With my daughter joining her husband upon a business trip on July 2012, it felt to my wife Beth and I (as grandparents) to step into the breach – as it were – and look after the grandchildren for a two week period.
Having previously done a sea cruise and trips to Wales and Cornwall in the previous two years, on this occasion we decided to visit one of the more secluded and secret seaside venues in Britain, on the east coast. Beth originates from Felixstowe, indeed we had our marriage reception at Woodbridge in Suffolk, but hitherto we had not often troubled to venture as far northwards as Norfolk itself.
Thus it was that we travelled to a well-recommended B & B establishment in Happisburgh on the Norfolk coast and spent a contented fortnight there with our granddaughter Alison and grandson Ollie.
I can truthfully say ‘contented’, despite the fact that the weather during our stay was uniformly dull and wet, because we created vast bucket and spade castles and walls of sand on the beach every day and then had huge fun defending them from the incoming tide – ultimately, of course, failing in our quest, but having a wild timer of it in the process.
We also ate sloppy ice cream cornets with Flakes stuck in them, consumed cream teas, played in the penny arcade on the quaint but small Victorian pier – and twice had classic fish and chip meals in newspapers whilst sitting on a bench overlooking the Crazy Golf course at the municipal park.
There were but two sources of irritation that accompanied us on our ‘quality time with our grandkids’ holiday.
The first was that our B & B had no Sky TV subscription, and therefore I missed some of the best sport of that summer.
The second was the state of the beach. Instead of the endless stretches of fine sand of the sort that one encounters at Camber Sands in Sussex, we found ourselves having to seek out suitable areas of workable sand from amidst the almost sticky clay that dominated the Happisburgh shoreline.
And that was it, really. Another box ticked, in terms of our journey around the resorts of Britain. But, now that we’ve ‘been there and done it’, I don’t think Beth and I will be returning to the Norfolk coast any time soon.
Especially after the reports in the media this week, in which some very excited archaeologists have been making some rather fanciful claims about the footprints they ‘discovered’ close to the point where my brilliantly-designed sandcastle version of the Tower of London very nearly survived the afternoon incoming tide on 11th July 2012 – see here, on the website of THE INDEPENDENT