Jayne Dowle: Who really needs giant buffets and relentless sun?

Jayne Dowle advocates seaside holidays.Jayne Dowle advocates seaside holidays.
Jayne Dowle advocates seaside holidays.
I'M not sure whether it was the eye-watering cost, at least £2,500 for a family of four to stay at a decent hotel anywhere in Europe in August for a week.

Or the perilous state of the euro when it comes to the exchange rate. Or the threat of security scares at airports, further airline computer failures and general delay and chaos.

Perhaps it was the combination of all of the above and the realisation that there are huge swathes of the UK we have still to fully explore. Whatever it was, at some point in May I took the executive decision that we were not going abroad on a family holiday this year.

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The children and my other half took it very well. The main attraction of “abroad” for my 11-year-old daughter is the ready availability of a water park with slides and rides. It wouldn’t matter if it was Majorca, Malta or the Maldives. I reckon the destination would be immaterial, as long as she gets to wear her swimming costume for as many daylight hours as humanly possible.

As for my son, who turns 15 this month, he says he doesn’t care where he goes as long as it has decent wi-fi. And my partner? If there’s comfy seating, a nice view and some interesting wildlife to spot through his binoculars, he’s as happy as the proverbial sand-boy.

With all this in mind I simply could not see the point of stressing us all out with decamping overseas. So we’re going to Cleethorpes instead. We’ve been before and we all love the wide open skies, the quirky shops and the interesting villages and historic places to visit nearby. And the family budget very much appreciates the fact that renting a caravan for a week costs a fraction of the price of a hotel pretty much anywhere in the world.

I know you’re going to say, “but what about the weather?” Well, I’ll tell you this about the weather. I actually find constant blazing sunshine really quite dull. Give me the challenge of getting up in the morning and not quite knowing what combination of bright spells, hail and thunder the day is going to bring and I’m much more excited.

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Countless people who holiday abroad do it simply so they can lie in the sun all day, but I don’t want to do that either. And neither do my family. We’re pretty active honestly, even
if it’s just a stroll to a café to people-watch for a while. It’s just the way we are. Each to their own, I say.

We’ve had a tough couple of years as a family, with a traumatic house move at the centre of it. I’m not sure any of us are mentally prepared for the massive mind-shift a “big” holiday involves. We just want to rest, chill out and take stock of how far we have come, not be assaulted by boat-trips, all-you-can-eat buffets and the daily battle for a sunbed.

I’ve seen the looks of puzzlement – or is it pity? Certain friends have asked me if this “little break” is really our main holiday this year? Yes it is. And if some of my children’s school-friends are anything to go by, we’re pretty lucky to be going anywhere at all.

There are plenty of children in Yorkshire this summer who won’t even be enjoying a day-trip to the seaside, never mind seven nights in a home-from-home luxury caravan with a fancy swimming pool, activities and amusements on tap. Yorkshire children are some of the most underprivileged in the UK, with almost one in four (23 per cent) classed as living in official poverty, according to former Cabinet minister Alan Milburn’s Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission. There’s a bit of guilt in me too, I guess.

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Other friends enthusiastically agree with our decision to holiday in the UK, then proceed to reel off a list of “acceptable” places to stay. This generally includes North Yorkshire, Northumberland, Cornwall and parts of Devon. It tends not to mention Cleethorpes. I love all of the above, but there are other places too, you know.

I admit. I’ve tried foxing the show-offs by airily saying we’re “off to Lincolnshire” in the hope that they will be wondering if I’ve uncovered some exciting new holiday destination so up-and-coming they haven’t even heard of it yet.

By the time I’ve unpacked
 the barbeque and set out my reading materials for the 
week, I really won’t really
care anymore. And do you know what the best thing is about holidaying in Cleethorpes? It’s only an hour and a half’s drive from home.