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We’ve had snow this week and half term is looming.  February is always a funny one, isn’t it?   Unless you’re heading off abroad for winter sun, you know it’s likely to be cold, wet, windy or wintery – possibly all four – and it’s difficult to know where to go.  I think it’s helpful to apply my favourite motto:  Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

With that in mind, we drove up to Yorkshire this time last year to visit Harrogate, the quaint spa town that had been voted the UK’s happiest place to live in three out of the four previous years.  Despite  the temperature hovering in single figures, we thoroughly enjoyed blissful cycling, mooching through parkland…and plunging into a near-Baltic ravine.

Read on here to find out Yorkshire is a great place to visit whatever the weather.


It’s the tallest and fastest city zip wire in the world….and means visitors can now experience London as they’ve never experienced it before.

Our capital city has just opened a brand new zip line that allows you to soar through the sky against the magnificent backdrop of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, the London Eye and the Shard.

The line is a staggering 35 metres tall – the height of eight double decker buses – and stretches for 225 metres across pretty Archbishop’s Park next to Lambeth Palace on the Southbank, parallel with the Thames.




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The Tour de France kicks off today.  But it’s a bike race much closer that home that really thrills me.  I love the hugely popular Tour de Yorkshire, a legacy of when the county hosted the Grand Depart of the Tour de France in 2014.

Yorkshire enjoyed it so much – and has such wonderful countryside to cycle around – that they pledged to continue their own mini version.  This year’s ended its second leg in the beautiful spa town of Harrogate, where we spent a glorious few days earlier this year.

It may be famous for tea – it’s home to Yorkshire Tea and Taylors of Harrogate – and delicious toffee but there’s so much more to it too.  Have a look here to find out more.


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IT may be most famous for tea and toffee, but by ‘eck there’s so much more to the elegant Yorkshire spa town of Harrogate.

Harrogate is teaming with quaint cafes, trendy bars, picture postcard pubs, imposing Georgian and Victorian architecture, swanky boutiques, olde worlde shops…and acres upon acres of green and pleasant land.

It’s easy to see why locals have named it the happiest town to live in three out of the last four years, citing its open spaces, culture, friendliness, safety and recreation as key.  And those factors all help make it the perfect place to take the kids for a few days.

We kicked off our trip there with an amble around Harrogate’s buzzing shops. If you’re after sweets by the quarter, handmade handbags, local designers, unique art or interior design inspiration – or a store that sells over 12,000 different buttons – you’re made but you won’t miss out on high street favourites either.

It all feels wonderfully old fashioned but the real attraction is the sheer space.  We lapped up the slower pace with a stroll around The Stray, 200 acres of open parkland right in the hub of the town and popular for picnics, dog walking, kite-flying and ball games. Continue reading “SIX GO MAD IN…HARROGATE”


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.




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”