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April 8, 2017

Castles live in our heads as much as they linger in our landscape, and Bodiam has enough portcullises, turrets and winding staircases to last a child's lifetime: our three-year-old son absolutely loved it. And so did every other small person I saw running, exploring, climbing, gazing, playing, thinking and stumbling round this 14th-century moated palace. Bring your kids and they'll be in seventh heaven for two hours. Bring a picnic and a frisbee, and you've got a day taken care of.

I have to say, though, I did wonder as we approached it, why the land just 500 metres to the north was as high as the castle's highest turrets. Odd, I thought, as I imagined mediaeval Trebuchets (yes I am a history geek) stood on these hills launching rocks, burning oil and oh yes, severed heads down...

April 4, 2017

A mile south east of Battle is a little woodland that feels like a lost kingdom. Swamps, wooden walkways edging over the water beneath on stilts, dark rivulets diving off the path hinting at hidden watercourses and crown-like tussocks of reeds staring at you across the darkling mere.

Walking down from the car park along the Catsfield-to-Battle road (Powdermill Lane), the traffic noise disappears after you turn left and head down into the deeper woods. A concrete track takes you down to a wooden footbridge and there the fun begins. We'll leave the directions once inside the wood for you to find out – it's simple – but it's so worth a visit.

One to two hours can be spent here if you've got kids as there are coppiced areas of hazel and alder which are s...

March 20, 2017

Pulling back the door of the tent that morning, I caught my breath. This was England, right, not the Amalfi coast? It was Mayday 2009 and we’d guerrilla camped, unwisely, under cover of darkness at Fairlight Cliffs, in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty five miles from Hastings. We were here on our bicycles for the annual Jack in the Green festival in the town – a folkie pagan knees-up where the town goes all Wicker Man and paints everything and everyone green.

Pitching up at night is kind of exciting while utterly tiresome, but once we’d got settled we had an incredible galaxy of stars to gaze upon as we fell asleep. I knew the sea was close, but I wasn’t expecting the azure sky and sweeping panorama from Dungeness in the east to the rugged coastline in the west butting up against Has...

March 2, 2017

I've never been tempted by posh burger joints – after all, they're a penny a dozen in London – so we've avoided Hoof on Rye's high street, which only opened at the end of summer last year and therefore felt as much a DFL as I did. But on a rainy day in March, walking a hungry toddler with an ear infection and his baby brother in search of 'pasta please, Mummy', we finally tried it, simply because it was the only place on the high street that did mac 'n' cheese.

All I can say is, YES. It's small (everywhere's small here), but they've nailed the customer experience. Exuberant waiting staff showed us to a table, smiled and spoke to my two-year-old, swooped down with crayons and a colouring-in sheet as soon as he started playing with the pepper pot. His Mini Mac and Cheese kids' meal cost a f...

February 25, 2017

You've driven past it and thought, ‘Oh, what a stunning hill! And look at all all those paraglider thingies. Beautiful!’ But have you been up there? Well I’d say it’s worth it. We took our two-year-old and three-month-old up on a gorgeous January Sunday afternoon and were rewarded with a stunning views, a bracing breeze and a thermos of tea. 

Parking is pretty informal. There's a car park at Glynde train station which leaves you only a mile and a bit’s walk up to the village of Glynde and then left at the shop or on a bit and left opposite Gynde Place. But with our kids we just drove westwards along Ranscombe Lane underneath the mount until we came to Caburn cottages, parked the car (after checking with a chap washing his car) and walked straight up through the field (not actually a footp...

February 1, 2017

BY JUSTINE HOLMAN

The first thing we’re told as we enter the new installation at Sea Life Brighton is rather alarming. Crabs, the stars of the aquarium’s latest attraction, ’Claws‘, communicate by urinating on each other’s faces. To myself and my two young companions, this makes us look at these crustaceans in a new light.

There are plenty of other amazing facts and figures in this small but fascinating exhibition, which is situated close to the entrance of the world’s oldest operating aquarium. Dimly lit so you feel as if you are underwater, there is a wide array of shell-dwelling creatures on display.

We’re immediately drawn to stars of the show, two Japanese Spider Crabs. They are huge. We’ve not seen anything like it before. And the circular nature of the tank o...

January 4, 2017

Brighton​​

(For six-week-olds to crawling)

Baby massage

Session included in membership, from £56 per month

It’s not easy being a parent. Male or female, the weight of the role and the many tasks that come with it often mean you forget to enjoy your baby. Baby massage can give you a calm, pleasant dedicated space to focus on nothing but your relationship and, particularly for bottle-feeding mums and full-time dads, a way to really strengthen that bond as part of your daily routine. In this class, parents learn the basic movements, concentrating on a specific area each week. There are a huge number of health benefits too: baby massage can improve circulation and alleviate colic, digestive problems, sleep problems, skin rashes, congestion in the chest, constipation and diarrhoea. Now who wouldn...

June 3, 2016

You can’t go wrong with pick-your- own fruit. All you need is a liberal attitude to mess (perfect time to put them in that ‘Aren’t I cute?’ T-shirt you’ve been dying to get rid of), a handful of coins and a car. At Tibbs Farm, a family-run PYO site that’s been growing since the 1970s in Udimore near Rye, the pickings are extremely rich. Here’s what you need to know before you go:

1. You can eat as much as you want

When I, in my naivety, asked the lady behind the counter how many was too many, she smiled and shook her head. ‘How exactly are we going to police that?’ Actually, she doesn’t need to. It turns out that, especially in hot weather, you can eat too many strawberries. And too many raspberries and loganberries.

2. They don’t take cards

It’s cash or a cheque (bless ’em).

3. It’s the tast...

April 2, 2016

Yes, yes. The Natural History Museum is wonderful. But being squashed in a queue with other kids screaming every five seconds as the animated Tyrannosaurus Rex roars does lessen your moment, and then your kids just go quiet with fright, before getting weepy and asking to go home.

Now in Sussex you’ve got a beach where the dinosaurs lived and you can still find their footprints. Every low tide, when the water is pulled out to sea by the tug of the moon over the horizon, you can run your hands over the place where their webbed feet once sank into the mud. You don’t need David Attenborough’s voice to drop magic into your children’s – or indeed your own – imagination.

But before the dinosaurs, the first thing to greet you though once the tide’s gone out is a sunken for...

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