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  • Writer's pictureFiona Barber

Shall we go to the Beach?

One of the reasons for moving to this part of Somerset was the ease of getting to the beach. Coming from landlocked Oxfordshire meant that impromptu visits to the coast was unlikely if not completely foolhardy, given the traffic on the motorways. There is nothing more soul destroying than getting up early to beat the traffic, packing your picnic into the back of the car (having that frantic search for the icepacks to keep the pork pies cool), pointing the car in a southerly direction, only to find yourself stuck in traffic for four hours. You arrive, hot and grumpy and, being unable to find a parking space near the beach, you park in a Tesco's car park, trudge through the town carrying your picnic (which is now very heavy and the squash lukewarm), find a space on the already crowded beach to bolt your picnic before realising you have to head back because you need to 'beat the traffic'!

Ok,, so I may have exaggerated a teeny weeny bit but there is more than a smidgen of truth in the description above. Chipley Escapes is on the South Somerset/Devon border and as such we are spoilt for choice. Our rather handsome gull pictured below was snapped at Port Isaac. Port Isaac! I hear you exclaim! Exactly! On a good run we can be parking the car at Port Isaac in just over one and a half hours and, if you have had the foresight to make a booking in advance, will be in plenty of time to have lunch at Nathan Outlaws Fish Kitchen. Or if your wallet doesn't run to Mr Outlaws esteemed establishment, can I recommend the Slipway or the Golden Lion? Last time we went we had a pint of prawns and very delicious they were too. By the way, this gull photograph was taken in December!

Of course, you don't have to drive that far to be on a beach. Porlock Weir on the North Somerset coast is a stunner and is only 45 minutes away. Quiet with little traffic, a stonking good pub and a rather nice hotel, it is great for a walk along the shingle beach or, as we have done in the past, a BBQ and a bottle of wine on the beach whilst you watch the little fishing boats moor up. What could be nicer on a warm summer evening?

The Devon coast line is within easy reach too. This is Dartmouth. Such a pretty town and well worth a visit. We shot over there one day as my partner needed something from the chandlery there, so we made a day of it and visited Darts Farm Shop. Excellent opportunity to stock up on a couple of steaks and some artisan sausages to put on the BBQ when we got home!

North Devon and the stunning north Devon coastline around Braunton is a great trip, especially when combined with a road trip over Exmoor to get there. Saunton Sands is the perfect location on a windy day to watch the kite and wind surfers do their thing whilst you wander along the beach blowing the cobwebs away

I have a huge soft spot for Lyme Regis on the Jurassic Coast. Beautiful little Georgian houses in ice cream colours, a selection of quirky independent shops and you are spoilt for choice in eateries. Plus it is only a short but pretty drive over the Blackdown Hills. We went there for Albys birthday this year and we were able to sit outside for lunch in January! Ok, that may have been a fluke but I have always been very lucky with the weather in deep mid-winter so maybe its not a fluke and I am the weather fairy!

We really need to pause here to celebrate the beauty of the British beach in winter. I love a bracing walk on a blustery beach in the middle of winter - especially if there is the prospect of a hot cup of tea or a warming hot chocolate at the end. As a family, we have taken to heading to the beach on Christmas Eve or Boxing Day. The dog gets a walk, we can walk off the previous days gluttony and we all get some fresh air - what's not to love? Here we all are in our wellies and coats and just look at that sky!

So, the answer to the question posed at the beginning of this post is a resounding YES! Have a day at the beach - you won't regret it!


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