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A father-and-son ski trip to Andorra

A father-and-son ski trip to Andorra Returning to the Pyrenees for a family skiing adventure many years after a stag-do, it’s not just dad who has grown up. So has Andorra … It is 10am and I’m trying to engage my two sons in their first skiing lesson. My vow to be a patient teacher and never raise my voice to Rafa, 16, and Luca, 14, has already broken. “Get that bloody foot up,” I yell as an outraged professional instructor and his junior students serenely practise snowploughing nearby. It’s day one, we have only been on the nursery slopes for 20 minutes. I watch groups of young men on the piste ski past me and can’t help feeling…

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Amid lava fields and lizards: a walking trip on El Hierro, Canaries

Amid lava fields and lizards: a walking trip on El Hierro, Canaries Before Columbus, the island of El Hierro was the ‘edge of the world’. Today, its volcanic peaks and forest offer superb family trekking Clouds of volcanic dust envelop the car as we judder down the track through the Malpaís – the badlands. Contorted lava fields and cinder cones surround us in a fierce display. This was once believed to be the end of the Earth. Before Columbus voyaged to America, El Hierro – the smallest and least-visited of the Canary Islands – was the westernmost edge of the known world. Continue reading… Go to Source Author: Kari Herbert Tweet

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20 great UK cottages with pools

20 great UK cottages with pools Holiday homes with swimming pools sell out fast in peak periods, so get in early this year at some of the best around the country Sitting on the edge of Newtown national nature reserve, Shalfleet Manor Estate is in a top spot for birdwatching, canoeing and walks around the Newtown estuary. The 17th-century Grade-II listed manor and separate outbuilding conversions have been recently renovated, and share the heated outdoor pool (May-September), tennis courts and gardens. The heritage colour palette keeps spaces light, while a large restored oak fireplace in the main house adds a touch of drama. A mooring on the nearby river is also available to guests. No more than a 35-minute…

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A festive outing to a fairytale French château: a day at Vaux-le-Vicomte

A festive outing to a fairytale French château: a day at Vaux-le-Vicomte Like Versailles but more manageable, this château turns into a winter wonderland at Christmas – perfect for a family day trip from Paris For most of its long and inglorious history, Vaux-le-Vicomte has been ignored. Shunned by the royal court after a jealous and vengeful king left its owner to rot in jail, overshadowed by its neighbour Fontainebleau, Vaux-le-Vicomte has hidden for centuries in plain sight, less than an hour by car or train from Paris. Many of those driving south en route to the Burgundy vineyards, Alps or winter warmth of the Côte d’Azur won’t even know it’s there. This is a pity at any time…

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Our big exotic sleepover: a single-parent tour of Egypt

Our big exotic sleepover: a single-parent tour of Egypt As the Land of the Pharaohs edges its way back on to the tourist map, our writer and her daughter join other single-parent families on a new group tour Water buffalo call softly as the waters of the Nile lap at the boat. Kingfishers swoop in the dim light, silhouetted against a mosque on Aswan’s distant bank. Mia, 13, is in a huddle of kids on the upper deck of the wooden felucca, our home for the night. Thanks to some expert child-whispering by our Egyptian guide, Walid – and some instructions from YouTube – they are fashioning a kite from bits of wood, string and tarpaulin, while the adults…

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It’s a jungle out there: Costa Rica with kids

It’s a jungle out there: Costa Rica with kids Full of exotic animals and rainforests but also child-friendly, Costa Rica is the perfect natural playground for a family adventure It’s dark in the rainforest, the air thick with strange croaks and chirps, and our group moves slowly, following José’s torchlight. As he gestures for us to stop, we gather around in silence, the adults as keen as the children to see what he’s spotted. There on a leaf, with its bulging orange eyes, neat green body and comically big tangerine feet, sits a Costa Rican tree frog. Cue delighted squeals all round. “It’s so cute!” whispers my niece, Georgia, and I nod, partly relieved it’s not a boa constrictor…

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A family ski trip: Le Buet, the French Alps

A family ski trip: Le Buet, the French Alps A fun, communal ski week for families is perfect for both beginners and more experienced skiers – and offers the chance to learn a few unexpected skills, too ‘And this is your circus instructor…” Those words, both intriguing and slightly alarming, are not what you expect to hear at the start of a week’s skiing. But this wasn’t a typical ski trip. For a start there were 80 of us, complete strangers at the beginning, sharing a youth hostel. Then there was the unusual location – a hamlet at the far end of the Chamonix valley – the yoga, and the group hand-holding, both literal and metaphorical. Continue reading… Go…

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20 of the best indoor family activities for half-term

20 of the best indoor family activities for half-term From the UK’s longest indoor ski slope to the Roald Dahl Museum, Rachel Dixon picks fun days out from her new book for childrenMore days out: 20 outdoor activities This fun-packed museum has six zones – covering topics such as the human body, nature and technology – with 400 interactive exhibits. The current temporary exhibition is devoted to digital art, and children can create their own animated creature. Over half-term, kids can enrol in Ghoul School, where terrifying teachers include Dr Frankenstein, a witch and a werewolf. Lessons cover potion-making and survival skills, and dressing up gets bonus marks. For adults, Halifax’s recently renovated, 18th-century Piece Hall is next door…

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20 of the best outdoor family days out for half-term

20 of the best outdoor family days out for half-term From underground labyrinths to gazing at the stars, these autumnal activities are a great way to get the kids out and aboutMore days out: 20 indoor activities Combine adrenaline thrills with autumn colour as you bounce, swing and zipline through the treetops at Zip World Fforest, which offers six “adventures” in woodland in the Conwy valley. The Treetop Nets, Europe’s longest net walkway, and the Fforest Coaster are gentlest. Older children may prefer Plummet 2, which opens on 19 October, where they will be dropped 30 metres through a trapdoor, for a near free-fall experience, courtesy of two powerfans. And if that isn’t scary enough, a Ffear Fforest Night…

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Family-friendly pubs and cafes in the UK: readers’ travel tips

Family-friendly pubs and cafes in the UK: readers’ travel tips Kids’ menus with plenty of choice, helpful staff and, in some cases, play areas, make these reader favourites perfect for family meals out Holidaying in Dorset two years ago, we hopped across the county line to the River Cottage Kitchen and Deli in Axminster. The bright, airy dining room amply accommodated the racket and mess that accompanied our family of four and we enjoyed a decent meal. What stood out was how accommodating they were of our daughter’s severe allergies – to dairy, eggs and peanuts. Despite these restrictions, she was served a full three-courses without the compromises to which we have become accustomed. A dairy- and egg-free chocolate…

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