Now, as you know, the Hobbis family sojourns into the wilderness have basically got as far as Devon since it has taken me the last four years to muster up the energy to get my passport updated.
But it strikes me that, although the parenting rite of passage that is the Disneyland visit is on the agenda, if ever there were a year for supporting our home nations, it’s going to be 2016.
Leaving aside the, to me, incontrovertible proof that climate change IS beginning to affect us and the likelihood that the levels of rainfall we are seeing are here to stay, the UK has so many glorious beauty spots, places of interest and cultural quirks that exploring as many as we can should be on all our travel bucket lists.
The other side of this rather waterlogged observation is that this year, the UK tourist industry needs our financial support more than ever.
I grew up in the ’60s and ’70s at a time when the Costa del Sol package holiday was in its infancy. Those who braved air travel to fly to Spain were considered very ‘posh’ indeed.
My Dad took a different approach. He took his family to all of the areas of outstanding beauty in the UK. We travelled up to Inveraray and back down to Edinburgh.
We visited Keswick and Ambleside in the Lake District and marvelled at the beauty of the Lakes. We stayed just outside York and visited its cathedral and explored the Shambles.
The Cotswolds were (and are) a favourite haunt with many visits to Bourton-on-the-Water and Stow-On-The-Wold.
We saw Donald Sinden as Othello in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon and travelled by boat to Hampton Court out of a dusty and overheated London.
We explored North and Mid Wales and stayed in a cottage in the shadow of the mountain, Cader Idris just outside Dolgellau. My sister and I splashed about in the river close to the Swallow Falls at Betws-y-Coed.
My parents are from Plymouth and most summers were spent visiting our grandparents. There were many trips on the “Dockyard & Warships” boat trip, drives to Modbury Beach and Burgh Island and drives over Dartmoor to see Widdecombe and climb up Sheepstor, hopefully (but not always) avoiding the rain.
On Lands End, the winds were so strong, we had to hold on to my mother, lest all 4 foot 11 inches of her blew away to sea.
These are all places I hope to visit with the family over the next year or two.
What my Dad gave us, I now realise, was an education about the wonders of geography and history that was far more interesting than the O level geography syllabus topics of glaciation and orange growing in California.
There are, though, many gaps in my UK travel education and places still to explore. My grandmother, Jessie, had relatives in the West Midlands and, aside from a trip in the ’80s to see Chris de Burgh in concert (even pre-“Lady In Red”!), Birmingham is a city I have yet to explore.
|Victoria Square, Birmingham|
It’s so much easier today now that hotels have comfortable, spacious family rooms. I remember on our trip to London in the 70’s that my Dad rushed out to buy a camp bed to put up next to our hotel room’s sole, rather rickety double bed.
Things to see around Birmingham
These days, too, there is a far greater range of family-friendly activities. Around Birmingham, we could visit the National Sea Life Centre or Cadbury World. Then there’s the award-winning Black Country Living Museum near Dudley. I might persuade the Husband to take the kids to the National Motorcycle Museum whilst I explore the shops in The Bullring which has over 160 shops.
Things to explore around Newcastle Upon Tyne
Another city I have never visited is Newcastle Upon Tyne which has Europe’s largest shopping centre, The Metrocentre. It has 300 shops, an 11 screen cinema and a funfair!
Yes, this is going to be a great year for exploring and I sometimes think that if you waited for perfect weather in the UK, you’d never go anywhere.
No wonder my Dad made sure we always had our waterproofs with us!
Which things to see around Birmingham would you add to this list?