My happiest childhood memories are of being on my summer holidays. Every year we’d book two weeks in a caravan at Skegness. I’d enjoy every single day. Fish and chips, sandcastles, prize bingo, waking up to the smell of bacon and the sound of seagulls’ tap dancing on the roof. They were the best of times and I’m pretty sure the whole holiday was entirely for me.
As I grew up, the seaside holiday became a bit low brow for me. Suddenly I wanted to get a passport and see the world. We’d always be off on city breaks, be it the culture of Rome or the weed of Amsterdam (I could claim it was for the culture, It would be a lie). We gambled in Vegas and I lost my front tooth in a mountain in Austria. Proper grown up holidays in proper grown up hotels.
Italy became my favourite place. We even got married in Italy, Lake Garda. Brilliant memories, and a great way to not have to pay for other people to eat at a buffet in a function room at your cost.
After becoming pregnant David and I had a ‘babymoon’ in the Cotswolds. We had all become terribly middle class about the whole holiday scene.
After Harry of course holidays completely changed again. My passport has cobwebs on it and I’m forgetting my broken Italian through lack of use.
When you go on holiday with a baby you have to take a trailer just for the stuff you have to take with you and you have to start looking for places proudly proclaiming ‘family friendly’ which normally means surrounded by gaudy plastic slides and serves chips.
Center Parcs became a go to place for us. We’d gone from jet setting thousands of miles to pootling twenty minutes up the road (so if we’d forgot the steriliser we could just nip home). Centre Parcs is like a bit of a posh Butlins. You hear people shouting ridiculously named children, ‘Tarragon, come here and eat your quinoa’ and they offer prosecco in your cabin for when you get there if you’re willing to pay £7000.
I decided though thanks to my sunny nostalgia that I must take Harriet on the caravan seaside holidays I loved so much.
A two hour trip to Skegness becomes a three hour trip due to several wee stops, and the whole ‘are we nearly there yet’ routine gets old by the time you’ve reached the top of your street.
Even though I’m not the slightest bit religious I’d pray for sunshine as four days with only travel scrabble and Cbeebies can send the most stable person insane. Luckily we got sunshine, unluckily this turns the temperature of a glass and plastic house into that akin to a volcano.
I realised that for the parents, this isn’t a holiday at all. It’s cooking and washing up somewhere smaller. Going on the beach isn’t a frolic in and out of the waves but a never ending cycle of sun cream, getting covered in sand, brushing off the sand, going paddling in freezing cold sewerage, sun cream…
In the evening you go to ‘The Club’ where families drink overpriced Fosters and watch teenagers with an over inflated ego (or Redcoats as they’re sometimes known) do party dances with a terrifying 6ft pink elephant (any Haven fans out there know who thought it was a good idea to call their elephant Anxious??).
My misty eyed nostalgia means secretly I still love all this stuff. My childhood love of the seaside flowed over into my adult life and I ended up doing a summer season in Ingoldmells. One of the best six months of my life, at least I think it was…
I did drink an awful lot that summer.
Last year we went to Yarmouth. We had a great time and filled it with golden childhood memories for Harriet. There were donkeys, fun fairs, candyfloss the hokey cokey, everything.
You ask Harriet what she can remember about that holiday and she’ll tell you she got so hot she was sick. It’s literally the only thing she recalls.