WE’VE chased Tinkerbell around the nursery, stepped over crocodiles by a pirate ship and played with the mermaids by the lagoon.
But instead of flying to Neverland, we’ve taken the easier option — a short trip to Dumfries in Scotland to visit the newly opened Centre For Children’s Literature. And we’re not disappointed.
Moat Brae — the stunning Georgian riverside home where Peter Pan creator J. M. Barrie spent his childhood getting inspiration for his legendary stories — was once just three days from being bulldozed.
Now, thanks to fundraisers, it has been transformed into a shrine to the writer and his famous tales.
My wife and I are here with our two-year-old daughter, who immediately careers into the beautifully manicured gardens. Older kids are given a treasure hunt map to find ten sculptures of crocs hidden around the outside of the house.
Wannabe Lost Boys and Girls can play on a pirate ship, hang out in the sand with the mermaids and even hide from their parents in Tinkerbell’s tiny house — which our daughter delighted in.
It was in these gardens, which Barrie described as “an enchanted land”, where the writer played aged 13 to 18 in his friends Stewart and Hal Gordon’s garden — imagining pirate ships floating down the neighbouring River Nith.
The house and gardens, which opened this spring, host plays by Barrie and other playwrights.
Inside the 250-year-old home you are taken through Barrie’s life. You can take your kids to one of the regular storytelling sessions and little ones can gleefully chase an interactive Tinkerbell around the walls of its upstairs nursery.
All this left us with a hunger that was suitably satisfied in Moat Brae’s fabulous art-deco cafe which has a great range of hot and cold food and drink. Our salmon, cream cheese and asparagus quiche and kids’ lunchboxes hit the spot.
If your thirst for iconic Scottish writers has still not been quenched, you can pop into nearby Robert Burns House, where “Rabbie” wrote some of his best-known poems.
Dumfries and Galloway might not have the popular draw of the Highlands or the lure of the locks but it’s rich in history and set in a stunning, untouched landscape.
We are here for three nights and our accommodation, Three Glens guest house — just outside pretty Moniaive — is a haven of tranquillity.
To get to it, we drive through a farm, up a stone track and find a stunning holiday getaway with jaw-dropping views over the countryside where the three glens Craigdarroch, Dalwhat and Castlefairn meet.
We’re met by Maureen, a member of the house’s attentive live-in staff, who shows us to our luxurious double room.
In the evening we choose to have an evening meal cooked by the in-house staff, who use produce from the nearby farm. Dinner includes half a bottle of wine, starters of mushroom souffle, a main of pheasant with pak choi and a dessert of freshly picked strawberries and meringue. If you don’t want to pay the £35 supplement for the fine in-house cooking, you can use the property’s fantastic facilities to keep the family fed yourself.
During our three-night stay, we spend our evenings lounging on the balcony of the farmhouse admiring the view with a glass or wine after our daughter exhausts herself playing in the spacious conservatory or relaxing in the snug.
The house, built with 286 railway sleepers, 500 tons of local stone and 2,000 fleeces of sheep for insulation, is just as perfect for a party getaway as a quiet weekend with the family. After a fantastic freshly cooked breakfast we are spoilt for choice of what to do next.
One day we take a trip to 17th Century Drumlanrig Castle where we admire the stunning gardens, take a tour of the imposing castle with its 120 rooms and let our daughter run riot in the vast outdoor play area.
Another day we head to the fantastic Mabie Farm Park which provides a full day out for the family. You can explore the farmyards, take donkey rides and let the kids loose on the trampolines and giant rope slides.
There really is something here for children of all ages . . . even the older ones who never grew up.
GETTING/STAYING THERE: Fly London to Glasgow (90 minutes from Dumfries), from £79pp. See britishairways.com.
A night at Three Glens is from £75pp B&B, £110 B&B/dinner (3glens.com or 01848 200589).
OUT & ABOUT: Moat Brae is £6.50, £5 for children over five, £2.50 for kids one to four (peterpanmoatbrae.org).