HELLO, testing.

*Tap, tap, tap*

Can you hear me?

You can?

Oh good.

I’m writing to you from my holiday in Cornwall.

We’re having a lovely time, thanks.

The weather’s been kind and we’ve made some sandcastles on the beach. Are you getting away this year? You are? Where are you going? Oh, very nice. Well, send me a postcard.

You might think the seaside holiday is a modern advent, well, modern as in the past hundred years or so.

But you’d be wrong.

Wealthy Romans living in Colchester are thought to have treated Mersea Island in Essex as a seaside resort.

Certainly until the mid-19th century a trip to the coast for recreation was the preserve of the moneyed-classes.

The great Georgian and Edwardian seaside towns of the English south coast, complete with their beach huts and bathing machines, were the retreats of the upper classes and many a royal, including King George IV, who made Brighton appealing to affluent Londoners as a place for health and pleasure.

Queen Victoria popularised the Isle of Wight and Ramsgate in Kent through her patronage.

It wasn’t until the advent of cheap travel on the railways, however, that the seaside became affordable to the working classes.

Only in the 20th century when Lancashire cotton mills began annually closing down for a week to service machinery and the workforce took leave en masse did scenes of families in knotted hankies, rolled-up trouser-legs, deckchairs and donkey rides in the shadow of the tower on Blackpool sands became commonplace.

Many of the trappings of the archetypal seaside holiday emerged at this time.

The naughty seaside postcard (best exemplified in the work of comic artist Donald McGill), candy floss, kiss-me-quick hats, rock, cockles and whelks, fish and chips and end-ofthe- pier entertainment.

This latter commodity of course helped establish many of our great entertainers of the past.

By the early 1970s, many seaside towns were looking tired and tatty, a bit long in the tooth and ready for retirement. The rise of the cheap package holiday to the continent all but paid to them.

But the banking crisis of 2008 and the march of austerity leaving many families short of cash means that many resorts are seeing a revival. As someone who enjoyed day trips to Morecambe and Blackpool at the tail end of the seaside’s golden age, it makes me happy to see this upturn in their fortunes.

Towns like Llandudno, Scarborough and Whitby are still brilliant places to visit for the authentic seaside experience.