The suitcase is out of the loft, the suncream unearthed from under a year's worth of junk (note to self: buy some new suncream) and the RAC route planner consulted. Yes readers, I'm going on a staycation!
Come this Friday I shall be tootling up the motorway in the new Smart Fortwo CDI car -- the lowest CO2 emitting car on the road -- to Natural Retreats, a "stylish residence set within the stunning National Park of the Yorkshire Dales". And what, you ask, does this have to do with parenting?
Well, granted, a car that fits only two adults isn't going to be top of anyone's family car shopping list, as admirable as it's carbon footprint is. But Natural Retreats, now that could be perfect for you parents.
Staycation used to mean a holiday at home, literally in your house, trying not to catch up on DIY or answer work emails, or be driven too nuts by the kids. Nowadays, post-credit crunch and mid-global warming, the term staycation is broadened to include holidays for all the family that don't require a plane to get to.
Natural Retreats has six locations, one in the Yorkshire Dales and six in Ireland. The Yorkshire Dales site, near Richmond, is set amidst beautiful countryside, with a host of family-led outdoorsy activities to get involved in, right on the doorstep.
The lodges are luxurious, with three ensuite rooms and plenty of space for the kids to play and you to get some peace. Plus, if the great outdoors fails to excite them there's a huge flatscreen TV in each lodge which might.
I'll report back on my stay next week. Meanwhile, here are some top tips for stress-free travel with the kids from Wendy Shand of child-friendly travel specialists Totstotravel.co.uk.
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