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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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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It’s an architectural masterpiece, widely considered one of the most important National Trust properties in the UK AND its extensive grounds have been designated as an “Area of Special Scientific Interest”. We discovered that Castle Coole in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, is a rather special place indeed.
Have you ever jumped back in time? We have. At the Ulster American Folk Park – an open-air museum near Omagh, Northern Ireland – we were immersed in the sights and sounds of a typical Ulster market day in spring 1917.
Travel isn’t about ticking off beautiful places; it’s about gaining new experiences, stepping outside your everyday world and seeing things from a different perspective. So for my village-reared country kids, Mannheim was a source of wonder and amazement.
Knitting, ice-skating, miniature pancakes, vintage trams and many, many games of “Sjoelbak” – all in one day out at a seriously impressive open-air museum in the Netherlands.
Dull see-saws and creaky roundabouts? Not in Luxembourg City, where the kids’ playgrounds are joyous, colourful works of art.