Monday, August 17, 2009



Last week I took my two granddaughters, Emma, 7 and Jessica, 6 on a traditional seaside holiday with a church group from Elstow Abbey. We lived on Sandown's sandy beach, paddling, building sandcastles, eating icecreams and getting sand everywhere! We stayed at The Carlton, a traditional seaside hotel - dinner at 6pm and lots of pensioners in residence - but the staff were helpful and friendly.

I grew up in Southsea, Portsmouth,and the Isle of Wight was our favourite family holiday destination - all England in miniature with wonderful sandy beaches, yachts, castles, and lots of interesting places to visit in a small geographical area.

One day we visited Carisbrooke Castle and watched a donkey walking on the wheel connnected to an old well. The children ran round the castle walls with my daughter Helen who joined us for the last 2 days with Oliver, aged 4. I allowed the children one gift from the souvenir shop, so predictably the girls chose a donkey while Oliver chose a toy axe - boys will be boys! We also visited the Godshill Model Village, but car parking was tricky and walking 3 young children along a main road (no pavements) dodging heavy traffic was a nightmare.

Today most families prefer to take their children overseas for more exotic holidays, although the economic recession has created a new breed of "staycationers". My own belief is that most young children are happier sitting on any sandy beach with a bucket and spade. It does not matter if the weather is windy or cool and is safer in England as they do not get fair skins sunburnt as easily as in hotter countries.

At least if it rains there are always lots of indoor activites. There is nothing worse than being stuck overseas in wet and windy weather, with nothing else to do - that has happened to be in Greece, Florida and Majorca. My children loved our holidays 25 years ago in Bridlington, Yorkshire, staying with Grannie and spent many happy hours on a shingle beach, bundled up in anoraks against the East winds. We even had one rare sunny Easter weekend in Great Yarmouth on a deserted 5 mile sandy beach.

Every cloud has a silver lining, and the economic recession has given a new lease of life top the British seaside resort as more families rediscover the pleasures of an English holiday, avoiding the traumas of dragging their children half way across the world and spending hours waiting for delayed planes at crowded airports.

Money cannot buy happiness and many British children are now rediscovering the simple pleasures of sandy beaches, walking, climbing and simple creative outdoor play.

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