Britain is better than the Caribbean, and seven other things we learned on our summer holidays
- 1 month ago
Who needs the Caribbean when you have Devon? CREDIT: ISTOCK
Didn't we have a lovely time? Our favourite writers certainly did – they even sent us postcards from their holidays. And as thoughts turn to next year, we wrote back with ideas on how to enjoy summer even more. Read the eight lessons they learnt this summer below.
The weather chaser
This summer, I underestimated the greatness of the British weather: this tiny island contains multitudes. We left London in the longest sunny spell ever encountered by forecasters, so I packed shorts and sandals for our staycation in Ceredigion and Norfolk.
Norfolk's hail storm lurks in the background
We arrived in Norfolk during a hailstorm so violent that the children wore their swimming goggles. In Wales, the children had to turn 5p bags into anoraks. Even as much of Britain bakes, you must pack for a summer holiday as if you were travelling the globe; our beautiful island will present you with weather conditions as extreme as a journey to Mars.
To use the goggles as intended, find sunshine in Naxos, the largest of the Cyclades, with plenty for children to do, but few of the giant resorts that dominate larger Greek islands. Naxian on the Beach (naxianonthebeach.com; suites from £244) overlooks Plaka, the island’s best stretch of sand.
Very last minute we opted for a road trip in North America. With no destination other than “north” in mind, we headed off from Boston, stopping only when we got tired. This tiny cabin in Notre-Dame-des-Bois, Quebec, was perfect for a night, slept four, cost £70, and was booked through Airbnb two hours before arrival from the road.
Marcel Theroux's last-minute cabin find
We admire this modern backpacking-with-kids, book-from-the-road mentality. Anything New England can do, Scandinavia can match.
My boyfriend and I went to California to do the dream road trip south along Highway 1 – sunshine, mountains, beaches, burgers the size of a human head. But I dropped my phone while camping on night four and smashed my screen. Instead of making me all Zen, I agonised over being unable to show off to everyone at home what a sublime time I was having. Livid.
Can’t survive without social media? Head to the North Coast 500 (northcoast500.com), Scotland’s answer to Route 66. Start at Inverness, go west, then back via the north and east coasts.
The wilful philistines
Harry de Quetteville
This year on holiday I learned to give in to my inner sloth. Instead of following some mad middle-class urge to seek out improving things to do, always in new places, we returned to the same place as last year – Ariège in France – and simply pottered. The boys – four and five – revelled in the comfort and familiarity.
There’s nothing wrong with switching off. Puglia also works well for this. While there are Roman ruins in Lecce and castles in Bari, there’s nothing you’ll regret not stirring yourself to visit. More gelato, more sleep.
The Italian crowd-phobe
Lucca is Tuscany’s great secret – it is home to lovely restaurants and a set of medieval walls that eclipse anything else in the region, but none of the crowds of Siena. It is currently hosting an art trail of works by Costa Rican artist Jiménez Deredia. Where can we find an even more under-discovered corner of Italy next year?
Lesser-known Lucca CREDIT: ISTOCK
You made an excellent choice. And if you are looking for fewer crowds and lower prices next summer, you might consider Le Marche – the region that borders Tuscany and Umbria to the east. It has landscapes that are just as varied and beautiful, and the great historical town of Urbino
The ‘UK’s-better’ crew
We were enticed by friends in the Caribbean: we stayed at Bequia Beach hotel, in St Vincent and the Grenadines, and sailed among the islands (indigobayyachtcharter.com). It was beautiful but 24 hours after we got back, on a trip to Salcombe, the sun blazed as we drank rosé and ate crab sandwiches looking over the estuary. Paradise was closer to home.
St Vincent and the Grendadines? Nope, Salcombe CREDIT: ISTOCK
Save yourself the flight and stay in a luxurious waterside home in the South West. The Wow House Company (thewowhousecompany.com) has a range of stunning coastal properties.
The freedom tasters
We learned this summer that letting go of the family holiday can benefit us all. My younger daughter, Emily, is 19 and hates flying. In previous years, we have taken trains across Europe to holiday in Portugal together, but this year she volunteered to stay at home and look after the dog, thus saving (a) train fares and (b) kennel fees. My wife, elder daughter and I missed her during our annual stay at Dona Filipa hotel, in the Algarve (22 years and counting; telegraph.co.uk/tt-dona-filipa) but knew that she and the dog were safe and happy. Result!
Don't let the dog get in the way of a family holiday
Far be it from us to interrupt a 22-year love affair, but perhaps throw Emily and the pooch a bone with a stay at a UK hotel next summer. One option is the dog-friendly Headland (full review: telegraph.co.uk/tt-headland), a Victorian giant overlooking Fistral beach, in Newquay.
The budget family traveller
I’m tied to peak-time holidays, and nearly fainted when I saw how much summer trips cost for a family of five. With a disabled husband who won’t camp, everything outside Britain seemed eye-wateringly expensive. Instead, we went to visit family in Jersey and Herm, where we built a sand car on a beach and went bug-hunting. Back on the mainland, we spent a week at Butlins – fun for the kids; less so for parents. Next year, we’d like to go abroad – cost allowing.
Portugal is consistently rated the best value in western Europe; book flights soon for next summer and peruse Airbnb options in the Algarve. Alternatively, the ferry to the Netherlands is a frugal traveller’s delight; try the keenly priced Dutch Center Parcs (centerparcs.com/gb-en), with a trip to Efteling theme park en route (telegraph.co.uk/tt-efteling).
Whether it was a shortcut on the M1 or finding last minute budget hotels - what did you learn on your summer holiday? Share your top lessons by leaving a comment below or email us at [email protected]Source: www.telegraph.co.uk