As family holidays go you can’t beat a getaway to the beach. Sand, sea and surf is all you need and it’s enough to keep even the most active of kids happy. So now that we’re in the long summer break in the UK I thought it would be nice to catch a family break in the sun.
Unbelievably it’s been extremely hot here in the UK, with the second hottest day on record ever recorded yesterday. I don’t really remember a time when the weather has been so charming. I lived in London for nearly ten years between 2000 and 2009 and I don’t remember summers being this generous and winters being this mild.
But since our family arrived in August 2018 after nearly 10 years back in Cape Town we’ve been treated to some really good weather. Which is good because I really didn’t want my kids to have a bad introduction to the UK.
Yesterday, temperatures of 38.1C were recorded in Cambridge. We don’t live there but here in Sevenoaks in Kent it was equally hot with temperatures hovering around 37 degrees or so.
Anyway, I digress. The aim was to have a short two-day break along the English coast somewhere and the weather just happened to play ball (or let us play ball on the beach).
There were several considerations including Brighton, Margate and Hastings – all commutable by train too. But I ended up choosing Eastbourne as I read some good reviews about it and I was also amazed by the pictures of Beachy Head.
We agreed that I would take the eldest who’s six on the beach break and leave the youngest behind. I’m glad I did this as seeing a place like Beachy Head which boasts a 162 metre drop. It’s a famous place with many films being shot there including a scene in one of the Harry Potter movies.
The thought of chasing a three-year-old near a steep cliff had simply no appeal. But my eldest listens (most of the time) and I was sure I could do a safe visit with him, while enjoying the views and taking a few snaps (see below).
I really recommend Eastbourne for a family getaway. Most of the major hotels are featured along the coast close to the Eastbourne Pier, which has a chippy (it’s not cheap and they charge 30p for a small tomato sauce sachet) and some small vendors and arcade games along its 300m length. The pier dates back to 1865 where it was built for just £15,000. It was opened four years later but it wasn’t finished until 1872.
Open top sightseeing buses can be caught just by the pier which was a short walk from the hotel. It cost me £10 for a 24-hour ticket which would take me around to Beachy Head, Belle Tout lighthouse, Birling Gap and other small towns along the South Downs. There was no charge for my six-year-old son.
We stayed at the Palm Court Hotel, which we booked via booking.com, which cost £131.40 for a two-night stay, including breakfast. Breakfast consisted of a choice between various cereals (cornflakes, porridge, etc.) and a full English breakfast. You can choose how you want your eggs done, e.g. scrambled, poached, fried etc.
I think the hotel was value for money and the location of it was ideal as well. A short stroll to the beach and pier was all it took. Staff were friendly and helpful. But as it was the hottest week of the year, we struggled a bit as the hotel had no air con.
Thankfully, a fan was available when we asked for one at reception – but aircon on such hot summer days was sorely missed.
Overall, Eastbourne was an ideal coastal town to visit. The beach has a long pavillion where children can ride their scooters and bikes. The beach is invited up into sections, which is ideal as it prevents kids from running off into the distance.
One downside I would highlight is that it’s a pebble beach and if you don’t have beach shoes (or flops that you’re happy to get wet) then it’s very uncomfortable walking for sensitive feet.
But if you book one of the coastal hotels then the big advantage is that everything is within walking distance. If you’re on a budget there’s McDonalds, a Wetherspoons pub and of course the likes of Pizza Express (don’t forget to use online vouchers for further discounts to your meal).
Beachy Head was all it lived up to be. Stunning and eery at the same time it’s a beautiful stretch of coastline. Sadly, it’s a place where many choose to commit suicide too so there are chaplains stationed along Beachy Head who look out for people in distress.
I saw one bunch of flowers stationed at one of the signs which warns about the dangerous heights. But there’s also a quote on a plaque which reads: ‘Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea. The Lord on High is mighty. God is always greater than all of our troubles.’