from Whitstable, but our plans to paddle to them on Tuesday have been scuttled. We are now planning to take advantage of any opportunity to paddle, without taking any risks with high winds that might push us to Belgium. Stay tuned.

- Glen

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