Cinderella to Paddington: the top 10 kids’ film locations

Once upon a time, you’d never have known where your favourite movie or TV series was shot. But over the last decade or so, travelling to film locations and taking special tie-in tours have become more and more popular.

Of course plenty are on a sound stage in Elstree, Hollywood or Vancouver, but there’s more than a few you can visit without even leaving the UK.

Action!

And while Game of Thrones might have been in the spotlight for its fantastic locations (Iceland, Dubrovnik, Seville, Belfast), not to mention Wolf Hall and Downton Abbey plus Doctor Who in Cardiff, it’s easy to take your kids to the site of some of their favourite films as well. Continue reading

15 things to do on the Isle of Wight with kids

For a relatively small island, the trickiest part about a family holiday to the Isle of Wight is how to fit everything in – as I discovered when it came to planning a long weekend break with a toddler.

From beaches when the sun is shining to some great options for children on a rainy day, there’s also plenty for different budgets and ages and for different times of year. It is worth checking opening hours for some attractions during the winter months, as some are closed except at holidays and half-term.

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For more suggestions, including some tips on walking, bike hire, ice creams and day itineraries, visit visitisleofwight.co.uk but here are my 15 top things for families on the Isle of Wight. Continue reading

Family day out: Warwick Castle – unlocked and with a toddler

I never thought I’d be using Frozen to broaden my daughter’s vocabulary. When I announced to Minnie that we would be visiting a castle at the weekend, it occurred to me that she wouldn’t actually remember going to one before.

‘Do you know what a castle is,’ I asked? ‘Yes,’ replied my two-and-a-half-year-old brightly. ‘It’s a banana.’ After a few minutes vainly trying to help her imagine a house made of stone, inspiration struck – ‘Elsa lives in one’.

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Suddenly it all became clear. And the discovery that she could also dress up as a princess at Warwick Castle made her almost implode with excitement. 31 months and Disney already has the upper hand.
Continue reading

Why family holidays could be cheaper in 2016

Taking kids out of school during term time for holidays is one of those controversial debates which has been rumbling away for some time, especially since rules were changed in 2013.

But one thing is sure. With more than 60,000 families fined by councils for kids missing school without approval and 24,000 children skipping school every day to go on family holidays, around three-quarters without permission, it’s not working.

Who wants to go on holiday?

Who wants to go on holiday?

Finally it looks like things are going to change. Headteachers have been given the power to change term dates and more than 70% are planning to do just that, while more than 60% will consider doing it to allow families to enjoy more affordable holidays.

Continue reading

Thursday Travel Treat: Lebanon

Lebanon’s terrible civil war ended almost 25 years ago, but when you think of the country, it can be hard to forget the images plastered across the news of my childhood.

Unsurprisingly, the reality is rather different. Although Beirut still bears some scars, when I visited this gorgeous country in 2011, I found a buzzing capital as well as centuries of history to discover. The perfect unexpected Thursday Travel Treat on Instagram.

wpid-img_20150212_102414.jpgFrom the incredible ruins and temples of Baalbeck, ancient Heliopolis, to the vineyards of the Beqaa valley and one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities at Byblos, we could have spent far longer exploring.

And that’s before you even begin to discover Beirut, its fantastic museum, the mix of cultures, historic twisting streets with their potholes and lack of signposts, the glitzy bars and restaurants, the glam designer malls, boutiques and art scene.

Time instead to remember its earlier reputation, as the Paris of the Middle East.

I love it when anyone joins in with the #thursdaytraveltreat hashtag on Instagram – add your own travel-related photos to cheer up February and I’ll share, or link below.