How to improve holidays with children
Sunday 18 March 2007
Iwas presented with an amazing work of art last week, thoughtfully created at school by my younger son. After I'd ooh-ed and aah-ed over it for an appropriate length of time, I stuck it up in pride of place on our fridge, only to be confronted by my furious mini-Monet, who was most offended that I'd hung it upside down. (I thought it was a man's face, but apparently it was a depiction of the Great Fire of London.) He's still sulking about it.
It seems that I'm out of touch with my kids' creativity - my fault entirely, because I stopped doing arty stuff with them while they were still in nappies. But the good news is that there are ways of making amends, and even enjoying it in the process. I've just learned about a rather gorgeous family holiday in Florence where my budding Botticellis and I can master our painting or drawing techniques under the watchful eye of an Italian artist. Book with Sanctuary Villas and Apartments (01242 547906; sanctuary-villas.com) and they'll organise private art classes as well as guided family tours of the city's galleries and artisans' studios. Its selection of six luxurious pads in Florence include Lungarno Serristor, set in a historic Florentine palazzo with stunning views of the city.
I've also discovered a marvellous mosaic-making holiday in France. Artist Angie Weston provides residential courses in the Charente region for all ages (00 33 5 45 70 24 84; mosaic-courses.com). Stay full board in Le Luquet, a traditional charentaise longhouse, or, if you're passing through this summer, book in for a one-day course.
For something even more off the beaten track, check out Painting Alonissos (01905 24560; paintingalonissos.com), where the seascapes, wild flowers and ancient villages will inspire imaginations of all ages. You get to spend four hours a day with an artist in residence, exploring this peaceful and rugged Greek island.
You don't have to go to remote corners of Europe to indulge your creative side, though; there's plenty going on over here too. For an action-packed arty alternative, how about a night or two in a wigwam on the Northumberland coast, courtesy of the Pot-a-Doodle-Do activity centre (01289 307107; potadoodledo.com/ holidays.htm). Immerse yourself in the world of pottery, and then, once your creative juices have run dry, you can all go quad biking or horseriding in the Northumberland countryside.
But for the ultimate weekend of serious self-expression, take your little tribe on a painting weekend in a 17th-century farmhouse in the amazing Peak District National Park. The Michael Moore Art School (01625 574887; michaelmooreart.co.uk) offers short courses in oil painting, watercolours and sketching, including bed and breakfast in the farm's converted barns. And, best of all, everyone gets to take home their very own beautifully framed creations.
One word of advice, though: just remember to hang those masterpieces up the right way, or there'll be trouble.
Katy's top tip
Beaches Resorts (0800 742742; beachesresorts. co.uk) has just opened its first children's art camps at four of its properties in the Caribbean. These exclusive Crayola Camps encourage families to unleash their creativity through Caribbean-inspired activities including collages, jewellery and mosaics.
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