Tour de…..Belgium? Our scenic cycling holiday


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.


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.


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.


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


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).


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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  1. July 12, 2014 / 9:57 am

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

  2. July 12, 2014 / 7:00 pm

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

  3. July 12, 2014 / 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

  4. July 12, 2014 / 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?

    • July 13, 2014 / 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).

  5. July 12, 2014 / 8:35 pm

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

  6. July 12, 2014 / 10:25 pm

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

  7. July 13, 2014 / 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!

    • July 13, 2014 / 5:24 pm

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

  8. July 13, 2014 / 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

  9. July 13, 2014 / 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.

  10. July 13, 2014 / 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?

  11. July 14, 2014 / 7:58 am

    wow that looks like a great holiday!

  12. July 14, 2014 / 12:17 pm

    That cycling adventure looks amazing. Good luck in the competition

  13. July 14, 2014 / 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.

  14. June 18, 2015 / 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.

  15. June 19, 2015 / 1:09 pm

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

  16. June 23, 2015 / 4:36 pm

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

    • June 24, 2015 / 6:00 pm

      Me too! 🙂

  17. July 4, 2015 / 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.

    • July 4, 2015 / 6:56 pm

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

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