I lived in Italy for the first five years of my life, because my father was working out there, so that was like one big holiday. But the first real family holidays I remember were going to grandad’s caravan in the Lake District and to north Wales with my auntie and uncle.
In the summer, I go with Caroline, my wife, and our kids – Archie (12), Matilda (nine) and Rocco (six) – to Forte Village in Sardinia, where I run Legend holidays. They are luxury holidays where kids get to train with sporting champions. At Christmas, we tend to go to Norfolk, where my mother-in-law lived. I love it up there. We also have a long weekend every year with the northern side of the family, in north Wales.
When we go on our beach holidays we never travel without Waboba balls, which are little hacky sacks that skim over water. I never go away without a pack of cards or pens and paper. I inherited my games- madness from my father. On holidays, I’ll regularly be surrounded by 30 or 40 kids, and I’ll organise swimming races or create a game from nothing.
In 2014, I was in Kenya with the family. We stayed at the Rutundu Log Cabins, two little cabins halfway up a mountain, and went out on the lake with Cosmo, our guide. At 12,000ft, we caught a rainbow trout! My daughter, Matilda, wanted to bring it home, but it wouldn’t have travelled well. I have a photo of Matilda and me holding the fish; it’s a picture that will warm the cockles of my heart forever.
It tends to be when we go to Forte Village as family. It’s a big and safe resort, so the kids can have a lot of independence. They can ride their bikes and go off with all the other kids. That said, it’s tough to beat Christmas holidays at Granny’s in Norfolk. Last year, we went to see the seals on Brancaster beach and flew kites. When the dogs are running everywhere and the fire’s roaring, it’s tough to beat.
One of the important things we’ve found is that, as a parent, you’ve got to be prepared to be like Tom Hanks in the film Big. On holiday, you’re not going to sit on the beach for three hours like you did when you were in your 20s. You are basically a posh private Redcoat for a group of little velociraptors! You’ve got to be ready to play.
You’d be amazed how much fun kids have, in this so-called digital age, if you can teach them a new game. If you could be anywhere in the world now, where would it be? My favourite weekend of the year is when we go to the SportFest weekend in Wormsley, where families and sports stars get together for coaching, games and lots of fun. We camp or glamp and have the most magical weekend in a little enclave of paradise just off the M40 – if that’s not an oxymoron!
There are umpteen little B&Bs off the Norfolk coast that won’t break the bank. North Norfolk isn’t jam-packed, because there are no motorways to it. People give up on going, because they think it’s a pain to get to, but once you’re on the north Norfolk coast, it’s absolutely glorious. You can find so many wonderful places.
In March, we’re going on our first family skiing holiday, to Zermatt, Switzerland. We’ve decided to make 2016 the year of the family holiday, so we’re ditching all mates’ trips. My kids are six, nine and 12, so I’ve probably got about four years until my eldest wants to go on holiday with his mates. This year, whether we’re in Norfolk, north Wales, Sardinia, or up a mountain, the most important thing is having an awesome time with the family.