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Why not enjoy a not-too-far-awaycation

PUBLISHED: 10:48 21 August 2017 | UPDATED: 11:14 21 August 2017

I forgot to apply the factor 50...

I forgot to apply the factor 50...

Archant

After more than a decade of being pale and (in my opinion) interesting, I have blown it.

Just an hour on the beach at Great Yarmouth and my back is glow-in-the-dark red. I fell into the trap of believing a cool breeze would deflect the sunshine. It didn’t and it’s my own fault my erstwhile lily-white skin (the only bit of me that remains slightly Rubensesque) is now a Mondrian canvas, a red expanse with a couple of white strap lines, flanked by white arms. George and Wil meanwhile, smothered in factor 60 with their hats on, were fine. Silly grandma. Now I could double as a hot plate.

“Oh, mum, you’re as pink as a... a pig,” offered Ruth by way of sympathy. When my face fell, she apologised for not being to think of anything else as pink as me, eventually coming up with: “I should have said ‘flamingo’.” Too late; far too late.

We have just spent a glorious holiday week on the East Anglian coast with both our children, their partners and the boys. Such was my joy, I had an emotional moment in the pub at Thorpeness on Wednesday night... not the sort when the teardrops fall into your eighth glass of whisky. It was the moment when I realised how lucky I am to have a husband that mostly doesn’t get on my nerves, children that I approve of most of the time, and grandsons that I adore all of the time.

Two-and-a-half year old Wil spent the whole seven days wearing one shoe. I had bought him a pair of beach shoes to cope with the local beaches which, as you know, range from smooth golden strands to flinty foot-hurters. These Croc-type shoes happened to depict characters from a children’s show called Paw Patrol (featuring anthropomorphic puppies who are variously firefighters, paramedics and spies). The right shoe showed Marshall, a dalmatian and the left, Chase, a german shepherd. Marshall is Wil’s favourite and, as a result, he wore the right shoe all the time... even in bed. On the few occasions he had to wear his proper shoes, Wil carried the plastic clog with him. Other children have comfort blankets and soft toys.

On Monday, we took the boys to Africa Alive, the zoo at Kessingland. For children, it has all you could ever want in a zoo − a playground, ice creams, indoor play area and, importantly, a gift shop. Oh yes, and some animals... rhinos being most admired. George also made a young friend at the playground and they played Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles together, as you do... I remember those the first time around.

All in all, it was a perfect holiday:

• No queuing at airports

• No limits on the amount of liquid we could carry and thus, no Marmite withdrawal

• No luggage restrictions and so we took a metric tonne of clothes

• No staring at a camera to get one’s eyeballs recognised

• No in-flight coleslaw (or starvation, depending on policy)

Plus there was the considerable bonus of fish and chips from Aldeburgh. You don’t get them on the Med.

It has been said that Great Yarmouth is the Blackpool of the east but I like to think Blackpool is the Great Yarmouth of the west. In the eastern resort last week, holidaymakers, mostly families, thronged the promenades, enjoying the weather, the amusements and attractions. We sat on the beach and ate lightly-sanded chips from polystyrene trays with two-pronged wooden forks. Stony or sandy, however, I find beaches a challenge. I have often mentioned how difficult I find it to get up from the floor but at least a floor gives some resistance. On beaches, when I attempt to rise, I burrow instead. Within five minutes I had created my own personal dune. Noticing I had almost disappeared from view, my husband tried to help me up. He took my hands and I planted my feet but rather than standing up, I “bottom-surfed” along the shingle and remained seated at the end of two buttock tracks.

Where are Marshall and Paw Patrol when you need them?

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