In an attempt to escape the now too-familiar setting of our house, my family decided to book a holiday not too far from home, about 2 hours away to be precise, to the town of Shanklin, on the Isle of Wight. For those who haven’t heard of it, Shanklin is a picturesque seaside town and normally a frequently visited resort for British holiday-goers. The Shanklin we saw, however, was much quieter, appearing in some places as a time capsule of an older England; with beautiful, almost empty beaches and quaint and friendly pubs- their landlords welcoming the returning business.
Nevertheless, this holiday from home provoked me to wonder, can we get everything we need or want from a holiday here in the UK?
If Shanklin’s close proximity to my home is forgotten, Shanklin’s position on the coast of an island perhaps gives it some sort of tropical or exotic status, although knowing it is in the UK seems to undermine this! But when weather permits, and the sun’s rays reflect off the sparkling green and blue sea, which crumples like a piece of paper with every wave, Shanklin’s island does indeed look tropic as you approach it via ferry. The drive through the island to Shanklin is equally as beautiful in the sunshine, as the trees and pretty houses add to the holiday atmosphere.
Shanklin itself, though rough around the edges, has elements that continue this feeling. The beachfront and the town are about a 20 minute walk from each other, with the town sitting upon the cliffs that overlook the beach. The town is built up of quaint little fudge and sweet shops, teahouses, pubs, and gift shops; slightly tacky but giving holiday goers a condensed and idealized version of an older England; like the type you usually only see on postcards or in very old movies.
However, the main attraction is the beachfront and, in particular, the side nearest to Shanklin Chine. These beaches are best approached from a winding path down next to the Chine, which descends past a pub and a teahouse, and opens up upon a breathtaking view of clusters of brown and green cliff faces enshrouding pebbly sand beaches. This scenery is beautiful in both rain and shine, providing a suitable backdrop for dramatic storms and lazy sunny days alike.
Another gem is sat right on the beachfront, at the base of the winding path: a pub called Fisherman’s Cottage. This pub, described by my mum as “oldy-worldy”, oozed a pleasant homeliness, and served both delicious comfort food and charming views, sat right on the beach, facing the sea.
Shanklin was a nice escape from the banality of home; offering strolls along the beaches where happy doggos bound amongst the waves, ice cream stalls with an array of flavours, and cosy beachfront pubs to sit in and enjoy a pint. If you are looking for a holiday which offers comfort, Shanklin is in some ways ideal. However, for those who prefer the adventure and excitement of elsewhere, a staycation like Shanklin most definitely falls short. I found myself, rather self-indulgently, feeling nostalgic for the warm, hazy evenings of past holidays abroad, and the foreign tastes, sights, smells, and experiences which are lacking in a staycation.
Nevertheless, Shanklin did remind me of the unknown beauty that exists so close to home, and how easy and rewarding it is to explore it!