Luxury Family Holidays Handpicked for Parents

Monthly Archives: October 2014

Jemma Slevin is a mother of three, and founder and editor of The Little Book. Despite being one of the busiest women we’ve ever met (she single-handly produces The Little Book herself), Jemma lives in Windsor with her family, making her the perfect parent to advise us on things to do in the home counties with kids. The Little Book is the family lifestyle magazine for parents with young children covering Berks, Buck, Oxon and Surrey.

Jemma Slevin and children


I’m always excited to arrive at Cliveden. Sweeping along the drive through beautiful parkland and catching the first glimpse of the majestic house, it never fails to overwhelm me. So, whether it’s because Mr. S and I are escaping to enjoy a few hours together over dinner, or simply popping over en famille for a walk before Sunday lunch, it’s always a treat to go there. The maze is a highlight for our children; exquisitely pruned and one of the best examples of a maze I have ever seen, it enchants and entertains them for hours. And the gardens are breathtaking. Each visit is completely different to the last, as they change with the seasons and provide a fabulous backdrop for hide ‘n’ seek. The National Trust have a wealth of family events lined up throughout the year, including outdoor theatre in the summer and Christmas decoration-making in the winter. And, if this all gets too exhausting, head to the house for a sumptuous high tea by the enormous fireplace.

Cliveden House maze

The River and Rowing Museum, Henley-on-Thames.

Toad, Ratty and Mole enthusiasts, (and anyone with an interest in The Thames), will adore this spacious and very family-friendly museum with it’s light and airy cafe. It provided the perfect introduction into Wind in the Willows for our children who have loved the various themed events and workshops that are regularly held during the year. From crafts to animation, there is something for all age groups and the finale of the year for children up to age 11 has to be Toad’s Christmas party – poop, poop!

The River and Rowing Museum entrance

The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, Great Missenden.

I’m a huge advocate of enhancing a child’s reading experience by making stories come alive and, at The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, they do just that. This is where Roald Dahl lived and wrote for 36 years, and it’s true to say the magic of his imagination is well and truly alive there. Children who are familiar with such classics as The Twits, James and the Giant Peach, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, will marvel in delight as they recognise props and paraphernalia from the stories. Daily events are catered for children aged 6 to 12 and include crafts and other activities based on the books: how can they not be enticed by Witchy Wonka biscuit bars and Bogswiffling cloth bags? The village itself is charming and provides the perfect backdrop for a weekend walk with kiddies in tow.

The Roald Dahl Museum exterior

Windsor Great Park, Windsor.

Living in Windsor, we are fortunate enough to have the great park as our back garden – and not because we live in the castle! The park is so vast that anyone living in town or the neighbouring villages is only ever a few minutes drive from this immense estate and, for many, it is visited daily for dog walking, exercise and, in our case, the school run. This time of year is particularly special, as the children love to walk under the trees collecting conkers and kicking up the fallen leaves. It’s magical; the colours are breathtaking and, sometimes in the early hours, there is a low mysterious fog; every morning I feel so lucky to experience this and the children arrive at school so happy.

Windsor Great Park and castle

The Long Walk is easily accessible from Windsor town, but the park also offers a number of other locations where you can park and set off on a gentle walk, family cycle or intrepid ramble. The Savill Garden offers the perfect venue for a leisurely stroll, the perfect place to enjoy a coffee or even Sunday lunch. Close by, Virginia Water is a wonderful place to explore the antiquity of the landscape, including ruins imported from Tripoli in 1816. It is enhanced by the scattering of some of the great ancient oaks for which the Great Park and its forest are renowned. Two good family pubs for a welcome rest bite are The Fox and Hounds (reviewed in our latest issue) and The Baliwick, both in Englefield Green and backing onto the Great Park itself.

The Thames.

As it meanders out of London and becomes non-tidal, the Thames River passes through some delightful villages and towns with beautiful countryside in between. It’s heavenly spending a summer’s day pottering on the river. There are many locations where you can hire a boat, and the river is full of little islands and creaks that create a Wind in the Willows-esq adventure, as well as the perfect place to picnic. A lovely lunch destination up river from Windsor is the Oakley Court Hotel, with its sprawling lawns reaching down to the water and mooring facilities. You’ll be assured of a friendly welcome and a great lunch on the terrace during the summer months, where the children have space to play on the lawns next to you, or inside the main hotel for the wet, colder months.

Oakley Court Hotel on the Thames


Adriana Chryssicopoulos and Tatiana de Boisanger Adriana Chryssicopoulos and Tatiana de BoisangerAdriana Chryssicopoulos and Tatiana de Boisanger met while working at NET-A-PORTER and bonded during pregnancy over their mutual despair at what was available out there for stylish and fashion-conscious expectant mothers. Adriana worked in the accessories buying department and Tatiana was managing the site’s weekly email mail-outs. Together, they launched NINE IN THE MIRROR, a new website designed to offer pregnant women and new mothers an edited selection of non-maternity, stunning designer ready-to-wear. With looks straight from the catwalk, in sizes that will work from the first to the third trimester, NINE IN THE MIRROR aims to help women remain true to their personal style despite physical changes through pregnancy. From Maje to Marni, J Brand to Joseph, this is a one-stop, online shop for those in the know. Adriana Chryssicopoulos takes some time out to tell us a little more about it and share her own travel style tips.

Congratulations on the new site. Can you tell me a little more about why you decided to create

NINE IN THE MIRROR was created after Tatiana (my founding partner) and I went through our pregnancies while working in fashion and found that, in our aim to stay true to our own personal style, we were opting out of maternity wear. In order to do so, we had to make a time-consuming and laborious effort to seek out stylish items that would suit us. We felt that for all e-commerce offered, there was a gap in the marketplace when it came to high-end designer clothing that was suitable for expectant women. NINE IN THE MIRROR aims to prove that pregnancy is no obstacle to great style and, therefore, the site offers an edited selection of wearable non-maternity pieces from luxury and contemporary designers.

Are you big on travelling with your children? Where have you had your best holiday to date?

I am big on travelling with children.  I love travelling and some of my fondest memories of my childhood are of summer trips taken with my parents and siblings. My best family holiday to date was a few years ago, when my husband and I took our two small children on a boat trip to the Aegean Sea in Greece for a week. It wasn’t super luxurious, but simple and in tune with nature. We would start the morning swimming and fishing and end the day with dinner or barbecue on the beach, followed by star-gazing. We stopped in various different secluded bays for swimming and would take the kids exploring on the rocks and coves. I was nearly eight months pregnant with my third child at the time, but the fact that we were all on the same schedule, early to rise and early to bed, made the trip restful.

And your worst?

My worst trip with children was a 10+ hour flight I took with my daughter Olivia when she was just 10 months old (and my only child at the time). We flew to Buenos Aires and she was ill with a stomach bug the entire flight. By the end of the flight, she had soiled all her clothes and, as a last resort, I had to dress her in an airline pillowcase. The actual trip to Argentina (which I otherwise LOVE) wasn’t much better as she remained unwell for the duration and I was ordering very expensive chicken broth from room service!

Do you have any must-have travel accessories or items of clothing for yourself when flying?

I love travelling with a super-soft, oversized pashmina or blanket. It doesn’t matter if it’s the middle of summer or not: planes usually have the air-conditioning on full and I love wrapping myself up from head to toe in-flight. It also comes in handy when you need to create extra cushioning for your children napping on top of you!

And anything you always bring for the children?

Its funny to think of travelling with children before and after the iPad. When my eldest was small, I would bring a bag full of stickers and colouring books and wind-up toys and similar knickknacks to keep her entertained. Now, all I need is a pre-filled iPad (and by that I mean new, unseen cartoons and games) and a headphone splitter with two headphones. As a mother of three, I have old iPods that come along as well because, inevitably, they all want different things. PS. I ironically still take a carry-on bag with colouring books and reading for the kids, though inevitably it never comes out of the bag. Wishful thinking!

For a hot weather holiday, what would you recommend to expectant mothers, wardrobe-wise?

I would recommend loose fitting, airy clothing. Floaty dresses are an easy option and look chic paired with smart flat sandals. However, I personally love the comfort of elasticated or drawstring shorts teamed with an A-line top. A shirtdress is also extremely versatile  (a crisp white design will never go out of style) and can be easily dressed up or down depending on your shoes and accessories.

Sandro short sleeve playsuit Sandro short-sleeved playsuit, £260

And for a cold winter holiday? 

For a cold weather holiday, I recommend layering, since it’s hard to know what to expect away from home. And since one is likely to brave the elements while away, in order to see the sights, it’s important to bundle up the bump, too! Invest in a warm winter coat that has ample room for a growing bump. I love Joseph’s cashmere parka – it’s elegant but easy to wear, and super luxurious. I’d also recommend a great pair of maternity jeans. Our failsafe black coated designs from brands like Paige can go from day to night – simply switch out of boots and into a nice midi-heel with a button down silk blouse (By Malene Birger has a beautiful powder pink version). Layer over a knit cape or a crepe buttonless blazer from T by Alexander Wang and you’re set!

Alexander Wang draped crepe blazerT by Alexander Wang Draped crepe blazer, £384

By Malene Birger silk shirtBy Malene Birger Silk button down blouse, £259

Paige maternity jeansPaige coated Verdugo skinny maternity jeans, £224

Joseph cashmere knit capeJoseph Cashmere knit cape, £385

Do you have any beauty essentials you recommend for expectant or new mothers? 

I love Mama Mio, which I discovered when I was having my first baby. Their clean ingredient range has since expanded, but I used the Tummy Rub Oil or Butter for maintaining moist skin, particularly as I had really itchy and dry skin.

Who is the best dressed expectant mother, in your opinion? 

There are so many at the moment, so expectant dressing is really having its turn in the spotlight. I thought Kerry Washington in a Prada crop top when pregnant was unbelievable, and now Blake Lively showing off her baby bump in a plunge-front Gucci gown. There are almost too many to choose from…..

I also loved seeing the front-row crowd take on dressing for the shows when pregnant. It was particularly interesting to see how Eva Chen, Miroslava Duma, Yasmin Sewell and Natasha Goldenberg adapted their personal style to pregnancy at the recent Spring/Summer 2015 shows – #StyleTheBump!

Do you have any items on your site that would work really well for new mothers, as well as expectant mothers? 

Yes, definitely. We know that the 4th trimester is a tricky, often overlooked period and it’s difficult since women’s figures don’t always bounce back to their original shape quickly. For this stage, we have plenty of button-down blouses that make breastfeeding easier and elastic waist trousers, as well as casual lounge pants. Or if a new mother has an event to attend, we also have great evening pieces that hide and accentuate the right curves!

If you could go anywhere on holiday with your family (a dream destination or hotel, so to speak), where would it be?

I would love to do an animal safari in Africa with my children, but I think they need to be a little older before we can fully enjoy it. I also want to rent an RV and do a cross-country USA trip. I think that would be memorable for many reasons and provide many laughs for years to come.


As previously discussed when we ranted and raved about the idyllic Studland location for the latest Pig hotel opening, The Isle of Purbeck on Dorset’s Jurassic coast is about as good as seaside country escape destinations get. Seahorses inhabit the clear, clean waters of Studland Bay (no, seriously), tiny lanes wind around picturesque cottages with sweeping views of the Isle of Wight and the people couldn’t be friendlier. And should you take our advice and decide to spend some time there with the children, there is now even more reason than ever to visit.

Fore Adventure tomatoesFore Adventure forage basket

Fore Adventure is a new business that has opened along Middle Beach, a gorgeous sandy strip that sits, unsurprisingly, in the central part of Studland Bay. The whole ethos of the business is connecting people with nature and whether you opt to kayak or canoe, camp, forage, bushcraft or feast, you’re children will undoubtedly be doing just that. And if you’re up for some luxury accommodation while you’re there rather than camping, the local environ of Studland is rife with lovely hotels, though your little ones can still benefit from the incredible surrounding environment thanks to Fore Adventure. Because Jade and Dan Scott, the clever couple behind the company have some amazing “beach schools” now open for booking that will thrill little ones in the coming months.

Fore Adventure children snorkellingFore Adventure foragers

How each day is spent will depend on the weather and the tides but, no matter what happens, supervised children will be exploring the local playground of cliffs, sea, beaches, woods and heathlands. Beach-based art, scavenger hunts, foraging, fishing, rockpooling, bushcraft, kayaking, wild cooking and snorkelling are just some of the outdoor antics that Fore Adventure organise through both their Beach School and their Outdoor Adventure Summer Scheme. Children react in incredible ways to the experiences according to Jade and Dan: “seeing children first recognise that glorious relationship between the outdoors and what they eat is always a special moment. It’s exciting! Donning your wellies and grabbing your basket and exploring the hedgerows and seashore is like a treasure hunt of the natural kind. Being able to eat what they have found in this adventurous way is an added bonus – it becomes about the journey. There is something deeply satisfying in finding and cooking up your own food, which is so clearly evident when working with children – it appeals to all the senses, something that can’t be said for many go-to children’s activities. Our own brood (now 3!) are sold on it.”

Fore Adventure mackerelFore Adventure dinner

And if you want to get involved, there are plenty of things available for parents, too. The foraging and cooking looks especially enticing, given the wealth of amazing local produce found right on the Studland doorstep. And given how family-focused Dan and Jade are themselves, it’s no wonder Fore Adventure began: “a pursuit of the English dream was our inspiration for the business. Wanting to move out of the city and all of the trappings that comes with, we had a desire to head to the country with Molly who was four months old at the time. We really care about getting people outside, seeing it from a new and exciting perspective, and adventuring.” 

Fore Adventure dinner lights

Fore Adventure are now are now taking bookings for their 2015 summer scheme, which will run from 09.30-16.30 each day ( for those aged 6-14 years of age).

Bespoke options for parties or children are priced according to group size and the scope of your adventure imagination. Please visit Fore Adventure for more information.

B Magazine Issue 1 cover

So if you’re pregnant and choosing maternity care, you would do very well to check out this month’s newest magazine launch, B – for bumps, births and beyond.

B is the only baby magazine dedicated to mums-to-be who have chosen to have their antenatal appointments, the birth of their baby and their postnatal care in private maternity facilities across the UK so, if that’s you, then this magazine cuts out everything irrelevant to you and ensures you have a wealth of information right at your fingertips regarding your pregnancy, your labour and your private healthcare. Alternatively, if you’re simply choosing private care for your antenatal classes, scans and diagnostics, complementary therapies and other areas of care not covered by the NHS, B will be as useful to you as those birthing privately.

With four issues coming out a year, B will cover all aspects of conception, pregnancy, labour, birth, the post-partum period and your baby’s first two years. So whether you have questions on the health and development of your foetus (and, let’s face it, who doesn’t!?), spas and beauty treatments available to you, how to pack for the hospital or the latest health care and technologies in Caesarean sections, for example, you’ll find it on the pages of B. Want to stay fit during and after pregnancy? You can read up on what exercise is safe in pregnancy, what private gyms and exercise classes are suitable for pregnant women and how to get your body back after delivery, what to buy, what to eat and, of course, where to travel to throughout your pregnancy and with young tots (we’ll be helping a bit with that area, of course).

And the wealth of information given doesn’t stop there. Because you don’t stop being ‘you’ when you’re pregnant and want to know about how baby will adapt into every area of your life, you’ll also find fantastic, expert advice on childcare, food and wine, cosmetics and fashion, interiors, and top rated family cars.

Founder and managing editor Sally Hall says, “I wanted to create a magazine that answers all the questions every woman has when she’s pregnant. I never forget how excited and avid for knowledge I was through both my pregnancies, and I know it’s the same for every woman and her partner. I want women to know about the latest research and techniques that are being pioneered in the UK as soon as they become available – not long after their baby is born. B is a magazine that women can pick up and read serious articles their baby and also discover stylish maternity wear and baby clothes, see the latest products in the shops and find gorgeous holiday and beauty locations to help them continue to feel amazing. Together with the website, B supports and informs from the moment the line turns blue until you have a bouncing toddler.”

Issue 1 of B is out this month and is distributed via private maternity clinics, surgeries, clinics and hospitals across the UK.

For more information click


Having just returned from the most idyllic few days exploring the Cornish coast from north to south, I am a little in love with that southwestern pocket of England at the moment. Being based in Dorset, admittedly, it isn’t a million miles from us (a comparatively “short” three and a half hour drive) but, no matter where you’re based, that far-flung county, dotted as it is with surfers, sweeping beaches and panoramic skies is well worth a look in, either as a long weekend destination or the spot for your summer holidays (which we’re seriously considering should the weather keep going as it has the past few years). So if you want to know what to do in Cornwall, this is what we simply wouldn’t miss.

Where we stayed

Natural Retreats is a company with properties across the United Kingdom (and they now have a few in North Carolina and Virginia, too) who specialise in eco-friendly, dog-friendly, family-friendly houses that are luxurious, lovely and extremely welcoming. We stayed in a fabulous, four-bedroom house in Trewhiddle, which skirts the edge of the lovely Cornish town of St. Austell. Self-catering it is, but the house comes fully equipped (and we mean FULLY equipped), so you need bring nothing with you except what you plan to eat and drink at home. The area is dotted with delightful pubs if you plan on spending not a second in the kitchen (see below for the big name restaurants that aren’t more than a short drive away). The Natural Retreats hub is absolutely tranquil and there is a charming on-site playground for children. A concierge on the property means that any questions you have can easily be answered, DVDs can be borrowed, and bookings can be made on your behalf. This is a delightful and very intimate way to holiday as a family if you want something more personal than a hotel, but far more luxurious than a B&B, a cottage, or (dare we say it), a tent.

Natural Retreats Cornwall exteriorNatural Retreats Cornwall living roomNatural Retreats Cornwall beach

Where we ate

Padstow is about as idyllic as fishing villages get. From the rock-dotted estuary across to the small, painterly harbor that bobs happily with wooden fishing boats, this is the stuff of picture postcards. And for food-lovers it’s worth, quite literally, hiking to. Rick Stein has his name stamped right across this little pocket of Cornwall, but Padstow itself manages to retain a charming, historic and very localized feel. So, if the culinary genius of one of our most-watched television chefs is what you’re after, there are several options. His fish and chips can be ordered in super stylish blue-and-white boxes and enjoyed along the waterfront (there are lines waiting to order before the place even opens), and his fish and chip restaurant has communal but very inviting wooden seating. He has a deli (where I had to resist spending a small fortune) from which you can buy home made pies (we did just that for Saturday night supper), meats, cheeses, his own oils and wines, and, of course, any of his cookbooks. And then there is Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant, the smarter, more formal version of all the above, which I can’t recommend highly enough. Laden with flowing white tablecloths and inhabited by seriously professional wait staff it may be, but we wandered in with our three year old Lola and couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome. We dined on lobster and fennel risotto, monkfish curry and a lobster salad (all washed down with one of Stein’s own surpisingly delicious Spanish white wines), while Lola ordered from the Mini Stein’s menu. Children aged three and over are absolutely welcome and there is a wonderful amount of thought given to their food, as well as yours. Forget the usual sausages and fried scampi options: she happily munched on squeaky fresh grilled cod and vegetables (the battered fish and chip option is available too, of course), drank fresh pressed apple juice and happily coloured her menu (crayons are provided by the lovely staff). This meant we could sit back, as a family, and enjoy a long, lazy lunch. We walked (a small portion of) the calories off along Padstow estuary at low tide later that day, which was glorious. The air was fresh, the beach was practically empty (despite Padstow being so buzzy) and then we meandered back through the Cornish lanes to our charming house in Trewhiddle for those aforementioned (seriously tasty) ale and steak pies, red wine and a trashy movie.

Rick Stein's Seafood restaurant children's menuRick Stein's Seafood restaurant sign

What we did

Aside from exploring the beaches of Cornwall (another one worth a visit is Waterside Bay Beach – home to Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant which is vast, great for surfing and seriously beautiful), we also couldn’t miss the Eden Project. Having heard so much about it over recent years, we spent a very happy Sunday afternoon there. Appearing as if out of nowhere, the glass biomes of this incredible conceptual space house perfect examples of untouched environments so rarely found on today’s planet. The rainforest biome, for example, is an immaculate example of a natural rainforest – it demonstrates the same humidity, heat, sound and plant life, only you’re in the middle of Cornwall’s heartland. Aside from offering gorgeous acres of gardens in which children can happily spend a day, the entire project is designed to educate and inspire children about the world they live in, to work to preserve what we have and appreciate everything around us. Though too young to fully grasp the concept of where she was, Lola was mesmerized by everything around her.


Eden Project bioneEden Project familyEden Project bird's eye

And if you’re in the area this coming half term, the Eden Project’s own ice rink is set to open on the 18th of October, while Halloween promises to be great for kids. Fans of “Room on the Broom” (by “Gruffalo” creator Julia Donaldson) will adore the Little Monster’s Ball on October 31st though, no matter what time of year you’re lucky enough to find yourself in this part of the world, The Eden Project really should be a requisite visit.