What are your memories of your childhood holidays?
Mine are as clear as if it had been yesterday – the smell of the sea, sound of the waves breaking on the beach, begging to be allowed to buy flags to fly on our sandcastles, burying each other in the sand. The agony of having to wait for an ice cream until after we had eaten all our lunch, then the endless waiting for an hour after lunch before we were allowed to swim.
I admit that I loved watching the traffic warden come round, waiting to see if anyone got a ticket! Great excitement one day when the local farmer’s cows appeared on the beach, and another when a seal was spotted in the bay.
We went rockpooling, looking for crabs (which always disappeared from the water-filled bucket left outside overnight) and – if it was windy enough – kite flying on the cliff top. I learned how to look for cuttlefish at low tide and collected shells if it was wet and rainy.
Our holidays were spent at Helford Passage in Cornwall, which we reached via the magical overnight car-train from Kensington Olympia – going to bed on a train and then waking up and being ON HOLIDAY and in Cornwall was wonderful.
The Great British Seaside of my memory is (nearly) always sunny and warm. To my mind, and perhaps because of my lovely childhood memories, the ideal Great British Seaside spot has to include:
- An Ice cream van or kiosk (a 99-flake for me, please – and, yes, I am one of those annoying people who save the flake till last)
- Sandy beach, no deckchair needed – just a (preferably dry and as yet un-sandy) towel
- Bucket and spade – for great excavations, burying people (choose your victim carefully as they have to be capable of staying still for long enough) and building fantasy castles.
Others might yearn for Punch and Judy shows, donkey rides or fish and chips… Or brightly painted beach huts, surfing spots or cool caves.
There are so many Great British Seaside spots and every weekend newspaper seems to have run articles about their “Top 20” British Beaches, but our favourites are:
Carne Beach, Cornwall
Holkham Beach, Norfolk
Camber Sands, Kent
West Wittering, West Sussex
Knoll Beach, Dorset
Blackpool Sands, Devon
Marloes Sands, Wales
Haverigg Beach, Cumbria
Bamburgh Castle Beach, Northumberland
Coldingham Bay, Scotland
The Best Beach Picnic
Do you remember the pressure of packing the picnic and knowing, just knowing, that you will have forgotten something? Here are our top tips for packing the perfect picnic:
- Tablecloth to spread on the sand and an umbrella for shade
- Kitchen roll and hand wipes, together with a bin bag for rubbish
- Half-frozen bottles of water, which will stay cooler for longer
- Knives, forks, spoons and plates, together with a sharp knife, bottle opener and plastic cups
- Sandwiches (nothing with mayonnaise, which may go off if its hot)
- Crisps, snacks and dips
- Chocolate brownies – great for pudding and tea time
Other things to pack
- Sun cream and hats
- Frisbee or beach ball
- Surf board!
- A good book!
Best Ever Salted Caramel Chocolate Brownie Recipe
200g very dark chocolate, as dark as you can find
250g unsalted butter
250g caster sugar
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
120g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
For the caramel
110g caster sugar
4 tbsp sour cream
½ tsp flaky salt
Start by making the caramel. Line a plate or shallow bowl with lightly greased baking parchment. Melt the sugar in a medium pan over a medium-high heat until a rich amber colour, stirring occasionally to break up chunks. Take off the heat and stir in the butter, followed by the cream and salt, until melted. Pour on to the lined plate and chill or freeze until solid, but still soft enough to scoop (about 40-55 minutes).
Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4, and line a 23x23cm baking tin with baking parchment.
Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over, but not touching, a pan of simmering water. Allow to cool slightly, stirring occasionally.
Once the caramel is almost ready, beat the butter and sugar together in a food processor until light and fluffy. With the mixer still running, gradually add the eggs, beating well between each addition to ensure they are thoroughly incorporated before pouring in any more. Leave mixing on a high speed for 5 minutes until the batter has a silky sheen, and has increased in volume.
Remove the bowl from the mixer, and gently fold in the melted chocolate and vanilla with a large metal spoon, followed by the sifted flour, baking powder and salt.
Spoon half the mixture into the tin and make small holes and then spoon scoops of caramel into them. Spoon on the rest of the batter and bake for 30 minutes. Towards the end of the cooking time, prepare a sink with enough iced water to come halfway up the side of the tin.
Test the brownies with a skewer; it should come out sticky, but not coated with raw mixture. If it does, put it back into the oven for another 3 minutes, then test again. When ready, carefully lower the tin into the sink, then allow to cool before cutting into pieces