British beaches are wonderful. I know; I happen to live 250 yards from one. Shingle. Seagulls. Blistering sunshine. (Yes, really, on a good day – and you can read my guide to my hometown here.)
Now, Club 55/St. Tropez, Hastings beach is not. I can’t think of anywhere on our coastline, actually, where you have to worry about ‘resort wear’. (With the possible exception of Rock, in Cornwall, which is a Bodenfest.)
But nevertheless, it is possible to acquire quite a decent tan (weather permitting). And indeed, I’d say you’re almost more likely to burn, close to home. Why so? Because it’s easy to kid yourself that the British sun’s thin and weak, and won’t do any damage – when in fact, a sunny Bank Holiday will turn countless throw-caution-to-the-sea-breeze sunbathers into lobsters faster than you can say Sun Protection Factor.
So yes: SPFs are the order of the (holi)day, even when – thanks to the credit crunch, the heinous exchange rate and redundancies – so many more are holidaying closer to home. It’s true: Brighton is not St. Barth’s. Penzance is not Portugal. Cromer is not Cannes, but as I say, it’s so easy to be lulled into a false sense of security, staying (and playing) outdoors all day. Even on a cloudy day in the UK, some UV gets through. (Although not as much as on a cloudy day in the Caribbean.) While it’s true that some dermatologists believe that our rising skin cancer statistics are linked to the two-week summer jet-away to the Med – roasting skin that’s under wraps for most of the year – any sunburn, even acquired close to home, will up your chances of developing skin cancer. (We’re talking four times the number of melanoma cases today as in the 70s, according to Cancer Research…) Read More…