Exploring Eastern Kent

What it’s like to housesit in Broadstairs

For nearly two weeks now, we have been housesitting in Broadstairs, a town on the east Kent coast. We have been taking care of some fish and a gorgeous Maine Coon cat called Sophie-Louise. No dogs this time, which meant we could explore a little further afield.

We looked after Sophie-Louise while exploring eastern Kent

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The town of Broadstairs

Broadstairs is on the northern part of the Kent coast, nestled between Ramsgate and Margate. The three towns are very close together. We can’t really tell where one starts and ends, to be honest.

There is a lovely high street for small shops, plenty of fish and chips shops, and lots of pubs. We have a local Co-op within walking distance for forgotten items. For bigger shopping trips, there are lots of superstores, like Sainsbury’s, Tesco’s, and ASDA, nearby.

You do not HAVE to have a car here. The beach, local pubs, the high street, and local shops are within a reasonable walking distance. If you want to go farther afield though, a car will be handy for exploring eastern Kent.

Sophie-Louise’s house is quite a typical, semi-detached house in a cute little cul-de-sac, with a lovely rose framed front door and window. There is also a beautiful back garden and a conservatory for cooler days. The gas hob has meant that we have really enjoyed cooking and eating at home here. The TV is also great and we’ve had great wi-fi. This makes John happy; he can watch the Super Rugby and the cricket!

Pink roses
Roses by the front door.

But we have not just been watching sport and working; we have been getting out and about!

Spend the day at the beach

I have to confess that one of the main draws for this housesit, apart from Sophie-Louise herself, was the opportunity to go to the beach! One of my favorite things to do is to grab my favorite beverage and a book to head to the water’s edge! We love to sit sipping, reading, wave watching, bird watching, and people watching. Life just seems so much better after an hour or two at the beach!

Rented deck chairs at Broadstairs Beach
Rented deck chairs

Broadstairs Beach is on a lovely little bay, down the stairs from the houses higher up on the cliff. Cafes and pubs surround the beach if you’d like to have a meal or a drink while staring out to sea. There are shops that sell everything you might need, like a bucket and spade, beach balls, and sunscreen. When exploring Eastern Kent, it’s great to be able to take the opportunity for some downtime.

Broadstairs Beach
Broadstairs Beach

When we went to the beach last weekend, it was sunny, but NOT warm. Summer had come to the western part of the British Isles, but not to us here perched on the North Sea. We decided to head down there anyway, to enjoy an hour or two with a good book.

Sipping a beverage on the beach
The deck chair hut was closed on week days but these chairs worked!
Beach Facilities

On the beach there are three huts renting out deckchairs, recliners, windbreakers, and parasols. We decided to rent two deckchairs for £4 a piece. This is the price for all day at Broadstairs beach! You also have to pay a £2 deposit for each chair. Hold on to your tickets to get a cash refund for your deposit. The tickets are there to make sure that no one else can hand in your chairs for the refund. That way, you can leave your chairs to go for a meal or whatever, without worrying that someone else would hand them in. We didn’t actually mind getting our refund in coins. It’s a great way to get coins for shopping trolley without having to get money from an ATM!

Beach rental hut at Broadstairs
Rental hut for beach chairs

After exploring Eastern Kent for a couple of days, we came back to the beach midweek. However, the rental huts were all closed! We thought that was very strange for June! Why not be open every day in the summer months? There were lots of people at the beach, even with the cool breeze. Luckily, our pet parents had some collapsable outdoor chairs that we asked if we could use.

There are lifeguards on Broadstairs Beach that put up flags for swimming areas and for water-sports like kayaking and surfing. They have been there every day, not just weekends. We saw lots of families with young kids enjoying the seaside. We even saw some surfers.

Visit the Dickens House Museum

We are not the first people who have enjoyed going to the Kent seaside. Charles Dickens came here regularly with his family in the summer months. They would come to Ramsgate by steamer from London. And if the weather and sea conditions allowed, they would be rowed ashore right here in Broadstairs.

There are signs of Dickens all over town. Many streets are named after either Dickens or his characters. There are tea rooms called The Old Curiosity Shop. There is a house called Bleak House, which has scaffolding all over it. Dickens actually wrote the semi-biographical David Copperfield in that house.

Bleak House
Bleak House, currently closed

Therefore, it’s probably no surprise that Broadstairs also has a museum about Dickens. The Dickens House Museum is situated on the road just above Broadstairs Beach. I have a background in English Literature, so we always head to any literary museums near us.

This museum is very reasonable. It costs £4 per adult and £10 for a family of fourt. The house actually features in David Copperfield:

The museum was appropriately priced. It has a lot of Dickens memorabilia and items from the era. There are also very knowledgeable volunteer historian guides on hand that will happily tell you everything they know. You can also pick up a pamphlet at the museum that shows notable Dickens locations throughout Broadstairs. It will not take you long to finish the experience.

Park or Window at Dickens House Museum
The parlour window features in David Copperfield

Eating Out or In

Where should you eat while exploring eastern Kent? There are a lot of eateries around the waterfront in Broadstairs. We have been trying to cut down on eating out this summer, so we have not actually eaten at any of them!

We did, however, see an impressive queue at Flotsam & Jetsam Fish & Chips right by the steps to the beach. In our experience, a long line usually means there’s something good going on. During the week, though, they have a sign up saying “Try Mañana”. Funny sign. Not so funny if you want fish and chips during the week.

Flotsam and Jetsam fis and chip shop
There’s a long line here on weekends!

Wherever you buy your food, do NOT bring it to the actual beach. The seagulls are incredibly aggressive. They literally stole food out of a woman’s mouth right in front of us and terrorized many toddlers who were trying to have their lunch.

Beach supply store, Broadstairs
Get your beach supplies right here

We have, however, ordered delivery twice here. There are lots of places that deliver very quickly in Broadstairs. I won’t mention the Indian we tried, since it was not very memorable. But the Thai we had delivered was outstanding. We ordered Pad Thai, Chili and Basil stir fry, and vegetable spring rolls from Thai Village Restaurant and Bar, and it was outstanding. We got enough food from those dishes to feed us twice, so the portions were generous. The 3 stars on TripAdvisor confuse us, because we were very pleased!

Farther Afield

If you have a car, you can explore eastern Kent easily from Broadstairs. Here are the activities we chose.

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A Day Trip to Dover

Dover is a very special place. It has amazing history associated with it along with spectacular scenery. The White Cliffs of Dover are the first thing you will see if you cross the English Channel from France. We decided to head down the coast to see if we could spot France in the distance.

Regal clover at the Cliffs of Dover
The English Channel
The Battle of britain memorial

We drove about an hour from Broadstairs to reach the Battle of Britain Memorial and visitor center for our first stop. I was not expecting to be as impressed by this stop as I was.

Battle of Britain memorial- great to visit when exploring eastern Kent
The Battle of Britain memorial

Entry is free, after paying £1 for parking, to the memorial grounds.

And the memorial is absolutely stunning. In the middle of a green space is a statue fighter pilot sitting peacefully staring across the English Channel towards France. It’s hard to describe how beautifully the memorial is set in the landscape. The visitor center also has two model planes, a Hurricane and a Spitfire. There is also a stainless steel sculpture of a downed Stuka, a German dive bomber.

Sculpture at Battle of Britain memorial, Dover
Sculpture at the visitor centre

John, ever the World War II and aircraft historian, knew all about what we were seeing. But I loved all the information boards around the center.

And The Wall for Churchill’s Few was very poignant.

“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

— Winston Churchill, speech to parliament, 20 August 1940

The wall commemorating killed pilots in Battle of Britain
The Wall for the few who gave their lives

There is a very stylish visitors center with toilets and a cafe on the grounds.

The White Cliffs of Dover

Next, we headed to the White Cliffs viewpoint. The parking lot is managed by the National Trust, so as members, we did not have to pay the £5 parking fee to get to the lookout walking paths.

It was not a particularly warm day. There was haze, and a chill breeze was blowing. But we could still JUST make out France in the distance. We also got a spectacular view of the all the ferry terminals from up there. There were trucks lining up along the highway for miles to get on the ferries to Calais.

Ferry Terminal at Dover
Dover ferry terminal

There is a lovely little National Trust cafe at the parking lot, and a steady stream of tourists heading off on long or short walks along the clifftops.

The White Cliffs of Dover
The White Cliffs of Dover

If we had had time, we could have visited Dover Castle and seen the closest English pub to France as well.

Sissinghurst Castle and Gardens

Foxglove in the white garden

I could probably write a whole separate post on Sissinghurst and how much I love this National Trust property. If you are exploring eastern Kent, this is a must-do. As members, we did not have to pay the £17.60 entry fee per adult (plus £4 for parking).

Sissinghurst Castle and Garden
Where Vita Sackville-West lived and worked.

The garden is attributed to Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicolson. We went last year in August and were so disappointed, because the gardener had chosen not to water in the very hot 2022 summer. But this year, when we returned in June, it was nothing short of absolutely glorious.

Climbing rose at Sissinghurst
The climbing roses were in full bloom

If you like gardens of any sort this place is a must see. The roses on the first of June were spectacular. The white wisteria was at its height. The alliums and irises were just amazing. I’ll let the pictures speak for me.

Sissinghurst irises
Irises in the Cottage Garden

There is wonderful cafe, used book store, and shop. At the shop, you can get yourself a rose from the garden!

Garden sculpture at Sissinghurst
There are beautiful garden windows all over Sissinghurst

If you are not arranging your accommodation through TrustedHousesitters, we recommend checking Booking.com for great rates on a range of accommodation options.


Take a Day Trip From London

Even if you are not planning on staying in Broadstairs, you can take a day trip from London. TripAdvisor has a few options. Check them out here.

If you just want to go for a day-trip to the beach, there are train services to Broadstairs.

We full-time travel around the world through travel exchange using platforms like TrustedHousesitters. This lets us arrange accommodation in exchange for pet and home care. You do not have to commit to full-time to enjoy this way of travel. Many sitters use the platform to arrange for their yearly vacation.

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8 responses to “Exploring Eastern Kent”

  1. What a fun time. Looks like you had some solid weather too which is always appreciated in England. Gorgeous cat. Moving on can be the toughest aspect of house sitting; you love caring for pets but know that minus a return trip, always possible of course, that it’s likely where your paths part for this lifetime. Overall though, pets teach us to be in the moment, detached and simply to relax and enjoy the ride. I learn so many blogging and life lessons through these furry friends as a house sitter. Great post Christine!


  2. How interesting when I read the title my first thought was Broadstairs as we use to travel there every year as children to visit family friends. This was the perfect way to bring back some great memories

    Lovebthe post and very well written

  3. That look a wonderful place to house sit with plenty to see especially the Coastline. Your fish and chip shop mention has got me craving proper chips.

  4. I had some elderly aunts who lived in Broadstairs and I visited them there as a child but have not been back since! This brought back great memories of the beach but I didn’t know about the Dickens House museum and that looks really interesting. Sissinghurst Castle and Gardens also appeal. It looks as though there is plenty to see – we should really plan a visit.

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