SHALDON, England (AP) – These are simple joys reminiscent of analog, unplugged summer days: a book and a picnic blanket, a bucket and spade, fish and chips.
They are also the traditional trappings of the UK’s great seaside vacation, which is making a comeback amid foreign travel concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Back then, when the eagerly awaited summer school break appeared on the horizon, one question dominated the playground: “Where to go on vacation?”
That was the 70s, and time may have darkened memories, but I don’t remember one of the 30 kids in my class saying they were going abroad. I was part of the last generation for whom the British beach holiday was still king.
Its heyday dates back to the Victorian era and probably peaked in the post-war years of the 1950s and 1960s. Full employment and paid annual leave gave the working and middle classes the financial clout to take a break on the coast each summer.
For people in southern England like my family, that meant going to Margate, Camber Sands, Brighton, Weymouth, or other coastal towns. A longer drive west took you to the English Riviera. Elsewhere, resorts like Blackpool on the northwest coast or Clacton-on-Sea in the east were flooded with visitors during school holidays.
The glory days began to fade with the arrival of cheap air travel and package tours that took families to resorts around the warm waters of the Mediterranean, where sunshine was almost guaranteed.
A visit to the Devonian fishing village of Shaldon, a small cluster of mostly Georgian houses and shops at the mouth of the River Teign, is like stepping back in time to simple pleasures. Even when a recent heat wave drove the British to the coast to cool off, Shaldon maintained an effortless calm.
The ingredients are simple: two beautiful beaches, a handful of pubs, a shop that sells typical British holiday fish and chips (although the food is unfortunately no longer wrapped in old newspapers) and a pitch-and-putt golf course with beautiful View over the Teign estuary.
Take a dip among small fishing boats and less traditional stand-up paddle boards. Throw a line down the estuary at low tide as the last rays of the day light up green stones covered in algae. Finish with a pint in a pub beer garden.
For those looking for a destination to stay in, Shaldon offers many options for a great British seaside getaway.
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