Being chased by wolves in Spain? Give me the Suffolk coast or the Broads any day

PUBLISHED: 15:27 30 July 2020 | UPDATED: 16:34 30 July 2020

Looking over Southwold beach  Picture: Claire Green/iWitness

Looking over Southwold beach Picture: Claire Green/iWitness

Claire Green/iWitness

When I was a boy we went on just three foreign holidays.

Broads Tours day boats ready to hire at Wroxham to get close to the Norfolk Broads as lockdown is eased. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYBroads Tours day boats ready to hire at Wroxham to get close to the Norfolk Broads as lockdown is eased. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The first time – which I don’t remember as I was a toddler – I got food poisoning and spent some time in a Spanish hospital.

The second time the hotel caught fire and panicking guests had to fill buckets from the pool to douse the flames before the emergency services arrived.

And the third time my mother went missing while out on a bike ride. As the rest of the family tried to locate her a passing juggernaut driver stopped to tell us in bad, broken English “she been squashed”. Luckily it was in fact a loaf of bread that had fallen out of the basket of her bike and been flattened rather than my dear old mum.

As an adult my escapades overseas also saw me encounter some tricky situations. On my first trip away with my pals to Ibiza I did not prepare for the heat and went out on the first night in a woollen jumper and my old school shoes – that look was regarded de rigour in my home town of Huddersfield.

And the next year while out buying breakfast my best pal and I were chased for a few miles by what I can only describe as rabid wolves – I guess in hindsight they were probably stray dogs. We caused quite a scene with the families on the way to the beach as we ran down the middle of the road screaming “help”. Finally I took refuge in a supermarket but the pack waited for half an hour before they got bored and chased someone else.

Don’t get me wrong – I love travelling. I have had trips to the States, Thailand, Japan, Egypt, Singapore and all across Europe that have passed off without major incident.

And I would love nothing more than to be exploring some foreign culture right now. But with my past record of bloodthirsty wolves, fires and poisonings I decided 2020 was definitely not the year to venture overseas.

But I have a lot of sympathy with those brave souls who did attempt to salvage something from the rubble of this dreadful period – we all deserve a holiday that is for sure.

However it is difficult to attack the government for swiftly bringing in the new quarantine rules. If this devastating virus is to be beaten fast action and tough decision need to be made. The period of isolation on these holidaymakers’ return is unfortunate but they knew it was a risk. And hopefully they will be able to spend it in the garden keeping the tan topped up.

But why even risk it? Why bother with airport queues, questionable all-inclusive local wine and restaurant menus with pictures of the food on them? At least for one year perhaps we should ditch the Costas and head for the unrivalled East Anglian coast?

The reason I pitched up here in the East is because when I was living in London I took holidays in Suffolk. Aldeburgh, Southwold and the numerous secluded beaches along that coastline are as spectacular as any I have experienced abroad.

Yes - I know. The weather. It is a very good point. Although it is glorious as a I write this chances are the next time I have a day off it will be raining sideways.

But our tourism sector – worth an incredible £10bn to East Anglia – needs us to enjoy a good, old British staycation this year. Easter was lost. Spring was lost. And even the first months of summer were lost. And even now, with relaxed lockdown laws, things are far from normal.

This is an industry that accepts losses in the winter because of the gains made in the summer. But this winter – whatever money can be made in the summer months – will be tougher than ever before.

Every year this newspaper hosts the Norfolk and Suffolk Tourism Awards. And it is one of the best nights of the year. I have the great honour of speaking at that event and I am always flabbergasted by the innovation and determination of the sector.

Going on holiday in East Anglia is better than going to Scotland. Or Wales. It is better than Cornwall. It is even better than Yorkshire – don’t tell my family I said that.

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The Suffolk coastline, the Broads ... this is the premier destination for a staycation. We are blessed – but as much as we may like it to be our little secret The East needs to shout as loud as possible.

Come one, come all. The East should be the destination everyone in Britain flocks to whether Spain is off the cards or not.

Plan a trip away next year. Go and explore the whole world. But keep coming home. And keep holidaying at home – because home is where the heart is.

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