How to improve holidays with children
Hey mum, let's have a change from the norm
Sunday 09 July 2006
As holidaymakers, the British are hardly the most adventurous bunch. According to a survey from Norwich Union, nearly a third of us go back to the same place every year, despite the fact that we have a wider choice of destinations than ever before. We know what we like and we like what we know, as my gran used to say - and my family was certainly typical. As a child, I spent 13 out of 14 summer holidays in the same caravan in Dawlish (we did go to Butlin's one year but it didn't feel right).
And that's fine if everyone's happy. After all, children are creatures of habit, admittedly most of them bad. But - pardon me for rocking the boat - sometimes sitting around doing the same old thing can get just a tad dull, and a little imagination is needed. So if you're feeling the need to climb out of your comfort zone and see what the rest of the world looks like, here's some inspiration to get you started.
Actually, you don't have to venture very far. If Devon is about as west as you'll go, head for Sidmouth, the happening place for families this August, not only because of its beach and ice-creams but also because it is home to an annual Folk Week (01395-578 627; 4-11 August; sidmouthfolkweek.co.uk). You don't have to be folk-mad to go here (but if you are it helps); they've organised some great events for kids, including toddler music sessions and singing and instrumental workshops for older kids and teenagers.
Camp in the designated family area or just drop in for the day; you never know, you may discover your little darlings have hidden talents. Don't forget to pack your tambourines.
Meanwhile, budding historians and mini-archaeologists in search of enlightenment could head for Shropshire, where they can participate in a genuine excavation. Starting on 17 July, children (and their parents) can watch or join the archeological dig at Coalbrookdale, Ironbridge (01952 884391; ironbridge.org.uk), where they'll also get the chance to pick up a tip or ten from the experts.
If the idea of a week spent singing folk songs or digging in the dirt doesn't do it for you, perhaps it's time to get on your bike - and where better to do it than the Lake District, on a Beatrix Potter Trail? The tour offered by Country Lane Holidays (01539 444544; countrylanes. co.uk) includes boat trips and bikes so you can discover the landscape that inspired the children's writer and her stories. You might even spot Peter Rabbit if you keep your eyes peeled.
Those daring enough to leave the UK altogether in search of inspiration could check out Just Slovenia (01373 814230; justslovenia.co.uk) for its special family offers during the summer. Take the kids kayaking on Lake Bohinj, hiking up Mount Triglav (it's 2,800m) or even tandem-paragliding if you and your darlings are feeling really brave.
Of course, the danger of all this is that you'll enjoy your holiday so much that you'll want to go back for more - every year. But we wouldn't want to see an end to such a long-lived British tradition, would we?
Katy's top tip
If the kids start complaining that they're bored over the holidays, turn them into farmers for a day on a mini-break at the Ramada Chester (08457 303040; ramadajarvis. co.uk), where they can help milk cows at a dairy farm (allowing you time in the hotel's health club...)
Katy Holland ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is deputy editor of 'Mother and Baby' and motherand babymagazine.com
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