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Retro-style breaks, bursting with traditional seaside fun, are on the rise.
It’s thanks to parents returning to the same resorts they went to as kids, as well as a new band of hipsters heading to the coast for a healthy dose of nostalgia.
This summer our family joined the growing trend of staycationers yearning for fish and chips, icecreams and some pristine British sand between our toes.
One of the best places in the UK to do this is at Camber Sands in East Sussex, which boasts five miles of the golden stuff. The sand is usually still damp enough from the receding tide to make fabulous sandcastles.
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“Retro-style breaks, bursting with traditional seaside fun, are on the rise”
Backed by dunes, the beautiful beach also played host to our own mini Olympics as we enjoyed football, volleyball, cricket and Swingball.
We stayed at the excellent Parkdean resort nearby and, well, static caravanning has certainly changed since I was a lad.
Our caravan felt more like a luxury bungalow, with an enormous open plan living space made up of a spacious kitchen, a dining table that comfortably sat six people and a large lounge area with two comfy sofas and a flat screen TV.
Each of the two bedrooms (a double and a twin) had its own bathroom and dressing room, and the central heating was wonderfully warming after an afternoon in the sea air.
Camber’s Parkdean Resort boasts four indoor swimming pools including a flume, as well as an AstroTurf football pitch/basketball court, go-karts, bungee trampolines, indoor and outdoor play areas, a splash zone, an amusement arcade and a shop.
Pedn Vounder in Cornwall could easily be mistaken for somewhere more tropical than the UK
When you get hungry, there’s a handy burger/pizza stand, a chippy and The Boathouse Bar and Restaurant. We tried all three and the food was consistently fabulous.
Plus there’s the endless entertainment. Our youngest enjoyed a chocolate party and a Bake Off competition and we all loved the excellent evening shows, including appearances by X Factor favourites Chico and Stevi Ritchie.
However, there’s much to tempt you off the park, too.
The medieval town of Rye, just two miles along the coast, is like a living history lesson. Its cobbled streets are lined with gorgeous timber fronted houses, some of which date back nearly 800 years.
Mermaid Street in particular ticular is a fascinating trip through time. The steep cobbled hill features perfectly preserved medieval, Tudor and Georgian buildings with such wonderfully timeless names as The House With The Seat, The House Opposite and The House With Two Doors.
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Many of these buildings are now quirky independent shops, or wonderful taverns and restaurants, including the lovely Mermaid Inn, built in 1420.
After a stop at The Shop With The Ice Cream (it wasn’t really called that, but it should have been), we strolled down to Rye Harbour, a picturesque run of moorings along the River Rother and a bustling working port for yachts, fishermen and container ships.
It is also home to a Martello tower, one of several forts built along the south coast in the Napoleonic Wars to stop thousands of lively Frenchmen marauding into England.
This is a bit of a theme in this part of the world – the town also houses Rye Castle, built in 1249 by Henry III for the same purpose.
They worked, too, which is more than can be said for the defences of two other fascinating towns a further half hour along the coast – Battle and Hastings.
Hastings is well worth a day out, with its funicular railway up to the cliff tops and the Shipwreck Museum, which features numerous artefacts salvaged from vessels that sank along this part of the English Channel. Sounds morbid? Not a bit – it’s full of exhibits that serve as a fascinating and respectful tribute to those who lost their lives at sea.
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There’s even more fascinating stuff six miles away at Battle, the actual site of the 1066 Norman invasion.
The story of the Battle of Hastings is brought wonderfully to life at Battle Abbey, where actors took us on a spooky and hilarious tour of this spectacular site.
So if you fancy being a time traveller, Camber Sands is an ideal starting point.
And if you want a wonderful beach and great family entertainment, head to Parkdean – or as our family now call it, The Cool Holiday Park With The Luxury Caravans.
October half-term break: Arrive October 27 for three nights in a three-bedroom Hailsham caravan from £179.
Spring 2018: Arrive on February 23 for three nights in a Pelwood two-bedroom caravan from £109.
To book visit parkdeanresorts.co.uk or call 0330 123 4850