No doubt you’ll recognise him from your TV screen, wearing a pair of well-polished shoes, tidy bow tie, with a snooker cue in hand. But, away from the green cloth table, you’ll often find Stuart Bingham unwinding at his Haven caravan.
The current World Snooker Champion has his own slice of the seaside at The Orchards, our tranquil park on the Essex coast. Born-and-bred in the UK’s sunniest county, you’ll find him practising his shots at Rayleigh Lanes Snooker Club, a short drive away from Basildon where he grew up.
However, when he’s looking to take time with his wife and two children he heads to the coast. The Orchards, which sits close to the Victorian town of Clacton-on-Sea, is home to a 9-hole golf course, two fabulous fishing ponds, two swimming pools, and is located right alongside the beach.
We sat down with him and chatted about caravan ownership, Essex’s star-studded snooker history and where to find the best fish and chips in the country.
When was the first time you visited Haven?
I remember visiting Haven when I was a kid with my parents. I’m not sure how old I was,but I definitely remember having a lot of fun!
What made you buy a caravan?
I came to visit The Orchards last year to see some of our friends who already had a caravan here. We liked it so much that we decided to buy one.
How often do you plan to visit?
My wife will spend most of the summer holidays at the Orchards with the kids as I’m away a lot with my snooker. Any chance I’m not around the world I’ll be heading to the Orchards to chill out with my family and get away from work.
What do you feel is the best thing about the Haven community?
It’s been good to meet and make new friends. Plus, you can join in with the cabaret as much or as little as you like!
Will you be making use of the on-site snooker tables?
[Laughs] No, this is family time for me so it’s nice to get away from snooker. Saying that, I’m always getting challenged at the pool table, and yes, I do indulge in the odd game.
Are family getaways vital to your world-beating schedule?
Of course, it’s always nice to spend some quality time with my family and good friends.
What activities do you like to wind down with?
They’ve got a brilliant 9-hole golf course here at the Orchards so that’s a great way to chill out. Once the weather picks up you’ll definitely find me on the tennis courts over the summer months too.
What keeps the kids busy when you’re at your caravan?
Outside our caravan we’ve got an ample-sized field, which is perfect for the kids to play on, and for us to keep an eye on them while we enjoy our space. They also love riding up and down the road on their scooters and bikes.
Does being by the water influence what you and your family get up to when you’re away?
Definitely. It’s great to have the freedom to wander down to the beach whenever we fancy a change of scenery, and being surrounded by clean sea air is always lovely too.
You’re an Essex-native: what’s your favourite thing about this county?
From the snooker side of it, there are so many great players who hail from Essex. Steve Davis, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark King, Ali Carter – and that’s just naming a few!
But if we’re not talking about snooker, the Essex countryside is hard to beat. The view when you’re driving from The Orchards to Clacton is just beautiful.
Fish and chips or a classic Mr. Whippy: which is your seaside treat of choice?
No doubt about it, it’s got to be fish and chips. If you’re ever visiting Clacton-on-Sea, head to Geos Fish Bar. They serve the best I’ve ever tasted.