Good idea about morning/evening trips to the beach! I don't know how the jet-lag will affect their children, but I dare say they will be wide awake at one end of the day or the other.
And yes, I think you're right about villages/castles etc. I'm sure they would like thatched cottages, cricket on the village green, warm beer and cream teas. (Actually they would HATE warm beer!)
We are also wondering whether it would be worth staying further inland and just making one or two day trips to the coast, if we can find an inland location with enough to see. Castles, steam trains, or whatever. Hmm.
We did Dorset as it was nearby. If they've been to London I'd aim for more country type places.
Our visitors were overwhelmed by castles, so do aim for a castle. Even corfe castle (ruin but pretty) amazed them as the village was exciting for them as it was so old, and they didn't believe people really lived there!
We aimed for quite a lot of pretty villages and nice pub lunches, as quite British and quite different from Australia.
The other thing that you could do wherever you are in the UK would be national trust. We went to quite a few places which meant the children could run wild. Lots of trails in the houses for children and nice coffee shops.
Our friends from Australia are coming to visit next August, and we need to arrange a week away for all of us (two families, four children aged from 4 to 8).
The friends lived in London for a couple of years, but this will be their first visit to the UK since having children (and probably their last for a good few years) - and we would like them to make the most of their week with us, and have good memories of their trip. As their time is limited, we want to spend as little time as possible in hellish gridlock and/or failing to find space on the beach.
They have said they don't mind where we go, but preferably not more than about 4 hours drive (from Bucks). Less if we can manage it. They would quite like to be near the sea. Ideally somewhere with plenty to do with children.
We have recently had lovely family holidays in Devon (Brixham), but always in half term. Not sure if it would be so nice in August, or just crazy and overcrowded. Can anyone advise?
Other places we have considered are Dorset, Wales, the Isle of Wight, and Norfolk, but we have only visited those areas outside school holidays, and again not sure what to expect in August.
Any advice on those areas, or alternative suggestions, would be much appreciated.