These dark winter days are making the kids stir crazy, and I've been dreaming of whisking them off to a secret country retreat where they can get on with the serious business of beating each other up out of my earshot (and the neighbours'). Lucky for me, then, that this spring sees the opening of some wonderfully remote family-friendly retreats, perfect for parents and little treasures in need of some privacy.
You can't get more off the beaten track than up a tree – which is where you'll find my favourite secret hideyhole, Perché dans le Perche in La Ferté-Bernard, Normandy. This new luxury pad from Holiday Lettings (01865 312000; holiday lettings. co.uk/40301) nestles in the branches of an ancient sweet chestnut, offering panoramic views. There are 25 acres of wild meadow for the whole family to run riot in – and apart from the odd birds' nest, you'll be completely neighbour-free, so there's absolutely no one around to annoy the pants off.
But if sleeping up a tree isn't your idea of branching out, how does a cave halfway up a volcano grab you? This year, walking holiday specialist Upland Escapes (01367 851 111; uplandescapes.com) is featuring a new family cave-house in a tiny hamlet in Gran Canaria, a gem of a place which comes complete with all mod cons, including a Jacuzzi, furnishings built from volcanic rock and a private garden. The kids will love it because there's plenty for them to explore, including the peak of an extinct volcano if they're feeling truly energetic.
And talking of mountain retreats, Under the Thatch (01239 851410; underthethatch.co.uk) is now offering a delectable new family-friendly property for those in need of a luxury country getaway. Pwll Pendre is a secluded Victorian cottage set among quiet forests and cascading streams in deepest Wales. Children are welcomed with open arms, and they won't be stuck for things to do: there are horseback trails, steam train trips and even a silver mine to explore nearby.
With all that going on, those sibling squabbles may be put on the back burner for a while.