Fuerteventura’s Corralejo beach is full of surprises on a family holiday to the Canary Islands

Fuerteventura’s Corralejo beach is full of surprises on a family holiday to the Canary Islands

We take our children to review the all-inclusive Clubhotel Riu Oliva Beach in Corralejo, Fuerteventura

“Everybody is naked,” said my brother in a mock whisper.

The glorious beach at our hotel in Fuerteventura is full of surprises.

Not only is Corralejo bigger and sandier than any beach I can remember. With gently crashing turquoise waves, perfect for the children to try out their new bodyboards. And camel rides along sands which stretch for miles from the front of our hotel, the Clubhotel Riu Oliva Beach Resort.

A boy bodyboards in the sea on Corralejo beach in front of the ClubHotel Riu Oliva Beach Resort.

Bodyboarding in the sea on Corralejo beach

But one day as we turn right out of the hotel and venture further along in search of rock pools, we unwittingly gatecrash a naturist section.

This eye-opening experience was not part of the plan for a family trip away to celebrate my mum’s 70th.

My embarrassed mum picked up her pace, I tried not to snigger like a child while the actual children with us didn’t bat an eyelid, except my eight-year-old nephew who asked if it was legal.

While I had carefully dressed my son and daughter in their UV swimsuits, the youngsters in this area were in their birthday suits, while relaxed adults strolled in and out of the sea.

And the giggle we had about it later (apologies to naturist readers) confirmed this as a holiday to remember.


The Riu Oliva Beach is a huge, all-inclusive resort set back from the sands.

We are Riu regulars and love the good food, child-friendly pools and fun feel of their hotels.

We knew this one was soon to be refurbished but the location more than made up for the slightly tired surroundings.

One of the pools at the Riu Oliva Beach hotel, with the beach behind

One of the pools at the Riu Oliva Beach hotel, next to the beach

The hotel is divided into a main tower and a lower rise annexe area better suited to families, where we stayed.

Our family room had a lovely large balcony, double bedroom and two single sofa beds for our children.

Swimming pools

There are two swimming pools – the fish-shaped one was where we spent most of our time. It is well designed for children with varying depths and an island to swim around.

Hotel guests relax by one of the wimming pools at Clubhotel Riu Oliva Beach Resort

The fish-shaped swimming pool at Clubhotel Riu Oliva Beach Resort

On one side is a handy shop, filled with temping inflatables for the children and buckets and spades.


On the other side of the pool is the smaller of the two main buffet restaurants.

There is also a restaurant specialising in Asian cuisine and another boasting Canarian favourites.

Our party of 11 – aged from three to 70 – all found something to their taste.


There is children’s entertainment daily with a party at 5pm, plus an adults’ show every night at 9.30pm.

A children’s disco would also have been welcome in the early evening which we have had at other Riu hotels.


All-inclusive here means just that, all we paid for all week was a camel ride along the beach. And our inflatable dolphin for the pool!

Having all your food and drink included certainly makes it easier when you are in a big group as we were.


The nearby town of Corralejo has a pretty square, markets, a water park plus a ferry to nearby Lanzarote.
But we found plenty to entertain us at the hotel.

A camel ride along Corralejo beach in front of the Riu Oliva Beach Resort in Fuerteventura

A camel ride along Corralejo beach

In conclusion

Mornings in the pool, afternoons at the beach and evenings enjoying the food, drink and entertainment.

One magic show for children was especially good.

You might find plusher venues in the Canaries but I doubt you will find one in a better spot to enjoy the landscape.

Just remember to watch where you walk if you want to explore the sands.

Or pack extra sun cream.

*For a more detailed review of the hotel, see here.

Accommodation: We stayed as guests at Clubhotel Riu Oliva Beach Resort, an all-inclusive hotel in Corralejo, Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands, Spain, for the purposes of this review. All opinions are our own.

Duinrell holiday and amusement park in Holland gives triple the fun for children on a family holiday

Duinrell holiday and amusement park in Holland gives triple the fun for children on a family holiday

We review Duinrell in the Netherlands to find out if a theme park, water park and beach makes for a perfect family holiday

Forget double Dutch. We have discovered a triple treat in Holland – a holiday heaven for children which combines a theme park, water park and beach.

I’m sure we never would have stumbled across this gem without a recommendation from a friend whose family return year after year.

Duinrell holiday and amusement park is in the upmarket town of Wassenaar, 25 miles from Amsterdam, on the south-west coast – where the Dutch royal family spend some of their time.

The tranquil setting of the accommodation, between woodland and sand dunes, is in contrast with the high octane excitement of its theme and water parks.


There are a choice of chalets, called Duingalows, as well as various camping options.

Two children stand in front of their Duingalow at Duinrell in Holland.

A Duingalow at Duinrell in Holland.

Our newly-built lodge was modern and fully equipped. It had three bedrooms, a kitchen with dishwasher, open-plan lounge/dining area and a secluded terrace, from which to enjoy the leafy surroundings.

If you aren’t cooking then there are several restaurants and takeaway options on site and in the nearby town.

Our two were thrilled to use their scooters to explore but a lot of families were on bikes, which can be hired along with electric bikes and go-karts.

Theme park

First we headed to the amazing theme park.

One of the rides at Duinrell theme park in Holland.

The theme park at Duinrell in Holland

Adrenaline lovers and children aged eight to 18 would get the most out of all the roller coasters and other rides.

Our two are younger but found plenty to do too and as we stayed during the week at half-term, there were lots of English people but no long queues. It was noticeably busier on the Friday when we left.

Water park

Secondly, if you’re after more thrills and spills, the park has a fantastic indoor water park called Tikibad with enough slides and waves to keep everyone happy.

Some of the water slides at Tikibad water park at Duinrell in Holland.

With our accommodation, we had free entry to both the water park and the theme park.


And finally, the big, sandy Wassenaar beach is just two miles away.

Two children on Wassenaar beach near Duinrell in Holland/The Netherlands

Wassenaar beach.

There are fabulous cycle lanes everywhere so we hired bikes to enjoy the safe route through vast sand dunes to enjoy time together by the sea.


Cycling may be the way to get around in the Netherlands but the cheapest way we found for us to get to Duinrell was by car and ferry.

We used the DFDS ferry from Dover to Dunkirk. It was a bank holiday and long delays at Dover passport control meant we boarded with just three minutes to spare.

The children loved exploring the spacious ship and restaurants and the one hour 50 minute crossing passed quickly.

From Dunkirk, it was three more hours in the car, on increasingly flat terrain dotted with wind turbines.

Surrounding area

With its woodland walks and sand dune scrambles around Duinrell, as well as the popular Luciano ice cream parlour in Wassenaar, you don’t need to leave the area.

But we took a trip to the university city of Leiden. It had charming canals, cobbled streets and waterside markets where we sampled Dutch pancakes called poffertjes.

In conclusion

Holland might not be the first place that springs to mind for a summer holiday but you needn’t think twice about trying a trip to Duinrell with its trio of family attractions.

Accommodation: We stayed as guests at Duinrell holiday and amusement park in Wassenaar, Holland for the purposes of this review. All opinions are our own.

Travel: We travelled by car and via ferry from Dover to Dunkirk, courtesy of DFDS.

RELATED CONTENT: Five reasons to take a family holiday to South Holland

Is peaceful Ullswater a hit for a family holiday – we visit this beautiful Lake District spot to find out.

Is peaceful Ullswater a hit for a family holiday – we visit this beautiful Lake District spot to find out.

We review The Quiet Site at Ullswater in Cumbria.

I have a real soft spot for the Lake District. We lived here for two blissful years and it was on the shores of one of its more remote and beautiful lakes where my husband proposed.

It is the quieter spots which fill me most with joy. Like Ullswater, which despite being the area’s second biggest lake, attracts nowhere near the hordes which flock to its largest, Windermere.

As well as being more peaceful, it’s arguably more breathtaking – framed by peaks which include Helvellyn.

A view through the trees of the lake, Ullswater


And at only 10 minutes from the M6, it couldn’t be easier to reach.

The Quiet Site

Our accommodation in this part of Cumbria reflects our tranquil surroundings – The Quiet Site is a campsite half way up the western side of Ullswater.

Various levels of luxury are catered for from bring-your-own tent to a luxury cottage.

Their latest option are intriguing hobbit holes – underground spaces four times bigger than their insulated wooden camping pods – built into the side of a hill.

The entrance to a hobbit hole at The Quiet Site

A hobbit hole

Camping pods at The Quiet Site

Camping pods at The Quiet Site

But we are firmly above ground – our home for three nights is a spacious three-bedroom cottage.

This former smithy is full of character, with high ceilings, exposed beams and equipped with everything we could need. Plus extras like a playhouse, toys, books and shelves groaning with children’s DVDs.

And I don’t know who was happiest about the giant trampoline in the garden – but it started the holiday on a high for us all.

Two children play on the trampoline in the garden of the cottage at The Quiet Site at Ullswater

Enjoying the trampoline in the garden of our cottage

The site also has a playground and an indoor soft play area, conveniently adjoined to the bar in a cosy barn.

I can see why The Quiet Site was recently the top-rated holiday and glamping park on Tripadviser out of 190 listed in the Lake District.

We crammed lots into this summer break – around the lake and on it.

Surrounding area

Ullswater Steamers, which sail between Glenridding in the south and Pooley Bridge in the north, are the popular mode of transport in these parts.

We caught one to Howtown, in the middle, where we climbed part of Hallin Fell and enjoyed a memorable picnic with the lake glistening in the sunshine below.

A steamer on the lake at Ullswater

Ullswater Steamers are a familiar site on the lake

You don’t need to be an expert map reader to find a rewarding spot by the lake but tackling the directions on the nature trail at Askham Hall Gardens, east of Pooley Bridge, tested and thrilled our son and daughter.

Askham Hall and part of the garden

Askham Hall

The trail winds through gorgeous gardens, with farm animals at the end. Completion brings you to a play area, plus a cafe with a pizza oven and delicious cakes. All the ingredients for a perfect few hours for us.

Other family-friendly trips include the wonderful waterfall Aira Force.

I kept a firm hold of our children by some steep drops on the woodland walk up but they were both suitably impressed by the spectacular sights and sounds.

We were lucky with the weather but if you need undercover fun, head to Rheged. Sadly, the fabulous Lego exhibition we enjoyed was only temporary but there is plenty of permanent entertainment here for little ones. Choose from pottery painting, soft play and an outdoor playground.

In conclusion

Throughout our stay at Ullswater, we found plenty of quiet coves with flat water ready to be disturbed by children’s stones. They were also the perfect settings for picnics, making up adventures and taking in the glorious views.

William Wordsworth was inspired to write the poem Daffodils after seeing the flowers growing on the shores of Ullswater.

“It is the happiest combination of beauty and grandeur, which any of the lakes affords,” he said.

And I may just agree.

For a more detailed review on The Quiet Site, see here.

*For more ideas, see Cumbria’s official tourist board website.

Accommodation: We stayed as guests of The Quiet Site, Ullswater, for the purposes of this review. All opinions are our own.

We take a family holiday to Tuscany in high summer. Can Italy be child-friendly in the August heat?

We take a family holiday to Tuscany in high summer. Can Italy be child-friendly in the August heat?

We take our children to Florence, Pisa, San Gimignano and Volterra in August and try out Airbnb for the first time, read our review of our Italian adventure here.

Famous landmarks around the world are a remarkably hot topic of conversation between our children.

This is thanks as much to the Cbeebies programme Go Jetters as educational efforts on our part.

So when the Leaning Tower of Pisa comes into view, even the sweltering August Italian heat doesn’t cool their excitement.

Children under eight aren’t allowed up the tower and the streets are heaving so we stop just long enough to take it all in.

A toddler girl in sunglasses smiles in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy.

Posing in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Alongside thousands doing the same, we get the all-important pictures next to the extraordinarily slanting building, before we grab some pizza and hot-foot it back to our hire car.

We’ve already managed a day in Florence, taking our two on a whistle-stop tour of the city before their legs got tired.

The Duomo cathedral, Ponte Vecchio bridge and glorious Boboli Gardens were ticked off in a morning, before another rewarding pizza and gelato.

Two children stand in front of the Duomo cathedral in Florence

The Duomo cathedral in Florence

We’d bagged a cheap deal in an airport hotel for our first two nights to tackle the cities but now it was time to leave these bustling hotspots in search of the tranquillity of the countryside and the Dolce Vita.

Off to the country and the Dolce Vita

Our home for the next five nights is atop a hill, very much off the beaten track. Literally. A 10-minute dusty, bumpy, beaten track.

We wondered where our first foray into the world of Airbnb had taken us.

This global phenomenon lets people rent out their properties or spare rooms to guests, from small rooms, to shared houses, villas and even entire castles, across more than 65,000 cities. Don’t miss out full guide to Airbnb here.

There were hundreds of appealing options at decent prices, even at peak season and we narrowed down our search using the list of criteria, map view, photos and reviews.

La Farneta with Airbnb

We finally chose an intriguing property on a large private estate in the hidden hamlet of La Farneta in central Tuscany.

Here there are a dozen or so apartments in a classic Tuscan setting, surrounded by olive trees, scorched fields and forests as far as the eye could see.

A family explore the grounds of their Airbnb accommodation in La Farneta, Tuscany, Italy.

Exploring the grounds of our accommodation in La Farneta.

The only sound – apart from our children in the shared swimming pool – was that of crickets in the towering trees of this 230 hectare estate.

The pool was the big draw here. The weather can get so hot in summer I would say you have to have one if you have children in tow.

The outdoor swimming pool at the apartments on the private estate in La Farneta

The outdoor swimming pool at the apartments on the private estate in La Farneta

The owner Gianfausto gave us the authentic experience Airbnb has built its success on – welcoming us to his home, giving us a guided tour and even playing his piano to provide some pleasant poolside accompaniment.

The accommodation wasn’t luxurious but it was authentic and I can’t remember staying anywhere as peaceful.

It may have been 15 minutes from the nearest shop or restaurant but two Tuscan treasures aren’t far away.

Surrounding area

The walled towns of San Gimignano and Volterra provided entertaining excursions. Our children loved the narrow alleys and the nooks and crannies of these picturesque places while the adults could enjoy the sights and sounds of Tuscany.

An aerial view of San Gimignano, an Italian hill town in Tuscany, south-west of Florence

We visited San Gimignano, an Italian hill town in Tuscany, south-west of Florence

Pizza and pasta time!

With every second shop seemingly selling pasta, olive oil or wild boar, food is a big part of any Tuscan trip.

We found several places for a plate of pasta including Osteria Del Borgo in the pretty village of Mensano.

Staying in a remote location meant it was easier to have lunch out and dinner on our terrace with views over the rolling hills as the sun dipped below the trees.

The perfect evening temperature was ideal for a family walk around the estate, roaming the land and spotting the occasional wall lizard or deer.

In conclusion

We knew Tuscany in August was a gamble.

But we discovered it is possible to beat the heat and the crowds and enjoy complete tranquility.

And we ticked a landmark off that rather demanding wishlist.

For more details of how Airbnb works, read our guide here.

Accommodation: Via Airbnb. We received a discount from Airbnb for the purposes of this review. All opinions are our own.

Travel: Flew with British Airways to Florence Airport.

What is the ideal length of a family holiday?

What is the ideal length of a family holiday?

Should you go for a minibreak, a week, ten days or a fortnight – we review all the options.

Is it nice to be proved right by science? I’ve always thought a week is the right length for a holiday. Two weeks is too long, a few days sometimes not enough.

And research published in the Journal of Happiness recommends eight days as the optimum length of a holiday.

A  study says it is the right length of time to fully relax and achieve maximum happiness levels, without getting bored or homesick.

Here we look at all the options.



*If you have shorter breaks, you can have more of them! This method enables you to see more of the world. Four four-day holidays per year or several weekends away, mean you can balance UK and European trips.

*It also feels like a real treat to have a holiday every two to three months to look forward to rather than waiting a year for one big break.


*It can be more expensive as it means more fixed costs (petrol, flights etc) to reach multiple destinations.

*Can you really explore each place properly? You can get around a small town or a theme park in that time but could you tackle an entire region?


We love a mini-break and have written about lots of our favourites including  a trip to Porthmadog in North Wales, an action-packed family break in delightful Durham and a family holiday to Dawlish in Devon.


Porthmadog harbour

Porthmadog harbour

We also have ideas of the best things for families to do in Stratford-upon-Avon and Leicester and advice on how to do London on a budget with children.

Our mini-breaks abroad have included a twin-break on the Costa Del Sol in four days which you can read about here.

A week to 10 days


*A week to 10 days gives you enough time to relax and explore a holiday properly.

In a week you can see plenty of a region like Tuscany, Provence or Cornwall. You can even manage a split-destination break.

*The best of both worlds. Seven to 10 days is long enough to please everybody. You can have the odd day doing nothing by the pool and still see the sights.

*It helps you budget properly. A short break leads to the tendency to blow your money as quickly as possible. Too long a holiday and you could be eking out the pennies by the end.


*If you are going further than five or six hours then travelling, jet lag and adapting to the time difference could wipe out at least three days of a seven-day holiday.

*Cost – two seven-day holidays will cost more than one 14-day break. Especially if you are in the same hotel, or at an all-inclusive, where generally the longer the stay the better the value.


We love this length break and recently spent a fabulous 10 days in Florida, spending half the time doing the parks like Universal, Disney World and Legoland and the rest by the coast – Florida in 10 days – where to stay and what to do.

Our week-long trips have included Madeira and Mallorca.

In front of the castle at Magic Kingdom, Disney World

Disney World



*Becoming a full-time traveller. It’s only on a long holiday you forget that there’s another life back at work or school.

*You can immerse yourself in a country and really get a feeling for a place, even living like a local once you’ve spent the first week working out how to do everything.

*Have a proper split-location break – treat it as two, one-week trips.


*Boredom. It needs to be a varied experience to maintain the interest for this long, if you’re seeing the same hotel walls for 14 days it will stretch even the most enthusiastic holidaymaker.

*Getting over it. The danger of being away for so long is that it’s hard to adapt to life at home. The children may find it harder to start school work or get back into their proper bedtime routine.

What is your ideal holiday length? Tell us in the comments.