Great British holiday is perfect cure

EVERY year, like lemmings, families go through hell to say they've been on holiday.Tantruming toddlers, fractious babies and scrapping siblings are dragged on to planes.

EVERY year, like lemmings, families go through hell to say they've been on holiday.

Tantruming toddlers, fractious babies and scrapping siblings are dragged on to planes.

Hellish journeys fighting to pacify cranky children bouncing off laps, the walls and cabin crew's trolleys, testing the patience of anyone within a 50-ft radius, take families to two weeks in scorching temperatures making the children and parents even more crabby, sun blistered and ill.

They come home worn out from sleeping shoehorned into one hotel room, and fraught from a fortnight tailing troublesome tots, bickering, sunstroke and sangria.

They need a holiday to recover - or at least another week off work.

Newsflash. Children don't need 30-degree heat, a four-hour flight after a four-hour wait in an airport after a four-hour drive to the airport.

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All they need is a bit of freedom to run about and the undivided attention of their parents, a bucket and spade and the odd 99 ice cream.

Trust me, everyone will get on better if the children are happy.

So one upside of the miserable economic downturn is the return of the Great British Holiday to put a much-needed fillip in the poor men and women fighting to stay in business after some ropey summers.

And, frankly, anything to avoid the 'are we there yet?' whine from the back of the car is a welcome change.

As the pound dies abroad, bookings for holidays by our beaches, broads and countryside are up making a promising as ray of hope for the industry.

And, with some the local businesses struggling for survival, we all, in the spirit of community and pulling together in tough times, owe it to the industry to help it out.

And we owe it to our children to show them their own country and, especially, their own surroundings, learn a bit about its history and enjoy its beauty.

How lucky we are to live here rather than in the Midlands or inner cities where a glimpse of the sea or open countryside are hours away?

But we take it all for granted and are a bit too sniffy about homespun holidays.

But on our doorsteps is breathtakingly beautiful scenery, accessible activities and adventure beckoning us to get out there.

Our region's economy takes much of its lifeblood from the tourist trade - and not just visiting holidaymakers - so we all benefit if it does well.

Why drive five miles to North Yorkshire when we're in shameful ignorance of the wonders - manmade, historical, natural and scenic - an hour away?

This weekend I'm off up to north Norfolk with friends. I've never been to the Burnhams and a whole stretch of coastline remains unexplored - but I've crossed the Atlantic, the Channel and the Med probably as often as I've been to London.

My mini break promises decent seafood, new scenery, big skies and wide open spaces and, if national papers are to believed, celeb-spotting in Chelsea on Sea Burnham Market.

So our weather might be unpredictabile; a suntan isn't the sign of health and glow we once believed.

We're British - a spot of rain is nothing. There's always Millets, a stout cagoule and a brollie,

Our tourist industry needs you - and you need it to survive. We owe it to those people fighting to attract people here.

Happy holidays - go on, try one at home.

Four young boys are today looking out on life without a mother.

Actress Natasha Richardson's and Jade Goody's sons will never again feel their mother's touch.

Richardson's sudden death at 45 shows just how life can change - be snuffed out - in the blink of an eye. How a family's destiny can be turned, never to be the same again, in a split second.

The lesson we should all learn from it is to make the most of today.

And Jade Goody's death reminds us that, sometimes, we can influence our future if we take up what's offered. She ignored recalls for cervical cancer and paid the ultimate price.

Two deaths and two very different lessons for mothers everywhere.

Even more arrogant than a cyclist who believes he - or she - is king of the road is the cyclist without a helmet.

Arrogant and stupid.

What possesses anyone to balance on two wheels within inches of several tones of lethal weapon in the hands of largely incompetent strangers without protection?

So dumb. Just because their hair might get messed up or because a helmet looks a bit wet.

Last week, a High Court judge ruled that cyclists who fail to wear a helmet should receive up to 15 per cent less compensation for injuries resulting from accidents in which the helmet could have made a difference.

Robert Smith, 29, sustained a serious brain injury when a speeding motorcyclist knocked him off his bike. Because of the speed of this particular collision, however, the motorcyclist was held fully liable. But the judge ruled: "There can be no doubt that the failure to wear a helmet may expose the cyclist to risk of greater injury."

It's the law to wear a seatbelt, motorcyclists wear helmets and so should every cyclist who takes to the roads, by law.

Then those of us terrified for our children's safety on the roads - suspecting the deviousness of small boys to remove their helmets as soon as they're round the corner and out of sight because they're 'so uncool' - would have the might of the law on their side.

Helmets now. We know it makes sense.

For a society so obsessed with sex, the reaction of people to mother Lucy Baxter helping her 21-year-old son Otto find a girlfriend was bizarre.

Sex is today is no great shakes. If you watch TV and read the papers everyone's at it all the time. Prissiness is mocked and permissiveness where it's at.

But Lucy was accused of being odd, 'irresponsible', 'strange' and even 'creepy' for wanting her son to date girls and have sexual experiences in his adult life.

Because Otto was born with Down's Syndrome.

So, sex is ok for everyone - but only if everyone looks within the parameters of what they consider 'normal.'

Lucy is a fierce force for her adoptive son and his adopted siblings to live life just like anyone else.

She has fought all their lives for them to have every chance - Otto went to mainstream school and has a group of friends he goes clubbing with and, in her own words, has the emotions and feelings just like everyone else.

Why should he be deprived of a full life because he happened to be born with an extra chromosome and other so-called normal people take exception to that?

We do have some strange attitudes.

Imitation is supposed to be the highest form of flattery.

So 62-year-old Marianne Faithfull should feel more than a little chuffed that the most enduring hottest and fascinating figure in the fashion world should choose to borrow from the style of a woman of pensionable age.

But no. The grand dame of rock and roll is livid with today's fast-living model Kate Moss, accusing her of dressing like her.

Style has nothing to do with this hissy fit. More the fact that Moss has out partied her and trumped her wild reputation.

Tragic for a woman with a bus pass still trying to dine out on her lurid past.

Public disgrace brings neither shame nor hardship it appears.

While pensions have melted to next to - or actually - nothing and old people are having to make a choice between food and heating, fat cats are cashing in.

Fred Goodwin is awash with a big enough pension from the bank he helped bring to its knees to refloat many a dying company.

Now a fire chief who quit in disgrace after he was caught looking at child porn has been given a �500,000 lump sum payout plus �6000 a month for the rest of his life.

Frank Sheehan was allowed to retire early, aged 55, the day after a police raid.

He was arrested last November and accepted a police caution but faced no disciplinary action and was allowed to retire the next day. He was placed on the sex offenders' register but that hasn't affected his pension package.

At least 90 per cent of the �500,000 comes from the taxpayer, hard working decent people now struggling to pay for the basics.

Women of a certain age are quivering with excitement at the prospect of Tony Hadley 'We Love You Madly' is reforming Spandau Ballet.'

They have a ready-made fan base of fortysomething women with disposable income in need of something, shall we say, a little older and familiar, in the music business.

Take That did it for the thirtysomethings and now Spandau Ballet will light their own fires.

But keep the knickerbockers and frilly shirts buried in the past where they belong.

Languishing in the doldrums, ITV has pulled a pearl of a drama out of the hat with Law and Order UK.

It's clever, sharp and beautifully written, just what the doctor ordered to pull viewers back.

But its real jewel - and total surprise - is Bradley Walsh. Who'd have thought that the cheesy comedian I first watched at Cromer's end of the pier show with Gordon and Bunny Jay back in the mid 1980s would have evolved through stand-up to Coronation Street to serious acting?

Walsh has local links - he caused a stir last year among mini soccer mums when he turned up on a playing field at Hemsby, near Yarmouth to watch an under eights football match.

'Psst,' I whispered, excitedly scurrying along the line to anyone who would listen. 'That looks like Bradley Walsh. It is Bradley Walsh.' So uncool, I know. Now he's pulled another shocker showing he can cut it with the best of them.