Bikes, canoes and horses: Getting active in the New Forest

Every time I visit the New Forest, I wonder why I don’t holiday there more often. It’s only about 90 minutes from my home, it’s beautiful and you get animals wandering the streets.

I grew up and lived my life in cities, so I don’t think I will ever get over the excitement of seeing ponies/donkeys/cows trotting along unconcerned. As it turns out, Minnie feels pretty much the same way.

new-forest-pony-toddlerWe spent a long weekend staying just outside the lovely village of Brockenhurst in a great cottage booked through New Forest Cottages (review to come), exploring by bike, canoe and horse and carriage. Continue reading

Family day out – Palmitos Park zoo, Gran Canaria

Looking back on everything we packed into our week in Gran Canaria, I can’t quite believe how much we explored in seven days – but all good things come to an end alas.

We still managed to go out on a high note with a visit to Palmitos Park zoo and dolphinarium, a short drive from our villa – meeting meerkats and monkeys, seeing a parrot show, dodging a peacock and warily watching a crocoile among others.

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With joint tickets for Aqualand, it’s definitely worth considering both if you’re visiting one, although each is worth at least a half day on its own.

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Honey rum in Arucas, Gran Canaria

It’s the Caribbean which has the reputation for rum, not the Canary Islands. But sugar cane has been cultivated on Gran Canaria for over five centuries, long before Columbus took a farewell gift of seedlings to Hispaniola in 1493 after a stop en route to the New World.

And Destilerías Arehucas, Europe’s largest and oldest rum distillery, is still churning out the bottles – so purely to investigate the island’s culture and history further (nothing to do with the free tastings they offer, obviously), we planned a day trip to its home in Arucas, in the north of the island.

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The short free tour of the distillery has tempted more famous names than me, from Tom Jones to Spanish royalty whose signatures decorate the 200 litre oak casks in the first of the six bodegas. Continue reading

Boat trip to Puerto de Mogan, Gran Canaria

Boat trips with a toddler always seem a bit risky to me – if she gets bored/hungry/upset, you can find yourself trapped. And small boats without a toilet are even riskier…

But I do love cruising along in the sunshine, the sun glinting off the waves. So while I ditched any thought of dolphin or whale watching cruises in Gran Canaria, I loved the sound of the Lineas Bluebird water taxi which runs along the south coast – little glass-bottomed boats which act as ferries hopping between four different spots.

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One of which is Puerto de Mogan, dubbed the Venice of the Canaries or Little Venice. Frankly, I’m not quite sure why, but it is one of the loveliest spots on the island, all bright bougainvillea, yachts bobbing on the marina, blue sea, beach and cobbled streets. Continue reading

Cave restaurants and car heaven – Gran Canaria’s mountains

It’s the beaches which get all the attention in Gran Canaria. Not surprising really, most people are there for the sunshine and those endless stretches of golden sand.

Even the main motorway whisks you around the coast, from the airport to Las Palmas in the north or south to Maspalomas and the seaside resorts. But venture into the mountains and you find a completely different side to Gran Canaria, one of twisting roads through stunning sheer gorges, valleys where people still live in caves.

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And while there’s nothing about a long drive or having lunch in a cave that’s obviously toddler-friendly, it was one of my favourite parts of our visit.
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