One of my favourite walks by the Thames is from Southwark Cathedral. Famous Borough Market is nearby. I get the train to London Bridge, then walk down past Southwark Cathedral, round to the left past a replica of Sir Francis Drake's Tudor Galleon Golden Hind walking along Clink Street home of the Clink Gaol. Which gives us our colloquial term for prison: clink.
Moving along into Bankside we have the historic Anchor Pub, 34 Bankside, Southwark, LONDON SE1 9EF. Here in 1666 Samuel Pepys witnessed the Great Fire of London in 1666: "a little alehouse on bankside... and there watched the fire grow." The Anchor was rebuilt in 1676 after fire devastated the area.
One bar is named after Dr Johnson, (Samuel Johnson's Dictionary) who drank here regularly. A copy of his dictionary is on display. Then we wander past Sam Wanamaker's newly reconstructed Globe Theatre, a wonderful way to see Shakespeare in the round, plein air!
Then you come to the Tate Modern, stop for lunch or a coffee, then pop over to St Pauls Cathedral on the other side of the Thames linked by the wonderful Millennium Bridge, a footbridge. Come back over and wander on past the Oxo tower...
Eventually your walk ends by the wonderful London Eye, great at dusk with the lights twinkling into view, great view of the Houses of Parliament. Next door is Saatchi's Gallery (for the next two years anyway). By this time you will be knackered.
London Bridge Station
The former Southwark power station on the south bank of the Thames is a brilliant place for kids. Whatever the installation in the great turbine hall it's a fantastic place to run around. The shops cafes and views are all excellent, if a little busy. Kids like the pop art galleries, and if they are not that interested in the art, the walk along the riverbank will take you to the National Theatre in one direction and past Shakespeare's globe to the Golden Hinde and Borough Market (Fridays and Saturdays only) in the other - or over the millennium bridge on foot to St Pauls.
Where to begin? One of the most beautiful buildings in London is also home to one of the richest natural history collections in the world. This is also one of the few museums that pulls off the trick of being immediate and exciting enough for children while providing the kind of depth that keeps adults coming back time and again. Unbelievably, it's also free.
Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD; Nearest tube: South Kensington; www.nhm.ac.uk/
A small, "independent" cinema just up the road from the larger and more obvious Odeon and Filmhouse. It has an old-fashioned entrance, with the films and times chalked up on a blackboard on the way in. Shows a mix of independent, art-house and cultish mainstream films, with midnight specials and Sunday double-bill matinees. Friendly young staff (apparently there's a waiting list to work there), old-fashioned foyet snack shop, and a small bar/cafe in the back. A really nice cinema experience.
Home Street (top end of Lothian Road).
0131 228 4141
Served by buses: 10, 11, 15, 16, 17, 23, 27, 37 to Tollcross
or the 23, 27 to Lauriston Place.
It's a brilliant free outdoor museum 10 minutes west of the centre showing how Welsh people lived, worked and spent their spare time through the ages. Set in 100 acres of beautiful parkland in the grounds of St Fagans castle, a 16th-century manor house, over 30 buildings have been painstakingly moved from various parts of Wales and reassembled brick by brick. Native farm animals roam the fields and farmyards, and there’s a working flour mill and blacksmith. There are also some great old-fashioned shops including a baker’s and a sweet shop. The village of St Fagans itself is worth a look, with pretty thatched-roof cottages, a picturesque cricket ground and decent pub.
The People's Palace is Glasgow's social history museum. It tells the story of the city through its people, and not just the great and good. You can listen to examples of Glasgow speech, and see a reconstructed tenement 'single-end'. It's also free, like all of the City of Glasgow's 13 museums. Unmissable if you're a resident or expat Glaswegian, and still good even if you're not.
Glasgow Green, Glasgow, G40 1AT; Tel: 0141 271 2951; www.glasgowmuseums.com/venue/index.cfm?venueid=9
A 3 day world music festival in the beautiful and historic seaside town of Whitby. Now in its 7th year, this indoor festival has very rapidly become one of the foremost events on the world music calendar and every year features great and well known artists alongside new and upcoming acts from around the globe. It is family friendly and has a range of childrens activities and workshops in addition to the main music programme.
This year's line up includes: Buena Vista Social Club presents Cachaito Lopez, 'Guajiro' Mirabal, Manuel Galbon & 'Aguaje' Ramos; Natacha Atlas/Ali Slimani Band (UK/Algeria); Joana Amendoeira (Portugal); Go Lem System (Spain/Argentina), Yasmin Levy (Israel)and Spiers & Boden (England) amongst many others.
The festival takes place on the 20th -22nd of October and is the perfect antidote to the end of summer blues (though early booking is recommended)
Tel: 01947 603475
Venue: Spa Pavilion Complex, West Cliff, Whitby.
The three main beaches on the west coast are made up of Bethells/Te Henga, Karekare and Piha. All beautiful and spectacular in their own right. Bethells is a black sand beach and a favourite for walking. Close by is a little inland, one of the regions best wetlands and a refuge for wildlife. Karekare is a rugged place with an immense landscape and booming surf. An amazing sight to behold on any day. Piha is a great place for activity. Surfing, boogie boarding and frisbee to name a few. Its a lovely place to picnic and there is a camping ground so you can stay overnight and catch the early surf. All three beaches are a must to visit for their beauty and closeness to the spirit of New Zealand.
Bethells/Te Henga - From Scenic Drive, Waitakere Road, Te Henga Road, Bethells Road. Karekare - From Scenic Drive, West Coast Road, Piha Road.
Guell park has lots of Antonio Gaudi's amazing stone structures, stunning tiling and fascinating buildings. Don't miss the colourful dragon fountain at the entrance to Guell park. There is something rather hypnotic and magical about the fantastical atmosphere, which is great for adults and children (lots of hiding places for the kids). See all of the city's sights stretched out before you. Allow at least half a day to enjoy the park fully.
Metro line 3 towards Canyelles. Get off at Lesseps and follow the signs from the metro station to Parc Guell. The park is a 20 minute walk away from the metro station. Warning: the final 200m up to the park is up a steep hill
Not usually a fan of zoos but this is definitely the nicest one I have seen. The 2000 animals are mostly kept in natural conditions, with moats rather than bars and cages. The night safari is a highlight, allowing you to see nocturnal animals as well as the others who haven't yet gone to bed!
MRT to Ang Kio station then bus number 138. Cost S$10.30.
The waterfront, known as the Pier Head, is home to three architectural gems, the Liver Buildings, Cunard Building, and the Port of Liverpool Building, known collectively as the “Three Graces”.
The M62 or via the Mersey Tunnel will take you into the city centre, by rail at Lime Street or even by air at John Lennon airport
A wonderful vegetarian cafe in the Northern Quarter with excellent coffee, imaginative and tasty food and friendly staff. There is a quirky shop at the back and a collection of excellent DVDs which you can borrow.
Across the road from the famous Earth Cafe
Keep your kids happy in the interactive gallery at Manchester Art Gallery. Buttons to press, things to do, clothes to dress up in. Take the portrait challenge: can you sit still while the woman in the picture twitches, smiles and burps?
Mosley Street; Tel: 0161 235 8888; www.manchestergalleries.org/
Situated on a hill in one of the nicest parts of London is the Royal Observatory. I like it because of the view across the Thames (fantastic and free); it’s not jammed in like lots of things in London (the Aussie in me wants big spaces) and for something different, you can stand in both halves of the world at the same time . How so? By straddling the line at 0 degrees longitude at the Observatory ( which means, you stand in two hemispheres at once).
The National Maritime Museum is close by (at the bottom of the hill, on the edge of the park) and is also worth a look, as is the Queen’s House. The Observatory is part of the Greenwich World Heritage site.
Greenwich Park, London;
Access from Greenwich station is best (carparking is limited);
Royal Observatory and National Maritime Museum: www.rog.nmm.ac.uk
Greenwich Park: www.royalparks.gov.uk/parks/greenwich_park/
Exmouth is wonderful for cycling for all levels and certainly family friendly. Cycle paths include along Exmouth's two mile sandy beach with sand dunes and red cliffs at the end. Or follow the ever-changing Exe Estuary cycle path that goes from Exmouth all the way to Exeter. The scenery is stunning and passes through beautiful Devon villages (with some lovely watering holes on route!) you can even take your bikes on a boat (from Exmouth or Topsham) to the cycle paths on the other side or visit Turf Lock, which can only be reached by bike, foot or boat! Or try the bicycle path along a disused railway line through woods from Exmouth to Budleigh Salterton where there is another wonderful beach to visit. You can hire bikes at Bikelands, a funky family run boutique bicycle shop in the centre of Exmouth. Their bikes are gorgeous colours with wicker baskets and adorned with flowers. They have options for all the family and lots of tips on routes.
Crosby beach is a huge expanse of sand, where the Irish Sea buffets the dunes and the 100 iron men that are Antony Gormley's 'Another Place.' Very atmospheric, the men stare out towards the Wirral and the Welsh hills. Nice for a Sunday afternoon stroll, take the camera. Love it and long may it stay in Sefton.
Crosby beach is best reached from either Waterloo or Crosby and Bludellsands MerseyRail stations.
Luca's is one of the best ice cream restaurants in Britain and has almost 100 years of history to prove it.
In cornets, you get a choice of vanilla, strawberry or chocolate - none of the fancy flavours as all their expertise goes into making these just wonderful (you can get tubs of different flavours). Soft and creamy, they're popular all year round. And in winter in Musselburgh, that's saying something.
32 - 38 High Street,
Tel 0131 665 2237
Toronto Island is a must see and it is basically free, an oasis in the middle of the city. The island is a like a large peaceful park with beaches (there's a nude beach, gay beach as well as regular beaches), rollerblading, biking and walking paths, and even an amusement park and free petting zoo for children.
Ferries leave every 15 minutes from Bay St and Queens Quay at Harbourfront, just south of Union Station. There's plenty of parking too. www.toronto.ca/parks/island/index.htm
Send your feedback or queries to email@example.com