A langorous lesson in the intricacies of beer making first, becoming a faster paced ride through the history of Heineken advertising, with horses, a soaking, football fun and wonderfully enthusiastic staff to banter with. The best bit is the beer, a simple conclusion in the darkened bar to wind down later at journey's end. A rollicking few hours in Amsterdam!
The chain of Karaoke-Kan’s in Shibuya means that getting to belt out an 80’s classic is always going to be a possibility on a Friday night. With around several establishments dotted around the city, private karaoke rooms are available should you fear embarrassment from singing in front of others, are available from around £15 an hour, and most have an assortment of extra features, such as concert-style lighting, to add to the rock star experience.
30-8 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
If you’ve never attempted ice-skating before then this is a great time to try it out – on an outdoor rink. A few places in and around London, most notably the Tower of London, Hampton Court and Somerset House, have converted large areas into makeshift rinks over the festive period and it’s a great place to take the family, partners or just a bunch of mates.
I’ve been three Decembers in a row and it’s such great fun and very reasonably priced too which is always a bonus! Just make sure to pack a scarf, thick socks and some warm gloves...
Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 1LA
If like me, you are totally into everything anime/animation related, then you should check out this kooky little shop right around the corner from Carnaby Street. They sell funky Japanese-style figurines and play things – great for children and as gifts for adults.
Although the majority of what they sell seems to be of the ornamental persuasion (for show), they also sell books, magazines, games and posters – my personal favourite being a huge Pixelation City, complete with people, cars, buildings and river, all presented in a space invaders-esque design. Very niche, but oh-so-funky.
19 Beak Street, London, W1F 9RF
When visiting Sydney the temptation is to stay in the Rocks (the district the world thinks of as Sydney). Don't, it's a tourist trap. Instead, consider Kings Cross or Darlinghurst. These districts are the heart of Sydney. Not as pretty but much more fun.
Google map: tinyurl.com/nee7m7
With regard to the warning about Holi, I had a lovely time at Holi in Delhi this March. Yes, stuff costs a bit more and you do have to dodge the odd coloured waterbomb, but isn't that all part of the experience? Plus people were friendly and multicoloured! Brilliant!
They run the funniest little business in town! The Iconic Fiat 500 is finally available to hire.
I have always pointed them out to my husband and sighed longingly at their charm, (there is something almost 'expensive accessory must-have' about them, like the latest pair of Marc Jacobs).
This trip to Tuscany we got behind the wheel and did a convoy tour in one! Absolutely hilarious!
"Again again again!" I wanted to squeal like an over-indulged child as we said goodbye to Paola (our little red head-turner) at the end of the glorious trip.
It's not just the home of the National Motor Museum. The place also has a walled garden, a palace house and a ruined abbey. Alongside the ruins is the active parish church. There is a beautiful footpath that runs between the lake at the palace house and the monorail station at the motor museum.
Oh yes, and a bunch of cars. Some really old ones, and some sporty ones, and some two wheelers (i.e. motorcycles), and some movie ones (James Bond cars!), and firetrucks, and old buses, and...well there's a lot. I think most of them are in running order, too. You can take a ride in an original London double-decker! Its exhaust stinks: do they use yesterday's fish batter oil to run the thing!?
The palace is a large mansion, some of which is open to poke around. The guides are very knowledgeable and helpful. The lord and lady still live in the place. Sometimes, you can sneak a look at their private apartments. In spring, the gardens and paths are awash with daffodils!
If you gift-aid your admission, then you get free re-entry to the motor museum (but not the rest of the place - although that is discounted).
Photos and a description of our visits are on our website: www.reeves-hall.net/kids-outings/beaulieu-motor-museum/
Beaulieu Enterprises Ltd
John Montagu Building
Beaulieu, Brockenhurst, Hampshire
+44 (0) 1590 612345
Finkley is, well, a farm and a park! There are lots of animals that you can feed, like llamas, ducks, geese, goats and, if you dare, bulls. Then there are the large play areas: a pedal cart track, old tractors to climb all over, a bunch of trampolines, a very large slide, a climbing fort or two and an infants' play area.
At regular times through the day there are feedings and handling sessions, for example, to sit and hold bunnies, and to groom the horses. There is a large collection of gypsy wagons to see, too.
There is a cafe on site with both indoor and outdoor seating. Just watch out for the roaming peacocks who like to steal your chips! Admission is reasonably priced for such a lot of things to do.
Photos and a description of our trips there can be found on our website: www.reeves-hall.net/kids-outings/finkley-down-farm-park/
In summer the temperatures in Amsterdam, like in any city, can get quite unbearable. Hire a bike and head for the green Bijlmermeer in the south-east of the city, only half an hour from the centre.
On summer weekends there is the Kwakoe Afro-Caribbean festival, which makes Notting Hill look like a family picnic. Football, food and kaseko and no multicultural pretensions.
When you get really hot and even the ginger beer doesn't work, take a dive in the sparkling clear waters of the Gaasperplas.
metro 53 or 54: station Bijlmer/Arena or Gaasperplas
This bowling alley is rather hidden away, but it's worth finding. Unlike the large chains, it's got a really friendly atmosphere and the people there really know about bowling. It also has a well stocked bar and serves a good pint of Guinness.
Unit 1/Bawtry Road
We took our daughter aged six months to Marrakech and were surprised by the number of friends and fellow travellers who commented on how brave we were. What they didn't perhaps realise was that a baby or small child is like a passport to the real Morocco.
We (or more accurately our daughter Emily) were treated like VIPs and invited into homes, given tips on how to survive the souks and all because we'd been cunning enough to come with a child! Kids make travelling easier, if you have the right attitude.
For a young family, Carmarthen Bay Holiday Park was a wise choice. As soon as we arrived our two boys were happily entertained. With a staffed swimming pool and organised cycling trips, amongst other sports, we were free to relax and wind-down just as we had hoped.
The best time to visit is between November and March as the temperature will be between 27* - 35* and sunny so it’s the perfect winter sun destination. What also makes it so worthwhile is that it’s incredibly cheap; you can go there for as little as £250 and the most you’re going to pay is £350/400.
You can either stay in the tourist resorts along the coast or the capital, Banjul, but either way, as the country is so small, to get to either place shouldn’t take any more than 20 minutes to get to by taxi. They have specific tourist taxis, which the tour operators recommend, however I caught numerous ‘normal’ taxis and these are completely fine (and cheaper).
The tour operators also recommend that you do all of their activities through them, and while I would certainly recommend some of these, especially the roots tour, which travels up the Gambia river by boat and goes to where the slaves were captured and held before being shipped of to the Americas - I would befriend the locals and get them to take you out; this is what my friends and I did, as there are licensed juice sellers on the beach by the hotel.
After buying juice from them we decided the best way to get to know the Gambia is by letting people that live there show us so we arranged for two locals to take four of us out to dinner in a place they recommended. We also wanted to go on a safari so we got them to organise a Jeep trip to a safari park. We obviously paid for transportation and food and anything else but this would still be cheaper than doing it through the tour operator and it is helping out the local economy.
People in the Gambia are some of the friendliest you would ever meet, in fact an expression I often heard was ‘it’s nice to be nice’, and at no point did I ever feel remotely threatened, even at police stops everyone was extremely courteous.
As an example of how safe it is my friends and I decided to go to a bar about three miles away from our hotel so we decided to go there by foot alone along the beach, by the time we got there it was pitch black so walking along the beach was quite an adventure and when we got to the bar the owner gave us a free lift home.
When you go to the markets you would obviously have to haggle with the price but this is to be expected and is part of the experience but the market sellers are never overly forceful or aggressive.
I had the lucky experience of being on the beach on my last night when the president threw a party to celebrate him being re-elected, so there were local tribes dancing and playing music with lasers and fireworks, it was such a great parting experience. To sum up my experience and the Gambia itself, in order to go into the cordoned-off arena where the President and performers were, I merely asked a soldier if I could go into the area and the solider allowed me to, that is how nice and friendly the people of the Gambia are.
For something really out of the ordinary in the ancient heart of Paris, go to Nos Ancetres les Gaulois on the Ile St Louis.
It's an all-you-can-eat-and-drink restaurant, with a dark ages theme - skins on the ancient stone walls, rough-hewn wooden tables, help-yourself-to-wine from the barrel kind of place, labrynthine and bacchanalian in atmosphere - musical floorshow with lots of audience participation.
All-in for 39 euros; unbeatable fun and totally unexpected in its rarefied surroundings; a perfect ending to a day of trawling around the museums.
Fotoautomat booths are old school passport photo booths. For two euros you get four black and white passport size photos on a strip.
These are not modern digital prints, but real photographs. It's the best fun you can have in Berlin for two euros!
There is one opposite the Circus Hostel on Rosenthaler Platz and one at the top of Kastanienallee.
The 'Show' - where city and country get together! Once a year, the country invades the city at the showgrounds and lets city families see what the country has to offer.
In addition, there are quite a few competitions where our farmers and country folk can show off the best bull, pig, horse or who can cook the best sponge or grow the best pumpkin.
Sheepdog and poultry competitions are favourites. City kids also have a chance to see new lambs or piglets or chooks. There are enough circus rides, face painting areas and handicraft stalls to keep everyone happy.
Adults have flamenco, hip hop, capoeira performers, belly dancers and others to keep them entertained.
And of course, there are fireworks at night. Everyone should go and don't forget to grab a ShowBag.
Sept 20 - 30
Royal Melbourne Showgrounds
Epsom Road, Ascot Vale
take a tram or train there from the CBD (car parking is available too)
Script, act out and record your own film at one of the leading film sets in eastern Europe!
Travel company Riga Out There have just launched this exciting activity as part of their new 'unusual things to do in Latvia campaign'.
Once each film group has made its film, it is given the opportunity to present their film at one of Riga’s leading cinemas with critical feedback given by one of Latvia’s top film directors.
You do not need to have any film background - just turn up in Riga with a group of friends and start dreaming of film stardom!
This is something useful before travelling to Las Vegas, especially if you are going to play the roulette. Check out the first link for Las Vegas hotel rates and the second one for a free roulette test (it's a European roulette with single zero).
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