How to improve holidays with children

Hey Mum, let's have a real experience

Half-term is drawing to a close, and my kids can look back on the week with a real sense of achievement. I don't like to boast, but they've had some pretty action-packed adventures in the past few days: motorcycle racing, snowboarding, skiing and white water rafting down giant waterfalls to name but a few.

They have spent hours navigating mazes and mountains, jumped aboard pirate ships, hunted, gathered and fished in implausibly blue waters and even designed their own igloos. And it has not cost me a penny, because they've managed to do it all without leaving the house. Yes, my little darlings have spent most of their school break on a virtual holiday. There's no better way to beat the February half-term blues than by giving the kids a few hours in cyberspace - it's amazing where a screen and a mouse can take you.

But in the interests of stopping their limbs from seizing up, I'm trying to be a responsible parent and show my kids that surfing is not just something you do on the net. I am trying to convince them that humans, just like Nintendos, need to recharge their batteries.

Which is why I'm so relieved that I can turn to holiday companies such as Outdoor Adventures (01288 362900; outdooradventure.co.uk), whose Cornish haven is the perfect place to head for when in need of a screen break. This small, family-based operation, on the rugged north coast, offers some marvellous activity holidays for families, with everything from surfing and body boarding classes to abseiling lessons - there is so much to pack in that your kids won't even notice the lack of portable PlayStations.

You stay in family rooms on site or in nearby hotels, but, for a real thrill, you can opt to sleep in a teepee on the ocean's edge and wake to the roar of the waves.

If you'd rather take the kids abroad for their piece of the action, why not consider upping sticks to Umbria for a riding holiday? Stay in La Casella, a renovated farmhouse, with Real Holidays (020-7359 3938; realholidays.co.uk) and you'll find an equestrian centre on site as well as a kids-only pony club for those under 10. Go hacking in the glorious countryside, take night rides under the stars, and then relax together for an al fresco candelit dinner. Young (and old) bucks can also enjoy climbing, river canoeing, abseiling and archery as well as mountain biking, swimming and tennis.

If you are after something a little less taxing, how about a golf and fishing break in Scotland? The Roxburghe Hotel and Golf Course (01573 459331; roxburghe.net) near Kelso in the Scottish Borders is known for its championship golf course, where youngsters can get professional tuition. The fishing facilities, too, have families flocking here: Roxburghe's trout fishery actively promotes fly fishing to children, and private tuition is offered to all guests, whatever their age, for a small charge. There's also clay pigeon shooting, archery and falconry. With any luck my kids might even discover that the real world is as interesting as the digital one.

Katy's top tip

Sailors of all sizes should check out Sunsail (02392 222222; sunsail.com). It offers daily sessions for children aged five and over, as well as lots of activities on and off the water. A new kids' club has just opened at Club Marverde in Turkey.

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