As a child we went camping in Cornwall every year, always staying at the same site near Truro. It was brilliant, but one year my parents decided to mix things up, so we visited Dorset instead.
We were really glad they changed things up, as we had a cracking time exploring the Jurassic coast, watching shows on the pier at Weymouth and my most beautiful and favourite memory was a huge firework display over the bay at Weymouth one night, where the sky lit up and was reflected back in the calm sea below.
Charmouth Beach, Dorset by Chris Hodkinson
Dorset has so much to offer families so it’s one of the places on our family “to visit” list. We’re big on staycations in our family. I honestly think England has so much to offer and when the weather’s right there are few finer places in the world. Even if the weather’s wrong, there’s usually plenty of things to occupy the family.
A friend of mine has recently moved from the wilds of Yorkshire to the more civilised seaside town of Hastings in East Sussex. Best known for the Battle of Hastings in 1066, Hastings has for centuries been an important fishing port and is famous for its pier and its glorious beaches. All I know is my friend really loves it and I can’t wait to visit him in his new home.
We’re not going away again this year, we’d love to go down and visit him and it’d be nice to have a small staycation later in the summer if we can, so why not do both. It was with this in mind that I set to work googling.
I was surprised and pretty delighted to find that Hastings is home to a vineyard where you can tour and have a tasting. Not to mention a Blue Reef Aquarium for the small boy to explore, as well as a castle and of course, who could visit Hastings and not visit the site of the famous battle? 1066 and all that.
Growing up in the North of England, the go to place for short breaks and holidays was the Lake District. My Nan had a caravan there and it was, and is, a great place to take children. These days when we visit we camp, go glamping or stay in a B&B, depending on the weather.
What child hasn’t been enchanted by Peter Rabbit and the other Beatrix Potter stories; or wanted to go on Swallows and Amazons style adventures? We used to love going on the paddle steamers and the steam trains, as well as exploring the gardens of historic houses while Nan had a spot of afternoon tea and a few minutes peace and quiet.
Returning as an adult for what these days is called a “staycation”, there are other delights which I didn’t fully appreciate as a child. Hill walking, beautiful scenic views and drams of whisky in front of a roaring pub fire. The Lake District is full of great places to eat, real hidden gems and a rich foodie heritage, not to mention excellent pubs serving delicious local real ales.
There is something magical about the Lake District; for me it evokes a strong feeling of peace and tranquility. In all weathers I can find beauty; the sun shimmering on the surface of a lake, the hills wrapped in rainy mist and shadows cast by clouds on the velveteen hillsides.
It’s a special gift to be able to share this magical place with my son. He’s growing up fast and just like I did, he loves the sail on the lakes, to paddle in the streams and to explore the endless hills and valleys of the Lake District.
There’s so much to see and so. If you don’t fancy doing, there’s always a great spot to sit and enjoy a flask of coffee, a hunk of Kendal Mint Cake and just watch how the light changes on the water or sit and listen to the wind as it shimmers through the trees. It doesn’t take much to understand why the Lake District has inspired so many writers, poets and artists over the years.
It’s a place of rugged beauty, endless scenery, perfect serenity and adventure. I love the Lake District. I truly do.