The Grandparents’ Guide to a Happy Semester
With grandkids in tow, I have an excuse for new and unexpected experiences. I can spend the day at Legoland, ride an underground train at the London Transport Museum, stargaze, try archery, or let others let off steam at a children’s festival.
Museums may not be a first choice, but I vividly remember my grandfather taking me to see the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London when I was six. So I know that golden masks and glittering treasures fascinate even the very young.
My generation of fit, active grandparents are more likely to zip down a zip line than doze in a lounger with a handkerchief over their head like my own grandfather. Rather, my role model is my adventurous Welsh grandmother, who led my three sisters and I along the Gower cliff paths like the Von Trapp family, rewarding us with ice creams and a bag of Pick n’ Mix, warning “Don’t tell your mother.”
So if you’re looking for some mid-range fun near you, here are some ideas for outings that grandkids and grandparents can enjoy together — and not a word to mom and dad.
20 mid-term breaks with appeal for grandparents and grandchildren
by Sarah Baxter
1. Childcare with a sense of history
While you’re doing daycare, why not visit the world’s first workplace nursery? The pioneering 18th-century mill village of New Lanark is now a Unesco site; together you can ride a pod through history, visit the Old Classroom and Spinning Mule, lick New Lanark ice cream, hike to the Falls of Clyde and burn off the remaining energy in the natural play park . Stay at the hotel or cabins in New Lanark, which offer lovely views of the village and river.
How to do: Tickets £5 adults; free for children (01555 661345; newlanark.org). Family rooms from £99; Cottages (sleeps four) from £290 for two nights (01555 667200; newlanarkhotel.co.uk).
2. Entertain the crew
Visitors aged six to centenarians will be moved by Portsmouth’s D-Day history, an immersive look at the Normandy countryside where you can board the last surviving (and recently restored) landing craft and watch the Super Spies show mid Road. Combine that with a Historic Dockyard ticket, which covers 14 maritime icons, from HMS Victory to the Submarine Museum.
How to do: Tickets £13.50 adults; £10.80 for the elderly; £6.75 children (023 9288 2555; theddaystory.com). Ultimate Explorer ticket £39/£38/£29 (023 9283 9766; historicdockyard.co.uk). The Premier Inn Portsmouth Dockyard has good-value family rooms from £88 (0330 128 1342; premierinn.com).
3. Have fun on a low budget
Want to grow your retirement? For family fun, book into a hostel (note that ‘youth’ is not required) – the YHA January sale offers 25% off. Consider YHA Ambleside, just on the shores of Windermere; basic but comfortable private rooms have a mix of bunk beds and double beds, and some have lake views. It is also well placed for access to lakeside activities that are suitable for all ages, from the Ambleside rock climbing wall and Beatrix Potter World to fancy cruises and varied walks.
How to do: Four-bed room from £452.20 for four nights; use code JANSALE-22 for a discount (0345 371 9620; yha.org.uk).