Some people spend their childhood holidays on the French Riviera, others go to the Italian countryside. For me, it was the very English seaside town of Salcombe.
Every year, my dad, sisters and I would pack the car, stock up on Haribo and start the familiar journey down to South Devon where we’d meet my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins for a week’s holiday. Most days, regardless of the weather, we would head to South Sands beach equipped with buckets, spades and a large supply of sandwiches.
This was my favourite place in the world when I was growing up – a giant playground. I’d climb the rocks, eat Salcombe dairy ice cream and, if the adults were feeling adventurous, go out on a catamaran. Occasionally, we’d spend the day in Salcombe itself, my sisters and I browsing the chocolate shop while my dad looked at the sailing equipment they sold next door.
Over the years we established family holiday traditions – we’d always write a song, have fish and chips on the seafront and, being a family prone to mishaps, there would always be one particularly embarrassing moment per holiday. One year it was getting stuck in a motorboat on the estuary when my dad forgot to check the tide timings, in front of a crowded pub. Over the years, this small seaside town became a place of comfort and familiarity, so when I was offered the chance to return, 10 years after my last visit, it was an easy decision.
The holiday started similarly to my childhood trips – packing the cars and stocking up on sweets, but this time instead of holidaying with family, I was going away with a group of my closest friends. I was unsure about how well I would remember the town, but as we drove in I felt an immediate sense of relaxation and familiarity.
We stayed in a beautiful house – Lower Deck – overlooking the bay. Nestled in the cliffs, but still a five-minute walk from the town, it was the perfect location and could accommodate all 10 of us. We were lucky to have chosen a weekend of bright, warm weather. Our view was a sparkling sea and a sun-drenched beach – it felt a little like looking out onto a film set.
On the first night, after a quick drink on the patio as the sun set, we headed down to the local pub, where we ate Salcombe’s best fish and chips and drank cider. On Saturday we headed off to the famous South Sands beach. I was expecting it to seem smaller now that I had grown up, as so many places do when you revisit as an adult. But I was surprised by how huge it still seemed.
I found myself running to the rocks, climbing up as high as possible, making sand castles, looking for the oddest shaped rocks and generally acting like a small child. I just about managed to stop myself jumping into the freezing sea in an attempt to show how brave I was, I must have become less attention seeking in my old age.
After lunch in the famous Winking Prawn overlooking South Sands’ sister beach, North Sands, we strolled as a group along the country roads to the butchers ahead of an evening roast. A night spent playing games and dancing around the sitting room rounded off the weekend.
Before the trip, I was worried that Salcombe wouldn’t live up to my childhood memories and that it would feel strange going back with friends instead of family. Happily, I was wrong. I loved being able to share my old memories while, at the same time, creating new ones.
Lower Deck is a sumptuous pet-friendly four star gold-rated apartment for ten, set on the bottom two floors of a large Victorian house in the picturesque sailing and yachting town of Salcombe.
Set within its own grounds this striking South Devon property has enviable views towards the sea and of the surrounding hills and woods. It has extensive terrace and decking areas where you can cook up a storm on the barbeque, dine out on balmy summer evenings or watch the family swimming below in the outdoor heated pool.
Refurbished to the highest level this elegant five bedroom holiday home makes the most of the original charm and character of the house, whilst complementing it with beautiful contemporary furnishings, fixtures and fittings. Available from Blue Chip Holidays a week at Lower Decks can be booked from £2,010. Three nights can be booked from £1,148.
Bookings can be made online at www.bluechipholidays.co.uk or by calling 0844 7044987