Travelling with little ones: Southwold

We were both feeling a bit of burnout and our adventure in South Africa seemed like so long ago, so we booked a last minute break in Southwold for the end of September, the week after I finished at the day job.

Southwold beach
Southwold beach

Southwold is a quaint, traditional British seaside town in Suffolk.  I used to go on holiday there with my mum when I was younger, back when it was relatively unknown and still untouched by modernity.  It has since become known as ‘Islington-on-Sea’ due to its popularity with those from the south-east and the town is also the location for the extremely annoying ‘Grandpa in my Pocket’ on CBeebies, but don’t let either of those facts put you off visiting.  Out of season, Southwold retains all of its charm without the crowds and the hefty price tags.  It is a lovely, quiet spot for a break with your wee ones.

Beach huts
Beach huts

We stayed in Lantern Cottage, let out by Sue Tayler at Simply Southwold.  There are many holiday lets in Southwold and to be honest Lantern Cottage is not the best looking of them all, with its 1970s architecture and square rooms.  However, it has everything you could want from a holiday home: it is 2 minutes walk from the beach and shops, it has a downstairs loo and a dishwasher, and (most importantly in a town where parking is at a premium) a parking space and garage.  I have stayed here several times before: first with my mum in the 1990s, and most recently in 2012 with my in-laws and a 6-month old N.  It has always felt like a home from home.

Longshore Again
Longshore Again

The owners of Lantern Cottage also let out a beach hut, ‘Longshore Again’, which is right next to the steps down to the beach.  The beach huts are a key feature of the beach at Southwold and an absolute must if you are staying with wee ones, as they provide shade and shelter, and somewhere for your toddlers to have sneaky wees in a bucket!

Having fun on the beach
Having fun on the beach

Booking a break for September, I knew we were gambling with the weather and filled the car with wellies, puddlesuits and rainy day activities just in case.  But the great British weather surprised us all and delivered the most beautiful, sunny and blue-skied week we’ve had all summer!  We spent 5 out of 7 days on the beach, digging holes, eating ice cream and catching the sun.

Southwold harbour
Southwold harbour

When not on the beach, we had fun exploring the harbour, the quirky pier with its 2p slot machines, Southwold museum, the lighthouse, and the traditional sweet shop on St James’ Green.  We also discovered a fab new playground next to the church.  Southwold really has everything you need to keep you entertained all week, but if you want to explore further you can drive down the coast to Walberswick for a ploughman’s lunch, follow in the footsteps of Chris Packham at RSPB Minsmere (and try not to annoy the serious birdwatchers!), or have a picnic at Framlingham Castle, where you can walk around the castle walls and pretend to shoot baddies with a bow and arrow.  All good fun if you’re a toddler!

Framlingham Castle
Framlingham Castle
W at RSPB Minsmere
W at RSPB Minsmere

And as well as being a haven for wee ones, there are now some serious mummy treats in the town: great shops (Fat Face, Seasalt and Joules), cafes and delis; a kiosk on the beach selling amazing Movenpick ice cream; and, if you’re lucky enough to have a babysitter for an evening, some great pubs for a cheeky pint of Adnams (brewed just round the corner).  Or you can do what J and I did – sit in and watch tv, eat yummy cheese and drink wine!  All in all, a perfect staycation!

With my boys at our beach hut
With my boys at our beach hut
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