The Joules Explorer competition sent me into a daydream about our ideal family weekend getaway, here is my entry….
For my ideal family weekend away we head to East Devon and stay in a little cottage near the sea, my 4 year-old twins brimming with excitement, ready to have fun in buckets and spades…
It is early August and I wake up to beautiful blue skies, in the unspoilt seaside town of Sidmouth. It is early morning, I rouse the family and we hop on our bicycles. Cycling through the Byes Riverside Park, we glimpse a flash of blue of a Kingfisher in the River Sid. We stop for a quick paddle in the river.
We continue to the beach, where there is an extra low Spring tide, with a vast expanse of sand to run free on.
We head to the rockpools in front of Jacobs Ladder and spend a happy hour looking for hermit crabs, starfish, anemones and treasures.
Feeling peckish, we head up to Connaught Gardens on the cliff top and have breakfast at the Clock Tower Café, sitting upstairs to enjoy the stunning views over the Jurassic Coast towards Ladram Bay.
It is Sidmouth folk week, so next we wander through the town, watching impromptu Morris Dancing Shows and listening to amazing fiddle-playing. We have a little browse at the stalls on the seafront and buy flower garlands for our hair.
Next we jump on the free ‘Sidmouth Hopper’ coastal bus to the Donkey Sanctuary, where we spend a while saying hello to the donkeys, before getting lost in the maze there. Once we’ve regrouped, we walk down the valley to join the South West Coast Path. We head east to the idyllic village of Branscombe, stopping for a picnic lunch along the way. We reach Branscombe beach and cool off with a swim in the clear waters, before heading into the village for a refreshing drink at the picture-postcard perfect Masons Arms.
After such an active day so far, it’s time to relax a little. We catch a bus to the Royal Oak Farm in the hamlet of Cotleigh near Honiton. We sit in their beautiful gardens enjoying a traditional Devon Cream Tea (and traditional devon ice-cream for the kids!) then go to their fruit-picking area where we fill our baskets with delicious, fresh ripe strawberries and raspberries. We get them weighed quickly so we can all tuck in.
We then head back to Sidmouth Beach – a shoal of mackerel is passing by and we grab our fishing lines and fire up the beach kettle barbeque. I leave the others to the fishing and join in with sunset S’Up Yoga – yoga on a stand up paddle board – the sea is perfectly still and I feel at peace. After the yoga session, I sit on the beach and tuck into the freshly caught and barbequed mackerel while watching the sunset with my family.
To finish off the day, we head up to an Open Evening at the Norman Lockyer Observatory on Salcombe Hill. It is a completely clear night and the stars take my breath away. We marvel at the enormity of the universe, but cannot think of a place in it we would rather be than East Devon. We head back to our cosy cottage and fall into a deep sleep, exhausted from the sea-air, exercise and good food.
The following day we just want to enjoy the seaside, so head back down to the beach. The twins try out their new boogie board, catching the gentle waves that are breaking and shrieking with delight. We eat ice-creams, trying to win the race to finish them before they melt, eat sandy sandwiches, collect shells and jump the waves. As the tide goes out, we build the most magnificant sandcastle, and stay on the beach right until the sea has reclaimed it. Packing up, sandy, tired and happy, we head home, promising we will return as soon as we can…