Wish you were here! Postcards from the traditional British seaside holiday.
With Host Unusual HQ being based by the sea - Leigh-on-Sea to be exact, voted ‘Britain's Happiest Place to Live' by Rightmove in 2016 - you could argue that we're biased when we say there's nothing like the traditional British seaside break.
But there really isn't... is there? Most of us have fond associations with the UK coastline, with vivid memories of knotted hankies and ‘Kiss Me Quick' hats, garish sticks of rock you feared you might lose your teeth to, striped deckchairs, rows upon rows of colourful beach huts, cawing seagulls swooping to steal a salty chip or two, and later on washing sandy feet with plastic bucketfuls of seawater before heading home again.
(We bet you reminisced slightly there for a moment...didn't you!)
Before air travel became as popular as it is now, the British seaside break was a firm staycation staple, with places like Blackpool - one of the very first British resorts - immensely popular with hard-grafting industrial workers taking a much-needed holiday.
The iconic art deco corkscrew at the entrance to Blackpool Pleasure Beach
The concept soon spread as more and more people decided they quite liked the gritty texture of sand in their picnic sandwiches while breathing in fresh sea air, and throughout the nineteenth century long piers were constructed to berth boatloads of day trippers in search of a bracing beachside break.
Over the years, despite seeming very similar on the surface, each UK resort has gradually developed a personality all of its very own. Brighton, for example, is the undisputed number one for crazy cool kitsch, while Eastbourne's reputation is a lot quieter and more elegantly understated, famously favoured by the older generation.
Brighton Pier, naturally!
Llandudno, ‘Queen of the Welsh Resorts' in the late nineteenth century, has a grand and distinguished history, while Glaswegians would catch a ferry "doon the watter" to resorts lining the Firth of Clyde, which - surprisingly given Scotland's reputation for bad weather! - actually benefits from the Gulf Stream direct from America, offering far more sunny days than you might imagine.
Essex's very own Southend-on-Sea is infamous, not just for its incredibly long pleasure pier, but for being featured on TV, with the cast of ‘EastEnders' visiting on-screen many times back in the Eighties.
(We remember one of our favourite fish and chip shops used to display a sign outside that proclaimed, "if our fish and chips are good enough for the ‘EastEnders' then they're good enough for YOU" - and who were we to argue?)
These days, of course, Southend Pier is a staple cooking location for the likes of Jamie Oliver and his famous friends - finally giving Brighton a run for its money in the coolness stakes!
A bird's eye view at sunset, Southend-on-Sea
Wherever you decide to spend some coastal time, for most British people the traditional seaside holiday holds an affectionate place in our hearts. Even if heading abroad is the more favoured option these days, building castles out of Spanish sand, we'll always remember our very first brush with the British coastline.
Margate beach with Dreamland in the distance
Our charity partner, the Family Holiday Association, understands the restorative and fun-filled benefits of a British seaside break more than most - which is why they've helped tens of thousands of families take trips there.
With so many families otherwise having to miss out on a holiday due to illness, poverty or bereavement, the Family Holiday Association provide a genuine lifeline, rightly considering a holiday as one of life's necessities rather than a luxury. Read more about their work and philosophy.
And if you're looking to recreate some much-loved, old-fashioned seaside memories yourself...or maybe even upgrade the beachside luxury a little...then our Seaside Breaks and Beach Huts and Houses categories, with an unusual something for everyone, are guaranteed to make you smile.
Happy holidays - and don't forget to send us a postcard!
Carousel on Brighton seafront