Travel tales

We’re just back from a short break on the Isle of Wight, off the UK south coast. The British heatwave gave us the opportunity to spend some sun-filled time together; on the beach, splashing in the pool, and enjoying breakfasts outdoors, on the veranda of our safari tent.

Isle of Wight

St Helen’s Bay, Isle of Wight

We had fun on the Isle of Wight, but we’re still working out what our little family likes to do best on holiday. I’m sure it’ll change as the years go by, but the great thing about holidays is that every break spent together – whether it’s camping in a muddy field in Devon, or taking a vacation in the Maldives – is a vibrant stitch in the tapestry of family history.

Our perfect holiday might resemble a children’s storybook.

1. Little House on the Prairie

Travelling with young children can be stressful, so it’s important that our holiday accommodation feels like a home from home. In Laura Ingalls Wilder’s classic series of books set in 19th Century America, the Ingalls family roamed across America, making a cosy dwelling wherever they went. Just like the Ingalls, wherever we roam, we need to find a homely, comfortable, safe, and pleasant place to spend some family downtime.


No place like home: on our London doorstep, Summer 2013

2. The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Fooooood! A holiday’s success or failure often depends on the quality of the grub. Like Eric Carle’s caterpillar, when I’m away I like to eat….and eat….and eat. All sorts of weird and wonderful things; whatever the locals like to put on their plates.

On my first ski trip with D, I bought a selection of dried sausages to sample in our self-catering chalet. To my horror, as my A-level French came back to me I realised what ‘saucisson d’ane’ meant. Donkey sausage! Aargh! It didn’t taste that good, either…..

donkey sausage

Yes, it DOES say ‘you eat donkey sausage’. I have some very rude friends.

Apart from donkey sausage, in the evenings D and I did nothing but gorge on cheese-based dishes (raclette and fondue…yum!). But we both came home half a stone lighter. All that fresh air and skiing had burned off the evening’s calories; like the hungry caterpillar, who eats loads but then emerges as a beautiful butterfly at the end of the tale, we’d returned as happier, healthier, glowing versions of ourselves.

Plus, as well as losing weight we’d managed to consume a mountain’s-worth of delicious foodstuffs. Now that’s the kind of diet I like….

3. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

We live in central south London; as someone who grew up in deepest Welsh countryside, I sometimes pine for wilderness. So, on our holidays, we like to travel to places where the scenery is eyecatching, and the majesty and mystery of nature is all around. Just like in CS Lewis’s classic adventure stories.


The beautiful French alps, where D and I holidayed pre-children

4. Peter Pan

Gwen dreaming of snowflakes....

Gwen, dreaming of snowflakes….

At three years old, Gwen is the youngest of the family. Both she and Austin are playful little souls; they love splashing in a swimming pool; and, of course, jumping around with them brings out the child in me and D.

Mark Warner Levante Resort

Just a couple of girls, having some fun….

JM Barrie’s Peter Pan is the boy who never grew up; and the best holidays are ones where all of us can let go and fool around like big kids. In the snow, sea, water, sand….just wherever there’s fun to be had.

5. Green Eggs and Ham

D has a fear of heights, but he pushed himself to try paraskiing when we were on our last ski trip before children. And – like Dr Seuss’s character, who thinks he won’t like green eggs and ham, but decides to give it a whirl, and loves it – once he’d got past his fear, the paraski was one of the best things D has tried.

D paraskiing the Alps

D paraskiing the Alps

6. Swallows and Amazons

Austin is the big adventurer in our family. No physical challenge is too great for this little five-year-old.


Ready to explore the Flanders countryside on our Belgian cycling holiday, 2011

And, like Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons, he’s happiest when learning new skills and having adventures in a gang of other intrepid explorers.


Austin on the rugby pitch

What do you look for in a holiday?



  • Mums do travel
    July 13, 2015 at 9:04 pm

    I love the way that you’ve woven classic children’s books in to this post Nell. Thanks for linking to my travel with teens post x

    • Nell
      July 14, 2015 at 7:01 pm

      It’s a pleasure. I did have fun with this post!

  • susanna
    July 15, 2015 at 6:01 am

    We love the Isle of Wight – it’s one of my favourite places to visit in the UK. xx

    • Nell
      July 15, 2015 at 10:01 am

      This was our first time, and it was a very brief visit, so we need to go back some day. There’s plenty of inspiration in your own fab post about the island!

  • VaiChin @RamblingThroughParenthood
    July 18, 2015 at 8:01 pm

    A very interesting take on the ‘colour’ theme 🙂


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