It’s 6pm and the warm evening sunshine glimmers on the gentle water.   My four wetsuit-clad kids laze on top of surf boards, casually chatting about the best wickets they’ve taken this season or their current playlist.

But as the familiar rumble starts up, they swing into action, paddling calmly then with greater urgency as the wave surges up behind them, tossing a couple of them underneath in its wake and propelling the other two to shore.

I hope I don’t sound like a harsh parent when I say I’m unconcerned about any stragglers being knocked unconscious and dragged out to sea by unpredictable currents.  Because this is not the sea…my precious offspring are having a surfing lesson in the world’s first inland surfing lagoon.  And it’s right here in the UK.

North Wales is cleverly carving itself out to be a leading light in the tourism world, with superlative after superlative flying out of the activity lists.  The world’s highest or longest, Europe’s first or fastest…it’s all here in what was once sleepy Snowdonia.

The mountain steam trains and cavern tours are still around but nowadays thrill seekers arrive in flocks to zip across the landscape in every way possible and to bounce, plummet and swing their socks off. And now it seems, to surf in safety too.

Continue reading “SIX GO MAD IN…SNOWDONIA”


Think of CBBC’s hilarious Total Wipeout adventure game show and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what Surf Snowdonia’s Crash and Splash is all about.

It’s a mini assault course set over water and virtually guaranteed to have you making waves of your own.  Rosie and Max were too young to try it out but instead watched in giggles as Harvey and Max slipped and skidded their way over a slippery pole, traversed rope bridges and giant spinning balls and swung through monkey bars…but not without several dunkings.

The grand finale is the best bit…. ‘the blob’ is a 33ft long floating air-filled pillow which one or two people jump onto from a platform, sending the person crouching at the other end flying up then crashing into the water.

According to Surf Snowdonia’s website, it’s the ‘most fun way’ you’ll ever be thrown into water.  It was…particularly for those viewing it from dry land.

The Crash and Splash course is part of the terrific inland lagoon at Surf Snowdonia where you can learn to ride the waves like a pro.

Find  out here how we got on when we tried out a lesson.



CROWDS are descending on Aintree today for the annual Grand National…but a trip to Liverpool is always worth taking a punt on.

I was born in Liverpool and brought up among the annual furore the steeplechase let loose on the city.  As you can imagine, I know – and love – the city rather well. It’s a fabulous, family-friendly place to visit. If today’s Grand National has whet your appetite why not check out here what you and the kids can get up to there.



Over the past few years the Liverpool’s historic waterfront has undergone a dramatic makeover to become a one-stop paradise for culture lovers, foodies and families alike.
But it wasn’t always like that. Liverpool was once a thriving port handling nearly half of the world’s trade. When trade dried up, the docks fell derelict and the city suffered hugely.
I grew up near there – Scousers nicknamed those living in the surrounding countryside like me ‘Woolybacks’ – and remember the sadness of seeing shops boarded up, streets deserted and buildings falling to ruin.  But a huge regeneration project has transformed the old docks into an eye-catching and dynamic hub, rebranded as Liverpool Waterfront.Grand state-of-the-art buildings such as the Museum of Liverpool stand side-by-side with traditional landmarks like the Grade 1 listed Royal Liver Building, its two iconic Liver Birds perched on top casting a protective eye over everyone.
Old warehouses like the red brick Albert Dock have been tastefully converted into classy restaurants, shops, bars, galleries and museums. You can still catch a ferry across the Mersey – immortalised in the Gerry and the Pacemakers song – but you can also savour the sights from 60 metres up on the Wheel Of Liverpool.  And if shopping’s your bag you can drop into nearby Liverpool One, a huge open-air network of high street and one-off stores.

Continue reading “SIX GO MAD IN…LIVERPOOL”


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Blogger Fiona and two of her children meet the real Santa on a dream family holiday to Lapland

‘Hello Freddie, hello Rosie,’ said the plump, bespectacled stranger as he clasped his mittened hands together.  My two children gasped, their hands shooting up in unison to cover their open mouths.  ‘How do you know my name?’ whispered nine-year-old Rosie.

More gasps followed as ‘plump, bespectacled stranger’ pulled out the Christmas letters Rosie and her brother Freddie, six, had written to Santa and sent off to Lapland just a couple of weeks’ earlier.

‘So, you like dancing do you Rosie?’ he asked before reading out a few must-haves they’d listed – Frozen dolls for her (yes, the ones that were sold out everywhere), a tablet for him. ‘Have you been kind to your parents all year?’ he added, peering over his little round metal-rimmed glasses. Continue reading “SIX GO MAD IN…LAPLAND”