Well, autumn has certainly arrived in the last week. If you have been lucky enough to escape the rain so far, I am sure you have seen the subtle changes in the colour of the leaves, or maybe walked through a park and spotted the first conkers from chestnut trees falling on the dewy ground. In our series on ‘Staying together’ so far, we’ve looked at Cottage holidays in the UK and the best of European capital city breaks.
If you have little ones of your own you might know that the novelty of a new school year will soon be wearing off; and, after the hustle and bustle of getting them settled in over the past few weeks, you’ll know a quick week away will refresh you all. This week Sian Reynolds takes a look at the upcoming October half term break as the perfect opportunity to recharge, ready for the rest of the year.
Half term in the UK
October half term brings the perfect time to regroup as a family after the strains of the start to a new academic year. It’s a time to step back and recharge before all things Christmas start to take priority. Being out of season, it’s also a good time to grab a bargain and explore new parts of the UK.
There are many advantages to taking a break in our own country. Nothing is that far away so travelling time is limited, and longer journeys can easily be broken up with plenty of stops to stretch your legs. Moreover, reduced travelling time means more actual holiday time; a bonus when you’ve only got a few days to play with! Add in no worries about how little ones will cope with a possibly vastly different menu to what they’re used to, and you’ve got a perfect recipe for half term holiday success.
One thing to keep in mind for a great half term break is to take a relaxed approach. Don’t try and schedule every minute of every day: take a step back, wander around and find a park to let the kids run off some energy, hopefully leading to a relaxed and peaceful evening for the grown ups.
Despite some incredible family holidays to both Europe and the USA, some of my fondest childhood holiday memories are of those in cottages in Dorset and Scotland. The UK has a lot to offer this half term no matter what type of break you are looking for.
A few days in Norfolk will give the whole family a chance to unwind and relax. Its beautiful coastal spots offer everything from the classic seaside experience at Great Yarmouth to a fantastic combination of wide sandy beaches and pine woods at Wells-next-to-the-sea. Norfolk beaches can even provide a brush with Hollywood at Holkham Bay, after its making an appearance alongside Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love. Don’t worry if the weather is less than ideal: a blustery walk along the beach, followed by a bag of chips or an hour or so relaxing by the fire in a local pub will soon warm you up again. For those looking for a combination of historical architecture and a modern cultural scene, Norwich can offer it in spades. A shopper’s paradise with the largest undercover market in Europe, there really is something for everyone in this beautiful city.
Wales offers the perfect destination for the family looking for an outdoorsy break. With its rugged countryside, stunning scenery and plenty of fresh air, those with a passion for hill walking or mountain biking are well catered for. Try your hand at geocaching or soak up some history in the beautiful cathedrals and stately homes. For those with budding surfer dudes, now is the time to hit the Welsh coastline as the sea is at its warmest during September and October, plus fewer visitors means more surf to go round. And with a great selection of pet-friendly homes away from home, there’s no reason for the four legged members of your family to miss out on the outdoor fun either.
Somerset and the West Country
You can give your family the perfect base for exploring the beautiful Somerset countryside by heading to Bath. With great family friendly activities such as Longleat, Holburne museum and Bath Boating Station on offer, you’re sure to find something to keep everyone entertained. The Theatre Royal’s award-winning theatre, the egg, is pitched especially for children, young people and their families, complete with a family friendly café and play area. No visit would be complete without a trip to the Roman Baths and trying a glass of the hot spa water at the Pump Room. There’s even a handy free app to guide you around this classical city and offer you some money saving deals and vouchers. You’re also in a great position to set off to uncover the delights of the West Country, Stonehenge and the Cotswolds.
Half term in London
London may seem to be an expensive place for a family holiday at first, but with a wealth of free or budget-friendly activities on offer, your main expense will be around accommodation; well, as long as you can resist the temptation of the shops! Keep the kids amused with a whole range of free activities being held at our fabulous museums throughout half term. Pack a picnic and spend the day taking in the sights and sounds of London, from its bustling city streets to the tranquillity of its parks. Hop on and off the buses and tubes, wander along the Embankment and be entertained by the street performers at Covent Garden. With a little planning and a bit of research, you can access a wealth of fun without spending a lot at all.
So pack up the car and head off to explore our wonderful and diverse country this half term: you’re more than likely to find a gem on your doorstep.
Still looking for that half term holiday idea? We have plenty of inspirational ideas in our October half term holiday guides.
Sian Reynolds is the author of Fishfingers for tea, a family friendly, food-focused blog, which shows her passion for eating well on a budget. Sian also works in a freelance capacity within digital media, and spends her time juggling the demands of work and keeping her family running.
So far, we have looked at three different types of autumnal holidays; from quiet UK Cottage breaks, to fast-paced cultural breaks in Europe’s capital cities. With October fast upon us, next week we will be taking a look at spooky Halloween breaks in London with Gillian Crawshaw.