Lohr am Main – The Snow White town

Once upon a time… a kind and beautiful princess lived in a handsome castle in Germany. Her mother died when she was still a girl, and her father remarried shortly afterwards. But the stepmother, reportedly in possession of a magic mirror, was a vain and manipulative woman, favouring her own children over her adopted stepdaughter. Eventually the relationship snapped; the princess fled away from her family, over great hills and through deep forests. Eventually she settled and lived in exile in a community of dwarfs working in the local mines.

The princess (well, Baroness, technically…) was Maria Sophia Margaretha Catherina von Erthal. Quite a mouthful, isn’t it? But you have almost certainly already recognised her as “Schneewittchen” from the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale: or, in English…

Snow White.

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Playmobil Fun Park

All over the world, children and adults alike instantly recognise Playmobil – chunky noseless characters inhabiting cartoon worlds of knights, farmyards, fairytales and other bastions of childhood imagination. This modern classic German toy has been hugely successful since its introduction in 1974; Playmobil figurines cannot hold hands (try it!) but if they could, the resulting chain of every figure ever constructed would circle the globe nearly three times!

But what we discovered only recently is that children of all ages can let their imaginations run riot at the Playmobil Fun Park near Nuremberg, Germany.

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Family camping in Norway

Finding an excellent family-friendly campsite in Norway isn’t easy… but we discovered a real gem.

Thundering waterfalls, pristine mountain wilderness, gargantuan glaciers, chocolate box villages and quite possibly the most celebrated coastline in the world: Norway has everything you could possibly want for the more adventurous family camping holiday.

Well, almost everything…

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Scooters and cupcakes: An afternoon in Luxembourg City

They say that the best adventures are unplanned. I disagree.

I believe that the best adventures are those with a bare skeleton of a plan: something concrete enough to include at least one clear goal or objective, yet vague enough to allow spontaneity to thrive and flexibility to reign.

Take scooters and cupcakes, for example. Don’t ask why, but I figured that an urban micro-scooter adventure with the kids might be a rather pleasant thing to do on this sunny winter’s day. Simultaneously, I (somewhat randomly) remembered a delicious cupcake given to me a couple of weeks ago.

The seeds of a plan had been unwittingly sown: explore Luxembourg City on our micro-scooters and find a place selling cupcakes. Well, why not?

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Karmøy – the birthplace of Norway

A home exchange in south-west Norway gives us the local knowledge required to fully explore a fascinating and historically-rich island.

The generous living room windows of our home exchange look out over a narrow channel towards the island of Karmøy. From our cosy vantage point, we watch the weather fronts rolling in from the wild North Sea and the rain-battered ships taking refuge in the calm waters. The vessels may be new, but boats have been making their way through this passage for thousands of years already. For as long as time itself, this route has been known as the safe way north, the “Northern Way”…

Norway“.


Merely a kilometre across the channel – but just obscured from our view by a neighbouring house – lies the ancient church of Olav in the village of Asvaldsnes. There – right there – is the birthplace of Norway, the main stronghold of King Harald Fairhair who controlled this “Northern Way” and first unified this nation.

All in all, it feels like a rather apt place to start exploring.

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The land of enchanted light: Camping in Nordjylland, Denmark

Rubjerg Knude lighthouse in northern Jutland (“Nordjylland” in Danish) is in a precarious situation. Huge sand dunes whipped up by vicious North Sea winds are threatening to swallow it completely, and the coastline that it stands proudly upon is being eroded alarmingly quickly. Buried by sand or collapsing into the sea? Recent estimates suggest that it will grace the Danish coastline for another 5-10 years at most. We’re lucky we got to see this hauntingly beautiful structure before Mother Nature claims it as her own.

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