8th Dec, 2016

Favourite Places: You can't beat the family memories in Devon

Solihull Editorial 2nd Jan, 2016 Updated: 21st Oct, 2016

IT‘S about this time of year many of us start dreaming of distant shores and summer holidays.

In recent years the ‘staycation’ has become popular with many opting to forgo jetting off abroad in favour of a destination closer to home.

They say travel broadens the mind. True – but you don’t necessarily need to travel thousands of miles to find that special somewhere. All of us have been to a place which has struck a chord for one reason or another, the memory of which stays with us for a variety of reasons – as our reporting team discovered when they pondered on a place which meant something to them.

Chris Willmott remembers family holidays in Devon.

NESTLED in the heart of the English Riviera, Brixham holds a special place in my heart.

The little fishing village is something of a personal time capsule for me – packed to brimming of so many of my childhood memories – amazing childhood memories.

Money was not in abundance when I was younger, but that never mattered – and I think we were way happier for it – making forever memories from the simplest of things – countryside walks, a game of ’rounders’ with a stick and a fir cone.

Our annual family holidays to Brixham were very much the same.

There were no fancy hotels or holiday homes.

Our home for the week was a humble flat in a residential area of Brixham – but this simply added to the charm.

Every night after dinner we would take the short stroll down to the nearby sandy cove of Fishcombe, throw skimmers in the sea, walk around the headland and into the main Brixham harbour where we would play the slot machines and maybe have a sneaky cone of chips before climbing the hundreds of steps back up to our holiday digs.

My wife is always amazed at how good my memory of my Brixham holidays is.

That is until my sister, who is six years older than me so remembers our childhood with much more clarity than I do, explained that we did pretty much the same thing on the same day every year – only the weather responsible for a deviation in the plan.

In no particular order, other than perhaps my favourites, this is what our week in Brixham would entail:

* A day at nearby Goodrington Beach with its radio-controlled boating pools, rickety old mini roller coaster, beautiful sandy beach, headland pitch and putt where dad would take us to give mum a much-needed break.

* A night-time trip to see the illuminations in Torquay – a magial time for a five-year-old and one of the earliest childhood memories I can recall. I know this as this is the one and only time in my life I can remember wearing a nappy. My sister claims I remember it so well as I was about 13 and still in a nappy!

* A day trip to Widecombe in the Moor on Dartmoor, to include a pic-nic, searching for and meeting the Dartmoor ponies, looking around the handful of shops in the vilage itself and always buying a Matchbox toy car from the gift shop.

* A visit to Thatcher Rock just the other side of Torquay where we would take the old gas camping stove, one big frying pan, a loaf of bread and a big packet of sausages.

There were other things thrown in too – the underground charms of Kents Cavern, a trip on the steam train to Dartmouth, rock-hopping at Becky Falls, Cockington Forge, a walk down a disused railyway line.

Brixham and our Devon holidays meant everything to me as a child.

So much so that when my parents announced we would be going abroad on holiday that year I cried. A lot.

“I don’t want to go to Austria – I want to go to Brixham,” I spluttered through my tears.

We lost my dad – Paul – to cancer in 2002 and I have only ever been back once.

It simply wasn’t the same for me – and I want to keep those amazing memories firmly locked away in that idyllic, hazy time capsule of my childhood.

But I would recommend it to anyone else. If you can make it even half as special as our family did, you will be blessed indeed.