Tag: family travel

Into the woods: Family activity breaks for Telegraph Travel

Easter holidays then.

Our assignment — should we choose to accept it — was to test drive two new family activity holidays in the UK, based at holiday parks, for Telegraph Travel.

They both are, if you like, alternatives to Centre Parcs, aiming to open up the family activity break with different prices and facilities.

First up was Kingswood Camps and a visit to their facility in North Wales. The Colomendy Camp is located in the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB.

We’re just back from a weekend of caving, archery and woodland laser quest [pictured above]. That and, despite the rain, some family bonding on the night walk.

Next we’re off to try out the new park in the Peak District from the Dutch-owned Landal GreenParks group.

It’s one of two new parks in the UK — the other located in Northumberland.

Will two weekends away bring out our inner Bear Grylls? Read the full feature in May in Telegraph Travel to find out.

Multi-generational cruise story for Telegraph Cruise

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I had a piece published this week in the family holidays section of Telegraph Travel.

It was a piece about a multi-generational cruise to appeal to a broad age range — in my case from Olivia, 6, to grandad, 76, [pictured above].

Here’s a preview.

“I’m the ultimate squeezed middle — a single father caught between my 76-year-old father and two primary-school-age children. Granddad wants history and interesting excursions from a holiday. The girls want white-knuckle water slides and pyjama parties at the kids club. No wonder I feel like a stiff drink.”

Do you have a multi-generational holidays experience to share?

Post below.

Read the full story The best multi-generational cruises.

Just back: Gothenburg with dad for Family Traveller magazine

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Another half term, another family escape.

We did the Barbie cruise and the cycling trip to Holland, both of which went on to win travel-writing awards.

Last week I took the girls to West Sweden for four nights of city-break fun coupled with some time out on the archipelago.

See a Flickr gallery of images from the trip.

Farmyard fun

The highlight of the trip was definitely the chance to spend the night on a family farm in the countryside.

The Lekander family [pictured above] made us feel really welcome.

It was a travel story for Family Traveller magazine — check out the full article in a future issue.

Latte papas

But it was also a chance to talk to Swedish dads about how liberal Scandinavia values the role of fathers, recently passing new legislation to increase paternity leave.

Sweden, we found, puts family first and, boldly, strives to make it easier for fathers to spend time with their children.

We spent a morning hanging out with the so-called ‘latte papas’ Gothenburg and, as Henric Stahl [pictured below with 19-month-old son Marcel], told us:

“We’ve come to the point whereby, if you’re not taking your full paternity leave, then you have to explain yourself.”

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Even Caligari, a stalwart of Swedish kids’ TV, whose magic show we caught at Gothenburg’s Alfie Atkins Children’s Museum, bases his act around family values.

Watch a short Vimeo of Calgary below.

Mojo rising

In an age of top ten lists and mindless-filler content, it was great, as a writer, to get a commission with scope to address real issues in the context of an upbeat travel story.

It has revived my writing mojo.

And, better still, the girls had a ball.

So, England 0. Sweden 1 then.

What did you think of this story? Post your comments below.

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Pushing the limits of Easter at Carden Park

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It’s good to push yourself sometimes.

At least, that’s what I kept telling myself as I stepped gingerly off the platform and clung to the rope for dear life, my legs instantly contorting into a most ungraceful set of splits as I did so.

It was bad enough trying not to look down the 50ft-odd drop to the forest floor below but, with Maya and Olivia about to follow me out onto the aerial ropes course [pictured above], there could be no bottling it by dad.

“The first one is always the worst,” said instructor Phil, trying to sound reassuring. “It’s the fear of stepping into the abyss.”

Easter activities

We had come to Carden Park Hotel in Cheshire to try out some of the activities for the forthcoming Easter holidays. The hotel offers crazy golf and archery sessions, as well as boasting its own vineyard.

I had expected a gentle afternoon on the Easter Trail, searching for clues in the grounds to win chocolate eggs.

But the idea of leading my two daughters across a series of elevated platforms and obstacles caught me off guard.

We had harnesses and a full safety briefing, of course. But, despite the incentive of finding mini eggs along the course, did we have the nerve?

More to the point, as the responsible adult in charge of two primary-school-aged children more used to playing on the CBBC app than swinging like monkeys through an adventure playground, had I taken leave of my senses?

Active kids

Maybe not.

The National Trust report, Natural Childhood, suggests our children are exhibiting the symptoms of a modern phenomenon known as ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’ in regard to their lack of engagement with nature.

A key reason for this, it suggests, is the aversion of many parents to any form of risk. “No natural environment is completely free from risk,” writes report author Stephen Moss.

“But these risks are a fundamental part of childhood: by gradually learning what is safe and what is dangerous, especially with regard to their own actions and behaviours, children develop their own ‘risk thermostat’.”

The Council for Learning Outside the Classroom supports this view, expressing concern for the long-term implications for not allowing children and young people to experience risk, challenge and adventure.

The group promotes more creative approaches to curriculum development and summarises its concerns about risk aversion here.

Confidence building

From climbing nets to swinging logs, we made our tentative way across the course, instructor Phil [pictured below] lending a helping head to coax a nervous Maya across the high-wire stepping stones and swing a worried-looking Olivia across a gap too wide for little legs on her harness.

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He was less forgiving of dad as I edged my way along an elevated log walkway and hesitated at a see-saw bridge. “Go on, attack it,” he advised, dismissing my request for emergency technique coaching.

“That’s not attacking it,” he laughed as the children looked on nervously.

He was right. I was never in the scouts and was probably more interested in my Space Lego than climbing trees when I was Maya’s age. But demonstrating my own nervousness will only hold the girls back in life.

There were some wobbles and a few tears along the course but, after an hour of white-knuckle antics, we were negotiating the wobbly bridges of the final obstacle.

“It’s always the parents who struggle,” smiled Phil, congratulating Olivia for being the youngest person in our group to make it across. “The little kids haven’t don’t have the fear.”

Down to the wire

By the time we reached the zip wire platform for the 250m descent back to terra firm, the girls were taking the course in their stride.

They raced each other on the zip wire [watch the vimeo] and laughed as I trundled behind, dangling like a limp balloon from my harness over a swampy bit of ground at the bottom.

Before I could even get myself free, Olivia was already devouring the first of several Easter eggs.

“Again,” she squealed as I headed for coffee and a long sit down.

I’m not booking a week at Center Parcs just yet but we had dared to step beyond our comfort zones.

And, once more, it took two young children to remind their sensible dad of a valuable life lesson: sometimes you just have to step into the abyss.

  • Activities run from March 25 to April 10 at the hotel’s Event Station and are open to non-residents; prices and bookings here

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