Family day trip to Southend

When I was a child I loved the seaside, its sea breeze, fish and chips, penny arcades and ice cream. It didn’t take a lot to keep me happy, I didn’t need it to be glamorous or warm and sunny- I just loved the atmosphere. I spent the youngest part of my childhood in Hackney in London and, because my mum worked, spent the summer holidays with my Aunty near Southend (in Rayleigh). I have really happy memories of this time: we spent time on the farm harvesting and looking after the pigs, and some days  we visited Southend.

On a trip down memory lane, I decided to pop to Southend for the afternoon with my daughter (25) and son (6). The weather wasn’t great but it didn’t matter, we had so much fun and,before we knew it, it was time to leave…

adventure island

 Adventure Island

We hit the adventure golf here but there really is something for everyone: roller coaster, swings, crooked house, Flying Jumbos, Helter Skelter, Jungle Express, Kiddi-Koasta (roller coaster for the littlies!) and more. Trip Advisor reviews are great too!

After building up an appetite we headed for fish and chips, of course! We went to Clarks Fish and Chip Shop opposite Adventure Island. If I had read the Trip Advisor reviews beforehand I would have avoided it like the plague but actually the lady who served us was lovely, the dining area itself clean and comfortable and the fish and chips went down well for all three of us so we would go back.

chip shop

Then we headed for the arcades, sooooo much fun!

2p slot machine is a must and stick with it you might get lucky and win a prize, we won three!

Freddie beat Tas at the racing car game oops!

I beat Freddie at Mario Kart – double oops!

There is a fab water fountain feature that I think would be fun on a sunny day, was a little too cold today…

fountains

But never too cold for an ice cream!

Southend provided a fun family day out, and the fact we live in landlocked Hertfordshire, it makes a good place to visit to see the sea for a drive in under an hour. We will be back.

http://www.visitsouthend.co.uk/

Brittany… why is it a good place for a family holiday?

Brittany map © Gwendal Le Mouel

Brittany map © Gwendal Le Mouel

Wonder what there is to do in Brittany and why so many young families visit year after year? Maybe it is its close proximity to the UK making it accessible with limited travel time, by car, boat, plane or train, or its history, culture and beaches. Here is an overview of what Brittany has to offer…

Sitting on the Northwest peninsular of mainland Europe, is the picturesque French province of Brittany. With a complex and jagged coast, Brittany is not only attractive to tourists; forty per cent of Brittany’s population live on the coast. And what a coast. With an astounding 1700 miles of coastline and countless beaches, Brittany is a haven for holiday makers.

But it’s so much more than that. It is rich with history; once upon a time, Brittany was a Celtic Duchy, The inhabitants still use its Celtic language, Breton and it was also known as ‘Petite Bretagne’ – Little Britain (and that’s nothing at all to do with the sketch show). It had close ties to the isles across the channel and is a place drenched in tradition. 

With a mild climate, Brittany is the perfect destination for families with young children – it’s family friendly beaches are in abundance it tends not to get too hot in summer and hardly ever snows. The province only shuts down for a few of months a year (December to Mid-February) so the season gets put on hold rather than ending.  While the beaches are alluring, there is a sheer abundance of things to do and see in Brittany, that you could go when the weather is cooler and still never have a dull moment.

Brittany’s diverse landscape means that if you venture west you will find forests to explore rather than sand grains. 

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Ocean Opolis

Brittany homes many parks and gardens to explore at your leisure, art galleries to lose yourself in and for any animal lovers, travel west to find Brest’s educational aquarium, Ocean Opolis along with many zoos.

For the more adventurous holiday goers, there is a wide range of activities, from water parks and theme parks to sailing trips and canoeing along Brittany’s canals. Or perhaps you may like to visit Cite de la Voile in southerly Lorient – an interactive sailing museum.

Museede Bretagne

Museede Bretagne

On top of that there are plenty of outlets to educate you and broaden your knowledge. Want to learn all about Brittany itself? Why not visit Museede Bretagne in the east where they have lots going on for young children from stories with characters who live in the walls to puzzles and exploring. Or explore Brittany’s castles, which are dotted all over, still standing from its time as a Duchy, and let the childern let of steam and play at brave Knights and Princesses. Or if science is more your toddlers cup of tea, journey north and visit the Planetarium de Bretagne one of the largest in Europe – and dally among the stars. There really is an incredible amount to see and do.


Whatever you decide to do on your trip, ensure you make time to sample a pancake or two. Savoury pancakes, known as Galettes de Sarrasin (buckwheat pancakes), or sweet pancakes, Crêpes de Froment (wheat flour pancakes) are a Brittany speciality and must be tasted. There are pancake houses you can visit and try a galette for your main; with anything from a simple ham and cheese filling to something more special, followed by a sweet crepe for your desert. Wash them down with a Breton cider for a true Petite Bretagne experience.

Costa Calida our family holiday. Best bits…

If you have read our previous blogs on our family holiday to Murcia and the Costa Calida region of Spain then you have already heard about the child friendly holiday villa we stayed in and a little about our initial journey. We spent a week in October in this lovely region of Spain with the family who range in age from 4 to 48, the weather was fabulous and so was the company.

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Here are a few places we visited while we were on holiday.

L’Airemar restaurant

If you are staying at the El Valle golf resort there is a fabulous restaurant, L’Airemar, within a few minutes drive. Don’t be put off by its exterior (it has a motorway cafe resemblance) as inside it offers the most amazing Spanish food! It is a shop/restaurant combined and offers tasty fresh meat, vegetables and cheeses to eat in the restaurant or buy and cook on the BBQ and is a must!

chhese meat

Murcia

Murcia itself is a wonderful town with so much history. The cathedral is beautiful, when we were there the locals were marching through the street accompanied by some dramatic drummers we think they were celebrating St Mary of Murcia, the buildings really amplified the sound. We finished in the lovely Plaza de Las Flores where we had Tapas and watched the world go by…

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Cartagena

We had a lovely day out in the historical town of Cartagena. There are lots of things to do here, shop, visit the Roman theatre, take an open top bus tour or boat ride around the coast. We hopped on the ‘Ole’ a Catamaran trip that was perfect for our four year old. It lasted just 45 minutes around the coastline he loved it! Under 5s go free too!

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Catamaran boat trip

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Statue at the port in Cartegena

Lo Pagan/San Pedro Del Pinatar

There are plenty of great beaches in the region and we visited Lo Pagan/San Pedro Del Pinatar. This beach is located in the Mar Menor (Little Sea) the largest salt water lagoon in Europe. Here the waters are beautifully clear and shallow, and the sand perfect for sand castles so ideal for toddlers and young children. We were told that there were mud baths, walkways to the sea and Flamingos. We actually didn’t see any but think we may have been in the wrong place!

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Cabo De Palos

If you are looking for a traditional Spanish Sunday market visit Cabo De Palos. Here you will be able to pick up some fresh fruit, veg and local fish as well as lots of clothes, toys and general market products. Locals and tourists travel from far and wide to this market which is held on Sunday mornings and there is also a lovely marina to have a spot of lunch after shopping.

Carroscoy Nature reserve

Just 15 minutes from the El Valle is the Carroscoy Nature reserve. Take a walk through the beautiful mountain paths, visit the museum of light or animal sanctuary or just sit and have a coffee while the kids play in the park. If you fancy a spot of lunch why not join the local families cooking up a feast on one of the concrete BBQs.

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For more ideas of what to do in the Costa Calida with the family on holiday take a look at our family friendly guide to the Costa Calida.

Child-friendly holiday accommodation

There are some lovely places to stay in the Costa Calida region here are two we have seen.

El Valle

If staying in a villa at the El Valle, the clubhouse, gold course and swimming pools are great for all ages. Our four year old loved riding the golf buggies! The villa we stayed in has a private pool which is fully fenced so you van really relax with toddlers and crawlers!

Mar Menor

While there I also visited a two bedroom villa in the Mar Menor golf resort. The villa is perfect for a small family, it has two bedrooms, en-suite and second bathroom, a fully enclosed lawned garden and only a couple of minutes walk from the swimming pools and restaurants.