Take crabbing to the highest possible level by competing in the British Open Crabbing Championship held every year in the seaside village of Walberswick. Described as a competition for “children of all ages” – the only condition being that you weren’t born before 1890 - there can be few greater pleasures than joining the hundreds of competitors with line, weight and bait (bacon is said to be best, but the professionals will keep their choice to themselves) and then teasing the crab out of the water and into the bucket. If you can’t make it to Walberswick on Sunday 9th August this summer then any other day will do. Our daughters, now in their late teens, have the fondest memories of hanging off a bridge, filling a bucket with crabs and then releasing them, often a hundred at a time. An essential family experience.
Walberswick is in Suffolk, across the river from Southwold (take the rowed ferry) Details of the crabbibg championships at www.walberswick.ws/crabbing/
Sandwich your beach visit with a delicious ice cream.
Okay, I'm biased because I live here, but Whitley Bay has one of the best beaches in the world - loads of sand, luscious seaweed, intriguing rock pools and an amazing view north towards the wonderfully photogenic St Mary's Lighthouse.
When you have had enough of exploring the delights left behind by the tide, head up Watts Slope onto Marine Avenue (beside the Spanish City dome which is currently being refurbished) for 'real' fish and chips from one of the many cafes and follow it with a traditionally made Italian ice cream from Delaval Ices at the Cafe Mediterraneo.
Tyne and Wear Metro - Whitley Bay
Newgale is a beautiful, long, sandy beach and a favourite haunt of surfers. There's handy car parking and a small village with a surf school, cafe (Sands Cafe) and camping behind the beach.
Walk south along the beach to find the rockpools with crabs, anemone's.
Newgale SA62 6AS
I recommend Newton Ferrers, situated about 10 miles southeast of Plymouth for the best rockpooling in the UK.
Actually I haven't been there for years now, but my rose-tinted memories of endless summer holidays are so vivid, I hope the reality still lives up to it.
There are two beaches near the fishing port of Newton Ferrers, one is called Stoke Beach, and it had a caravan and camping site above the beach. It was a long walk down from the field/carpark and then we found a stretch of golden beach with dozens of coves, caves, rocks and pools to explore. The other beach was/is called Warren and it is found nearby, across a meadow filled with butterflies and ladybird colonies dotted all over the wildflowers and long grass. I remember a tricky scramble down over rocks and then a leap across the sand to get to the beach. It was like a secret beach as very few people made it past the obstacle course.
My tip for rockpooling is to turn over the large flat stones with the pinky markings on and you're sure to find tiny starfish clinging on. Just look and leave them there, of course! For crabs, a good root around under the knobbly seaweed will offer a cluster of the little demons. Pick them up by their two sides between your thumb and forefinger. Watch them wave their claws at you with attitude, then place them back in the salt water and watch them scuttle off. I love the little, inch-long cat fish and dog fish - if I'm correct - that inhabit the pools. I love everything about these beaches. I would still go rockpooling today, given half a chance, even though I'm 47 and my creaking knees hamper any clambering.
Devon, Plymouth, Newton Ferrers, Stoke Road
At the southern end of the three mile stretch of sandy beach in Studland is a secret rock pool cove, cut off by cliffs on both sides. Wait until the tide slides out before skirting round the cliff face and you’ll find yourself in a hidden world of crabs, fish, barnacles, snails and weird looking worms.
My favourite way to get a closer look at these pool dwellers is with an old detergent tablet net with a bit of chicken or meat inside tied to the end of a stick. Wait a bit for whatever creature is enticed and carefully lift it out of the water, its weight will close the net behind it so it can't climb out- just take care when letting the blighters go!
Studland Bay, Swanage, Dorset
At the southern end of the three mile stretch of sandy beach is a secret rock pool cove, cut off by cliffs on both sides. Wait until the tide slides out before skirting round the cliff face and you’ll find yourself in a hidden world of crabs, fish, barnacles, snails and weird looking worms.
My favourite way to get a closer look at these pool dwellers is with an old detergent tablet net with a bit of chicken or meat inside tied to the end of a stick. Wait a bit for whatever creature is enticed and carefully lift it out the water, its weight will close the net behind it so it can't climb out- just take care when letting the blighters go!
Studland Bay, Swanage, Dorset
Great little place right in the middle of the Afan Forest, sandwiched between the Afan and Glyncorrwg mountain bike centres. Basic accommodation but perfect for mountainbikers with a lock-up and jet wash, not to mention a cracking breakfast and pub dinner. Lush.
Rhossili Beach is beautiful, it gets a good wave as it picks up similar swells to North Devon. Though it lacks the power of many beaches in Cornwall or Devon it is by far easier to get to and has a very relaxed vibe.
But what I really like in Llangeneth is the Kings Head pub. It has good beer, great food - the dragons breath curry is fantastic after a day on the water - and order the crumble early as they make it in enormous quantities and it still sells out nightly. But the best thing about it is the whisky collection behind the bar. Single malts three deep the length of the bar on two shelves. They certainly help for the wobble back to the campsite, even if they don't help you get up for the dawn surf the next day.
We celebrated our anniversary at Plas Dinas which is a 400-year-old country house where the Armstong Jones family used to live - it still has lots of photos and portraits of Antony and Princess Margaret and is really interesting.
Rarely have we been somewhere that not only oozes character and is set in a lovely location with great views but also manages to deliver on service too. The hosts were really chatty and friendly and we had a great meal in their restaurant.
It was a beautiful weekend and we took the opportunity to walk round the grounds. They have benches strategically placed so you can sit and enjoy the view - we took our books out there to read with a glass of wine.
Our room was imaculately clean, came with a really comfy super king bed and a great bonus for me was the fresh milk for my tea in the morning.
I can't fault dinner (great cheese from the local delicatessan - we were given the details to go and buy some to take home) and breakfast was great too.
If you are looking for a relaxing break I can't reccommend this place more - we had a great time and will definitely be back.
Poldhu beach, near Mullion on The Lizard in Cornwall is a little known surfers paradise because it is one of the very few beaches to face directly West, from the Lizard peninsula. This means that as well as benefiting from the swells generated out in the Atlantic, there are often offshore breezes holding up the face of the waves making them smooth and glassy - perfect for surfing.
The long sweep of sand, free parking spots at the edge of the beach and beach cafe, plus the fact that this has now got an official life guard station as of last year make it the place to go for local surfers in the know.
Poldhu beach is near Mullion, between Mullion village and Cury in Cornwall on the Lizard peninsula
Achmelvich is a beautiful place north of Ullapool, with clear blue waters and exotic white beaches which can be found within many rocky coves that are host to a plethora of pools, teaming with sealife.
Achmelvich, north of Ullapool
It is a clean, large white expanse of coast with chunky groups of rock pools, many with names linked to the shape, for example : stag rock, cat rock etc. My two boys aged six and 10 delighted in them and I did think we could spend two weeks here and they would never tire - delightful.
Nearest station , Berwick on Tweed ( from the North) then the local 501 coastal bus - - a lovely journey through all the villages, spying seascapes and countryside.
I do not know about driving, yet I have lots of tips and affordable holiday advice for car less families. ( you know; green, guardian reader type holidays, all acceptable and educational for the kids, whilst full of fun and freedom)
The best cream tea - so far. I've tried lots of places and this was the best yet. Large warm scones with lashings of clotted cream and a giant pot of strawberry jam. Served with a pot of tea inside if cold or on the decking overlooking Mawgan Porth beach, fantastic! I will be back -but will also carry on looking just in case I find a better one.
Mawgan Porth main road
Nice and simple English food locally sourced. I love fresh food and this comes very fresh indeed. Hidden away, but worth finding it for the great food at very good prices. One of Newcastle's best kept secrets. Small but mighty.
0191 232 4949
situated behind the laing art gallery in newcastle city centre.
The Robin Hood is my favourite pub in Brighton. It's cosy, friendly and they've got a great wine list. The beers are always good too. They do basic food like pizzas, have a Wii, loads of boardgames and a free computer. It's always been one of my favourites, but I've just found out that they give all their proffits to charity. Sounds like a perfect excuse for another glass of wine! It is a bit out of the way, but well worth checking out.
1-3 Norfolk Place
Just off western road, near norfolk square
This building is the latest addition to Edinburgh. It also wins prizes, including the RIAS Andrew Doolan Prize for best building in Scotland (2008), but unlike the parliament it was built within budget.
This building houses the research of Edinburgh University's world-leading School of Informatics. Look for it on Doors Open Day!
10 Crichton Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9AB
A friendly hotel in a great part of the small island. There are only two hotels on Tiree, but this is my favourite. It's basic, but good value and the staff are very welcoming.
After a day's walking or cycling around the island, what better way to relax than in the adjoining pub with the friendly locals and a large whisky!
An ice-cream parlour/cafe with two sister sites in central Oxford, this one stands out because it takes you into vibrant East Oxford. The ice-cream is great, with 'petition' flavours which change frequently. It's light and airy and seems to be tolerant of the many local freelancers and students who sit and work there. It opens early and closes late - another bonus.
After you've been, wander up the Cowley Road away from the city to get a taste of Oxford beyond the gown-ridden centre.
104 Cowley Road
Cowley Road Area
Telephone: 01865 727111
Spend three to four days in a Canadian canoe, gently paddling along fantstic scenery. Really relaxing and peaceful as you observe wildlife on the river close up. Camping on the river bank, some fast water, river side pubs, lazy picnics and loads of fun.
I recommend The Ross on Wye Canoe hire company who will drop you off up river and then pick you up at the end of your trip, very informative, friendly and flexible service, reasonably priced.
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