I’ve always had a love for the English seaside. My earliest family holiday memories are of trips spent down at Camber Sands. The weather was never a factor, we just carried on. If it was a rotten day, we would find a rock, knock the windbreak into the sand, put on a pac-a-mac and pretend we were having a brilliant time. Only in England.
From a very young age, perhaps six years old, my obsession on these holidays was to go and catch fish. I would go out to collect shellfish, or worms for bait, and that began what has become a lifelong love affair with the seaside of this country, whether that’s on shore, out at sea or on boats.
It’s not just the seaside that makes England such a unique holiday destination, of course. Spain might have the sun, Italy has the cuisine, but can anyone compete with our English beers? Absolutely not. We are the only country in the world whose beer is a live yeast product. I’ve just been to Orlando, which has a huge range of American craft beers, but it is nothing like what we have. For anyone over 18, beer simply has to be a central part of any holiday in England.
And where better to enjoy a good beer, than at the pub? I have visited many over the years, but my favourite has to be The Lamb in Leadenhall Market, in London. That is a proper pub. People don’t sit down, they stand up, they drink, they talk, they laugh, they joke. The food is a beef roll if you’re lucky. The beauty of entering The Lamb, or actually any pub in England, is having conversations with people, whether you know them or not.
That’s another thing that makes an English holiday so special. Wherever you go, there is a level of courtesy, a level of engagement. On a good English holiday, whether in the Lake District or in the Peaks, there is a feeling of polite calm. Not so much in our cities, but certainly out in market town rural England.
And I have a formula for hunting that rural bliss: dodge those motorways. Dorset and East Sussex are two very unique counties, and the reason they are so magnificent is that neither has a mile of motorway. If you want to drive from Weymouth to Lyme Regis on a nice summer’s day, you won’t average 30 miles per hour. But because of their lack of motorways, and the absence of major distribution centres, you find a pattern of settlements that haven’t changed very much over the centuries. This may be a slightly romanticised vision of rural England, but it’s one that I am not ashamed of.