Let’s go Dutch!

Zaanse Schans, an historical site full of working windmills.

Zaanse Schans, an historical site full of working windmills.

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Leaving the choice of holiday destination to your 11-year-old son may seem like a recipe for disaster, but we managed to strike gold despite Jack’s lack of culinary knowledge.

“Holland!” “Holland?” ”Yes, Holland” “Why Holland?” went the somewhat stilted conversation “’Cos they make the best pies obviously.” “Aaargh!”

’Cos they make the best pies obviously

Once I had put him straight on the culinary delights of the Netherlands we booked a trip to Duinrell, with Eurocamp, taking my father along for a three generation boys on tour week away.

We took the overnight P&O ferry from Hull to Rotterdam, which kicked off the holiday in tremendous style.

These days the ferries are more like cruise liners than freight carriers, with great entertainment and decent restaurants.

It was so much more relaxing than circumnavigating the M25 on the way to the channel, and felt like the holiday started the minute we boarded.

The park is less than an hour from Europort, as opposed to a four-hour expedition through France and Belgium, which felt like we gained an extra day’s holiday.

Situated between the two capitals of Holland, Den Haag and Amsterdam, it is easy enough to enjoy a cultural, historical and downright hysterical time in just a few days.

Finding somewhere for all the family to enjoy is never easy, but this place fit the bill perfectly. It combines a large holiday park complex with all the facilities and a fantastic theme park, and even an incredible water park too.

Our home for the week was a lovely three-bedroom Eurocamp static caravan, which was well-appointed and featured everything we needed and more besides, as well as a barbecue and patio area.

Whoever designs these things probably had a hand with Dr Who’s Tardis too, how they fit so much into such a small area is beyond me – if only I could do the same at home.

We had plenty of room outside the caravan to store our bikes, which proved a godsend as the campsite is pretty expansive.

The onsite theme park proved a strong draw for Jack, and most mornings started with a few stomach-churning loop-the-loops. Even my dad got in on the act, “enjoying” his first rollercoaster ride in 60 years. Best of all, it was completely free of charge.

Despite some decently scary rides the best attraction of all in our opinion was the low tech toboggan ride, this proved great fun for all of us.

Basically you sit on an individual teatray with wheels and are pulled to the top of a hill – this being Holland it isn’t the Matterhorn, but it is fairly steep, and when gravity takes its course you fairly zoom down the winding track.

Jack is a bit of a daredevil on rides having grown up on Alton Towers and Blackpool Pleasure Beach, but even he was impressed by some of the coasters.

There were plenty of fantastic rides aimed at the toddler and primary school age group too, as well as decent play areas and cafes to recover.

Now, one excellent amusement facility would be great on a site, but Duinrell boasts two, which is just greedy!

The Tiki Bad Waterpark was less about swimming and more about holding on for dear life as you hurtled down the incredible slides and flumes. I’m not too big to say that I was terrified on a couple of them, but we always went back for more.

Think Sandcastle on acid and you get the picture.

The wave pool and lazy river were exciting enough for me, whereas Jack took great delight in challenging me to the more exhilarating and downright scary kamikaze flumes.

It’s easy to spend the whole week on the campsite, and many do, but we like to explore our surroundings.

Being Holland, cycling around the nearby small town of Wassenaar was lovely; it’s beautiful and full of boutique shops and Luciano’s, an amazing ice cream parlour, which always seemed to be our preferred destination.

The ultraclean beach was only a couple of miles away along dedicated cycle paths, which were great fun and easy to navigate and, being Holland, cyclists are given priority in lots of places and the land is lovely and flat.

We carried our own bikes from home, but it would have been just as easy to rent them on site.

Holland may not be everyone’s idea of a cultural destination, but it offers so much in a relatively compact country that it really should be high on your list.

Amsterdam is only 20 miles or so from the campsite, and a decent park and ride system meant it was easily accessible.

It’s a fascinating and cultured city, but with an incredibly laid back and relaxed feel to it.

Boasting several incredible museums, including the world famous Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum, there is plenty for art lovers to explore.

But, to be honest, we preferred to wander the canalside streets, people watching and taking in the variety of small market stalls and curiosity shops.

Although I was careful to avert my son’s eyes as we stumbled across an area of the city that really should carry an 18 certificate!

As the song goes, when it’s Spring again you really can bring home tulips from Amsterdam – but only if you time it right – the world famous bulbfields of Keukenhof gardens are just around the corner from the camp site.

We had a smashing trip to Zaanse Schans, a fascinating historical site full of working windmills, cheese makers and all things quintessentially Dutch. It’s free entry too, although there are charges to visit certain areas.

We loved the clog making demonstration – the process doesn’t seem to have changed at all in a hundred years and involves a series of tools that look like medieval torture implements.

Our trip was only marred by Jack locking us out of the car and the subsequent sound of breaking glass as we had to break in to retrieve the keys.

We drove to Arnhem, which was a fair trek but worth it to visit the poignant war graves and famous bridge.

The nearby Overloon War Museum proved fascinating and housed an incredible array of military vehicles and memorabilia. My father was in his element explaining everything to his grandson. It was a really moving experience for all of us.

Holland proved to be a perfect location for us. A fantastic break in a lovely location, with great facilities and fabulous fun…. and not a pie in sight.