Summer Road Trip to Rustic French Occitanie, Colourful Barcelona and Much-Loved Mallorca

Until now, I've avoided Spain on summer road trips because of mass tourism along the coast. It's not my cup of tea, yet I know not to write off a whole place just because it's popular, and the beaches of Mallorca had caught my beady eye. So this year we headed in new directions.

Our journey took us to some rural parts of France, satisfying my need to 'discover' something. En route we enjoyed distinctive and vibrant Barcelona and a heatwave, before setting off to Mallorca on the overnight ferry.

Clermont Ferrand
At the volcanic park 'Parc Naturel Regionale des Volcans d'Auvergne' we quickly found a gentle hilly trail, thanks to the helpful visitor centre lady's instructions, saving us wasting time (and data squabbling with Google maps).

With our 3-year-old in tow, and 35 degree heat, we missed the most dramatic views, but our trail offered wonderful panoramas.  The whole place was remote, clean, and very green. The little one coped well, even on loose la…

Beaches, Gardens and Volcanic Mud in New Zealand's Lush, Green North Island

New Zealand's Northlandalways feels like a second home. I've been lucky enough that my childhood has been fairly kiwi-heavy because of family, so I enjoy passing on what this has given me, to the littlest one. I know I'd be a slightly different person without a kiwi-influenced childhood. 

On this trip, we spent most of our time with various combinations of family members on beaches, boats, in water, volcanic mud or beautiful gardens. Some of our trip's highlights were possible because of family, although they are still relevant to those interested in things to do on New Zealand's North Island.
Our visit was an Easter one, so autumn colours peppered the otherwise green sub-tropical hilly landscape. It felt strange to leave our UK spring and have little Klowski looking for chocolate eggs in autumnal gardens without daffodils, but the autumn sunshine was still strong and the days warm. An advantage over the cold wind blustering our homeland when we left.  Whangerei Whan…

Winter Family Road Trip to Ski in the French Alps

Driving down to the Alps from the UK is always an effort, but in the spirit of adventure it's exciting to 'discover' them. From the flat Northern Pas de Calais, to the soaring snowy peaks of Haute Savoie, we made our way South, passing through varied pretty towns along the way.

It is reassuring that our three-year-old monster/angel had no need or want of technology during the entire trip (despite this, I do appreciate the temptation of others to use it!) We packed her 'busy pack' full of varied toys and books. A French skiing sticker book helped get her in the mood for the days to follow when she would have her first ski lessons!
LaonNorth-Eastern France is so very familiar to us, but for some reason, tiny walled city Laon was new to us, and a pleasant surprise. The cathedral was lit up blue from inside and we enjoyed the evening hilltop views over the surrounding countryside before having dinner at a traditional brasserie.
DijonOur next stop was pretty little Dijon. …

Summer Family Road Trip Through France: From Cambridge to Corsica

As usual, we planned this summer's road trip holiday around a naturally beautiful, beachy destination; this time, Corsica. Beaches, mountain walks, and eating local food were the main items on the agenda. It worked out cheaper to take our Corsica ferries to and from different cities, so we got a nice varied road trip with a totally different route home.

We mainly travelled for around 3 hours a day on the journey to and from Corsica. We broke it down each day, stopping for lunch and walks (and shopping) in appealing places.  

Klowski and I started with a pleasant little day in Cambridge whilst Richard finished work, then we left from there for Dover. This set the tone for the rest of the trip, not least Klowski's thoughts about where we were at various points ('Cambridge' for at least 80% of the time apparently).

Rouen & Le MansOn the way to Le Mans, we stopped in Rouen to eat quiche on the steps outside the magnificent cathedral, and I bored Richard with some high st…