The travel editor replies: There are holidays in virtually every part of Britain where you can observe wildlife, be it mammals, fish or birds, at close quarters.
Great Glen Wildlife (01397 703015), based in Fort William, runs minibus tours around northern Scotland. All participants have window seats from which to view the wildcats and otters of the highlands. These tours last four or five days and cost between pounds 400 and pounds 600 depending on the time of year. This price includes single or double rooms and an experienced guide with knowledge of many areas off the beaten track. The tours begin at public transport interchanges and each participant is provided with a pack and checklist to identify which species they have seen.
Also north of the border, Sea Life Surveys (01688 400223) gives you the chance to search out whales and dolphins in the Irish Sea, aboard the luxury trawler yacht AlphaBeta. Five and seven-day packages mean you have three to five days spotting the ocean's finest creatures, including guillemots, razorbills, puffins and porpoises, a full day on land, and a spare day at sea to relax. The land day provides the chance to see deer and otters in their natural surroundings. The sleeping accommodation is in a purpose- built shelter on the Mull of Kintyre. Reduced rates are available if you wish to camp instead of staying in Sea Life Survey's rooms. A week at full-board costs pounds 552 per person (pounds 470 if you camp), while the five-day package is pounds 415 (pounds 352 if you camp).
For a slightly less energetic time, the Norfolk Broads offer unrivalled birdspotting opportunities. Bitterns, coots, herons, kingfishers, grebes and black swans are all visible from the comfort of the two 12-berth river cruisers available from the family-run Barnes Brinkcraft of Roxham (01603 782625). These holidays are not cheap (peak season weekly charges for a large vessel can cost pounds 1,000 plus) but they are worth it.
If land mammals are all you wish to see, the New Forest Badger Watch (01425 403412) at Ringwood in Hampshire lets you see badgers from the inside of their setts. Visitors receive instruction from experts within a weather-proof hide looking through a one-way screen. The badger-watching experience lasts one hour and costs pounds 10 for adults or pounds 5 for children. You need to book well in advance as this is a popular day-trip destination.
Additional research by Gidon Freeman
Am I in danger from TB when I go abroad?
I have heard that tuberculosis is on the rise again, particularly in tropical countries. Does this mean that we need to worry about it when we go abroad? If we pick it up, can we be cured?
Dr Larry Goodyer replies: TB is once again on the increase. The World Health Organisation has predicted that the number of cases will rise considerably over the next few years, as will the number of deaths. It is, however, much more of a problem for developing rather than industrialised nations, although it is always a risk for those with a reduced immune system and, in particular, people with HIV.
The important question for travel is whether or not to have a vaccination (BCG) against TB. In the UK, schoolchildren are vaccinated, although in the mid-1980s some health authorities temporarily stopped the programme. If unvaccinated children are travelling to an area where the incidence of TB is high then it may be worth giving a BCG at a younger age.
The situation for adults is less clear- cut. Younger adults would be unlikely to need a booster if they received BCG when at school. If not and you are a young adult travelling and spending some time in an area where there is a high incidence of TB, particularly if living and working with the local population, it is certainly worth considering. An initial skin test will be required to establish immunity and as the BCG takes some time to have an effect, it should be planned about two months before the journey. Many experts would not consider BCG necessary for those aged over 35. In terms of treatment, although the antibiotics have to be taken for up to nine months they are usually effective. But there are some concerns over the emergence of resistant strains of TB, particularly in the US.
Dr Larry Goodyer is superintendent of the Nomad Pharmacy (3-4 Turnpike Lane, London N8, Tel: 0181-889 7014) which specialises in catering for travellers' medical needs.
Any Scilly ideas?
Do you have any information about self-catering or hotel holidays which would be suitable for my family (including four- and six-year-olds) in the Isles of Scilly?
The travel editor replies: Getting to the Scilly Isles is possible by both sea and air. Boats leave from Penzance, cost pounds 35 single and take three hours, tel 01736 362009. Flights from Newquay take 40 minutes but cost twice as much. Tel 0345 105555.
For accommodation, the Garrison Farm Campsite, in St Mary's (01720 422670) is ideal, with plenty of green space for the children to play in. Its owner describes it as a "family-friendly place".
If you're looking for something more upmarket, try the 42 self-catering homes run by the island's Estates Office (01720 422 849). These vary in price according to size, and in peak season cost from pounds 685 per week for a one-bedroom cottage to pounds 2,100 for a five-bedroom house. The houses are furnished to a very high standard and price includes everything except food.
Hotel accommodation is limited, but the Star Castle Hotel (01720 422317) has a swimming pool and a garden. Rooms cost from pounds 75-pounds 95 per person.
In general the islands are very young- oriented. Pubs welcome children, accompanied by adults, until nine in the evening. And there is no traffic, so you can be sure your offspring are safe.
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