Yes, here we are in Alan Partridge land but haven't managed to find North Norfolk Digital on the radio yet! We are staying at Haven Seashore holiday park in Great Yarmouth and very nice it is too.
Despite my many travels I have never had a holiday in this part of the world before. The closest I have been was back in my old Nielsen days when I had two clients I used to visit here, presenting sales data on bog cleaner to Jeyes in Thetford, and several jollies in Bury St Edmunds, home of Greene King brewery.
I'd heard good things about this park from friends at school, so rather than our usual trek to the South West, we went east this year. The great thing about this route is that it's A roads all the way - I hate motorways. We made it here in 3 hours, via Milton Keynes, Bedford, Cambridge and Norwich. Very impressed by the park - clean, welcoming and friendly and a spotless caravan. Our first outing on Monday afternoon was to Asda to do a big shop, then we checked out the park.
Unfortunately the long hot summer we've had up until now has well and truly gone off and it's definitely not beach weather here. On the first evening we went into the arcade and entertainment area - on attempting to leave we encountered a massive thunderstorm. It was absolutely torrential but spectacular to watch. We are right next to the sea and you could see the lightning hitting the offshore windmills.
Afterwards everywhere was pretty flooded. By next morning it was bright sunshine though so we set off to explore Yarmouth. Had a good walk up and down the seafront and on the traditional wooden pier which thankfully did not burn down. It's a very traditional seaside resort and reminded me of what they used to be like. I was also pleased to see a lot of good traditional steak house style restaurants selling all my favourites e.g. all day breakfasts and mixed grills. We found a lovely little restaurant for lunch, cheap and tasty with gorgeous home made chips.
The only disappointment of the day was an attraction we visited called Yesterday's World which was very poor compared to the excellent Flambards in Cornwall. There just wasn't enough of it - we walked round the whole thing in half an hour.
As you know I'm a racing fan so it wasn't just a coincidence that I booked a park right next door to Yarmouth Racecourse.
There was evening racing on Wednesday and the weather was lovely that night so we went along and had a great time. It wasn't pricey to get in and the kids were free. Claire has only been racing with me once before, to Cheltenham. Ollie has been twice, to Kempton and Towcester and it was the first time for Jamie. It was a real holiday crowd in attendance, lots of punters doing £1 each way bets and just generally having a good time. The racing was great and we managed to back a few winners between us, as did most of the crowd judging by the queues lining up to collect after each race. Most of the winners were fancied horses and I was quite pleased by some of my shrewd price taking e.g. backing a 3/1 winner at odds of 4/1. On the way back from the course there was the most gorgeous sunset. A most enjoyable evening.
Thursday did not go quite as well. We went into Yarmouth again and went to the Sealife centre. Despite getting half price entry it still cost us £32 to get in and I thought it disappointing. It was not a patch on the other sealife centres I have been to in Sydney, Auckland and London. I guess I was probably expecting too much - they are big cities after all, but I felt there was very little there for the money we paid. We were done in less than an hour.
We then got caught in a torrential downpour again and were forced to take shelter in a 99p shop. It just went on and on and eventually we decided to make a break for it - we got drenched. Luckily we were close to the restaurant we'd had lunch in the other day and ducked inside for our tea. £30 for 4 meals and drinks is pretty reasonable, especially as I had a mixed grill. The kids love this restaurant which is called Four Brothers - they completely cleaned their plates (rare) and have asked several times if they can go back again.
Which brings us to today, and a trip to Hemsby mega maze. Now this was value for money. It cost us £22 in total but we were there a good 3 hours or more. It doesn't look much from the outside but there's plenty there. The maze is made every year in a cornfield and open from around mid July to early September. Initially we were a bit apprehensive. There was another huge rainburst overnight and the opening path to the maze was very wet and muddy. It was OK once we got in. The maze itself is huge, by far the best I've been in and despite being in there a good hour and a half we only found 6 of the 10 checkpoints.
There were plenty other things to do there as well, all free: Crazy Golf, trampolines, bouncy karts, go karts (pedal), tunnels, slides, swings and more. All the stuff that my kids like. It was a most successful day out but pretty tiring - so much so that Jamie is now asleep, giving me a chance to write this.
It's so important to be able to spend time like this as a family. Holidays aren't cheap, especially in August but I'm happy to go without other things so I can give these children special times like this, because they will only be little like this for a couple more years. Not sure how we are going to afford next year, but I'm going to keep plugging away at my writing and who knows? The Time Bubble has been doing really well, picking up some excellent reviews in both the UK and the USA and the royalty payments are starting to come in. I live in hope that it will really take off and I'll have a big hit on my hands - well there's no harm in dreaming is there?
Plenty of holiday left so look out for part two, coming soon.