Let’s face it, sometimes living in the Cotswolds can feel like you’ve won the postcode lottery. But sometimes, just sometimes, it feels like there’s something missing and in my opinion, that is the beach!
With family living on the Isle of Wight and in Cornwall, we are extremely lucky and get to the seaside fairly regularly but arguably, there is always time for more sea and sand! That’s why this weekend my Mum and I jumped on the train with the two girls and headed down to Weston-super-Mare.
Familiarly known to many as ‘Weston-super-Mud’, it has been years since I last visited this seaside town. In fact the last time I went was when Vernon Kay and T4 on the Beach were still a thing so that goes to show just how long it’s been! Not a huge amount has changed but do you know what, I think I like that!
The first thing I noticed was just how incredibly cheap Weston is! Compared to the Isle of Wight and Cornwall where we spend a lot of our time, things in Weston seem a fraction of the price! With no buckets and spades at home, it became apparent that we would have to buy some pretty darn quickly upon our arrival and where we might’ve had to take out a loan in the Cornish shops, two buckets and two spades set us back just £3.40. If we had taken a picnic, that would have been the only £3.40 I spent all day – of that I’m almost certain! Similarly, it would appear that Weston is the only place left in the South West where a ’99’ still costs you 99p. Well, £1 but come on, that’s pretty cheap for a Mr Whippy!
The second thing I learned is that the beach is actually a lot better than I remember! With two little ones, sometimes being close to the sea can be as much a hindrance as anything. They get very excited and decide they want to get in only to find out that the water is too cold, they don’t like it and that its very upsetting that I would ever even suggest they get in. It can be quite hard to manage. The good thing about Weston was that we had no choice when it came to the sea. It was simply so far out that the girls didn’t even take notice and instead just played in the sand. The sand itself is perfect and there was plenty of room for everyone, even on the hottest day of the year so far. For anyone wanting to reminisce about their own childhood, the donkeys are still there and can be ridden at the bargain price of £2.50. In all honesty, they looked a lot better cared for than I remember and it was Thea’s highlight of the day being allowed to ride Ronnie the donkey. We even made up a song about it on the way back to the train – think ‘Wind the Bobbin Up’ with the words changed and you won’t be too far away!
The pier remains as good fun as piers can be. I spent far too much on the 2p machine and was able to exchange my 119 prize tickets for a pencil and a Maoam bar but again, Thea was in her element. She can’t wait to show off her new pencil at ‘big school’ in September and will be asking to sharpen it every day until then I’m sure! Piers are actually a huge guilty pleasure of mine (not Piers Morgan – just the beach kind!). I could have spent hours trying to win at a game I know I will lose just on the off-chance I get an ugly stuffed toy out of it! You can’t really go wrong, can you?
All jokes aside, the actual town centre of Weston is much improved from the last time I visited. Trendy bars and some nice boutique shops also feature amongst your more traditional seaside resort stands. The choice for lunch was actually really great with a large part just off the seafront having been developed with lots of family-friendly chain restaurants such as Prezzo and Nandos. We actually settled on Brunello Lounge which is the same as Portivo Lounge at Gloucester Quays, or Rivo Lounge in our old hometown of Chippenham. The kids’ menu is great and they do a good range of lunch options for grown-ups too.
We had a great day out – it was certainly one for the memory box but perhaps what made our trip even more special was the fact that I didn’t have to drive anywhere! We made the somewhat brave decision to take two small children on a train on the hottest day of the year but it was the best decision in the world. Whilst our return trip was a little delayed, the GWR train from Gloucester to Weston, or indeed Cheltenham to Weston was just as quick as driving, and probably not too different in price when you count petrol and parking for a day. Not to mention the fact that I could feel a little better about my carbon footprint by not taking the car out yet again! I used The TrainLine to book our tickets. The girls were free, I have a railcard as I’m still (just!) under 30 and I was also travelling with my Mum. It came to £30 for a return trip for both of us which quite frankly, I think is great. Price aside, the girls absolutely loved their adventure on a train and it has been a talking point at home ever since! Thea is already planning our next train journey!
Banksy may have deemed it DismalLand, and perhaps its his influence we have to thank for bringing more back to the town, but Weston-super-Mare certainly seemed like its on the up and I’m sure we will be returning to see Ronnie very soon!
Some more photos from our trip…