I grew up in Whitstable, a shabby-chic harbour town on the Kent coast, popular with daytripping Down From Londoners. I can’t really call myself a proper Whitstable girl though because I don’t like eating oysters and I never went crabbing – two essential activities on any Whitstable itinerary worth its salt.
Luckily for us my parents still live in the town, so we decided to visit them over the August bank holiday weekend. With a toddler and baby to keep entertained, we decided it would be a good idea to give crabbing a go at last.
You don’t need much equipment to give it a try and my Mum had bought us the full crabbing kit before we arrived: a bucket with a picture of a crab on it; some string with a small net on the end; and some raw bacon for the crabs.
Feeling optimistic, we took our kit down to the beach and set it up at the end of a slippery jetty leading down to the sea. Our toddler is firmly in the ‘let me do it’ stage, so she loved holding the line over the edge and dipping it into the water. Although you don’t need much equipment, you do need a bit of patience when you’re waiting for a crab to bite. Obviously, this isn’t something that toddlers have a lot of; our daughter kept dunking the net in and out of the water as if it were a big tea bag. Even if there was a crab quick enough to hitch a ride on our bacon bungee cord, it probably wasn’t under our jetty, so we decided to take a break from crabbing and try it again another day.
The weather was great so I decided to go for a quick dip myself. It was pretty chilly, so I had to inch my way in slowly, trying hard not to think about what other types of meat crabs might like to get their claws into.
Our toddler said she wanted to go for a swim too, so we carried her into the water slowly, letting her acclimatise gently. After the initial shock it wasn’t long before she was splashing around and jumping in off the ramp. Not bad for her first skinny-dipping experience.
Later we set off for home with our empty bucket. On the way back my Dad mentioned he’d seen a small, pink bike abandoned in a muddy stream near their house. We fished it out, dragged it home, hosed off the weeds, adjusted the wonky stabilisers. Our daughter loved riding it up and down the pavement for hours.
Salvaging rubbish from rivers definitely won’t feature in any guidebook’s top ten activities for kids, but for us it made the perfect, if unexpected, ending to a great bank holiday weekend in Whitstable. No bacon needed.