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Tour de…..Belgium? Our scenic cycling holiday

cycling

Summer 2014. It’s been a time of Wimbledon tennis, World Cup soccer and a Tour de France which set off to rapturous applause in Yorkshire.

It’s set me thinking: what sort of sports do we, as a family, do together?

My first thought was: we love to get on our bikes, and pedal off into the countryside. Ooh yes, our family is a gang of cyclists.

Back in 2011, when Austin hadn’t yet turned two, and Gwen was still a merry twinkle, we took a beautiful cycling holiday in northern Belgium.

Zuienkerkecrop

We stayed in a pretty cottage on a farm near Bruges, complete with chickens, cows, and a battered ping-pong table to entertain ourselves with in the evenings.

bikegrincrop

Austin could barely contain his excitement at the prospect of pedalling around the Flemish cycle tracks.

Bruges cycling holiday

We passed some afternoons bouncing through the cobbled streets of Bruges, and coasting past windmills.

forestcrop

But the finest were the days we spent on pretty, tree-lined paths that sang with the calls of birds.

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At afternoon nap time, Austin would fall asleep on the back of D’s bike. He was so zonked from all the fresh air that we were able to lay him down in a wooded glade while we consulted the map (and enjoyed a leisurely sandwich lunch).

mapperusalcrop

It was impossibly peaceful. Once, to our delight, a wild rabbit even hopped out of its hiding place, to check out the owners of those strange English accents.

rabbitsleepcrop

But this all happened a long time ago. Trying to think of a physical activity that we all do together – right now, with our four- and two-year-old – was a trickier challenge that you might imagine.

rugby

D used to represent his county at rugby, and he takes Austin to play every Saturday morning. I, on the other hand, know nothing about the sport except that it can cause jamon-chunky thighs and a severe case of cauliflower ear.

So, no all-family action there.

D and I love to ski. We got together shortly after our first trip on the piste with each other. But our two children won’t be ready to don their mini-skis until next season, at the very earliest.

Otfordwalkcrop

We enjoy a good ramble across hills, dales and forests. But this picture was taken on my birthday all of three years ago, when we gathered a gang of friends for a walk near Otford in Kent. Now that Austin and Gwen have outgrown their backpacks, and aren’t yet old enough to walk further than the local park, our walking trips have literally been cut short.

swimming

The closest we get to an all-family activity session is our weekly trips to the swimming pool. Austin bobs around for half an hour in a lesson with other pre-schoolers, while I dash into the other end of the pool with an armband-clad Gwen. Sadly, though, the Daddy D has to stay put in his office during all this splishy-splashy fun.

So between us all, we enjoy a fair amount of sporty activity. But, at the moment, it’s rarely together, as a foursome. I’ve decided that we’re in the tweenage years: at two and four, our children are too large to be carried around in slings and carriers. And they’re not quite old enough yet to keep up the pace set by bigger boys and girls.

But give us a few months, then Austin will have learnt to pedal his own bike, and Gwen should still be just about small enough to pop onto the back of Mum or Dad’s cycle.

Then, you’re likely to find us heading back to the Flemish flatlands, to resume our Tour de Belgium.

Active fun for all the family. We can’t wait.

23 Comments

  • you baby me mummy
    July 12, 2014 at 9:57 am

    This looks like a fantastic break. I adore the picture with the rabbit x

    Reply
  • Nayna Kanabar (@SIMPLYF00D)
    July 12, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    What a lovely scenic holiday with lots of fresh air.

    Reply
  • Helen Dickinson
    July 12, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    It looks like you had a wonderful time. Looks like you saw many beautiful sites.

    Reply
  • Lori
    July 12, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    You’re making me feel very un-active lol! I really do need to try and do more activities with F, I think swimming would be a good one. Good luck in the comp x

    Reply
  • Jenny
    July 12, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    You sound VERY active compared to us.

    I love the sound of the cycling holiday in Belgium. Did you arrange it yourself?

    Reply
    • Nell
      July 13, 2014 at 5:39 pm

      Yes, we did – we found the cottage after an internet trawl of places to stay, and although it was a little tricky to get to, the farmer was very helpful (he even picked us up from the bus stop near his village).

      Reply
  • Hannah Staveley
    July 12, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    What a fantastic holiday , looks like you all had a good time .

    Reply
  • julie
    July 12, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    Oh wow, looks like a fab break! I couldn’t help but keep looking at the second picture and smiling! 🙂

    Reply
  • Jo Bryan
    July 13, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    Its a difficult period waiting for them to be big enough to do some of the activities. Often we walked 10km once a month for a W/W walking charity with three year olds. It was a fast or slow pace depending on ability, little legs meant usually slow, but occasionally they raced ahead, anxious to get to the big breakfast at the finish. Lots of whining did occur on occasion, but map reading, stopping to check out views was also a highlight and they mostly loved it!

    Reply
    • Nell
      July 13, 2014 at 5:24 pm

      That’s encouraging – hopefully it won’t be long before we can do something similar with Gwen.

      Reply
  • Jen aka The Mad House
    July 13, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    Oh that cycling holiday looks bliss. It is walking for uis. I really much get my bike out of the garage though

    Reply
  • Bek
    July 13, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    It’s great to keep active, especially in such beautiful surroundings. It looks like you all had a lovely time. Love the photos of your cute little one, fast asleep.

    Reply
  • Cass@frugalfamily
    July 13, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    That cycling holiday looks idyllic although possibly to much activity for me 😉

    Holidays change so much when you have children don’t they?

    Reply
  • Polly
    July 14, 2014 at 7:58 am

    wow that looks like a great holiday!

    Reply
  • Kara
    July 14, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    That cycling adventure looks amazing. Good luck in the competition

    Reply
  • Vaichin @ Rambling Through Parenthood
    July 14, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    Aww, he looks so cute napping in the grass like that. I know what you mean about rambling to the local park. That is about as far as we get nowadays! The poor walking boots are in hibernation for now.

    Reply
  • Nikki Thomas
    June 18, 2015 at 8:37 pm

    That sounds like bliss. I remember doing a lot of cycling on a holiday in France when the teen was younger and I loved seeing him in his little bike seat. They are surprisingly heavy though? I love those photos, especially the family photo, you all look so happy.

    Reply
  • chickenruby
    June 19, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    wow what a fab holiday and so much freedom, love the photo of your son having a nap in the grass

    Reply
  • Cerys
    June 23, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    Looks like a fabulous holiday – gorgeous picture of your little one having a nap I wish that mine still did that!

    Reply
    • Nell
      June 24, 2015 at 6:00 pm

      Me too! 🙂

      Reply
  • Mari
    July 4, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    I had a wonderful long weekend in Belgium a few years back , we stayed in Antwerpen which is a stunning and diverse city. This is a fabulous post and the photo of the sleeping babe is just gorgeous.
    Thanks so much fro linking up to Time Traveller, I hope you get back there some day soon.

    Reply
    • Nell
      July 4, 2015 at 6:56 pm

      I love Antwerp too! Those cobbled streets really do it for me.

      Reply

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