Tag: family travel

Fika! The most civilised of Swedish traditions

* My feature about a family holiday is due out this autumn but, by way of a flavour, this is some accompanying online content about the great Swedish tradition of fika.

Fika is a way of life in Sweden.

The concept is hard to translate but roughly means a mid-morning or mid-afternoon coffee break accompanied by sweet treats.

Traditional fika favourites include cinnamon buns and chocolate truffles; next-generation fika bakers are now turning their hand to new flavours and gluten-free options.

Fika is enjoying a Bake Off-style renaissance in Sweden with West Sweden taking the nation’s longest fika at 27 minutes on average. Young people are extending the fika frenzy, taking up to 30 minutes per fika.

A new fika tour of Alingsas, a historic town some 40 minutes by train from Gothenburg, celebrates the development of the tradition in the fika-heritage capital of Sweden.

The first café was founded in Alingsas in 1733 and, today, the town boasts some 30 cafes —three listed in the prestigious, Michelin-style White Guide.

The guided walking tour takes in cafes around the attractive town centre, sampling local goodies at each stop and explaining the history along the way.

It’s a gentle-paced 90-minute stroll, starting from the Tourist Information Centre, and ideal for kids with a sweat tooth, or parents with a penchant for great coffee.

This is my pick of the best places to try fika in Alingsas:

MAGASINET

Set in an old textile warehouse on the square, this friendly, family-run café specialises in a healthy-living take on fika with all-organic ingredients.

The owner, Cecilia Hallen, creates no-sugar recipes, using figs, dates and pumpkin seeds to sweeten recipes, serving them with a range of fruit-infusion teas — try the lemon, strawberry and raspberry brew.

“Fika fosters feelings of contentment and camaraderie,” says Cecilia. “I like to create different fikas for different moods.”

ANY’S COFFEE HOUSE

Cinnamon buns are served from the hatch to tables laid out in the sunny courtyard at this relaxed backstreet café.

It specialises in baking gluten-free produce and spices the sugar-frosted buns with cinnamon and cardamom — just as the coffee was when it was first introduced to Sweden from Turkey in the 18th century.

NYGRENS CAFE

Copenhagen has Noma. Alingsas has Nygrens.

The White Guide to Swedish cafes named this artisan café, run by two young women with Bake Off flair, as the world’s best place to sample fika.

The café, set in a restored grocery store from the 18th century, spills out in a cobbled courtyard in summer.

The changing menu of homemade treats includes crisp breads, gateaux and modern twists on classic Swedish recipes, such as kladdkaka (gooey chocolate cake).

For a lunch stop, try a plate of flatbread topped with quince marmalade and local blue cheese, decorated with local wild flowers.

EKSTEDT’S BAKERY

This historic bakery [pictured above], dating from 1886 and also highly recommended by the White Guide, is an artisan bakery with a range of specialty coffee.

The owner, Mikael Lindeman, roasts and grinds coffee bought directly from a Honduran farming cooperative.

“I always drink good coffee black,” says Mikael. “We only use milk and sugar to disguise the bitterness of inferior quality coffee.”

The bakery also bakes the traditional seven types of cakes and cookies eaten at a traditional Swedish fika, starting with light banana bread and working towards spiced, iced fingers.

LJUNGBLADS KONDITORI

This famous old café, founded in 1924, is home to the piece de resistance of a traditional Swedish fika: Princess Cake.

This sugar-hit sensation, comprising layers of raspberry jam, whipped cream and vanilla custard, smothered in a coating of dayglo-green marzipan, marks the grand crescendo of any fika celebration.

Better still, from here, it’s just a short, calorie-burning stroll back to the train station for connections to Gothenburg.

More from kafestaden.se; tours April to October and tickets 330 (£28) Kr per person; ask about new family ticket deals.

Staycation holiday parks for Telegraph Travel

Summer holidays, eh?

Family holidays at home save on airport hell but they can be expensive and very weather dependent. We all want a weak in the sun, right?

But, with Brexit chaos ensuring that sterling continues to plummet faster than Theresa May’s credibility, families are looking to UK holiday parks for a non-Euro alternative closer to home.

So which to choose? Well, the Atkinsons [pictured above] have been test driving some of the alternatives to Centre Parcs over the last couple of months.

Our assignment took us from rural North Wales via a wooded Peak District to Butlins in Bognor Regis.

Here’s a flavour:

We spent a morning on the stony beach, skimming stones and collecting shells. A walk along the promenade revealed little shops with buckets and spades and cafes for candy floss and coffee. For someone brought up on seaside holidays in a North Wales, it felt gloriously nostalgic.

The three articles were published this week by Telegraph Travel and you can read all three in full here:

Why a mid-week break at Butlins is the easiest holiday you’ll take this year

The Dutch alternative to Center Parcs has arrived — but is it any good?

The budget alternative to Centre Parcs — but it’s not for softies

The stories were later collected together into the article, Britain’s best holiday camps — which is right for your family?

Have you got a favourite UK holiday park, or an alternative for a post-Brexit break? Please share your comments below.

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.