Have I become a British holiday cliché?Posted: July 30, 2011
I’ve just been to the seaside for a classic British holiday. Just like in the song, I did like to be beside the seaside, and I did like to be beside the sea. Strolling along the prom, prom, prom was pretty good too, although I didn’t encounter any brass bands going tiddly-om-pom-pom. I would have been quite surprised if they had made that sound, really. But anyway…
Just meeting three of the four criteria from the vintage seaside song isn’t enough to make me a British holiday cliché. I did, however, insist on wearing shorts on the beach, even when it was so cold that I had to sport a jumper and fleece jacket on my top half. I paddled in the sea and ate ice cream more or less every day, despite icy winds blowing in from the North Sea. And – wait for it – I played crazy golf.
While these traditional holiday exploits do sound a little on the silly side, I am not alone in being drawn to them, year after year, like a wasp to a sticky stick of rock. On our annual family trip to the lovely town of Filey, on the glorious yet windblown east coast, we bumped into three other families from our village, an hour’s drive away, doing exactly what we were doing. So what keeps us coming back?
Well, although the weather is predictably unpredictable whether it’s the height of summer or the middle of winter, it doesn’t detract from the spectacular scenery – in one direction, a long, clean, sandy beach stretches into the far distance towards the majestic white cliffs at Bempton and Flamborough; in the other direction lies Filey Brigg, a rocky outcrop that juts out into the sea, sporting a magical array of rock pools and birdlife. In sunny weather, the crumbling clay cliffs approaching the Brigg glow bright orange, contrasting beautifully with the vivid blue sky. When the winds blow, the waves come crashing into the bay, battering the sea wall.
Beyond its natural splendour, Filey has an old-fashioned charm that doesn’t change much and doesn’t need to. It has donkey rides, amusement arcades, sticks of rock, a little funfair on the sea front, buckets and spades and all those other things that are as much fun for my kids as they were for me, my dad and his dad.
So yes, maybe my Filey fascination does make me a British holiday cliché. But there are lots of other holidaymakers in my shorts-wearing, weather-defying, toe-freezing club, happy to keep that traditional British seaside holiday alive as long as there are gulls on the chimney pots, tiny crabs in the rock pools and Flakes in the 99s.