Thursday, 4 July 2013

Just gone live for Tesco

Family Holidays in the East.

Hey up m’ducks! This is my part of the world this is, and it’s dead good in’t it.

My neck of the woods…

Nottingham: I live in Nottingham. It gets a pretty bad rep and I’ll concede that a book on crime stats wouldn’t necessarily make for a perfect holiday read if you’re heading our way. But I love my city: I love the shops, the people (not the crime-stat-contributors, but the others are friendly, promise) and most of all I love the culture. Yes, that’s right, culture. It’s got a cool arty vibe in this city – here’s a couple of ways you can catch it:

Nottingham Contemporary: As well as having fantastic multi-media, provocative and stimulating exhibitions for everyone, this gallery takes what it terms “family fun” seriously. With free children’s activities most Saturdays from 11am-3pm and oodles more come the school holidays, you’re never stuck for what to do if you need a break from the bustling city streets.

Broadway Cinema: Another favourite haunt. Here’s an art-house cinema that won’t break the bank. They have new and older films and even special screenings for babies and ones for children with additional needs. The café bar is chilled and has a children’s menu that we’ve worked our way through many a time.

Other top-spots in the East:

Belton House, Lincolnshire: A National Trust stately home set in fabulous grounds, and to boot one of the best National Trust play parks there is. Take a picnic (the café isn’t remarkable) and spend the day playing, chilling and learning.

The Denes Beach at Southwold, Suffolk: A quiet and secluded (perfect for toddlers) shingle beach next to the River Blyth – good for walking, dunes and admiring the views across the estuary.

Rutland Water, Leicestershire: Popular with wildlife enthusiasts, cyclists and water-sports junkies; here there’s something for everyone of the outdoorsy persuasion.

Psst! Not many people know about…

Rufford Park a great, cheap (free to get in) day out with kids. A play park, ice-creams, café and a ruin to explore.

The Collection Museum in the heart of Lincoln, lots of hands-on kid-centric activities.

Eating out with kids in the East, top tables:

Alfresco, West Bridgford Nottingham: No airs and graces here, just paninis, toasties, ice-creams and coffee to die for. All served by an Italian family whose art of speaking broad Nottingham interjected with romantic Italian is worth a visit for alone.

The Olive Branch, Leicestershire: Situated in the picturesque village of Clipsham (just minutes off the A1) this pub serves proper posh food in a relaxed, friendly environment. Kids are spoilt rotten and everyone is made very welcome. On a sunny day the beer garden is an even bigger bonus.

Wagamamas, Lincoln: A new addition for this chain. Here you can suck on your soya beans in the beautiful harbour: kids can choose from noodle and rice dishes galore.

Wells Deli, Wells-Next-The-Sea, Norfolk: Serving fresh sandwiches and top-notch quality coffee, it’s no wonder this perfectly placed (right on the sea front) deli has gone from strength to strength. Top tip; leave room for the cake!

Donnington Hall Farm Shop Café, Lincolnshire: Fantastic for lunches and for cream teas, here’s a farm shop in rural Lincolnshire that’s got it spot on. Children have a special menu, a basket of toys and lots of colouring-ins to keep them busy, so you are free to browse the cakes with the seriousness they call for.

Giraffe, Cambridge: If you’ve never visited a Giraffe restaurant, this is a good one to start with. Set in the centre of this fantastic city, here’s a chain designed with children in mind, but not compromising on the adult experience either. It’s fun, friendly and a lesson in getting it right for family eating out.

Where to stay…

For glampers: Woodhall Country Park, Lincs in a beautiful conservation area of Lincolnshire, a 5 star camping experience.

And campers: Wing Hall, Rutland slightly run down but good for a couple of nights roughin’ it; close to great activities in Leicestershire and fantastic views.

For big spenders:  Ickworth Hotel, Suffolk a divine house and a splendid, luxury family hotel.

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