Seven hours and a world away

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On the road at 4.30am, two stops and seven hours later arrive in Bude, Cornwall, after nervous passenger wife insists on driving all the way with yours truly on sat nav duty.

She can’t argue with a sat nav but can pick a fight with me.

Open the door to our lovely little apartment. Use the bathroom and acquaint ourselves with the eccentric plumbing which sounds like the woodwind section of the London Symphony Orchestra.

Go to the beach. See a battalion of 100 primary school age surf dudes in wetsuits stride towards the sea like a scene from March Of The Penguins.

Go back to the flat. Sleep for 11 hours. Daughter #2 and her friend (daughter #1 didn’t want to come but is here in spirit as she mithers us by text to moan there are no buns for her burgers and the dog’s being a pain) rise just before noon and get along famously.

Spend a sun-kissed day at a glorious beach lapped by a turquoise sea that’s a five-minute walk from our flat.

Two days in and something feels weird. No one’s arguing. But we’re surrounded by a constant barrage of parents shouting at, threatening and bribing their kids to behave. “Please, just for one hour, can you stop fighting with your sister?” Sound familiar?

Learn the name of every kid on the beach within 300 yards after five minutes of laying out our beach mats as they’re screeched by their squawking parents. Still, not my circus, not my monkeys.

Visit the outrageously beautiful village of Clovelly, where the entrance fee (£18.40 for a family ticket) helps preserve its heritage and its impossibly steep and long cobbled street down to the harbour. It’s so steep (25 per cent gradient in parts and deliveries are made by sledge) they offer Land Rover rides back to the top and is the only tourist destination where you leave fitter than when you arrived.

Next day visit Port Isaac which is where they film the TV show Doc Martin. And it looks just like it does on the telly. Then a short hop down to Padstow where telly chef Rick Stein charges £13.90 for takeaway fish and chips yet there’s a queue out the door. Apart from all that, could quite happily live here.