Tagged: travelling with children

Ho Ho Hot! Christmas in the Desert with Kids

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Ever since breaking with the traditional pattern of child friendly holidays (you know: developed countries where tap water is clean, the risk of food poisoning is low and access to first world healthcare is on hand) and taking the children to Morocco a few years ago, we have been particularly rubbish about having a repeat adventure.

So when the very rare opportunity came up for my husband Andrew and I to have 3 weeks off work at the same time, we vowed to make it a memorable holiday. Chilean Patagonia and the Okavango Delta have long been on my bucket list and so why let 2 kids get in the way? On enquiry with travel agents, I found that a 3 week trip to Patagonia was going to set the family back 24k (!!!) which swiftly put paid to that idea. The problem being that Christmas is summer in the southern hemisphere making the climate just perfect for long hikes along glaciers, thus peak tourist season in Patagonia. Sooooo…what about the Okavango Delta and Namibia? Guess what? Peak summer in the Delta and Desert means baking heat, no water, no tourists and cheap(er) season! Bargain. They say that mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun, well, my family fit the bill there!

I can confess to having not one hand in the arrangements of the mega-trip and am very grateful to Andrew who did all the necessary bookings and arrangements. He, being South African, had long harboured plans of bombing around Africa in a land rover so he was in his element, but even I thought his 4000km drive plans were rather ambitious. Never-the-less we were up for the challenge and had the most amazing experience, the highlights I share with you to encourage more families to have their own adventures!

Okavango Delta, Botswana

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We flew overnight from London to Cape Town which is a very manageable flight with children aged 8 and 10 years who plug straight into the movies and watch until they eventually fall asleep (we are told that Molly managed to watch 4 movies in a row – which is a record even for her!). The only downside is that this is an extremely popular family flight at Christmas time and I had to bite my tongue several times to stop myself from telling other people to “control their children” and to inform them that their baby’s crying was disturbing my mindless romcom. How quickly we forget that we were once those desperate parents earnestly insisting that our near-2 year old was in fact just a big boned 10-monther and really needed a basinette.

We flew from the Cape to Maun, Botswana, where we boarded a tiny 5 seater plane which took us to our base in the Okavango: Delta Camp. This is one of the oldest (and most reasonably priced) accommodations in the Delta. You’ll find that the majority of accommodation in the Delta is extremely high end and expensive, which has been a purposeful strategy by the government of Botswana to limit tourism in the area to preserve the unique environment. The downside is clearly on your wallet, but once you arrive in the Delta, you’ll see that you gain in terms of a very peaceful environment. If you go off season, like we did, you’ll probably be the only guests at your residence (like we were) and in fact, it was only on our 5th and final day on walking safari in the Delta that we had our most significant animal sighting: another tourist.

The downside of off-season visits to the Delta is the lack of water which is still awaiting the rain in the mountains of Angola. In and after the rainy season, the Delta is renowned for being an animal magnet as the water traps animals on land-locked islands and tourists can sail by very close to them safely on traditional wood carved boats called mekoros. As there was hardly any water when we went, our mekoro outings were limited to 10 minute rides and we required to do the majority of our safaris on foot.

Every day, we had two walks accompanied by 2 guides which was a luxury as they told us that in peak season, the 2 guides would accompany groups of 10-15 people. There was a long 2-3 hour walk in the early morning and a shorter 2 hour walk in the late afternoon to avoid being out in the heat. As the sensible animals also did the same, we were able to see a wide variety and abundance of animals going about their daily business. One benefit of tourism in the dry season is that where there is a water source, all the animals congregate there: at one watering hole we found around 15 hippos jostling for space in the tub and 5 elephants having a drink. As we were on foot, we were able to get very close to animals and as, Botswana has banned hunting, the majority of animals are not fearful or aggressive to humans that pay them respect. Indeed, our guides were unarmed. Initially this gave alarm, but as the days went by, we realised that their experience was enough to keep us out of trouble. There was just enough “danger element” (a grumpy buffalo that was making up his mind about charging us leading to our retreat up a termite mound, a trumpeting elephant protecting its baby and a hippo that emerged from behind us taking us by surprise) to allow us, and the children to feel that we were “having an adventure”, but insufficient danger to cause any real anxiety (even to a worry-prone parent like me). The guides were knowledgeable and child friendly: when the guides realised that D (like many small boys) had a poo fetish, they set about showing him all the animal excrement such that by the end we all got quite good at discerning giraffe poo from warthog. If anyone came across white poo, we could all howl “Of, course that’s hyena poo because the white comes from the calcium it gets from chewing bones!”. They also taught D how to make a rope from the bark of a baobab tree. The food was plentiful and hearty and much enjoyed after our long walks. The communal spaces which we had all to ourselves were open to animals walking by and the occasional monkey dropping in. The bedrooms were characterful and open to the wild, including the alfresco showers which even Molly got used to after we convinced her that the elephants really didn’t mind seeing her naked! We opted to split into 2 parties of adult and child so that we could take turns staying in a romantic tree house for 2 atop a tree overlooking the delta. It was absolutely magical.

Best of Namibia

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On return to Maun by tiny plane we picked up our trusty tented 4×4 which was to be our transport for our drive back to Cape Town and our accommodation in between various booked hotels. This vehicle is literally a 4×4 with 2 pull down tents perched on top and you sleep on the roof of your car (thereby avoiding being eaten by animals who can’t climb ladders). The back of the 4×4 is a storage hold equipped with bedding, table and 4 chairs, a massive tank of water, a fridge and all your cooking equipment and utensils. Being a great fan of George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces, I was in love. Having been dubious of the vehicle when planning the trip from London, we had only planned on 4 days of camping as interim accommodation between hotels, but it was so comfy and fun, I could definitely have done more camping. The tents were easy to put up and down and after the first day, this job was assigned to the children who fought over who was going to do it (luckily there was one tent for each of them) so it really was incredibly easy. We stayed on the main roads where we could, which are straight and good and we drove through some amazing scenery. You won’t believe how many versions and colours of “desert” that there are, and there were not infrequent unplanned stops for passing goats, cows, baboons and oryx. Spitzkoppe and the coastal region are only accessible by dirt road but this was more than manageable in the 4×4. We only had one flat tyre on the journey and luckily this was swiftly changed by 5 men who leapt out to help at a petrol station.

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Here were the best bits of our trip to Namibia:

Spitzkoppe: This is a striking range of mountains in the middle of the Namibian desert. We camped in a campsite here which was again practically empty which made the experience feel fantastically adventurous. There are good hikes to be done if you come when it is cooler and some amazing cavemen paintings which are between 2000-4000 years old. Due to the heat, we only managed a few short walks and to see the cavemen drawings near ground level, but even those were quite amazing. During the heat of the afternoon, we literally hid under rocks and read books and watched movies on the DVD player. At night time, the skies come alive and toasting marshmallows on an open fire looking up at stars and galaxies as far as the eye can see with just your family and no one else around for miles was superb.

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Swakopmund: This is a characterful ex-German town on the coast of Namibia just south of the skeleton coast. It has a nice beach and good restaurants. Molly swears the chocolate fondant at “The Tug” is the best she has ever tasted, and sushi dinner at The Jetty perched out in the sea is decent sushi in a superb location, although I was the only family member strong enough not to weep at their “green dragon” sushi (sushi rolled in a layer of wasabi). Although we were pre-warned by the over-zealous travel clinic NEVER to touch raw seafood abroad; oysters are a Namibian specialty at the coast and we indulged and they were great. They even formed part of the breakfast buffet at The Delight, the hotel which we stayed at and I can recommend. We went for a morning sand surfing session organised from the hotel which you can imagine was a hit with the kids. Barrelling down a sand dune on a piece of cardboard is surprisingly fun!

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Sossusvlei: This is depicted on the cover of every Namibia guidebook. Red sand dunes under a blue sky, sometimes with the black of a dead tree in the foreground. It’s spectacular and a photographer’s dream. Equipped with only an extremely dated cannon point and click circa last decade I was still able to get really lovely photos because the scenery was actually THAT GOOD. We did a balloon safari from nearby Solitaire with Samawati: http://www.hotairballooning-safari.com which was the most affordable that we could find and quite an experience for the children.

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Fish River Canyon and the Orange River: On either side of the Namibia-South Africa border, we stopped at both of these areas and they are worth a visit, even though we were unable to hike at Fish River (closed to hiking in the summer due to heat) and didn’t have time to take a kayak out on the Orange River. We stayed in a lovely campsite at the Orange River (The Growcery) on Christmas eve, and swam in the beautiful orange river. The scenery in both places is spectacular.

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And more…

Beyond the beautiful scenery and sense of adventure, my motivation to take my children to less developed countries is to give them a better sense of the world. Growing up in a nice area in London, one can easily become complacent and entitled and that is something that I really don’t want my children to become. Although I do not want to be a “poverty” tourist, going through Namibia and Botswana, it is impossible to avoid seeing poverty and the moment that made the trip absolutely worthwhile for me was at Spitzkoppe. In this extremely remote area, two orphan girls of similar age to Molly started talking to her, asking her to come to their brother’s roadside stall that sold rocks. Although they were asking for custom, they did also seem amazed and interested to see Molly as although tourists pass through the area regularly, they are usually adults and they were so happy to see a girl of similar age to them. Children have that open curiosity to ask questions, speak openly to each other about their lives and connect uninhibitedly that for some reason we lose as adults. They were cheerful, smiley, chatty girls who Molly instantly connected with. We said that we would visit the stall the next day and in the meantime, we rummaged in our car for tins of beans and bread that we could give them. They went away very happy with our “excess”. Molly was tearful afterwards. “They are just like me, but they have nothing” she said. “I want to give them more.” That night she went through her clothes and set aside some of her clothes to give the girls. “What more can I do?” she asked.

“That’s why I brought you here.” I said. “There is nothing more you can do now Molly. But one day, when you are older, you can remember and you can make a real difference if you want.”

Recommendations: 

Delta Camp, Botswana

4×4 Hire

Campsite in Windhoek

Campsite at the Orange River

Hotel in Swakopmund

The Tug Restaurant in Swakopmund

The Jetty Restaurant in Swakopmund

Before you go:

Many people are put off more adventurous travel destinations with children by the long list of travel vaccines, and yes, it can be quite off-putting, but once you have bitten the bullet and had the children vaccinated, most of the vaccines are good for many years and so it means that you are good for many other travel destinations thereafter. Many travel vaccinations are available for free from the GP, and others are readily accessible from travel clinics or pharmacies. Malaria prophylaxis was required for the Okavango Delta, but for Namibia, areas south of the capital Windhoek are out of the Malaria area. Banker and I did not get vaccinated for rabies but after scare stories from the over-zealous travel clinic and their handouts stating: “If you are bitten by a rabies infected animal there is 100% chance of death” we opted to vaccinate the children. We chose Malarone as malaria prophylaxis which requires starting 2 days prior to entry to a malaria area and continuation for 1 week after exit. The children found Malarone no problem in terms of side effects. The generic is cheaper than the branded drug.

For long drives, travel prepared: we had over 70 hours of children’s audiobooks available. Screens in the form of a DVD player and assortment of DVDs and Nintendo 2DS were periodically doled out as rewards and as pre-emptive measures to prevent meltdowns after long days.

We found both Botswana and Namibia to be safe and had no problems to this regard on our holiday. In fact, the only time our vehicle was broken into was when we finally arrived in Cape Town. Of course, we stayed on main roads and are also careful  and considerate travellers.

 

 

 

 

Organisational hell – what to pack in a travel handbag

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I heard about Cath Kidston’s #totesbig/totessmall campaign and laughed, surely for all parents it’s #totesbig? Mine’s this fetching strong and waterproof Longchamp number.

Carrying large quantities of “vital” stuff around with you all day has never been quite so important as when you have kids in tow. The ante on organisation is raised on having children, purely because logistically, there is so much more that is required to be remembered and carried with you at all times in preparation for all eventualities. We all have a “very organised friend”. Someone who is always on time, never forgets anything and prepares for everything. For me it’s my big sister. When baby Lil Bro yakked up lunch all over himself, and I had not brought a spare baby-gro, who should pull one out of her handbag? Apparently a spare, even though her child no longer wore baby-gros. When we went on a weekend break with the extended family and I forgot to pack towels, who produced a whole spare extra set which she had packed “In case”? Yup, my darling sister. Indeed, whenever I go anywhere with her, I can rest on my laurels as I know that if I have forgotten anything, she will be sure to have “spares”. Thank goodness!

Although I have moments of organisational inspiration (packing a volcano making kit in my suitcase on a holiday to Sicily so I could teach the kids about volcanoes in-situ), at other times I  am pitiful. For instance,  when Lil bro was a baby I remember joyfully pushing the buggy to my mother-and-baby yoga class in Primrose Hill thinking that I was on time for once, but actually having forgotten the entire meticulously packed Cath Kidston baby changing bag on the table at home. Thankfully, what I lack in organisation, I make up for in practical, can-do attitude. I didn’t miss my yoga class, I just popped into a newsagent. I got some funny looks from the skinny and beautiful Gwyneth types that frequent Triyoga Primrose Hill with their yummy-mummy nappy changing bags, matching cashmere blankets, Sophie giraffes and  wooden rattles when I rocked up with nothing for my baby save a 34-for the price of 30 jumbo pack of nappies and a pack of Johnsons’ wet wipes. Well, what more do you need – eh?

At the start of this summer though, I thought that given that I am now a blogger and passing on my worldly (ahem) views on all things parenting, I would write an illuminating blog about all the things “one” should carry in their totes when travelling with young children on holiday. Here is my list:

Sustenance:

Bottled water (I know it’s heavy, but always comes in handy)

Snack (usually of the pre-packaged biscuit/ chocolate variety – but on a good organisational skill day, a pair of satsumas)

Sun protection:

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Like all good doctors, I espouse the sin of sun worshipping, although a little dose here and there to relieve vitamin D deficiency doesn’t do any harm. Still always best to carry sun hats, sun glasses and sun screen with you at all times over the summer hols. A warm waterproof top is meticulously tied around the waist of each child should the weather take a turn (Brits will understand this!).

Activities:

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My kids (like most) are terribly impatient in restaurants, and will not stop asking “When’s the food coming?” as if I have personal telepathy with the kitchens. For distraction purposes, I have found it well worth my while to carry sticker books around with me at all times. In addition, fully equipped pencil cases as pencils and coloured pens can be transformed into any activity: drawing, colouring, noughts and crosses, the shape game (where one person draws a random shape and the other turns it into a picture of something) , pass the portrait (where one person draws a head on a picture, folds it over and passes it to the next person to draw the upper body, then passes it on etc.) and an endless possibility of other games. If we visit a landmark (like a cathedral) or an art gallery, the children will always be asked to draw what they see as  this really makes children look carefully, observe and remember what they have seen.  I carry 2 of everything because do you think it is possible that they could share? It’s not worth the grey hair.

Kid-proof Tech:

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I know that most people just let their kids use their iphones or ipads, but I am of the old school who fuss and worry about tech getting broken. It comes from my dad’s indoctrination of us in childhood over the perils of biscuit crumbs and spilled milk on the Commodore 64 such that anyone holding food or drink was not allowed within a 3 metre radius of “the expensive computer”. I carry cheap his-and-hers cameras with me to give to the kids to take photos as part of a game or just to see what they find interesting. Looking over pictures they have taken at the end of a day trip is always fun, particularly when you find that the beautiful city of Rouen you visited had nothing more worthy of photographing than a mannequin in a shop front…

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The children got “kiddigos” (hand held TV/ games console for little ones) for Christmas last year. As exposure is strictly rationed, the effect of producing the kiddigo is dramatic. The kids are only allowed to use them for the last hour of a long (3+ hours) car journey if they “have been good” during the earlier parts of the journey, and it’s really amazing how well the constant threat of losing the screen time can keep the kids at bay.

So, with all this “well prepared vital stuff” being carted with me everywhere on holiday, you can imagine what a peaceful time we had. It was all going wonderfully smoothly, with hardly a hiccup of “Are we there yet?” or wails of boredom and running up and down in restaurants, until a day trip to the Citadel at Carcassone. We exited the Castle to go home. “I need the toilet” one of them said. “No problem, I’ll take you” I said. Only to find, it was a number 2 of diarrhea proportions. Only to find there was no loo paper in the ladies or the gents. I looked in both.

Despite having a variety of splendid craft and technological activities in my bag and enough sun protection to keep a Scotsman from burning in a dessert, there was no tissue or wet-wipe to be found.

Having unsuccessfully attempted  to use pages of the sticker book as toilet paper, it was  – OH CRAP – literally.

Well, as I said, what I lack in organisational skill, I make up for in can-do attitude.

Maternal hand it was….

Where was my big sister when I needed her?!

The best family holiday ever

goats in tree Forgive me, this week I just have to gush about the recent holiday my family took to Morocco. Banker and I have a long history of adventurous travelling pre-children. Hot air ballooning over the Serengeti chasing migrating wildebeest, hiking to temples in the Himalayas, following in the footsteps of the Incas to Machu Picchu and exploring the temples of Angkor Watt to name a few. This ended on the arrival of children. travel Since having children, although we have ventured to Russia, South Africa and Taiwan, these have been places where we have had friends or family for guidance, and our other holidays have been strictly “safe”, “clean” Europe. It didn’t help that Lil Bro had a catalogue of food allergies, some of which are life threatening, such that I was reluctant to go to any country where I was unable to comprehensibly say “Does it contain nuts?” . Over the last year Lil Bro has grown out of the majority of his allergies and got the all clear from his excellent allergy team to eat almonds, an ingredient pervasive in Middle Eastern and North African cooking. My immediate response was “Let’s go to Morocco”.

Morocco and in particular Marrakesh and Essaouira are places close to the heart for Banker and I as we had visited there twice before having kids, so it was the perfect place to test the waters as to whether our family could cope with more adventurous travel with 6 and 4 year old in tow.

The flight to Marrakesh by budget airline arrived at night, and we had arranged for the hotel to pick us up. Even driving to the hotel, the children could immediately sense a difference. This was not Europe. The streets were teeming with cars and people weaving between each other in an intricate dance that only those who have been to a developing country can imagine. “There are so many people on the street at night” and “The roads are really narrow” the children noticed. I told them to take a deep breath, the air was warm and sweet, laced with cinnamon. “This is a new place I said. We are going to have an adventure”.

We were dropped off on a busy, dirty, pavement-less road. The high red-brown, windowless walls of the building that the man indicated to us was our hotel was not at all impressive. On the left, a man was selling vegetables at 9pm, on the right was a row of motorbikes. There was no signage, indicating a hotel, just a door and an old flag. For a moment I regretted not supervising Banker in the hotel booking. Yet when the door was opened, we stepped into a palatial Riad. A spacious indoor courtyard with splendid fountain, filled to the brim with roses and an open view to the stars above. The high walls kept out the noise and bustle of the outside world as we were invited to mint tea and sweet pastries on cushion bedecked sofas in an intimate nook. The exotic magic had the children instantly hooked. Dar les cigognes Over the next day in Marrakesh, we took a cooking class at the hotel. It was not specifically designed for children, but we asked and the hotel was obliging. We started with a tour of the local market with our guide who had also guided our hero Yotam Ottolenghi around Marrakesh. We started with the town baker who mixed dough in a bathtub, while his colleague shovelled flat round breads by the dozen into an oven on a wooden paddle. Two others knelt on the dirt floor shaping the dough. All the while local children brought in breads from their mothers to be baked in the baker’s oven. The whole operation was housed in a room the size of an average bathroom.We cut through the old wash house to where the boy who stoked the fires for the baths cooked tangiers for the local men and ended with a tour of the meat and veg market where the children saw live rabbits and chickens waiting for slaughter. Our guide, was worried about the sentimentality of our western children over the death row animals, but I was proud to say, they had no problem, having always been explicitly told to appreciate the origins of their food. We visited the spice man who let us smell his eucalyptus and turmeric, and ground us an ounce of his special blend ras-el-hanout; and the teenage boys spinning fine sheets of ouarka on their finger tips with swagger as we stood in awe at their skill. I had been told that Moroccans love children, and this was not wrong. The market stall owners bestowed our children with roses, tea and gifts as we strolled through. children cooking Cooking with children is great fun. They got involved with learning how to make cous cous from scratch. Rolling flour and semolina with olive oil into breadcrumbs was just like playing with sand. The children were also found to have a great skill in grating, and grated courgettes, carrots and even tomatoes. They were also pretty good at folding briouats, Big Sis’s being much better than mine. At times, concentration wandered and Banker took them out for a walk, but they returned with enthusiasm to learn more, and what prouder moment than tasting the product of our morning’s hard work served up in the splendour of a roof top garden over-looking the bustling city. Moroccan food we cooked An evening was spent wandering the souks and purchasing a carpet or two, whilst encountering snake charmers and monkeys on bicycles, followed by dinner to the beats of Moroccan music in the hustle and bustle of Jemaa el-Fna, a central market square where tourists and locals sit cheek-by-jowl to enjoy street food at its best . Jemaa el-fna The following day, a 3 hour car-ride took us to Essaouira, tolerated very well due to the his-and-her video consoles purchased for the kids for just such occasions, and was broken up by a pit-stop to view goats chewing on argan nuts atop argan trees at the roadside. Evening brought us to our resting place Auberge Tangaro, a former brothel turned hip hotel that purportedly hosted Hendrix in ’69, and now hosted our family to candlelit dinner. candlelit Auberge tangaro   Essaouira is a romantic seaside town, with a medina surrounded by fortified walls. So picturesque, it is a popular location for films such as Othello, Alexander and Game of Thrones. A walk along the battlements affords a clamber on the many cannons and a good view of the sea. There is plenty else to explore with a working fishing harbour where fishermen in painted blue boats bring in the catch to fishmongers that gut and sell fish at the harbour-side, to the men that grill the fish there and then for customers at the harbourside grillades. Food metres, not food miles. essaouira Souks there are also a plenty. A man intrigued our children with a mysterious treasure box made of Thuya wood, where the key and keyhole are hidden. Clever man, once the kids saw this, we were never going to make it out without two. Spices, brightly coloured fabrics, fossils, precious stones, embroidered slippers, tagines and ceramic galore. If it all got to much, a retreat for sweet mint tea in a square, relaxing to the sound of the mosque’s call to prayer. souk For mischievous children that need to be kept out of trouble or persuaded to walk, projects were set: Day 1, a treasure hunt where random items on a list have to be found. Items the parents knew were likely to be found with varying degrees of difficulty: a man selling mint, a Moroccan tea set, lemons, a blue boat, a cannon, a policeman. Day 2, a project to take photos of all the cats in Essaouira, with their own cheap digital cameras. Cats of Essaouira A trip down memory lane took us back to a restaurant we had dined in 8 years ago which had served the best food in Morocco. To our delight, the restaurant and its owner were unchanged. The food was as divine, the laugh of the proprietor as loud and warm as we had remembered.

Did I mention that Essaouira is a beach town? Forget donkey rides on the beach in Blackpool, here we took camel to the disintegrated ruins of a castle slipping into the sand, the alleged basis for a Hendrix song. Pushing against the cliche of the posh girls’ pony club set, I’m proud to say that Big Sis’s first riding experience was aback a 2m tall camel with a predilection for pooping. The unspoilt beaches of Essaouira are largely EMPTY as Moroccans, like the Chinese, don’t see the point in basking in UV rays to attain a colour you already have. The pale skinned of my family stripped off to play in the water, while I discovered that the sand in Essaouira is just the right texture to sculpt and busy myself making a sand Birkenstock. The kids return and it’s drip castles that need building, irrigation channels that need digging and the odd shark surfaces from the sand. beach essaouira Oysters, fish and calamari for lunch at the hippy beach cafe, lounging on beds facing the azure, surrounded by blond surfer dudes and you might almost forget you were in Africa. ocean vagabond A morning Yoga class with Mehutina, a Washington DC gal who had fallen in love with Essaouira on a holiday (not hard to do) and had moved there with her two girls to start a new life teaching English and yoga. We requested a family yoga class and she brought her girls too. Though not quite as relaxing with kids in tow, the participation of the whole family brought fun and laughter at the sight of Lil Bro’s contorting endeavours and amazement at Big Sis’s supreme flexibility. Taking it in turns to have massages meant that the adults could also have their “Me time”. yoga On our final day, we did the unthinkable. We crossed the road from our hippy-chic retreat to the giant 5 star Sofitel hotel. If big pools for the kids and poolside loungers with drinks on ice over-looking an 18-hole golf course is your bag, then why not. A taxi-ride back to the airport in Marrakesh, and home.

To my mind, this was our first “proper” family holiday ever. One that was not marred by broken sleep, vomiting, food fussiness or child related saga, or compromised due to sanitation, long haul flight or language barriers (French is spoken in Morocco). The children are at an age now where they are easy travellers, and I am keen that they see the world. Not just the world of kids’ club in an upmarket resort hotel in a sanitized country, but the world where beggars exist, the homeless roam, the roads are untarred and the food is flavourful. It is not just that I want my children to understand different cultures and learn about wealth disparity. In my mind early childhood experiences pave the way for openness of mind and spirit for a lifetime. Seeing, experiencing and enjoying different sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures within the safety of your family sets up a mindset ready to be open to new things, exploration and adventure as an adult.

I’m sure we’ll still go to Centre Parcs from time to time, but from now on the world is ours. India, Argentina, Borneo, here we come!

 

FYI: We flew Ryanair to Marrakesh. We stayed at the Dar les Cigognes in Marrakesh, but (Riad Kiass is also nice) and Auberge Tangaro in Essaouira (but Villa Maroc is also an old favourite). The children carried their own booster pack back packs as it can not be guaranteed that these will be available, or if they are EU standard. IMG_3713 The best restaurant in Morocco is this one in Essaouira: IMG_3747