I have just come back from a week away in Haying Island, we spent the week in the most incredible beach house made up of converted railway carriages in Hayling Island. I fell asleep to the ocean and explored a ghost town of an amusement park. I chased Tilly through the beauty of a national park and played board games to the soundtrack of a storm. I laughed, smiled, walked, ate and loved, returning home happy, soulful and rested. Not bad for somewhere less than an hour away from our front door.

So, let's start with the awesome beach house. Named 'Southern Bell', the house is made partly of two converted railway carriages from 1874 & 1903 that were left abandoned on the beach. The ultra modern and clean renovation sleeps eight people with five bedrooms (three of which are inside the railway carriages) and two bathrooms, one being an en-suite. You have a modern open plan kitchen and living room with patio doors that showcase the fact that you are pretty much on the beach with beautiful panoramic sea views. You then have a second sitting / TV room in the original, historic First Class carriage filled with everything you could ever need, from DVD players to an Xbox, books and an iPod dock.

(It's here i'd like to shout out the insane collection of DVD's on offer. I mean for a 26 year old like me they were rocking some real classics. Die Hard, The Mummy, Day After Tomorrow...need I go on!)

What more can I say about the place. Easy off-road parking, your own private gate to the beach and everything you could ever need. Shops and pubs are also easy to find. For a more detailed account of amenities, check out the Hoseasons listing here. In summary though, totally unique while insanely practical.

Hayling Island is renowned for windsurfing and sailing but for this trip we just wanted to take things easy and really relax. Most of our time was actually spent walking up and down the almost deserted coastline, watching as the stones became sand, wild horses roamed and the odd elederly gentlemen smiled and gave us a 'what a day ey lads!' as we walked past. The world definitely moves a little slower along this coast line and man was I glad. 

I'll quickly recap two of my favourite walks we did during the week.

About a twenty minute walk from the house along the beach there we a big amusement park. We stumbled in as it was totally empty, seemingly forgotten under clouded skies. We laughed and joked our way around the empty rides before coming across the arcade and a Wimpy (I know, a Wimpy!!). Inside we felt like kids again as we challenged ourselves to get rich from the two pence machines. There is a real nostalgia to the place and as we left a woman came up out of the blue and handed Daisy a toy, having won it for her after seeing us enter an hour or so earlier.

If you are looking for sleek and trendy, cocktail bars and sun lounges then you are most definitely in the wrong place. No, Haying Island has a very British edge to it. It's got grit and it's definitely not perfect but it's got real character and if you embrace that you get lost in it's charm.

The second walk was a 35 minute drive to a National Park. We'd read about a walk to Devils point and thought it would be the perfect place to tire our little puppy out. I know a 35 minute drive isnt ideal but it was just brilliant, winding in and out of little villages and country farms that took you deeper and deeper into the British countryside. When we finally arrived we were met with dark forest and bright yellow fields. The view from the carpark alone was worth it but after about an hour of walking we got to devils point and had a picnic, seeing for miles over the horizon.  

So that's it. A week of making memories with friends to the backdrop of beach walks and evening talks. The accommodation was perfect and the host we met and communicated with (Clive) was absolutely lovely. We couldn't reccomend this place highly enough. Whether it's a romantic getaway, a weekend away with friends or a summer holiday with the family.


David Gibbs