Family travel with flair

Tips for eating at Snow’s BBQ in Lexington, Texas...

Tweet In our ongoing quest for delicious barbecue and out-of-the-ordinary experiences, we drove to the small town of Lexington, Texas, to eat barbecue for breakfast. It had to be done, so we did it. Also because my stepson made us. It ended up being a fantastic morning (read my post about it here). Here are some tips for fellow barbecue enthusiasts who fancy a hot smoked adventure in Lexington at Snow’s BBQ. Jenography’s tips for eating at Snow’s BBQ Prepare for toll roads. The most direct route from Central Austin to Lexington takes you on 290 East, which is a toll road. There are no booths – cameras read your license tag. If you’re in a rental car, make sure you’ve arranged for toll coverage so you avoid those onerous “admin fees” they ding you with for unexpected tolls. Take the right road if you want to avoid tolls. If you’re in a car without TXTag, stay on the access road (also — slightly confusingly — called 290 East but with signs that don’t ) until it converges with the other 290 outside of town, where you won’t be charged. Arrive early. The queue at Snow’s on the day we went was slow and steady, always numbering about 30...

Indoor sky diving at Windoor, Empuriabrava, Costa Brava...

TweetWhen I first visited Costa Brava with a group of UK travel bloggers, we started off our exploration of the region with an activity that couldn’t have been better tailored for my then 9-year-old than if she’d organised it herself. It was “skydiving” in an indoor wind tunnel, at Windoor, in the town of Empuriabrava. Visiting a place like Windoor, you encounter an entire subculture, previously completely hidden. Men and women walk around in body-skimming jumpsuits talking animatedly about body positions. A viewing pit and restaurant tables are arranged in the WindBar outside the transparent tunnel, and groups sit drinking coffee or lager, watching the action inside and looking like they’ll be there all afternoon. We see indoor skydiving places occasionally at various places we visit, and I’d always wondered what they were all about. They sound a bit like a joke course you take at university, like underwater basket-weaving. But when we finally took the leap at Windoor, we were literally floating on air (sorry). What: Indoor skydiving at a facility that professional skydivers use but where amateurs are warmly welcomed too. Here’s the drill: You put on a jumpsuit, helmet and goggles; get a briefing from Pali (in our case), an easy-going instructor from Slovakia; wait outside...

How to celebrate the Fourth of July in London...

TweetHow to celebrate this very American holiday in London? I’ve been wondering that myself for about a decade. The thing about celebrating Fourth of July is that the enjoyment comes from knowing all your family, all your friends, the entire nation is celebrating too. When I lived in in New York, the Fourth meant cookouts in Prospect Park organised by my friends, legendary party-makers and grillers John Fasciano and Frank Reilly. It meant ball games and hanging out among a whole bunch of other groups of people, all playing ball games and hanging out and happy to be off work. Everybody eats hamburgers and hot dogs and it’s all about ritual. In London, it’s still about ritual, but…different. I’m not lucky enough to be invited to the American ambassador Matthew Barzun’s party. The Democrats Abroad group has an annual ticketed picnic, but it’s always seemed a bit big and impersonal. Plenty of restaurants put on special menus with “American food”, god help us. Just booking a table with our little family seemed sad and anticlimactic as the kids don’t have any of the associations with the holiday that I do.   A few years ago my friend Jenn came to rescue. “Come to dinner for Fourth of July!” her...

iPhoneography: Staying at the Anassa in Cyprus...

TweetWhen it comes to luxury family stays, the Anassa’s reputation precedes it. The resort in West Cyprus has won a slew of awards for its thalassotherapy spa and its family friendliness. We had the pleasure of visiting over the Easter break as guests of the hotel to check out what sport and adventures we could get up to over a long weekend. The resort is luxurious, oh yes. But even beyond enjoying this remote resort, we saw gorgeous, unspoiled Cypriot countryside, navigated slippery rocks at the dramatic Avakas Gorge, learned more about the Turkish/Greek divide, ate gorgeous food and lazed on well-sited terraces, admiring dramatic views. I’ll be posting video and reviews soon, but in the meantime, here’s a peek at what we did and saw. Jenography visited Anassa on a half board press trip. All opinions are my own.           Look for more about our Cyprus travel soon. Get vital advice and tips on travelling in Europe in my Europe section...

Cruising South London in the new Smart ForFour...

TweetThe road trip is the beginning of all travel for most of us — how we first experience travel as a child, how we take our first trips as young adults with friends or partners. For me, the destinations were memorable but there are also the memories of the car ride itself. The dens made from sleeping bags and pillows. The detritus of snack-food packaging that accumulated in the footwell. The line drawn down the middle of the back seat. The chilled homemade sandwiches my mother would pull from the cooler when we ate at rest stops along the way. And of course I remember the cars. The Ford station wagon with roof rack with its expansive back area, spreading out like the a fairway before us kids like our private playground.   The custom cherry red VW bug with flared flanges installed by the previous owner, which carted me and my friends to and from Austin.   Because every road trip, every driving experience, is made that much better with an exciting car. That’s why I jumped at the chance to try out the Smart ForFour for a week. This version of a Smart car is designed to hold 4 people, better for families but still with all...

London summer family fun: Polo in the Park...

Tweet Summer in London is awash in festivals and outdoor parties, but there’s something quite special about Polo in the Park. The sport has real elegance, excitement and panache, and now it’s more family friendly than ever. (Scroll to the bottom for discount code for money off your tickets for the Friday or Sunday.) The organisers have teamed up with Sharky & George, the cool, fun children’s entertainers and party organisers. I love these guys — instead of doing the usual kids parties things, they organise imaginative, energetic and silly activities that they themselves enjoy, which gets the kids excited too. We’ve used them a couple of times for my daughter’s birthday or big family get-togethers and the kids always come away pink-cheeked, laughing and exhausted. That means amid the chukkers and mallet-swinging, there will be some very untraditional activities like water bomb catapults, space hopper polo matches (this I must do), a giant obstacle course, strawberry bootlace eating races, tug of war and other games galore. Polo in the Park runs over a weekend — June 5, 6 and 7. Sunday is the day to go with your family, not least because of the great activities, according to  Rory Heron, MD of Polo in the Park. Fridays tend...

I’m going to BritMums Live 2105 – join the Linky...

TweetTalk about a great day out. Usually on Jenography I write about outings with the family or grown-up experiences when we occasionally leave the kids at home. But one of the biggest weekends of my year is BritMums Live, the blogging and social media conference we organise at BritMums. We get to socialise, network and learn with hundreds of our closest friends. It’s coming up on 19-20 June at The Brewery in Moorgate and at BritMums we are deep into planning. I’m joining in on the “I’m going” Linky. If you’re going, you should join in too! The I’m Going to BritMums Live 2015 Meme Name: Jennifer Howze or just Jen Blog: www.Jenography.net, which is all about Family travel with flair. Also, BritMums.com Twitter ID: @JHowze Height: About yay tall Hair: Most of it Eyes: Piercing blue, the kind that look right through you or dance merrily, sometimes with a fast two-step Is this your first blogging conference? This will be the SIXTH one I’ve organised, and I’ve also been lucky enough to attend several other wonderful ones over the past several years. I have a feeling this is going to be the best one yet. Are you attending both days? Absolutely! My philosophy is, even if you don’t...

12 things every female-friendly hotel needs...

Tweet Over the years I’ve stayed at a wide range of hotels. Each time I’ve been female. As a result I can’t help but notice how some places get it right and some get it woefully wrong. There are simply some things that we ladies need when staying overnight. It’s not just a matter of convenience or luxury. It’s evidence that hotels don’t value their female guests (and the money they wield) as much as the men. It’s as much a feminist issue as having enough toilets at sports venues. It means the world is built for only half the population. For those getting it right, I thank you. For those trying to get it right, here is the Jenography list of what every female-friendly hotel needs: 1. Full-length mirror Sometimes I need to monitor my feet without craning my neck. Other times I need to make sure the shoes I optimistically packed for my holiday or business trip actually go with the outfit I put in. In any case, a full-length mirror makes sense for hotel owners, as it saves wear and tear on the duvet from when I have to stand on it to see my lower half in the mirror that’s mounted on top of the...

Preview: Visiting Anassa in Cyprus with children...

TweetIt’s always exciting to plan for a trip but there’s something quite special when you’re upcoming trip makes people jealous. “You’re going to Anassa?” a blogger friend of mine cooed when I told her about our Easter trip to Cyprus, staying at the Anassa resort. “That’s the best place in Cyprus. You’re going to love it,” she said, while her Cypriot boyfriend leaned over and nodded. “It’s the best,” he affirmed. A week later while visiting a salon, the talk of upcoming holidays came round. “Anassa – just today another client told me they’re visiting over Easter,” the owner told me. I knew Anassa was going to be a great place to visit, but I hadn’t known it was going to be this good. This Western Cyprus resort is next to the Akamas peninsula and national park and has won a raft of awards for best family hotel (Conde Nast Traveller in April 2015, Tatler, Telegraph) and spa destination (Conde Nast Traveller Reader’s Poll, among others). It’s a good hour away from the hubbub (and aeroport) of Paphos and we’ll be going for a sporty getaway with children, making the most of the Cyprus countryside and the beach. What has also got me excited — and what had my...

Even after the Germanwings crash, I’m still flying...

Tweet As the revelations have filtered out about Germanwings flight 4U9525, crashed in the southern Alps, I’ve done what so many other travellers have done: imagined the scene inside the plane as it dropped inexorably in altitutude, the mountains looming large in the windows. I’ve thought about the families and friends of the passengers as well as the parents of Andreas Lubitz and what they must be going through. One thing I haven’t done is worry that the same fate of 4U9525’s passenger and crew could happen to me. It would be easy to do, but I haven’t succumbed to fear of flying … and none of us should. Why we shouldn’t worry Partly this is because of the statistics. Despite this horrific incident, we know that flying still remains safer than travelling by car. Partly this is because, for me, I know the amount of control I have once I’ve settled into my seat is limited. I fly airlines I trust, with good safety records, but once I’m on the plane there’s little I can do. I’ve put myself in the hands of the crew. Thousands of people are doing that right now as you read this. Partly this is because I know I am going to keep...

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