East Midlands

East Midlands 

Summer 2010

We decided to go to Butlin’s Skegnessholiday camp” with the boys’ uncle David from Ecuador and cousin Matt from England. It was a bit of a mixed bag to be honest, gone (or nearly gone) are the days of knobbly knees competitions

We opted for a self catering option, but what we never realised was that the ‘kitchen’ was virtually unusable, I guess to get the guests out tucking into the camp fare. The rest of the portacabin wasn’t much better and was reminiscent of a 1950’s army camp.

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside
Oh I do like to be beside the seaside
Round and round and round....
Round and round and round….

Still we ploughed on,and went to the silent disco, watched the Abba tribute and poured money into the slot machines….

We also had a sightly surreal night off camp when we hooked up with a Colombian acrobat (in Skegness!), who was more surprised to hear Spanish than we were. We ended up down the boozer and my 18 year-old brother-in-law and my old-enough-to-know-better nephew had the conversation with the big white telephone after several too many Bacardi Breezers…

Bob the Builder is one of many tie-ins at Butlin's
Bob the Builder is one of many tie-ins at Butlin’s

Overall the main problem with the Butlin’s experience is that it feels like you are being herded from one corporate experience to another. Even in the nearish past of the early 90’s, when I had a stint working behind the bar at Butlin’s it still felt like a British institution and was all the better for it, but their attempts to glam things up with international pizza franchises and the like really did miss the point for me. Oh and the kids were frenetic the whole time running round spending money.


Our trip to Norfolk was my first trip with just me and Tommy from Ecuador when he was only two. We did the trip for me to say goodbye to Ken my stepdad who was not doing too well and we wanted one last hurrah to say goodbye like I said. The trip was in April so Britain didn’t look it’s best, and in fact we had some snow, and to be honest as we were living in Ecuador at the time we weren’t really prepared for it.

It's a great idea to get a big family farmhouse rental
It’s a great idea to get a big family farmhouse rental

The house we rented was near Cromer and it seems there are quite a few like it, old farmhouses for rent. They’re not cheap but if a big group of you go they become affordable.

The view the other way, perfect wheelchair country
The view the other way, perfect wheelchair country

This was, as you can see pretty much in the middle of a field, and the April wind was bone chilling, but the indoor pool was all weather, and a little cold was not about to deter us.

Look at how many of us fit in the house
Look at how many of us fit in the house

So this week was all about relaxing, eating and messing about which is what we did.

Uncle John strangling Tommy inside the house
Uncle John strangling Tommy inside the house

We did manage a couple of side trips, to Cromer and the beach and the obligatory boat trip on the Broads, the extensive network of waterways for which Norfolk is known.

On a Norfolk broads boat
On a Norfolk broads boat

With more time (and warmer weather), it would be a great idea to have a week or on a boat, the trip afternoon trip we took was nice enough, but didn’t really capture the pace of life that you could get on the Broads on a longer boat trip.

The view from th eboat
The view from the boat

The seaside pursuits were a little bit like hard work because of the weather, but we did manage to eat outside a pub garden and play with a bucket and spade, even if we didn’t manage a swim.

Chips at the back of a pub
Chips at the back of a pub
On the beach with Aunty Chris
On the beach with Aunty Chris


Me and Tommy combined the Norfolk trip with a quick side trip to see the family in South Lincolnshire, another very flat place.

 A walk in fens with Aunty Debbie and cousins Kelly and Jamie
A walk in fens with Aunty Debbie and cousins Kelly and Jamie

This part of the world is my ancestral seat, me a load of red faced Tory farmers, so although I have family here I don’t get back too often and have no memories of living here when I was a nipper.

Anyway it’s worth a trip to see Stamford if you’re in the area and there’s always a walk down the Fens, but I’m not too sure what else to recommend in the area.

On another trip I do remember going to Spalding for the day as well, it was pleasant enough and it was market day which is always nice We also went on a boat on the river Welland. The boat ends up at an outlet mall, and the friendly captain let Tommy take the tiller, which made him happy and getting out at the outlet mall made Lorena happy.

Lincolnshire update 2015

We had a flying visit to Bourne and Morton in 2015, again it’s because family is here and I have nothing to add in the way of much to do. On this trip the kids got to see Grandad Vic and my siter Debbie and family including cousin Cleo. The foal in the photo below lived in the field at the back of my sister-in-law’s house, he turned out to have a mother who scared Tommy witless and in fact knocked him in his arse and the sight of him subsequently haring across the field about a minute after this photo was taken was both funny and retrospectively shameful given that I was supposed to be the responsible parent.

Derbyshire 2017

Mom has moved to Belper, which to be honest is quite an improvement in Redditch, so it was off we go for me and the boys in the Summer of 2017….

I went to university in Derby and lived there for  more than 3 years, but it’s amazing how being an impoverished car less student can effect your lifestyle, because it turns out that Derbyshire has some lovely countryside that barely registered in my consciousness.

Belper is a pleasant enough little town with a bit of a Last of the Summer Wine vibe, we didn’t get up to much beyond a pub lunch and a wander, but I’m sure we’ll be back soon to scratch a bit deeper.

Around the town there are plenty of places to go for a walk and a drive. We managed a wander to Matlock Bath and to an old wool mill. The mill was probably the most fun for the boys, it was almost deserted and they have let it almost fall into disrepair, but that means you wander around and nick a bit of wool in peace. This being the UK half of the mill had been turned into a shop, which seemed to be doing more trade than the museum, but I guess it helps keep the latter afloat.

In Matlock things were closing up by the time we got there, but we still managed a walk by the river, me and the boys both are just happy to see some green and get away from 40 degrees plus in the UAE, so more of this please.

The countryside in this part of the world is the very epitome of rolling hills and next time I will make more of an effort to get out for a ramble of the walking kind. I also managed a side trip to see my old mate Steve in Bakewell another town to put on the list for next time. As well as a period town centre with plenty of pubs for the choosing, the town also had a nice walk by the river which ended in a brewery, perfect! Another trip to see Steve is definitely on the list for next year and hopefully we can do a bit more digging around in this part of the county.

Auntie Christine and Uncle Andy took the boys out to the National Tramway Museum and a very cool looking bookshop, they had a great time in both by all accounts and in fact named the museum as one of their Summer highlights. Again in an age of technology blah blah blah, kids still love hands on stuff and it doesn’t have to be super high adrenaline rip off ‘amusement’ parks.

Finally later on in the holiday we did a trip to meet up with the whole family in Markeaton Park for a picnic. We had decent weather for a change and we found a quiet corner of the park for a kick about.


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