Things That Bring Me Joy Thursday – One Memorable Family Vacation

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Good afternoon lovelies,

When it comes to picking a family vacation to write about for you today, there are so many that stick out in my mind. I have memories of ice creams in seaside cafés and I have memories of riding on steam trains. I have memories of hopping between rocks and dodging the rock pools and I remember the view as we looked out across the horizon. The one most prominent family vacation, though, is Sandy Bay.

6. A Memorable Family Vacation

Nestled on the south coast, Sandy Bay was the holiday (if you’re English) destination of choice for my family. Run by Haven, Devon Cliffs was home to many budget-friendly family trips, quite often on which my grandparents would also join.

In my youth, my family were pretty hard pressed for cash, and on trips like these, we’d always travel by train. Off-peak train tickets were cheap and to help out, Nan would always pack sandwiches for the journey, always cheese and pickle, wrapped in tin foil and placed inside her blue woven bag. Nobody was allowed into Nan’s bag until we were sat on the platform at Bristol Temple Meads, only then would our holiday begin.

As was pretty standard for working class families in the 90’s, we always stayed in a “bronze” class caravan. Bronze class was akin to basic accomodation, a made-up double bed, twin beds, a lounge, a dining area and a bathroom. There were no added luxuries and no bonus patios. If you found a football to play with in one of the cupboards that the last occupants had left behind, you were lucky.

One of my most favourable memories from this holiday was wading in the shallows with my grandmother. Holding hands with Nan, we’d wiggle our bottoms with anticipation and leap high into the air, splashing down again and looking back to check we hadn’t landed on the incoming wave. As the whitewater crashed onto the shore behind us, we’d look back at the wave we’d missed – oof, that was close!

Nan, my brother and me at Sandy Bay
Paddling in the waves at Sandy Bay – Sideways cap because I was just that cool! 😛

One of the caveats of Sandy Bay beach is the footpath onto it. Down a steep and winding bath with steps every so often, the walk down wasn’t much kinder than the walk up. Pushchairs couldn’t take it and trikes couldn’t ride it. The only option left for us was to walk.

I remember begrudging the walk down onto the sand, “my feet hurt!” I’d whine, swinging my arms like a chimpanzee. I wanted so desperately to be picked up and carried, but no, I had to walk. When I finally reached the bottom, there was one last jump onto the sand and my brother and I would always compete to see who could jump the farthest. I’d forgotten my painful feet by then, and just as sunrise leads to sunset, my parents knew that I would.

One of my grandfather’s many talents was his sand boats, a sand art structure made by tracing out a boat shape, then hollowing out a footwell and seat area with a small trench around the perimeter of the boat for definition. They were simple to build and always ready within ten minutes or so, but digging them was always a family event and f you didn’t take part, you couldn’t play- Talk about promoting teamwork!

My brother and Grandad on Sandy Bay
Digging out the sand boat 🙂

I remember the site clubhouse particularly well, with glass panels overlooking the bay, I vowed to myself that I would take my future husband there one day. At such a young age I didn’t knew who he would be, I just knew that some day, I was just convinced that I was going to have one. With dim lights and a huge square dance floor, I imagined our first dance on that floor – and I imagined that it’d be perfect.

Tired from the walk back up from the beach, we’d pick up the road train back into the main camp. Bumbling up and down the contours of the road, something felt oddly grandiose about sitting on the hard wooden benches and waving at the people we passed. Nan would have us believe that we were living the fine life, sat onboard the road train. In retrospect and for how bumpy the ride was, the lucky ones were probably them.

.It’s impossible for me to pick and tell you about one great holiday when I have had so many of them. From riding illuminated trams in Blackpool, Cornish pasties on the rugged coasts of Cornwall and building sand boats in Devon, my family vacations have shown that one thing always remains to be true – for as long as you have your nearest and dearest with you, you really don’t need an expensive foreign vacation in order to have a good time.


I’ve been thinking about adding some more life in the UK to my blog for a while as I know that our tiny little island is something that interests some people. If you would like more English things (recipes, my area or anything else you can think of/would be interested in) please leave a comment down below and I’ll see what I can do!

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