Total MK on holiday: Buckets and spades at the ready for a nostalgic trip to Great Yarmouth

It's been decades since we last strolled the beach, pulled keenly from a candy floss stick or chanced our luck - and lost - on the penny slot machines in Great Yarmouth.

These days, as we will find out during a one-day whistle-stop visit, the saucy postcards are harder to find, the streets are bereft of record stores ('You need to go to Norwich for that sort of thing,' says the last of the music sellers) and the oddities they call vaping shops are popping up all over.

But there is tradition too, and the first thing we do when we arrive on a deadly quiet Friday evening is make haste to one of the many chip shops along the promenade and head to the beach with a bag of battered potatoes, swimming in salt and vinegar.

A simple seaside pleasure.

And there are more pleasures as we learn when we return on Saturday.   

For a start, the stillness of Friday evening has been replaced by shoppers and tourists making the most of the Yarmouth traditions. 

In the rock shop you can still see the famous sticks being made, before giving in to the sweet aroma that dances in the air and ensures swift sales at the till.

The promenade is a whole lot busier on a weekend afternoon, and not least this one, which turns out to be the sunniest in aeons. 

The penny slot machines are taking in coins, kids are going mad for ice creams, and generations of families are enjoying Yarmouth's simple, sunny pleasures.

A trip to Joy Land stirs up a whole host of memories, and forgetting our age, we hop on to the world-famous Snail ride.

It's a simple ride, and a little bumpy on the way round, but it's great to be back on these metal molluscs, with their cheery demeanours.

These wonderful characters have been driving people loopy (in the most literal of senses) since the park first opened, back in 1949.

And long may they continue.

A walk along the promenade to the Pleasure Beach is one spotted with restaurants, food vendors and arcades.  

Unlike those snails that still look fabulous, some of Yarmouth's most prized buildings look down forlornly - The Winter Gardens is derelict and decrepit.  

A century or so ago, the millions of tourists that used to flock to enjoy the fresh air and the perfect sands were wowed by it.

Home for the Winter Gardens was originally Torquay, but success eluded it, and so it was shipped to its present base.

Its stunning iron and glass structure filled with plants and floral displays and would have looked magnificent and turned heads.

But with changing tides, and fashions, the building was opened to other events, though none was enough to prevent closure a few years ago.

The good news?   The Winter Gardens might soon blossom again. According to those we spoke to, Yarmouth wants to resurrect this forlorn lady.

Across the way stands the architecturally ace Empire building, from the early 20th century, and The Windmill, or as it was known when it opened in July 1908, The Gem.

One of Britain's earlier surviving Cine Variety halls, when it opened ladies and gents were segregated!

Over the years, the building has shook with laughter, and music, with luminaries including Frankie Howerd, Billy Fury, George Formby and Norman Wisdom,

You can get wistful in Yarmouth, as it happens.

There are blue plaques pointing out proud heritage notches and marking some weird, wonderful and great moments past - from Zeppelin hits, and body snatchers to a year long stay in the town by Charles Dickens.

When you do rock up at the other end of the golden mile, the Pleasure Beach is rife with rides that will please thrill-seekers and youngsters alike.

It's well set out, and a fun way to amble around watching others with stronger stomachs tackling the rocky rides.

How disappointing then to see goldfish in small plastic bags waiting to be 'won.'  

You don't go to a fair to buy a pet, and this cruel outdated practice leaves a sour taste on an otherwise great visit.

We stayed at the Travel Lodge Inn, making use of its new King Sized Comfort promise, and inviting, fresh new look.

While rooms are basic, that bed really did afford us the best sleep we'd had in a long time - pair it with the fresh sea air and you'll sleep like a baby.

The staff were great, able to cater for requests and share local knowledge which helped us get the most out of our fleeting visit.

And the breakfasts are fit for a king.

Veggie?   You'll have no complaints here.

You'll need a car to get around, but the hotel is perfectly placed for all the attractions, and a walk along picturesque, serene Gorleston beach is a must-do.


Travelodge: AddressBeacon Park, Sidegate Rd, Gorleston-on-Sea, Great Yarmouth NR31 7RA     Phone0871 984 6366