How to improve holidays with children
Hey mum, let's go camping in five-star tents
Sunday 26 November 2006
My children went on a camping expedition last weekend. They spent two days pitched on the living-room floor, pretending to be explorers climbing Everest, and using every blanket and tea towel I possess in the process. I put up with it for a while because I know imaginative play is supposed to be encouraged, but I eventually decided I'd had enough - it's not easy trying to watch I'm A Celebrity with two mountain explorers navigating their way through a blizzard in the room.
Until recently, thank goodness, the land of make-believe has proved more than adequate in satisfying my kids' camping desires, but - predictably, and to my horror - they're now on at me to do the real thing, preferably on Everest, but they will settle for anywhere, as long as it is actually outdoors.
So here I am again, going against my instincts and foraging around for holidays I wouldn't dream of going on if I didn't happen to have two kids. But if I am to suffer, I'm going to do it in style - I'm looking for a camping holidays with knobs on.
So how about a tent with an en suite bathroom, for starters? I'm thrilled to report it's a real possibility. Wigmore Holidays (020-7836 4999; aspectsoftunisia.co.uk), for example, offers some amazing canvas accommodation in the wilderness. Its desert tents at Pansea Douar Ksar Ghilane in Tunisia are decorated with wrought-iron furniture and tribal throws and have en-suite showers, flushing sit-down loos, and even air- conditioning. Not exactly your genuine Bedouin experience, but I'm not complaining.
At the other end of the scale, for a simple, old-fashioned Five-Go-Mad experience, head for Herm, one of the lesser-known Channel islands. This crowd-and-car-free adventure playground, is home to some glorious beaches where children can run wild. And it boasts a rather splendid hilltop campsite: hire your own fully equipped tent, sleeping up to six, and dine in one of three decent eateries on your doorstep when you get bored with boiling beans. Book through Herm Island (01481 722377; herm-island.com).
Even if it's a city break you're after, you don't have to book into the nearest hotel. An increasing number of families now choose to sleep under canvas as a way of cutting costs and adding to the adventure, even for mini-breaks. Check out Camping Marina di Venezia with Venue Holidays (01233 629950; venueholidays.co.uk), which offers the chance to sleep on the beach near Venice in "house" tents with up to four bedrooms, just 35 minutes from St Mark's Square.
For something really different, though, why not go ski-camping? This season, Thomson Al Fresco (0870-166 0366; thomsonalfresco.co.uk) has adapted its mobile homes at Le'Escale in Grand Bornard in the French Alps to be suitable for freezing conditions, promising triple thickness insulation.
It may not be Everest, but with guaranteed snow and a good chance of blizzards I reckon that should keep my little mountaineers quiet for some while ...
Katy's top tip
The camping holiday I most fancy has more than a hint of luxury - a stay at the Hoopoe Yurt Hotel in Andalucia (0034 952117055; yurthotel.com) These luxurious canvas houses, each with their own meadow, offer a return to nature without forgoing the usual luxuries.
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