I happened upon a place called The 50s American Diner which is an amazing, original 1951 stainless steel American diner from Massachusetts in the National Forest, Derbyshire.
The portions are huge just as you would imagine it to be. The decor is perfect with chrome bar stools and four-seater booths, a jukebox and waitresses in period outfits. There's a friendly atmosphere and great music.
My children loved it - great food on a budget!
John Street, Church Gresley, Swadlincote, South Derbyshire DE11 8EJ
Tel: 01283 220050
10 minutes from junction 11 of the M42
A blue flag beach of nearly two miles of sand and dunes. You can ape Chariots of Fire and go for a run (the opening scene was filmed here) or just have a leisurely walk. Kite flyers are in abundance on windy days, at the point where the beach curves, near the estuary of the River Eden.
Bring your own bucket and spade, however; there's a merciful shortage of tacky beach shops.
A quiet private resort at Metung with many upper class town houses and cabins for couples and families. Set on the hill overlooking the lakeside at Metung, Mcmillans is walking distance (10 mins) from the town centre. Go and have a quiet comfortable weekend away. Highly recommended!
3 hours drive from Melbourne on the Gippsland lakes.
A waterfall which you can swim in with rope swings to swing and jump off. It's great fun and the water is cool and so a lovely break from the heat.
I hired a scooter from Negril and went on my own. I had a small tourist map, it's easy to find as it's well signposted. Also the journey from Negril is great with a good opportunity to see towns and countryside away from the tourist areas. Leave jewellery at home and take just money for they day. Alternatively most hotels will do coach trips there.
In a recent visit to Greece, I stayed in the Phaedra Hotel on the island of Hydra. I would recommend it to anyone visiting the island. It has big, very clean, full of light rooms.The hotel is sheltered from the noise of the port and Hilda, the hotel owner offers warm hospitality with the best service I have experienced.
It was a joy to stay there!
Phaedra Hotel, Hydra 18040
Tel: 0030 22980 53330
Tour the international headquaters of this news giant. The tour lasts approx 45 minutes taking in the CNN control room, special Efx studio where you see the technology used to produce on-air graphics, global news and weather. Children under 6 are not permitted on the tour.
In the UK we turn our old churches into bars and clubs, in Bordeaux the church St Simeon has become Utopia, an arty cinema.
I wouldn't normally go to the cinema when I'm abroad, but Utopia would have to be an exception. It has a good cafe and five screens showing good films from all over - France, the UK, the US, Bosnia, Algeria, Hungary, Italy, Egypt, Iran, Tunisia, Japan, Finland, Mongolia, Spain, Romania, and China were all represented by films within a couple of months when I last checked. The architecture of many of the salles just adds to the atmosphere and convinces you that you are somewhere special. Films are normally subtitled.
5 place Camille Jullian
The Grand Theatre hosts the National Opera of Bordeaux, with a season of opera, ballet and classical music running largely from September to June. The building itself is beautiful and ornate.
Concerts en balade are held on the first Sunday of every month and have a uniform seat price of 5 euros. They usually take place in the morning or early afternoon and cover music from Mozart to Messaien and Holst to Haydn. You can reserve online.
Place de la Comédie
Killarney Riding Stables runs horseriding trips into Killarney National Park for 1-3 hours daily. They cater for all levels, from complete beginner to advanced riders. This is a wonderful way to see the beautiful countryside around Killarney and the stables have an excellent reputation.
They also run trail rides of two days or five days.
Killarney Riding Stables, Ballydowney, Killarney, Co. Kerry.
One mile west of Killarney on the Ring of Kerry road to Killorgin.
Maison Blanc is part of Raymond Blanc's culinary empire but this Oxford cafe is the original. A small patisserie, boulangerie and cafe at the top of St Giles, it is perfect for Saturday morning breakfasts or cake and coffee. Everything is beautiful and scrumptious, from the almond croissant to the tarte au citron and the pain rustique. It is also surprisingly family friendly and we always see toddlers in here.
3 Woodstock Road, at the corner of Little Clarendon Street.
Tel: 01865 510 974
A St Andrews institution. Jannetta's is an ice cream shop dating from 1908. They make fifty-two flavours of ice cream and they are all wonderful, so much so that people queue along the pavement at the first sign of warm weather in early Spring.
31 South Street, near the corner with Abbey Street.
Once the home and garden of a wealthy Swiss businessman, the Swiss Club was donated to the Swiss community of Egypt. Today, however, it is open to all for a small fee, although it tends to be an expat hangout. If the bustle of Cairo becomes too much to bear you can bring your family to this green oasis and enjoy reasonably priced good food and a relaxing atmosphere. Other activities include barbecues, car boot sales and bazaars.
The Swiss Club, Villa Pax, El Gihad Street (off Sudan Street), Kit Kat Square.
Tel : +20 2 314 2811
Cairo Zoo was once very lovely but is now rather run down. However, if you are in Cairo with children and they have had enough culture and need a break this is quite a fun place to take them.
We went in quite a large group (8 adults and 8 children) but we were the only westerners there. This added so much to the experience - there were several groups of school children visiting and they were so excited to see us there that they were paying more attention to us than to the animals. Our children felt like celebraties. The security men at the zoo were quite concerned about us being pestered and kept shooing the children away. There were also a few teenage boys who were trying to engage us in conversation, but no problems because of the security.
The zoo itself is very cheap - about 2 pence (sterling) per person to get in!! and ten pence to take your camera in. You buy the tickets at a little window outside the zoo and the ladies there speak no english but we were able to communicate easily. Once you get inside you need LOTS of small notes, this is because the zoo keepers need tipping. Lots of the keepers have food for you to feed the animals with such as lettuce for the giraffes and peacocks, bits of fish on long sticks for the sea lions etc. You don't get to feed the lions but you will get taken inside the lion house and so get to see them much closer up.
It was great fun and the animals seemed a lot happier than some we have seen in western zoos and even if their accomodation is a bit shabby at least the enclosures are large.
Giza - we took a taxi.
Rent bikes at the shop opposite the indoor swimming pool and ride on the cycle tracks all
through the forest that runs parallel to the beach for miles.
Turn inwards and have coffee and cakes at the Soldier's Cottage (Soldat's Hus) in the middle of the forest, avoiding the real life soldiers doing their military service.
There is also a campsite in the forest, but now this is dominated by mobile homes, with few real tents - but good for kids and full camp shops
that sell buckets and spades, and the long red and yellow liquorice I loved as a kid.
We stayed in a lovely studio apartment in the centre of the old town. The place was spotless, centrally located, had a comfortable bed, a full kitchen and the price was reasonable.The landlord was very kind and helpful. So if you are planning a trip to Dubrovnik and need to find accomodation you need not look further.
Vila Mala, Plovani skalini 2.
Tel : (00 385) 91 33 22 072 It's down a side street off the main strip of the old town
Get a boat from central Stockholm out to the island of Vaxholm (about an hour away). Vaxholm has cafés, shops, and an old fort museum that you can go and visit. It's a great day trip for a sunny day. You get to see a lot of Stockholm from the water on your way out.
Waxholmsbolaget also runs boats to loads of other islands - their website has good English pages telling you about them.
One of Sweden's main national parks and a true wilderness is only 20km from the centre of Stockholm. It is perfect for summertime walks and berry picking or cross-country skiing in winter, with many special tracks to follow. There is also an historic village with museum and cafe.
Tyresta National Park is an easy drive out of the city. Or take the 807 bus from Gullmarsplan tube station to Svartbäcken. Change there for the 834 to Tyresta. The buses are easy to use.
Easily reached by train, this beautiful seaside suburb south of Stockholm is an ideal place to visit for a day trip from the Swedish capital. The small sandy Baltic beaches are ideal for children and there are old-fashioned separate male and female nude swimming areas and saunas. You can go for walks in the woods, picking berries and mushrooms, or try one of the bars and fish restaurants.
Take the historic train ride from Slussen station in Stockholm to Saltsjöbaden.
Makassar has a sizeable ethnic Indonesian-Chinese community, many of them living in Chinatown in the centre, just to the north of the old Dutch fort. On Sundays the fresh, tasty, classic Dim Sum experience is available from 10am until 2pm in the Makassar Theatre restaurant. They have a huge variety of steamed and fried dishes, with specials ordered at the cooking point next to the entrance and the rest from the roaming trollies. The restuarant is spanking clean and comfortable, the staff are attentive and professional and they are used to dealing with foreigners. The food is reasonably priced. Large family groups, all sitting together at one table, are very common, including everybody from the wizened old Grandad to the newly born baby in swaddling clothes. At the peak time, the chatter is almost deafening, seats are hard to find, and the atmosphere is warm and friendly. Everybody dresses up and the kids run around the big room chasing one another. As well as the tasty DimSum dishes, this upstairs restaurant is a very popular suki style restaurant, with boiling pots and a range of small colour-coded dishes to choose from. Downstairs is another Western-style restaurant with spaghetti and burgers and in the same building is the clean, modern cinema complex with two theatres. One of them is an older barn-style auditorium, worth a visit when it is full and a popular movie is showing. So have Dim Sum upstairs, Makassar Dream coffee/ice downstairs, then go and and watch a movie!
The Makassar Theatre complex is in Chinatown in the city centre near the container port. Turn left off Jalan Irian. There is a large parking lot on the complex, taxi drivers are very familiar with it and it is easy to pick up a taxi afterwards on the busy Jalan Irian, just 100m away.
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