Amsterdam’s green light areas

I have found it hard to accept that one of my sons, aged eleven, just doesn’t really like cycling. He comes along on trips, pedalling patiently with a smile through gritted teeth, but really it just isn’t his thing. So it was either me taking a homeopathic approach to curing the complaint, or just being in total denial, when I decided that we should go on a mum-son break to Amsterdam. The city of cycling. It’s a bit like throwing the child who doesn’t like to swim in at the deep end really, isn’t it? Until I watched him stride down the canal, head held high on his tall Dutch bike and joining the throngs of other cyclists who rule the roost in this stunning city, and I realised that suddenly he had got it. He had found that feeling of freedom, allowing a whole new world to open up to him over the next few days.

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Sustaining the wonderful island of Sark

Sark, one of the car-free Channel Islands

If there is one place I could go back to this mid summer, it would have to be Sark. One of the Channel Islands, it takes a good while to get there but it is so worth it. Sark is a car-free and sustainable Channel Island lying 11 km east of Guernsey and about 40 km west of the Cherbourg Peninsula of France. I discovered it on a trip to (also gorgeous, but not quite so special) Jersey a few years ago, which I was heading to by ferry from the south of England. I got chatting to a crowd of cool young ones, who told me they were en route to Sark. They come every year around midsummer to gaze at the stars, because Sark is not only car free, but it is totally free of street lights and so an astronomical Arcadia.

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Sea kayaking in Baja, Mexico – Irish style

I say it again and again – kayakers are cool. I get the chance to kayak a lot on my travels, and kayaking guides are, nearly without exception,  fun to be with, informative, caring and sharing. And these guys, Atlantic Sea Kayaking, based on the cove-a-licious coast of West Cork, Ireland, are top of my list. Not only are they superb activity ambassadors in my native Ireland, but they also run sea kayaking trips in Baja, Mexico every winter. It is this connection with Mexico which led to their founders, Jim and Maria Kennedy, being honoured recently by the Mexican government and receiving  the highest award  that can be bestowed on a non Mexican, The Ohtli Award.

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Cycling at Bedgebury Forest, UK

Cycling at Bedgebury Forest

If you Google ‘Bedgebury’ you’ll see that this is the National Pinetum and has been the UK’s finest collection of conifers since 1925. Which is gorgeous, but not if you are my teenage boys, who sort of lost me at ‘pinetum’.  If you research a little more deeply, however, and this is the point where my lads zoned back in again, you’ll find a load of cool videos of skilled mountain bikers taking on the singletrack trails of one of South-East England’s most exciting forest enterprises. Cycling at Bedgebury Forest is a superb day trip from London and a regular family day out from London for us now.

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