Last week my family and I spent a few nights on the south coast at Bournemouth, the first time we had been away en famille since we visited the Isle of Wight just before Christmas last.
That we were able to do so was purely a result of Caroline's diligence in collecting her Tesco Clubcard points. Unbeknown to me (until a few weeks ago) these can be exchanged for four times their face value on certain services and products, as a consequence of which we were able to spend four nights at the Britannia Hotel, an unpretentious but very pleasant three-star abode a few yards from the top of the scenic East Cliff, at no additional cost.
Bournemouth has one of the cleanest and, in my view, one of the most pleasant seafronts around. The town itself is unspectacular, and it is clear that the local authority invests most heavily in its attractions around the coastline. Although ordinarily I am not into flashy cocktail joints, being more of a traditional pub man, I do recommend the Aruba bar at the entrance to the pier - whether you are looking for a beer, some light food or something more exotic.
During the daytimes we tended to spend most of our time around the beach, where I became very sunburned (including on my scalp thanks to my severe new, "accidental" haircut) and each evening, after a swim, we spent an hour or two in the hotel bar with some light entertainment and several very cold glasses of Bulmers.
When it was time to leave we took a slight detour through the New Forest, where we stopped off at Burley for a cream tea and a close up view of the horses, which my animal-loving daughter Rosie particularly enjoyed.
Much though I love my home town of Isleworth and its very special people I do feel the need to get away at times. I think we'll visit Bournemouth, and the Britannia, again.