"Have you ever tasted a Whitstable oyster? If you have you will remember it. Some quirk of the Kentish coastline makes Whitstable natives - as they are properly called - the largest and the juciest, the savouriest and yet the subtlest, oysters in the whole of England. Whitstable oysters are, quite rightly, famous."
Sarah Waters Tipping the Velvet.
We are in Whitstable for the first time, and find our way to the Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company, an old, redbrick warehouse-style building right on the seafront, with views out across the mudflats that are home to the oysters.
This building has been transformed into a bright, airy seafood restaurant. Today it is packed, the Autumn sunshine has drawn everyone out for a walk along the coast and a plate of Natives.We follow tradition, slurping and dribbling our way through half a dozen of Whitstable's finest. They are firm, juicy and sweet/salty, enlivened by the kick of a drop or two of Tabasco.
We follow this with mounds of moules and a selection of sardines. And chips. And treacle toffee pudding and ice cream.
Afterwards, we stroll off along the coastal path, to take the air, past grand Victorian villas and brightly coloured beach huts. The pale sun sinks as we walk, then sets over the Essex coast on the far side of the estuary.