I can’t imagine anywhere in the world being able to offer more as a travel destination than our homeland in the UK.
Within 60 miles of the town where we live in the East Midlands there’s more to see and do than life allows and much of it well away from any well-trodden tourist trail.
There are woods to run, jump and play in (Bourne / Boston Woods), bustling and unspoiled beaches (Skegness / Holkham), all manner of public parks from the manicured to the natural (Ayscoughfee Gardens / Whisby), cities and towns packed with history and awe-inspiring architecture (Lincoln / Stamford) and so many museums (Peterborough Museum / The Collection).
This really is just the beginning of the list of places I love on my own doorstep. And all of them free to visit.
As a family, we thrive on exploring further afield too and have an ever-growing list of favourite spots including North Norfolk, Devon and Cornwall.
So when we began planning a family gap year, we immediately hoped to kick off by spending some time touring the UK. Initially there was a dream of motor-homing around the entire coastline. Then we totted up how much that was going to cost and realised it was an ambition that would have to wait for another day, perhaps as an adventure in later life or failing that we’ll hope to see more in further day trips, weekends and weeks away.
But we didn’t want to let the idea go entirely and started thinking a little more laterally. We began wondering if there were organisations out there that shared our values and might be able to make use of our time in exchange for enabling us a little taste of the UK exploration we craved.
That’s when we found Real Family Holidays and felt it was the perfect fit.
An arm of the charity Field Studies Council, Real Family Holidays say: “Our family holidays offer you the chance to escape the pressures of modern life and get outdoors with the kids, taking in nature’s sights, sounds and smells and above all else, have fun!
“If you like the idea of camping but are put off by the practicalities, or would love to try new activities but don’t know where to start, we can help.
“At our centres, in some of the UK’s most stunning locations, you can enjoy a holiday with a difference, mixing a fantastic choice of exciting activities with plenty of time to do your own thing. With full board, comfortable accommodation, outdoor activities and expert staff on hand to help you get the most from your break, you’re guaranteed an affordable family holiday full of fun and memorable experiences.”
Nigel and I both have treasured and vibrant memories of school activity trips, spending the days outdoors and tasting adventure. Real Family Holidays make use of the very centres, some of them National Trust buildings, that, in term time, host similar school trips. It makes them available for families to enjoy together in school holidays at a cost of £30pp per night, inclusive of all meals and a free activity every day. Just a taster of some of the activities on offer are orienteering, bat watching, team challenges, surviving in the wild, learning how to light a fire without matches. None of the activities are compulsory and they only account for an hour or two of any day. That leaves the rest of the time to explore the local areas. With centres based in locations such as Devon, Pembrokeshire and the Yorkshire Dales, that’s a pretty attractive offer.
We haven’t experienced even one day with Real Family Holidays yet, but we really cannot wait to. Over the summer we’ll spend six weeks moving around some of its locations, documenting what we see and do. I’m expecting those weeks to be as wonderful and memorable as anything else that may lay ahead on our round-the-world trip.
Real Family Holidays is offering 10 per cent off at the moment on the Pembrokeshire trips, just put pembs10 in the voucher code box at checkout at www.real-family-holidays.org