You don’t have to go abroad to have a great break, as Ella Mag’s Samantha Downes found out last September.
The backdrop was an almost deserted beach. The time was 7am on a Monday morning. The aim was a run to wipe away the cobwebs and steel myself for the first day of our first-ever UK holiday as a family.
We had arrived in Gorleston, Norfolk at the Hopton Holiday Village the afternoon before, and I was already fighting off my city dweller’s urge to hot foot it back to civilisation.
That’s probably because when it comes to holidays it takes a lot to impress me. I found the Taj Mahal a let down, the Blue Mosque was smaller than I had expected and to me Ephesus had looked like a junkyard.
But this year we’d decided to go native, this was a last minute holiday after one of Andrew’s colleagues offered us a week’s use of his permanent caravan at Hopton – a Haven-owned holiday park.
The caravan was certainly more luxurious than most hotel rooms I’ve slept in and comfortably slept the four of us, most importantly it was quiet, a Goldilocks of caravan pitches.
The holiday park itself had everything an uninspired parent needs, a swimming pool, slot machines, bouncy castle and organised messy play mornings for toddlers.
It also had plenty – as I later discovered – for parents in need of inspiration. The beaches were plentiful and just a walk away.
What I thought was our one bit of lazy parenting – taking our two year old daughter to Great Yarmouth Sea World – ending up being one of the most inspired things we did.
Not only was it the only cloudy day of the eight days we were away, the vicarious joy I got from watching her scream in delight watching penguins being fed was, to quote a well-known advert, completely priceless as was her reaction to the ray which practically jumped out of the feeding pool at her (it was nearly time for lunch after all)
Nor too could I have predicted the sense of serenity from watching Andrew spending hours flying a £20 sporting kite he bought in the local Sports Direct.
Even the chips tasted different, I’ve never eaten chips at 10am in the morning (without a hangover) before – and they were some of the tastiest we’ve had – the sea air does that to you.
Our best days by far were the two were spent at a beach we ‘discovered’ in Winterton-on-Sea. The beach is near a local seal sanctuary, and we got an unexpected delight in seeing several of the creatures close up during our two days spent braving it out – it was getting proper September chilly by now – on the windy beach.
It’s not often I get touched by a holiday, but this one will stay with me longer than most, not least because it was an unanticipated adventure during which we got pleasure from the most everyday of things. By the way, we left the caravan extra clean, just in case.
What’s been your best British break?