"As a matter of fact," I answered, "I've just had a most enjoyable long weekend in the Gower Peninsula in South Wales."
"Yes," he reflected, "England's lovely in the summer, isn't it."
The non sequitur apart, he was right. As millions of visitors can testify, England is quite lovely. No similar-sized nation can boast such richness of countryside and culture, history and hedonism. From the ghostly moorlands of Devon and Yorkshire to the hyperactive jollity of Blackpool and Brighton, not to mention the wildlife of the Norfolk Broads and London's West End, England has something for everything. This month, Independent readers have the opportunity to vote for the best family holiday of the year - and win a unique prize.
In a world where every tourist promotion agency from Wales to Wyoming is promoting different virtues, the English Tourist Board aims to raise the profile and standards of holidays at home. Each year, the board stages the England for Excellence awards, giving recognition to the people who do the most to welcome visitors and present the nation in a good light.
Beginning this year, the board has enlisted the help of readers of The Independent.
We want you to vote for a new category: the Family Holiday of the Year in England. The definition is broad. You may choose a resort, or city; a camp site, or hotel; a holiday camp, or activity centre - any location you feel reflects the best of an English holiday.
Your entry will earn you the chance to bask in your nominee's glory at the England for Excellence awards ceremony in London on 4 November - and to be chosen as the family to visit a new attraction for our regular Outings feature. The board will bring you to London for the ceremony, while The Independent will provide a journalist and photographer to accompany you on your day out.
To enter, write to The Best Family Holiday Award, PO Box 4AP, London W1A 4AP with this information:
Your nominated family holiday - and, in 100 words or fewer, your reasons for choosing it.
Your name, address, and daytime telephone number.
Your entry could look like this:
Independent/ETB Best Family Holiday in England Award
Nomination: Grey Gables, Ambridge, nr Borchester
Everything at this cheerful country hotel is designed to make life easy and enjoyable for families. When we booked, we were asked about the children's favourite foods, and if they had any special requirements (we were only momentarily tempted to ask to be provided with a freezerful of ice-cream).
The family suites are superbly arranged, with parents allowed a degree of privacy yet close proximity to their offspring. Activities are arranged on an ad hoc basis, and well supervised. Our favourite was riding the Grey Gables mountain bikes around the lovely Borsetshire countryside.
My name: David Archer
My address: Broadcasting House, London W1Z ZZZ
The closing date is Tuesday, 30 September. Once all the entries are in, a shortlist will be chosen. Members of the travel staff at The Independent, plus representatives of the English Tourist Board, will visit the location and evaluate it in the light of readers' comments.
If yours is chosen as the best nomination for the holiday selected as best in England, you win the prize. And yes, you may enter even if you live in Wales (or Scotland, or Ireland).
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