Summer holidays: the best days of your life
They were wrong about school days being the best days of your life. Looking back, it’s the between-school days that were the best. The long summer holiday. Spent in Wales, naturally. Beaches, boat trips, ice cream. Castles, mountains. Villages with hard-to-say names. Other kids. Mum & dad. Holidays don’t get any better, do they? Actually, these days they do…
Memories last a lifetime
We don’t know about you, but when we think back to our favourite childhood memories, it’s always summer. Specifically, the summer holiday: 50 days off school, spent mucking around on beaches, with other kids, in perpetual sunshine.
Sunset in Aberystwyth, Ceredigion
Those childhood summers always seemed to be bigger and longer, somehow. And in a quirky way, our summer days really were. We learnt this from watching Wimbledon live on the telly. When the sun set in London, we still had 20 minutes of extra sunshine on the Welsh coast (because we’re further west, we eventually figured out). Okay, so the sun rose 20 minutes later each morning, but to be honest, getting up early wasn’t high on our agenda.
Summer holidays are when memories are laid down for a whole lifetime. Here’s a snapshot of some of ours: catching our first mackerel. Seeing the Red Arrows over Rhyl. Walking up Snowdon for the first time. Pony-trekking in the Brecon Beacons and seeing a red kite. That camping trip when it rained, so we made a mud slide.
What to see & do
All this stuff is still here, of course. But just as childhood is becoming more multi-layered – where we had books, they’ve got iPads and PS3s – all these favourite old experiences are being enriched.
Coasteering in Pembrokeshire by Coasteering
The beaches are still as gorgeous as ever, but now they’re linked by the 870-mile Wales Coast Path. The mountains are just as high, but now you can take your smartphone and go Geocaching on them. You can still explore underground caverns and mines, but also zoom over them on Europe’s longest zip wires. The bits of sea-cliff which used to be accessible only by boat? Now you can swim around and leap off them (it’s called coasteering, and it’s FAB).
Child enjoying the interactive displays at the National Museum Cardiff
The National Museums are still brilliant, there are seven of them, and they’re all free. The Eisteddfod and the Royal Welsh Show are flourishing, but so are Green Man and Wakestock. We’ve got some of the best mountain bike trails in the world, to add to all those gentle family routes. And Cardiff, over the past two decades, has turned into a buzzing European city.
Where to stay?
There are more places to stay, too: five-star hotels with infinity pools, cottages in cowsheds, caravan villages, wild camping sites, yurts, gypsy caravans, lighthouses, working farms … ah, you get the picture.
Yurt interior, Graig Wen, North Wales
Holidays in Wales have changed a lot since we were kids. It’s partly to do with technology, but mostly down to a new generation who run the places you’re likely to spend your holidays in – people with bright ideas and go-for-it attitude.
People with kids of their own, or with something of the big kid still in them, perhaps. People who think back to their own childhoods, and smile.