We took a trip to Llandudno last weekend to write a postcard from the North Walian resort for Telegraph Travel.
But it was also something of a personal journey.
I used to go to Llandudno on family holidays as a child — that’s me aged around five with my mum on the prom at the North Shore [pictured above].
This time I was back with my own two daughters for a UK seaside break after our original holiday plans were cancelled under lockdown.
But how would an old-school seaside resort shape up for two Tick Tock teens?
Here’s a taster of my story:
The collapse of air bridges has led to the North Wales coast enjoying a post-lockdown bonanza.
We find Landudno’s pebbly North Beach busy with rockpool paddlers, despite some rather menacing clouds over the Great Orme, and the cafés along Mostyn Street bustling with al-fresco diners seeking Cymru-sur-mer vibes.
“People are hungry for good food they don’t have to prepare and clean up afterwards,” says Michael Waddy, Executive Chef at the Empire Hotel.
In the Day-Glo Kid’s World soft play area, there’s a Flemish version of Black Lace’s Superman bouncing off the speakers on a Sunday morning.
The parents watching their somersaulting offspring are, I can’t help but notice, failing to keep up with the actions.
The previous evening I’d watched a man, the wrong side of 50 and dressed as a pirate, leading the kids through a rousing repertoire of Europop nursery rhymes. He topped the bravura performance with a balloon-modelling masterclass.
I never imagined myself here when – before fatherhood – I was trekking to Machu Picchu at dawn, or diving in the Red Sea. But, right now, a summer escape to family holiday resort Sunparks, located just outside De Haan on the Flanders coast, made perfect sense.
Why? My two daughters, Maya (eight) and Olivia (four) [pictured above] had smiles smeared across the faces for the whole weekend.
Sunparks is Flanders’ take on Center Parcs and, for Brits within easy access of Channel ports, offers a good-value alternative to the former’s newly opened Woburn Forest site.
The self-contained village, based around a central plaza, is geared towards primary-school-age children with a slew of playgrounds and activities, such as mini golf and bowling.
Our accommodation, a comfy if simple four-bed chalet with its own kitchen and private patio, looked a little tired but smarter lakeside chalets are also available at a premium.
Some families hire bikes on site and head off to explore the sandy beaches around the nearby resort town of Belle Époque De Han, others drive out to attractions along the 42-mile shoreline, such as the Explorado family science museum in Ostend, or Blankenberge’s Sea Life aquarium.
If you’re feeling really adventurous, you could be shopping in Bruges in under an hour.
But my girls were happy to stay on site, running the gauntlet of the wave machine and the waterslides in the Aquafun swimming centre each afternoon.
Each evening, rather than self catering, we bought tickets for the buffet and refueled on salads, steaks and apple pie, plus a selection of kids’ meals. A selection of local wheat beers kept dad in holiday mode.
Back at Kid’s World, Olivia had mobilised the toddlers to topple a Berlin Wall of play blocks, my tearaway toddler leading the French, Flemish and Dutch under-fives to forge a playgroup United Nations around soft-play furnishings.
While Euroscepticism rages in Brussels, the Superman-jiving toddlers of seaside Sunparks were finding a new family Entente Cordiale.
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