Sitting on a beach, an, almost, empty beach, watching the waves, my boy amuses himself with pebbles and seaweed a few feet away. I have a takeaway tea and am content. The first day of the school holidays, we have from now until September and I feel pretty invincible, looking forward to the weeks ahead. Seagulls eye me cynically. They know.

A few days later, it’s raining, my plan for the day has been resoundingly rejected. The walls are closing in and a small boy is bouncing off them. The seaside seems a long, long way away, as does September.

School broke up last week for us and we sneaked an early trip to the seaside, thanks to an inset day. Since moving the South West, Sidmouth has become one of our favourite seaside spots. It is a stretch of pebbly beach that sits in the bottom of a V of geography, green fields bank up behind, red cliffs sit to the left and right. It is a gentle place without arcades or much of a prom. Much loved by elderly people there are plenty of cafes to rest weary bones.

We had a day by the sea to re-group and just ‘be’, a sort of holiday starter, before the long main course. Day trips to the seaside are the stuff of school holiday memories, rock pools and beaches. The tide moves swiftly out at Sidmouth and almost as swiftly in again, briefly revealing pools for exploration. We gingerly tip-toe from rock to rock, eyes on the shallows for creatures.





Sea mist covered the bay most of the day, gauzy white and low. Only driving back up hill on our way home did we appreciate else where was golden sunshine. We made our own sunshine. This I need to hang on to, for the days when it isn’t all sweetness and light. Finding the sunshine.

This morning felt like a poor juggling act, balls all over the floor. This afternoon, we met friends, headed out onto the downs, high up above the city, fresh air and space. Balance restored.

Get outside and find other children. How have I forgotten this?

My Sidmouth Top Tips:
Taste for award winning ice cream.
The White Horse cafe for fish and chips.

School holiday tips and favourite seaside places – gratefully received.


  1. Molly

    Love this post Gem. You’ve nailed the balance between enjoying special moments together and that panic as the reality of long school holidays in charge of small children sets in. Perfect. Hope the summer is filled with more of the good days than bad. xxx

  2. Claire

    Lovely post, Gemma.  I’m the same, we do something fun, I feel invincible, then a few days later I’m crying on the kitchen floor while kids bounce off the walls.  The joys.  Meeting up with friends is such a good idea.  We haven’t done it yet this holiday and this means I’m starting to get a bit frazzled without any recent adult company.  Enjoy the rest of the holidays xxx

  3. Me, You and Magoo

    Two days into school holidays and I started to get texts from other mums asking if we wanted to meet up! At this stage, I’m still happy to just be me & my girl…I miss her when she’s at school. But in a couple of weeks time, I’ll probably be desperately texting other mums asking if they want to ‘catch up’, i.e. bring their child round to entertain my child!

    I’ve just put together a blog post of our top 5 active family days out in Somerset. You live quite close to some of them…I highly recommend the tobogganing at the Mendip Snowsport Centre in Churchill…it really tires them out!

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