Seven reasons we love to holiday in England
When it comes to our summer holiday this year we are sticking even closer to home than usual, writes Natalie Sadler.
We don’t mean we are a skewing far-flung exotic destinations like the Maldives or Florida for a short-haul destination in Europe. Oh no, we are thinking really close to home.
This year we are heading to Dorset and quite looking forward to the relatively short three-hour trek from our home in Essex to the coastal town of Swanage.
Last year was a more epic trip - we packed up the trailer, the surfboards, two kids and our brand-new super-sized tent and headed for Exmoor for a few nights before moving down to Cornwall for a week.
This may sound like hell for most but there are many reasons we love a holiday in good old Blighty.
Holidaying with a tent means we can have an extended holiday because we are not restricted by flight times and package deals.
We usually head down on a Thursday, thus avoiding some of the traffic that builds on Fridays and Saturdays (standard change-over days for holiday lets and caravan parks). And we wait until the following Monday to head home, again avoiding the traffic and giving us an extended break with the children.
Just this morning I sat at my desk and emptied a packet of baby wipes, a spare pair of trousers (toddler-sized), an odd sock and a squidgy unicorn from my handbag - just imagine what my hand luggage would look like if I were flying!
The addition of the trailer means we can comfortably pack the tent, sleeping bags, spare blankets, comfy chairs, a wine fridge and all the kids’ beach toys for our holiday. We can even load their bikes onto the roof if we are going somewhere cycle friendly. And not once do I get the scales out to check we are not over the limit.
Discovering new places
We have visited some stunning overseas destinations from the planes of South Africa to the jagged caves of Rouffignac in France but we have also seen some striking sights closer to home.
This year the children will discover Brownsea Island and marvel at Old Harry Rocks before playing on the fine sands at Studland Bay.
On rainy days we will roam around the National Trust’s Corfe Castle, visit an indoor water park and ride a steam train along the historic Swanage Railway.
In England, we are spoilt with the range of visitor attractions and in just a week we can cover everything from history and culture to nature and adventure.
I am often asked how I entertain a toddler on long car journeys, and whether we get bored on our epic journeys around the country.
No, we don’t. In fact, we find travelling by car much easier than flying - we can take our own picnic, stop when we like and even break the journey with a stop over somewhere like we did last summer in Exmoor.
We have even driven down to the Dordogne in France and would argue travelling under our own steam gets us there faster than if we were flying when you factor in travel to the airport, check-in times, potential delays, flight times, passport control, baggage reclaim and transfers.
Last summer may have been the exception, but in general, summer temperatures in England are much more manageable than on the Continent.
We plan our days around the weather and if it is too hot - or not hot enough - for the beach, we simply find something else to do that day.
Reducing holiday admin
We have booked a campsite ready for our summer getaway. And that is all we need to do.
We don’t need to check our passports are in date (or that the baby hasn’t tried eating daddy’s again), keep track of the exchange rate or read the small print of our travel insurance policy.
We don’t have to worry about additional taxes that may be imposed as a result of Brexit and nor do we have to arrange transport to the airport.
All we need to do is hitch up the trailer and fill up the car with fuel. Easy.
The cost of holidaying in the UK has risen in recent years but it is still considerably cheaper than a beach holiday in Spain. Even with the cost of days out, and a steady supply of steak for the BBQ, our holidays cost just a fraction of what we would spend taking the children to Greece or Turkey during the peak summer months.
And the money we save means we can afford to book a cheeky ski holiday next winter - that is the one thing Blighty can’t give us!