What were you doing on a particular day 16 years ago?
This is the question at the heart of the Serial Podcast, an award-winning series which reports on the murder investigation of Hae Min Lee, an 18 year old student at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore. She was abducted and killed on 13 January 1999. Her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed was convicted of her murder and given a life sentence. He’s still in prison, despite protesting his innocence throughout. Continue reading Truth and Justice, and the Serial Podcast
Excited by the prospect of fossils and rock formations our Easter road trip took us in our shiny Campervan “Ruby” to the Jurassic Coast – which spans Dorset and Devon in the South of England.
Now that we have Ruby we weren’t afraid of camping so early in the season and booked into the fantastic Hook Farm camp site in Uplyme, near Lyme Regis. Despite the slightly soggy ground (we had to be pulled out of the mud by the tractor) the site was quite busy with campervans, tourers and a few hardy canvas campers. It’s a lovely quiet small site, suitable for young families and adults and I would definitely recommend it.
I’m disappointed that neither of my children are the type to spend hours beach-combing as once they had found their first fossils they thought that was ‘job done’ and time to get an ice cream! There were fossil hunters everywhere, but plenty for everyone to find as the photo below shows.
Branscombe hit the headlines a few years ago when a cargo ship lost some containers which were washed up on Branscombe Beach and looted by the public. The beach was idyllic on sunny Easter Monday with the kids diverting a stream or relaxing on the pebbles. A short walk away in Branscombe village is the National Trust Old Bakery tea room which served the perfect cream tea!
So food features quite highly in my list of holiday essentials and we weren’t disappointed at the Good Food Store or the Harbour Inn where the kids put away an adult meal each! The mussels were the largest I have ever seen and the choice of seafood was fantastic.
The South West Coast Path runs the length of the Jurassic Coast. We walked sections of it most days, and whilst hilly it provides ever-changing scenery and breathtaking views of the coastline. From Charmouth you can walk up to Golden Cap, which is the highest point in Southern England.
It’s probably been about 15 years (or more!) since I holidayed in the Black Forest in Southern Germany as it was a firm family favourite whilst I was growing up. This year we decided to revisit the Baden-Wurttemberg area as parents with our two kids in tow.
Here’s my top 5 great things about holidaying in the Black Forest:
1. Karneval or Fashing (not ‘fishing’!!)
Fashing is the German version of carnival, but it is a week-long series of festivities during February, culminating in Rosenmontag, where a traditional parade takes over the streets of every village, town and city. The parade is made up of every local club and association, each having their own theme, float and characters. Sweets are thrown at the children and confetti thrown at the crowds. It’s great fun and a great taste of local tradition.
2. Pine forests and snow
Winter in the forest is beautiful, and we got a couple of day’s skiing in as well as sledging and some awesome tabogganing. The area is really well equipped and you can also hire snow shoes or cross country ski gear, or simply go hiking along the trails (which are really well marked).
You can hire sturdy sledges at the Rodelbahn to sledge a 3km long taboggan route through the forest. Take the chair lift up and slide back down!
If you’re willing to try something different then you are sure to find it in the Black Forest! Game is a favourite, so be open to trying Wild Boar or Deer. Fish is more popular here than in the rest of Germany as they have access to River Trout, and the traditional egg noodle ‘spaetzle’ is delicious. You’ll get some juicy Wiener Schnitzel and of course a great range in Bratwurst sausage.
BUT (* here’s the reason for the asterisk above) there is very little in the way of variety for vegans, vegetarians or anyone with a diet that doesn’t involve meat. Meals are rarely served with vegetables, so you will need to order a salad as a side dish to make sure that you get your 5-a-day!
4. Great adventures
There’s loads to do beside winter sports or rambling, for instance:
The Rodelbahn in Todnau is (perhaps) the longest mountain rollercoaster in Germany. It winds its way along a 2.9km track down the side of the hill. It was closed when we went due to the huge amount of snow, so a return trip is called for to experience it!
The city of Freiburg which lists the minster amongst its many historic buildings – and is great for a day out.
Indoor and outdoor spas such as this one in Titisee-Neustadt which boasts 18 slides and a wave pool. We ran out of time to go there, but are planning a visit on our next trip!
A warm welcome is pretty much guaranteed to people travelling with children as the folk in this area of Germany are very family focussed. If you make a little effort to speak some German – even if it is rudimentary – then your efforts will be appreciated by the locals. We stayed at the excellent Haus Erika guesthouse, which is run by ex-pat Lesley and her German husband, which is perfect for British families trying the Black Forest for the first time.
If you’re visiting the Baden-Wurttemburg area of the black forest then flights to Basel-Mullhouse-Freiburg are your best bet. Happy travels!