August 26, 2009
A week of Kent: Frank
I’ve been meaning to post about the weekend I spent in Kent earlier
this summer, when my parents were visiting the UK for a couple of
weeks. It was by far one of the easiest breaks I’ve ever organised,
mostly due to the fact that there was little to no organising on my
part. My parents arrived with a well-researched itinerary, and I was
also inundated with some extremely good tips when I called upon the UK
Twitterati for advice and help (thanks to @circeplum, @cassandracastle, @indiaknight, @maggieA, @I_Like, @LibertyLndnGirl).
On Saturday morning we headed to Whitstable, a seaside village most
famous for oysters. At just 80 minutes by car from London, it’s the
perfect destination for a weekend break or day trip. The New York Times
visited earlier this year, so if you’re thinking of doing the same, you may want to look up their suggestions on where to eat,
including the “obligatory” Wheelers Oyster Bar, as well as The
Sportsman, which was awarded a Michelin star.
But I’m here primarily to check out Frank, a former oysterman’s cottage
on Harbour Street housing all manner of gorgeous British-made crafts,
design and homewares. I’d heard some exceptionally good things about
the shop, which is the brainchild of illustrator Mary Claire Smith and
photographer Rob Weiss.
It’s the type of place that crafty-peeps only dream about, and people
on a gift-buying mission will not be disappointed. On my visit I was
greeted by a (very appropriate) bird display in the window, featuring Hannah Turner’s retro-style ceramic birds (from £28), Hannah Waldron’s vibrant canary prints and Abigail Brown’s super-sweet Matchbox Tweeters.
There are goodies crammed into every corner and hanging from every
nook, but it has an overall feeling of space and airiness, befitting
its breezy harbour-side location. It’s hard to pick favourites, but you
might like to keep an eye out for Becky Crow’s
copper fox brooches, Claire Fletcher’s handpainted children’s
tambourines, and Cornelia O’Donovan’s softies made from Whitney vintage blankets.
If you’re after some locally-made handcrafts, make a beeline
for Kate Erbe’s handknitted angora dogs (£19.50), Keith Brymer-Jones’
milky-toned hand-thrown ceramics (from £7.70 for a jug), and Heidi
Butter’s laser-cut jewellery.
There are more surprises to be found in the garden out the back, where
you’ll find potted succulents in teacups amongst a range of outdoor
And upstairs there’s a very cute holiday flat for
rent – ideal for a sunny weekend or mid-week getaway by the sea. But if
you can’t make it to this lovely wee corner of the world, some of the
loveliness can be found on their online shop.
65 Harbour Street
Whitstable, Kent CT5 1AG
Tel. +44 (0) 1227 262 500