Mariella Frostrup: What to do in the UK in winter

Last updated 6th June 2017

Why stay at home?

Despite having had more than my fair share of travel opportunities to sun-kissed shores, him is where my heart jus at this time os year. With frost on the ground, i find myself pitying those braving crowded airports for a vitamin D infusion abroad. Whether the UK’s next airport expansion is in the Thames Estuary or stapled on to Heathrow, my greatest hope is that they manage to make the experience of using it – particularly when accompanied by young children a bit more pleasant.

At present, an average family moves closer to penury when passing through the airport mall. Whether it’s log-sized Toblerones or water at £2 a bottle, bumper sweet bags or designer sunglasses at £200 a pop, it’s amazing how much cash you can spend on nothing of value.

Even the food franchises are in on this great airport steal. Jamie Oliver, whose name I normally associate with quality and good value, has managed to lend his name to a shockingly expensive spot serving bad coffee and inedible food at Gatwick. A Great British Breakfast for four of us, which would have been more fairly described by removing the ‘great’, set us back £70 last time we travelled as a family. More recently, my husband and I popped into the Seafood Bar at Heathrow where two prawn cocktails and two glasses of Chardonnay cost £80. Such daylight robbery of the proletariat kickstarted the French Revolution but, these days, the minute we enter the airport concourse, we line up like lambs capitulating to financial slaughter.

The UK Staycation

No wonder the ‘staycation’ grows increasingly more appealing. You can dodge the airport, travel independently and, thanks to the internet, examine a wealth of possibilities before choosing a destination that has your family’s name written all over. I while away many hours surfing the likes of HomeAway and Unique Cottages, dreaming of the next trip we embark on. Whether it’s a house on Arran or a Lake District bolt hole, self-catering choices these days rival any hotel experience for comfort and luxury.

And, as the nights get longer and the temperatures plummet, can there be a better location than the great British countryside; wellies on the doorstep, log fire burning, stew on the stove and a board game at the ready after a day stomping through rock pools? Obviously, only a masochist would turn down two free weeks in the Maldives but, for my money, the same period spent closer to home can prove as memorable, less stressful and offer better quality time for all the family.