Europe, Travel features

All families have their little luxuries – something that brings them together as a unit and makes working nine to five worth it. For my family of five, it is getting away from it all, heading out into the countryside, breathing in the fresh air, exploring forests, caves, places of natural beauty and settling into a gorgeous country pub for some welcome grub at the end of a long walk.

This brings us together, unifies us – we all relax in different ways but we always have fun together on our family weekend breaks. We try to get away on a on a short trip three or four times a year – one a season!  Most recently we enjoyed a short trip into the New Forest for a two night getaway which was a delightful experience for us and the children.

New Forest

Being born and bred in the North of England, I had shamefully never visited the New Forest and like one of the children I cooed with delight immediately when we spotted a beautiful wild black mare with a furious mane just stroll straight across the road, confidence shrouding her as she ignored the cars and cantered off to a troop of horses in the distance. We bought ice creams in Burley village and sat on a stone wall watching the ponies and cattle roam freely around the town, feeling as if we had entered a different time.

We split the weekend between the hotel pool and exploring the wonder of the countryside, clambering up hills to see breathtaking views and rolling down them with childish enthusiasm.

South Downs

Previous trips have included the South Downs surrounding Brighton, where we mix the splendour of the countryside with the effervescence of one of England’s most vibrant cities. I spent three years at University in Sussex and relished driving my children up to Devil’s Dyke, a beauty spot a mere five miles from Brighton. As expected, my children were positively enchanted by the tale that the Devil himself created the wide valley in which to drown innocent parishioners in times gone by; although my more scientific son was prone to believe that it is actually, Mum, a natural legacy of the Ice Age.

While exploring the Dyke we fell upon a sea of flowers that I had never seen in my student days and together we stared memorised by the prettiness of nature. Then my elder pair, seven year old twins, found the old fort, rebuilt it in their imagination and fought pretend wars against attacking soldiers.

It always amazes me how some of the most fun we have as a family comes from spending nothing but time together.

Peak District

Other excursions in the great British countryside have involved trips to the north to hike around the Peak District. When I was training for marathons we used to drive up to a hotel and while my husband played with the children in the swimming pool, I would tackle the intense hills, building my strength whilst soaking up the stunning scenery. Later we would return, the five of us, and my aching legs would groan in anticipation of chasing my small ones up and down, but still I managed it with no more than a silent protest.

Many people travel to exotic locations abroad to find a sense of beauty; we manage to see it in the English countryside around us.

Jane Blackmore is a freelance writer, blogger and editor. When not hitting the keyboard, she entertains her three young children and relaxes in the evening with a simple G&T.