LAURA CARTLEDGE Life's like That...Why take for granted all the beauty on our own doorstep?

Holidays at home are more popular than ever since the economy dipped. And if the cloud of financial crisis ever had a silver lining, it has to be that more people are enjoying our green and pleasant land. From spending a week at the sunny seaside resorts of Cornwall and Devon, eating cream teas and making sandcastles '“ to soaking up the history in one of our fantastic cities.

We are spoilt. But what about what is on our doorsteps? I know I have been taking it for granted. I’ve been in Sussex for nearly 11 years and I haven’t even scratched the surface of my surroundings.

And do you know when I realised how rubbish I’d been? Standing at the top of the Spinnaker Tower. It is fantastic up there! And it really showcased everything I’ve been missing. The coastline wiggled away from us to the horizon, the sea put on its best sparkle and the rolling hills begged to be explored. I could honestly have lived up there and my friend had already started planning it, pointing to the glass wall, saying ‘we could have a sofa along there...’

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The only downside was the glass floor, not because of my fear of heights, but because I had to take my shoes off to walk on it. Let’s just say I was wearing odder than odd socks. In my defence I didn’t know when I pulled on one black and white panda sock and one luminous green one covered in garden gnomes that I would be showing them to a roomful of people. Luckily my father’s disappointment was quickly eclipsed by the giggles of two nearby children.

The whole day made me realise holidays don’t have to mean packing and a passport when you live in a place as beautiful as this. You could take a mini-break just by taking a stroll along the seafront after work. Longer, lighter evenings mean there are no excuses. Television can be taped and washing up can wait. After all it isn’t called the ‘great’ outdoors for nothing.