Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

Where to holiday in the UK

I dislike the term staycation. Firstly, it awkwardly places two words next to one another (can anyone really say the term without cringing?). Secondly, its definition is often misused. Usually, it refers to when people decide to take a holiday in their own country, rather than venturing overseas. This is incorrect. A staycation, if the term has to be mentioned, is when people decide to stay at home, rather than going anywhere else, during a holiday period like Christmas or Easter.

Travelling within your own country is a holiday. You are not staying in the same place, the ordinary location where you work, commute and spend weekends. No, time away from your usual home for an extended period of time counts as a holiday, wherever it might be. Given the disparities in coronavirus cases and the vaccine rollout around the world, domestic holidays are more likely for the foreseeable future.

We all know about the popular places that are guaranteed to attract large numbers of tourists at every opportunity: Cornwall, the Lake District, the City of London. What also deserves celebrating, however, are the under-explored, more quaint locations that are worthy of the attention of people desperate for a week away from their lives. Who needs the Costa del Sol when these locations are on offer?

Southwold
Can you think of a more perfect, picturesque location than this innocent seaside town on the Suffolk coast? Staying here was a bedrock of my childhood, with repeated holidays in a static caravan. Particular highlights included the pier, full of its different attractions, and an iconic lighthouse that I once climbed to the top of. There’s also a brilliant sweet shop that feels like it has arrived from the 19th century, where the price of what you buy is measured by the weight of your sugary treats.

York
York is a fine city and was, for a short while, the proposed temporary location of the House of Lords while building work took place. It has plenty on offer: lovely shops, the nearby iconic Transport Museum and a great connection to Scarborough. Betty’s Tea Room is also a must-visit – scones, jam, afternoon tea and treats – it is the perfect location to relax after a long day of walking, even if you can only go once in a blue moon.

Betty’s Tea Room… is the perfect location to relax after a long day of walking, even if you can only go once in a blue moon

Bath
When the lockdown restrictions are completely over, Bath is a place I would love to revisit. From what I remember about the stay, its architecture was nothing but a joyous pleasure and a wonderful representation of the past. Of course, the Roman baths were a key aspect of the visit, looking so serene throughout. What I remember most is just the different hidden features, the bustling atmosphere and a real sense of peace throughout the stay.

Norwich
This city was my main lockdown holiday last year. It was August, lockdown restrictions had been (temporarily) eased but, being from Cambridge, my family still wanted to travel locally. It was the time, which seems like a century ago, of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, which we made good use of. It also provided the opportunity to explore an alternative university I could have attended – the University of East Anglia – alongside a friendly town centre I look forward to delving into more when all restrictions have been eradicated.

Sheringham
The North Norfolk coast has been a huge part of my childhood holiday exploration. Numerous towns, including Hunstanton and Wells-next-the-Sea, have provided marvellous escapism and wonderful opportunities to explore the sea. Sheringham, however, is the place that has the edge. An iconic seaside town, it is full of charity shops, arcades and fish and chips shops in equal measure. It is the ideal location for sitting on a bench, by the sea, fish and chips in hand. Could anything trump that?

It is the ideal location for sitting on a bench, by the sea, fish and chips in hand. Could anything trump that?

Stratford-Upon-Avon
I’m sure the location of the London 2012 Olympics is delightful, but Shakespeare’s birthplace is also remarkably lovely. Yes, there is plenty devoted to the Bard himself, with the 17th-century style housing acting as a time travel machine. But what is also lovely are the many areas of greenery, the chance to delve into history and to recognise that you are sitting in the place where perhaps the UK’s greatest ever playwright formed one of his many comedies, tragedies and tales that remain analysed and performed to this day.

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