The kids have gone back to school. How did you spend your Summer Holidays? In our case, how do you spend those all-important last Summer Holidays before your oldest starts secondary school?
We had some much-needed sunshine on the Aegean Coast of Turkey, with days spent in the swimming pool or on the beach, and evenings eating seafood overlooking the harbour at Yalikavak. We gazed at the super yachts moored in Yalikavak’s marina – the St-Tropez of Turkey if you believe the hype – and took a trip in a gulet around the coast, anchoring in deserted bays, to swim and snorkel in the aquamarine sea.
We got covered in bubbles in a Turkish Bath and visited the extraordinary Ancient Roman ruins at Ephesus. We lost our luggage – and survived the ordeal. Read my posts on the Turkish Bath and lost luggage.
Back in the UK, we spent a few days in the West Country. We visited the Cathedral at Wells, where our highlight was definitely the library. It’s at the top of a stone spiral staircase and it has an area just like the Restricted Section in the library at Hogwarts, with 500-year-old leather-bound books chained to the bookcases. In the library we also saw a copy of the Lindisfarne Gospels and a wonderful bishop’s crozier carved in the shape of a dragon’s head.
We’ll definitely go back to Wells. Next time we’ll visit the Bishop’s Palace so that we can see the swans in the moat pulling a bell on a rope when they want to be fed.
We took a boat down the Kennet & Avon Canal in Wiltshire, passing herons and picturesque barges. The boys took turns to steer so it took us twice as long to get to Bradford-on-Avon as it should as we zig-zagged from one side of the canal to the other.
In Bristol, we went round the SS Great Britain, the huge steam ship designed by Brunel in 1843. We had a brilliant time wandering around the ship and seeing the galley, dining saloon and cabins as they would have looked in Victorian times.
We visited London a few times. Our tour of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace was every bit as grand and impressive as we had imagined. Read about it here.
Like a lot of cities, London is best experienced on foot. Walking around the sights costs nothing and is great fun – even in the rain. The boys and their friends climbed on top of the lions at Trafalgar Square, watched the pelicans in St. James’s Park, gazed up at Queen Victoria’s Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace and walked all around the Tower of London.
The rain turned out to be a real bonus as we were able to go on the London Eye without queueing. The view from the top was still fantastic but because of the bad weather, we almost had the capsule to ourselves.
On one of the sunnier days we went to the pebbly beach at Cuckmere Haven on the East Sussex coast. Overlooked by its dramatic white cliffs, the beach was remarkably quiet and peaceful after the packed beaches on Turkey’s Bodrum Peninsula. The boys played for hours in the sea and on the beach, found a dead shark and ate fish and chips for tea. It reminded me that actually the British Seaside is pretty special.
This September I’ll be writing about our trip to SS Great Britain, the best boutique hotels for families and tips on how to get your children into books.
COMING UP NEXT: The Roman Ruins at Ephesus