Just after Christmas we popped over to Whitstable for a spot of Champagne and shopping with our friend Karen. Situated on the Thames estuary, Whitstable’s beaches are shingly rather than sandy, their tide-rounded bounty stoutly defended by rank after rank of sturdy groynes. As the sun lowered we stumbled towards The Neptune (above far left) for a postprandial pint. With hats wedged on and scarves flying in the wind, we witnessed a magical golden light extending over the shore towards the freezing water of the estuary. The evening was spent warming chilly feet in front of a roaring stove, unpacking the last of the seed catalogues. The perfect way to spend a winter’s day.