On a misty autumn day, we signalled the boat to carry us over Lake of Menteith to the island. In light rain, we were the only visitors. Our young sons and their friends re-enacted Squirrel Nutkin among ancient chestnut trees and we ate lunch in the ruins of Inchmahome Priory. Magical!
An old favourite of ours and a fantastic day out in the north west is a visit to the terraced gardens at Rivington. Stroll around all the way up to Rivington Pike, if you have the energy. See if you can find the ornamental Japanese pool and the old tower for Pidgeons and Doves. Spot the remains of Lord Lever's grand mansion. The views across the reservoir to Liverpool are always enjoyable and if its clear you can see further to North Wales and the Lake District; we always try to be the first one to spot Blackpool Tower. On a good day, take a picnic or eat in the cafe in the splendid Great Barn. A grand day out!
www.bolton.org.uk/rivington.html. Rivington Lane, Horwich, Bolton, Greater Manchester, England, BL6 7SB
Read more: www.gardenvisit.com/garden/rivington_terraced_gardens#ixzz0vdMYwOxp
Google map: bit.ly/aafjce
Describing this as a museum does not do it justice - it is a place that brings the industrial revolution to life and takes you back over 100 years. You get a chance to experience the life of the masses; giggle at the latest fashions in the shops, change your money in the bank, take a ride on a train or a pony and trap, visit the post office and buy old-fashioned sweets from the sweet shop. Working life can also be experienced in the Foundry. Every child and adult I have ever taken there has loved it. The site is constantly developing, which means you can keep visiting with new generations. What better day out?
Google map: bit.ly/cO645W
Ironbridge is near Telford and has 10 museums in the town.
Tucked away down Bashful Alley (a name straight out of Harry Potter) can be found the Old Bell Coffeehouse. This is an excellent vibrant little cafe tucked away down an old alley near the castle in the centre of Lancaster. Good selection of mains and snacks, prices were very reasonable. Although bustling, service was quick and polite. Mixed youngish crowd. Highly recommended
Bashful Alley, Lancaster, Lancashire, LA1 1LP
Google map: tinyurl.com/32p57hf
If you have kids, head to the park outside the temple of heaven. I went here with my sons to see the beautiful temple of heaven. We had lots of fun at the park. There is lots going on – very cool play structures, people dancing, doing taichi etc. My kids joined in and loved it. We also went to the nearby Toy Museum which was also a big hit. The flying helicopters were a favourite.
Informal curries cooked and served in the grounds of the Edinburgh Central Mosque. Tasty, portions big enough to satisfy my growing 14 year old, variety enough for a seven year old, and catering for both vegetarians and carnivores. Best of all perhaps: a fabulous variety of non-alcoholic drinks from cans of coconut milk to doubtful highly coloured fizzy concoctions. A treat for all the family without breaking the bank. Take a jumper as the eatery is open air (marquee style roof to keep off the rain).
Potterrow, behind the National Museum of Scotland, near to the University - the minaret is a clue.
Google map: bit.ly/b3P3jl
Chop Chop has to be the best Chinese restaurant ever! The dumplings are to die for at this family friendly, family run business. If you visit Edinburgh you have to visit Chop Chop. Right next to Haymarket Station. PS: they've just opened one in Leith.
Jersey is an island in the English channel it is near France. The milk produced from their Jersey cows is very creamy and tastes fantastic. There are lots of lovely beaches and near one of them there is castle Gorey. In the hills you can go pony trekking along the lanes.
Many people in Jersey speak French as well as English.
Condor Ferries Plymouth taking 3hrs 25minutes
+44 (0)1305 763003
Google map: bit.ly/dovXS4
It is such a suitable apartment for family travellers. Location is superb just nearby Blue Mosque. We found the apartment extremely clean. Home owner Bahadir took a very good care of us during our stay in July.
Take the (free) Staten Island ferry and go to a baseball game. The Staten Island Yankees ballpark is an easy walk from the ferry terminal. For $16 you get over two hours' sport and fun - we laughed for the whole event (3rd base seating is recommended). The sight of men trying to get into frozen t-shirts between innings will stay with us.
Other top tips for NYC:
Travel from JFK - for parties of three or more take a yellow cab ($55ish to your hotel door).
Breakfast - Grand Central Station
Lunch/Dinner - Whole Foods market, excellent value and choice (avoid busy 6pm - 7pm period) 10 Columbus Circle, basement of Time Warner Center. Very convenient for Central Park.
Elegant boutique guesthouse and restaurant in the most unspoiled part of Turkey. The interior design is exquisite, rooms are comfortable and the food rivals that in any of the best restaurants I have eaten at in Paris, London, Istanbul, Melbourne or New York. The price is very reasonable considering the excellent quality.
Start at the Porta Santa Maria in the late afternoon. Bikes and tandems are available from local rental agents. Ride round the city on the ancient walls; join the locals of all ages cycling, talking, phoning, promenading round their wonderful city. Cut down into the town and cycle through the plazas, past the cathedrals and stop for some local sangiovese. It's the best way to combine culture and exercise for all the family.
Google map: bit.ly/apBU5g
The whole of the Danube has cycling paths or routes from its source to the Black sea.
The stretch from the source at Donaueschingen - there are at least two disputed sources but this seems the best place to start, to Regensburg is the least used and has some spectacular scenery.
We tour each year as a family of three, the youngest is now 15 but started in Northern Spain at age 10. We use trains rather than flying and Germany can be reached by Eurostar then TGV Est to Strasbourg and then on German trains.
Organise places to stay yourself on the internet, or if you'd like to take it easy and have your luggage transported use Russell Hafter who will book and organize all travel.
Superb cycling facilities, good accommodation and food - not so good for vegetarians!
Waterloo Lodge is a Georgian Townhouse and the reason I want to let you know about it is because it has great family rooms. I always find this difficult when travelling with the kids. They have rooms with a huge double bed which three of us used and then two singles. The room had lots of space for our bags and lots of space to move around, nice and bright and we had a car space and a fantastic breakfast included and would you believe all for an excellent price. We stayed on longer in Dublin because of finding the Hotel.
The perfect day out for the jaded Londoner: hop on the train at Victoria with your bike and in less than two hours emerge blinking into the clear blue skies of Birchington-on-Sea in Kent. Well sign posted is the Viking Trail cycle path. It is a lovely route that hugs the north Kent coast, so sea views and salty air all the way. Flat and wide it is perfect for families and younger cyclists, a cycle for pleasure this, rather than for working up a sweat. The trail goes all the way to Ramsgate, the highlight being the five beautiful bays of Broadstairs. This is a great place for a lunch stop – at the Broadstairs institution Posilipo you can feast on spaghetti and shellfish sitting on a terrace high above Viking Bay. If you've had a glass of rose too many you can always hop back on the train at Broadstairs. And dont forget your swimsuit...
After a literary day in Rye or searching vainly for Derek Jarman's garden in nearby Dungeness, you could do well and head inland to the magical smugglers haven of Romney Marsh. Nestled amid in the flat samphire and watercress fields is the 15th-century Woolpack Inn at Brookland.
Forget the inglenook fireplace and head straight for the garden, with enough room for boistrous kids and private hedged corners where you can share messy crab, roast duck and a crisp New Zealand white. Beery types can swoon over Shepherd Neame's Late Red or a patriotic pint of Spitfire in Battle of Britain country.
This leafy, winding pub garden in this strangely mystical part of Kent only gets better as your third Spitfire of the day hits the target. To quote Douglas Bader: "I then realized my appearance was a bit odd. My right leg was no longer with me."
Jesus Green Swimming Pool is situated in the heart of Cambridge alongside Jesus Lock on the picturesque River Cam.
Built in 1923, this is Cambridge's oldest pool and is one of the 50 or so remaining examples of the lidos which were built during the 1920/1930’s. With a 100 yard lane length and 15 yard width, it is also one of the largest such pools still in operation today.
The pool is unheated with daily temperatures chalked on a blackboard at the entrance gate. For my visit today, the pool temperature was a heady 20 deg C but be warned temperatures can be much lower out of season.
Surrounded by trees, this is a great place to visit on a summer’s day. When you have had enough swimming, there are grassed areas with benches for picnicking, reading and sunbathing. The lifeguards are friendly and accommodating which gives the pool a laid-back, relaxed atmosphere.
On cooler days, you can almost have the pool to yourself – ideal for serious lane swimmers.
There are spacious changing rooms with hot water showers and a basket room for storing clothes. The daily entrance fee covers multiple entries so it is possible to venture out into Cambridge for lunch or a spot of shopping and return later in the day.
Chesterton Road, Cambridge, CB4 3PX
Phone: (01223) 302579.
Google map: tinyurl.com/38paas8
The Donauradweg is 2,875 kms long, from the source of the Danube in Bavaria in Germany, through Austria, Hungary and beyond. Many people break this long route down into holiday size chunks and guides and maps are available to help you plan this. The cycling is achievable for anyone with some cycling experience and suitable for families. The cycling is mostly on quiet lanes and dedicated cycle routes. taking you through pretty villages and along the banks of the river. You can organise your own holiday or plenty of holiday companies will hire bikes for your trip, book hotels and organise luggage transfers.
Russell Hafter will organise a made to measure holiday for you along the Donauradweg and has plenty of experience and useful local knowledge.
Useful for maps and guides.
Our first European cycling holiday included our 15-year-old son and the Freewheel holiday in Austria was ideal for a family unsure if this type of holiday was for us. The scenery was beautiful, the hotels were luxurious and many had swimming pools for teenagers who still had energy to spare at the end of the day, the longest day's cycling was 33 kms, manageable for anyone of reasonable fitness and the organisation was good. Cycling days are broken up with rest days, giving you a break from the saddle and the nine night holiday finishes in the lively city of Salzburg.
Right on Napier's sea front, Ocean Spa is a great place to spend a relaxing couple of hours. With the sea on one side and some of the city's best Art Deco buildings on the other, there are lots of distractions for swimmers doing their daily laps or for those simply taking it all in while having a hot soak. It's also an ideal spot to watch the sunset on a summer evening. If you've worked up a hunger after your swim, the onsite cafe does tasty snack food and good coffee.
42 Marine Parade, Napier, New Zealand
Phone +64 6 835 8553
Google map: tinyurl.com/2g79yg9
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