Where should we go on holiday this year?

Pic: bear with me.

We’ve been thinking about the summer here at the Palace of Bundance. With a few measly rays of sunshine and the occasional snowdrop, it does actually seem that it’s possible we’ll get there. Wearing shorts and going sock-less doesn’t seem like a crazy fantasy any longer.

And this year, we’d quite like to have a proper go away for a fortnight kind of family holiday. It’ll be a first for us. We’ve done week-long stays here and there but never the whole hog. I just gave a little shudder there, perhaps I’ll be back here in September having been reminded of exactly why seven nights is more than enough.

But until I can think of a good reason why not, it’s a fortnight for us. But who, where, how, when?

The who is easy, there are five of us:

Boy Three will be two by the summer holidays and, I think unreasonably, for rate-charging purposes, is no longer an infant. Although I’ve no intention of liberating him from a cot at night until he provides a written application. He has a short attention span and a lust for adventure.

Boy Two will be nine soon. (Nine, can you believe it?) He’s got a short attention span but can usually be persuaded to have a go at/look at/taste of most things. He gives good cuddles.

Boy Three is 11 and has Aspergers. It’s not really a problem for holidays, but unexpected things can make him a bit anxious and he needs some down time, especially in the early days. He’s also not terribly good at eating strange things although he does try. He’s excellent at remembering things.

The Panther of News. He’s a bit older than me and likes beaches, castles and loafing about. He thinks he wants to go somewhere really hot, but I’m not sure he really does. He also has a short attention span and even after eight years still has the capacity to surprise me (in a good way).

Me. I used to like holidays that were packed with exploration, discovery and, more than likely, hazard. However, now I like to spend time with my family doing something that isn’t really annoying or brain-crushingly dull. If I can see some culture or do something new, that’d be a bonus. Oh, and, the PoN says I’m a snob but I think it’s just an allergy to sports clothes worn in non-sporting environments.

So there we are, a typical family really. And what kind of holiday should we go for?

I’d like it to be warm enough not to need coats but, if I’m honest, I’m over blistering heat. Besides non of the Boys likes to be gooped with sunblock.

We’ve self-catered, but I baulk at cooking in a kitchenette (nothing is improved by being the ‘ette’ version) and going out all the time can be pricey. Plus Boy Three’s manners aren’t the best so we need somewhere either very family friendly or with shockingly low hygiene standards.

Boys One and Two and the Panther love water parks. I hate them, I can’t help thinking how many people have weed in the water. I also don’t like being scared and getting friction burns.

Boy Three needs to work on his sense of self preservation. This can make being at large with him something of a challenge.

We like sand dunes, sledging, museums, ice cream, some of us like theme parks and nobody wants to be in a plane, train or car for too long but we all enjoy boats.

So how hard is going to be to find somewhere we like, can get to from Scotland and won’t bust our medium-sized budget? Answers on a post card, preferably one that says ‘wish you were here…’.

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  1. says

    First suggestion, rent a house, or villa or even consider joining an agency where you can do holiday swaps. We started doing this about five years ago and really wouldn't consider anything else now. Its great to go back to somewhere that you've made feel like your own space, you can eat according to your family's own timetable and tastes and there are take aways in all but the most rural places.

    Second suggestion is Brittany, we went there last year and it felt like paradise. It has all the things on your wish list the only downside being the long car journey to the ferry. But the scenery, people and amazing food make it all worth it.

  2. Debbie says

    I was going to say Brittany. But I know you're hoping for all-inclusive and can't find anything like that there. If you can overcome the aversion to self-catering, it would be perfect. Not southern Europe hot but generally lovely weather.
    I also think Tynemouth is rather lovely – but as a Geordie I'm biased.
    Oh, and Santorini is gorgeous too but might be a bit on the hot and sweaty side for your little pale-skinned chaps.
    On the all-inclusive theme, will send you a link to one I found on the east coast of Mallorca. xxx

  3. says

    How about Disney World? They're doing some great deals just now, those with a short attention span will be entertained and you know in the States you're guaranteed great customer service and a limited language barrier! We spent 7 nights there and bought a 5 day park pass, giving us some good downtime too. You could combine it with a week in Tampa/ Sarasota/ Naples if you also want beach time, shopping and a chance to see all the movies before they're released here!

  4. says

    *Stockholm is fabulous for kids of all ages – it has a whole island dedicated to them (and Swedish brown bears!), plus you can rent houses on the islands. The Pippi Longstocking museum, the Vasa Viking ship, the farm museum – all fab. In the summer you get the Midnight Sun so it's daylight pretty much all the time, it's amazing. And it's very warm in summer – not stifingly hot but just right.

    *Dorset, particularly Lyme Regis, Weymouth and Chesil Beach, all fab for kids. Lots of fossil-hunting for your oldest and if you get lucky with the weather, perfect.

    *If you can stretch to it, an all inclusive with kids' clubs would be fab. That way you all get a break! I'd also recommend Sardinia and Sicily.

  5. says

    Jojo, I'll have a look at Santorini. And we're already North East converts – had a fab break in Northumberland last year.

    FFA, The house swap idea is great, I've even written a feature about it. I just think our house is too messy and cluttered for anyone to want to come here.

    Debbie, I'll have a look at Brittany. A long journey isn't too bad if there's fun to be had. We took the train to see Laura last year and it was fine.

    Kim, Would love Disney although the flight might be a bit much for smallest boy – I'll go and see how good those offers are.

    Liz, Stockholm sounds fab, but isn't it fantastically expensive?

  6. says

    If you fancy an all-inclusive in the Med then go to the West rather than the East as, if you're having to go in the school summer hols, it will be too hot. We are choosing Portugal this year – the Western tip of the Algarve – where the breeze will keep things cool (in fact it could well be really windy, never mind a breeze!).

    For an off-the-wall idea, a holiday in Iceland may tick some of the boxes. We travelled when Rory was 11 with a company called Discover the World. They had a special family fly-drive with lots of child-friendly activities en route. Iceland will be much cheaper now than when we were there, is not too far on the plane, very quiet on the roads and people are very welcoming. On the minus side, there may not be too many food alternatives for your son in some of the hotels and being in the car moving from place to place can be tiring.

  7. says

    I really fancy a summer trip to Austria – have you seen those lakes and mountains brochures? Somewhere like Zell am See has outdoor pools and water sports as well as lake swimming. Loads of outdoor stuff to do.Most accommodation is half board, and some of the hotels include packed lunches.

  8. says

    I've been mulling this over since I commented earlier.

    In hindsight Iceland may well be a bit much as a two-week fly drive but I loved the country so much it's still worth having a peep at what's available.
    Still keen on Portugal – very child friendly and apparently the cheapest country in the Eurozone for 2011.

    Kath's idea of lakes and mountains is a good one. We adored Lake Garda, stayed in Bardolino in an aparthotel (best of both worlds?) and, being Italy, the food is just perfect for children.

    Right, I won't pester you again but if you want any names of these places just let me know!

  9. says

    Trish, Thanks. I'll have a look at Iceland, there used to be direct flights from Glasgow.
    It's not a pester in the slightest. These ideas are fantastic and super-helpful.

    Kath, I've come across Kinderhotels. They might be a way of visiting Austria.

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