'A free destination for the incurably curious' is what this small museum on the Euston Road calls itself, and it certainly is. Henry Wellcome was a Philanthropist and Collector of art and medical curiosities which are still housed in the original building. I pop in here regularly with my kids, have a pastry in the Peyton and Byrne cafe and explore the extensive collection of artefacts and interactive exhibits on display. Children get a free Wellcome pack and a friendly welcome. Oh, and they learn quite a bit too.
This is the perfect museum for kids. There is a lot there, an aquarium, a natural history museum and a music gallery, but all on a fairly small scale. Most importantly they understand that children need to do more than look, they need to touch, play and get involved, and here they can. There are magnifying glasses in the aquarium, quirky instruments to play in the music gallery, and fabulous and free creative activities and story-telling sessions. When you have exhausted all on offer inside you can stroll through the pretty gardens and visit the small menagerie.
We spent a wonderful week in Instanbul staying at pasha!place. The apartment is perfectly situated next to Galata Tower, restaurants and shopping areas and is walking distance to Galata bridge. The apartment is beautifully renovated and furnished with much taste. And there is an absolutely fantastic view out of the livingroom window across the water to the Topkapi, Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque!
The Booth Museum Brighton is a small quirky little gem of a museum for kids and grown ups alike. It was built in 1874 by an ornothologist to house his collection of stuffed British birds, but the collection grew to over half a million specimens from the rest of the the world. Currently on show there is Life in Death: The Victorian Art of Taxidermy, an exhibition highlighting the popularity of taxidermy in the 19th century.
It's an excellent, unusual, and sometimes slightly creepy view of animals in glass boxes a good way to spend an afternoon, and best of all it's free!
Not located in the centre of town but opposite a large park also easy to park the car or coach nearby (unlike the rest of Brighton ). When you are done looking at the exhibits you can let loose in the park across the road.
Booth Museum of Natural History
194 Dyke Road, BN1 5AA
Google map: tinyurl.com/35lmwys
In my experience its really hard to find good information about Mallorca which isn't aimed at the bottom of the market. But this site has a real magazine feel to it and has got some fantastic boutique hotels and hideaways listed. Plus there are loads of descriptions of where to go and what to see.
We really enjoyed Istanbul and had a beautiful time. This apartment in Cukurcuma is cozy and comfortable and the location fantastic. The area is an exciting mix of the old Ottoman tradition and new artistic trends and the Galata tower and bridge are within walking distance. We met Tarkan's family: lovely people!
The Walker is a really impressive gallery, with a collection that takes in a fantastic copy of Holbein's portrait of Henry VIII and other terrific pieces by Rembrandt, Millais, Rossett and Waterhouse, as well as slightly less impressive pieces by the likes of Degas and Monet. There's also a brilliant sculpture room and a really striking series of modern art in a side wing. Free entry and a beautiful building – though give the cafe a miss.
While Grand Central station is a must see in itself there is quite a quirky feature that people should experience.
The archway outside the Grand Central Oyster Bar and Restaurant creates a neat trick with sound. Simply stand in one corner of arch and whisper something into the wall. A friend who is standing diagonally across from you in the other corner will hear you as if you were standing next to them.
Great pizzeria in the Greenwich Village area of Manhatten. A pizzeria since 1924 but still as popular as ever judging from the queues that can form here. Simple but superb.
Additionally there are some good pubs in this area, such as the Red Lion down the road at 151 Bleeker street.
278 Bleeker Street
(Between 6th & 7th Avenues)
New York, NY 10014
Small family owned sweetshop on Lower East Side packed with every sweet you could imagine - and as the name suggests it's not that expensive.
Sells chocolate, candies, nuts, dried fruits including halvah as well as sugar free candy.
Still there since 1937.
108 Rivington Street (around corner of Ludlow street & Rivington Street)
New York, NY 10002
Lower East Side
Open Sun-Fri 9-6, Sat 10-5
A few minutes around corner from Katz Deli.
How about this for an authentic French meal?
A starter of goats cheese salad, a main course of steak frites (with an absolutely fabulous piece of steak) followed by a cheese platter and rounded off with a crème brûlée dessert. At the end of the meal we’ll have an espresso coffee and during the meal two glasses of pleasant local wine. Well, this was what was on offer last week at our local bistro for an unbelievable €12! This isn’t an isolated example and around our local area of the Loire Valley, just north of Saumur, we are close to at least ten restaurants, which offer us amazing lunchtime feasts. Head down to Saumur and though on the main tourist route, you can still find great lunchtime menus for less than €15.
The secret is to always go for the set Menu of the Day – ‘Le Menu du Jour’, the Dish of the Day – ‘Le Plat du Jour’ or the Workers Menu – ‘Le Menu Ouvrier’. As well as providing great value, you can be assured that the meal is prepared fresh that day. So, choose carefully and you can eat like a king. However, stray off the ‘Menu du Jour’, ‘Plat du Jour’ or ‘Menu Ouvrier’ and onto the ‘a la carte’ dishes and you will end up with a bill that is closer to 35 Euros per head once you have added in wine and coffee.
How do you uncover these great deals and have a great value and great tasting meal?
In a large town just trawl the streets and read the blackboards describing the Menu du Jour and Plat du Jour along with the prices. In more rural areas either head for the nearest village or keep your eyes open as you travel around – some of the restaurants seem to be in the middle of nowhere! When you do find an establishment, don’t judge the restaurant from the outside. Some of our favourites are nothing to look at from the outside, some even look a little run down. One local eating spot has a tobacco kiosk at the entrance end then a traditional bar and the cosy restaurant, which serves exquisite food, is hidden at the back – you’d never know unless you went inside. Discovering these places in all part of the adventure. Don’t discount the restaurants that may look like lorry stops – these can be real hidden gems offering what seems like unlimited buffet starters, cider and wine! Take a look at the number of cars parked outside – there will be a mix of tradesmen’s vans, trucks, large lorries and family cars, reflecting the mix of clientele inside. If the place is pretty full with this mix then you are on to a winner – the locals don’t patronise a poor menu!
Once inside, just stick to the ‘Menu du Jour’ – even if you are presented with the ‘a la carte’ menu. The proprietor is just chancing his or her arm to see if you will pick one of the more expensive dishes. Sometimes you will have to specifically ask about the ‘Menu du Jour’, especially in more touristy locations where the assumption is that you will choose something more expensive! When you are asked for water don’t be afraid to ask for a ‘carafe D’Eau’ or ‘eau de robinet’ (tap water) – bottled water is not mandatory and if you look around the other tables you’ll find the locals, in general doing the same.
Don’t discount some of the more exclusive restaurants, either. Those that position themselves at the upper end of the price bracket still need to bring in the lunchtime diners, so they will also offer a ‘Menu’ or ‘Plat du Jour’. One of the most expensive restaurants in Saumur can costs you an arm and a leg in the evening, but at lunchtime you can have an upmarket starter and main dish of the day for €16 Euros. The wine however, isn’t included in this price!
Eat like the French and you are benefitting from one of France’s great traditions. Whatever a person’s occupation or status a meal at lunch is an important part of the daily routine. No shorter than 1 ½ hours, lunchtime eating starts at an early age in French schools. Many primary school children will receive a starter, a main course and a dessert for school dinner, followed by ten minutes ‘repose’. Only then are they unleashed into the school yard for the remainder of lunchtime. So the pattern is set for life! To ensure this tradition doesn’t die out, in 2009 the French government reduced the rate of sales tax on certain items in the Menu du Jour. Lunchtime dining in France is big business, is widespread and a massive employer and as we can see, great value. So make the most of it and enjoy!
L'Art Obase, Mouliherne, Maine et Loire
Le Boufftard, Hommes, Indre et Loire
Les Menstrels, Saumur www.restaurant-les-menestrels.com
Harewood is a fantastic place, with over 300 acres of immaculately and beautifully kept gardens and grounds for visitors to stroll through with their dogs, or romp wildly through the winding paths with their children or just sit and admire the Capability Brown fashioned landscape. This is all before you explore the architectural and artistic wonders of the house. The Lascelles family (the Earls of Harewood) have been avid collectors of fine art for over 250 years and most of it is on display for the public.
To keep the children amused there is a fantastic adventure playground, apparently spread over three acres - the kids love it, along with the bird garden, containing of all things penguins and flamingos.
Harewood's enduring appeal is its beauty, the wide range of experiences for young and old, all backed up with a magnificent events calendar.
Locals should take advantage of its membership - the Harewood card - which allows free entry throughout the year making it amazingly good value, the literature claims families can save upto £700 per annum on days out with the card!
Harewood, Leeds LS17 9LG
tel: 0113 218 10 10
Harewood House is 7 miles from Leeds and Harrogate, catch the number 36 bus, which drops outside the gate. Harewood lets you in half price with a valid bus ticket or if you are on a bicycle.
A day trip to fantastic Siena and an excellent lunch at this osteria. It made our day.
Great Italian food, great Italian wine and great atmosphere.
Arrive early or book as this is a popular restaurant.
We had to wait a half hour for a table, but it was definitely worth it.
Via del Porrione 33, Siena, Italy
Google map: tinyurl.com/y8dhz2j
The best way to avoid disappointment is to combine hunting for the Northern Lights with something else that's fun and different. Tromsø, Norway, is a great place to do just that. I went dog sledding which was so much fun I nearly forgot why I was there in the first place. With seven Huskies dragging you into the quiet wilderness on a sledge, the Northern Lights is an added bonus if it shows up, but even without it you would not go home feeling left out. My best night however was the cheaper option of renting cross country skis from the Intersport shop in town and heading for the free, open 24hrs, floodlit slopes on the island, just a short walk from the town centre! The calming feeling of sliding along on the skis, taking in the fresh air, makes the northern lights even more spectacular. Best of all, you wont have to 'share the experience'with anyone else, which often is the case on organised tours. And the downhills provide an added thrill!
The city itself is known in Norway for being one of the most hospitable – with a buzzing nightlife.
Tromsø also benefits from twice weekly direct flights from Gatwick with budget, but decent, airline norwegian.no. If you book early enough you can get returns for under £100. Stay in the Clarion Hotel Bryggen to get access to their rooftop heated jacuzzi!
There are loads of good (and cheap) ideas on what to do in Tromso and other tips here: www.iglobetrotter.com/norway/northern-lights/northern-lights-activities.
Ski-rental: Intersport Sportshuset, Storgata 87, phone +47 77661100
Husky-rides: Tromsø Villmarkssenter, www.villmarkssenter.no
Google map: tinyurl.com/yl8w4vp
Jardim dos Namorados is a small, colourful park perched on a hilltop overlooking the Bay of Maputo.
Its attractions include a children's play area, a wonderful view of the sea and a cluster of ice cream parlours and cafes.
One of the most popular cafes is "Surf" which sells an imaginative range of pastries and light meals - although the service is a bit hit and miss at weekends, when it gets very busy.
Jardim dos Namorados is THE place in Maputo for wedding photos so at weekends you will no doubt come across several wedding parties: processions of jubilant Mozambicans dressed in suits, silks and satins, all swaying, singing and posing for the camera.
Avenida Julius Nyere, Maputo
Google map: tinyurl.com/yc6wgg9
The Chicken Shed Theatre is a theatre company working to use an inclusive creative process which means everyone is welcome, and everyone is valued. Chickenshed runs Children's and Youth Theatre workshops for 600 people, education courses for over 100 students, community outreach projects and a network of satellite 'Sheds' across the country (and two in Russia) so even more can benefit. Every extraordinary piece of theatre created at Chickenshed shouts out the same thing: anyone can thrive in an environment where everyone is welcome.
A theatre company for children that actually does what it says. No clever remarks/jokes aimed at the adults, but instead a clearly understandable story with songs, audience involvement and lots and lots of fun!
East Lothian EH21 6AA
We spent a fantastic weekend cycling from Canterbury to Whistable then along the coast to Birchington with our nine-year-old. It was the perfect introduction to cycling holidays covering around 20 miles with a night in Whitstable in the middle. Our host John, met us at the start and got us going with maps, routes and an emergency number in case things went pear-shaped. The cycling was mainly flat with a few hills suitable for a "family challenge". The second day was superb as we pedalled along the coast passing seaside towns and a Roman fort. We came home feeling like we had really done something different and experienced something new as a family. Next time we are going to try a tour along the Thames.
We booked with Capital Sport who do cycling tours around England. Would highly recommend them to anyone.
The Plockton Inn is a good pub and a wonderful restaurant which, while it offers a variety of dishes, is oustanding in offering seafood of the highest quality.
The atmosphere in the bar is merry, as you'd expect, especially in the evenings, when sailors - both professional and amateur, the latter being a somewhat tedious feature of Plockton in the summer - recount the day's adventures. But push gently through to the bar and make your order. It's well worth it. The quality of the food is extraordinarily good and the portions are generous. Families with young children evidently enjoy the atmosphere which is informal and, when live, traditional music is being performed, pleasantly noisy.
Playmobil Fun Land is a themed activity park based on the Playmobil children's toys. It is aimed at children under 12 and is fun interactive activities. There is minimal queing and no roller coasters, just lots of things to do. We spent two whole days there. Hight season entry (August 2009) was 10 Euros per person irrespective of age, so 40 Euros for a family of four per day.
Things to note:
Much of the play involves water, so come with swimming gear to stand under the waterfalls. If soemone gets wet, use the tumble dryers provided to dry clothes.
There is a large indoor section if it's raining. Outdoors, sandpits and things are covered with awnings on hot days.
Food and drink is NOT a rip off e.g. tea for one Euro, single scoop ice cream cone 80 Cents!
The cafeteria has lots of choice eg pasta with different sauces and pizza, very much aimed at kids. A kids meal is 42 Euros.
You pay a pfand (deposit) on all crockery which is then refunded when you hand it all in, so keeping everying tidy and clean.
Most staff speak very good english.
Much of the park is wheel chair accessibile (so good for buggies too) and they have a wheel chair raft on the boating lake.
We had two super days out and the kids would love to go back.
There is an appartment hotel with family rooms for four across the road from the park. However, as the park is not loacated in a particularly interesting part of Zirndorf we stayed at the Hotel Knorz, an easy walk to/from Playmobil and the town centre.
Phone 0911/96 66-1700
Nearest station is Zirndorf which has a 30 minute train service from Furth which is on the main line to Nuremberg (or use the Underground)
Alternatively, get the bus 113 from central Nuremberg. Tourist info in Nuremberg have all the details and will printout timetables for you.
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