“I haven’t met anyone yet who doesn’t know how to windsurf,” joked our instructor Paul Davis. Lucky for Paul, he didn’t face me to break his record.

Instead, he was put in charge of teaching my brood of four to windsurf. I had taken Freddie, 12, Rosie, 15, Max, 18, and Harvey, 20, to join him at Rye Watersports near Camber Sands in East Sussex on our first break after the lockdown.

Paul started by explaining how to balance on the board and how the different positions of the sail affect your movements.

It’s hard to grasp at first – you worry about the wind direction, where to stand and what hand to have on the sail – and the kids seemed to spend more time in the water than on the board.

But windsurfing is a bit like driving; suddenly it clicks and you wonder why you ever found this difficult. At the end of their two-hour practice session, they were all gliding confidently.

It was fantastic for me to see their confidence and skills grow (two hour windsurfing session for four or more people, £ 48 per person, ryewatersports.co.uk ).

Paul himself has been a regular on the lake since he learned to windsurf here over 20 years ago. Now director of the Rye Watersports center, he joins owner Margaret Meadowcroft in inspiring others to try the sport.

It’s a real family affair. Margaret set it up in 1986 when she was a mother of four young children, the children helping by repatriating welcome signs that had been taken away.

Today, her 12 grandchildren are also regular visitors. While we were there two of them were sailing and another was helping with the equipment.

Eager to stay on the water, we headed to Bodiam’s boating station in Northiam to rent kayaks on the Rother River. Due to Freddie’s age, he shared a double with Harvey while the rest of us had singles.

Picturesque view of Bodiam Castle in East Sussex on a summer day

Die-hards can paddle uphill to Bodiam Castle – it takes around two hours each way – but we chose the easy option with a smooth ride of around three miles.

It was beautifully peaceful, away from roads and development, and we felt like we were in the middle of nowhere; the ideal antidote to months of confinement (single kayak, £ 15 / hour, tandem kayak, £ 20 / hour, bodiboatingstation.co.uk ).

We were at Haven’s Combe Haven Holiday Park in St Leonards-on-Sea, near Hastings, among the first guests to be back after the restrictions were lifted.

Accommodation at Combe Haven Holiday Park in St Leonards-on-Sea
The Combe Haven Holiday Park caravan in St Leonards-on-Sea

All British Haven Parks are now open but have certain restrictions and protocols.

On the day of our arrival our drive-through check-in was quick and easy and the front door to our caravan was sealed with a sticker to show that it had not been disturbed since it had been cleaned.

Our Platinum deck, three bedroom, two bathroom trailer was immaculate and comfortable, in a quiet hillside location but close to amenities.

Despite clear behind-the-scenes efforts to make sure everything was as safe as possible against Covid, the atmosphere was relaxed and refreshing and the staff were friendly.

We had to reserve slots for the indoor and outdoor pools so the numbers could be controlled.

Once there, we were assigned specific changing rooms which were immediately cleaned after use.

Takeaways, shop, and outdoor venues like the pitch and putt court, play areas and terrace bar were open and outdoor activities supervised for kids like den building and lighting fire were unfolding. Our Freddie tried out a Segway session, which taught him how to squeeze in and out of cones, followed by a basketball shooting competition.

Staff sanitized equipment before and after use and social distancing was encouraged.

This year, Haven is offering two types of vacation packages so customers only have to pay for the facilities they want to use. Stay Stay offers accommodation while Stay + Play at a slightly higher price allows you to book activities on site and also use the swimming pools.

Combe Haven is just steps from the beautiful East Sussex coast.

The upper end of the Furnicular Railway to the Cliff at East Hill
The upper end of the Furnicular Railway to the Cliff at East Hill

We had taken the children’s bikes and rented a few more for my husband Tim and I from Bell’s Bicycles, set up in a former 18th century greengrocer in Hastings Old Town (£ 20 / day. Shorter rental available, bellsbicycles.co.uk ).

There is a traffic-free cycle path that runs from Hastings to Bexhill, ideal for families. We followed the sea the entire way, past pebble beaches and sites such as Hastings Pier and the Art Deco De La Warr pavilion in Bexhill. It’s a great way to explore.

Back in Hastings we took the East Hill Lift, Britain’s steepest funicular, to Hastings Country Park (adult, £ 4 return tickets, child, £ 2.50, visit1066country.com ).

Looking across the stadium to Hastings in Sussex on the south coast of England
Looking across the stadium to Hastings in Sussex on the south coast of England

It was while walking on these cliffs that John Logie Baird discovered how to create the world’s first television. And there are truly inspiring views of the English Channel, Hastings Old Town and the Stadium, Britain’s largest beach fishing fleet.

Next, we strolled to the Hastings Adventure Golf on the waterfront, which is home to three 18-hole courses.

We hoisted our sails on the Pirate Golf and then later on the more difficult Adventure Golf.

The new Covid rules mean you must wait until the group in front of you has started their next green before leaving yours and clubs are sanitized after use.

The courses were very entertaining, with drop holes, ramps, tunnels and a few surprise water jets (one course, £ 7.75 per person, under 5, £ 3.85. Family and multi-ticket tickets) courses available. hastingsadventuregolf.com ).

On the way back from our four night stay, we stopped at Bewl Water park, an inflatable obstacle course on the lake.

You have an hour in the water to cross balance beams, traverse tunnels and ramps, bounce off a springboard, and best of all, climb a giant iceberg.

To ensure social distancing, you pay for a group of no more than six people and take turns walking around obstacles. It’s tiring – but incredibly fun (family tickets only for up to six people, £ 120, including wetsuits and buoyancy aids, bewlwateraquapark.co.uk ).

The water was freezing cold but sometimes the sun shone through the clouds, a welcome reminder that summer – which will hopefully bring more vacations – is on its way.


Haven Holidays is offering a four-night self-catering Stay + Play for a family of six in a Prestige caravan at Combe Haven Holiday Park in Sussex from £ 251, arriving June 21. Learn more about havre.com.

You can also get more information on visit1066country.com.

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