IF there’s one thing Covid has taught us, it’s to embrace the small stuff, the little wins that make you smile despite the challenging times we are all living through.
Like many families, we’ve stopped fretting about foreign holidays and learnt to enjoy local day trips, focusing on the happiness of just being together and having fun. It really helps you feel positive during what’s been a difficult time.
Some of my favourite days out are close to home and spontaneous. Wimbledon Common in South West London is perfect, especially when you can get your hands on a new Suzuki Swace. It’s a lovely car and an eco-friendly hybrid – ideal for my no-fuss great escapes.
You know that scene in Home Alone, when they’re all late and running around the house in a panic? That used to be us, but not anymore. My husband Alistair and I have learnt the hard way that the key to a stress-free family day out is prepping the night before.
With our nine-year-old twins Harris and Riley sleeping soundly, we lined up all our bags, boots and sporting equipment, then we also headed off to bed – knowing we’d be all set to leave after breakfast.
We definitely don’t travel light, even when we’re only going out for the day, but with the Suzuki Swace I don’t need to worry because it’s incredibly spacious. An estate design with a huge boot, there is plenty of room for everything we need – even the dog.
Our beloved spaniel, three-year-old Daisy, was loaded in first, in her crate where she likes to snooze while we travel. Next, four pairs of wellington boots, a bag with a change of clothes for the twins – due to their penchant for jumping in muddy puddles – a football for sports-mad Harris, and Riley’s skateboard. There was still space for a cool box of snacks for my eternally hungry children, and of course a flask of coffee for Al and me.
It’s not just the boot that’s roomy – even with us all on board and safely belted in, the car is comfortable and airy. As every parent knows there’s nothing worse than being packed in like sardines, which inevitably leads to noisy squabbles in the back seat.
Setting off to the Common, I felt relaxed and happy, and thanks to the car’s smart connectivity system, I could plug in my iPhone and blast out some tunes for a family singalong. Stormzy is Harris’s choice, while Riley is more of a fan of whatever is big on TikTok that day. It may have been freezing outside, but with the steering wheel and front seats heated, we were all nice and toasty inside.
As a family we’re trying hard to be as eco-conscious as possible these days – the children are very keen. From recycling to travel, it’s always on my mind. The Suzuki Swace is a stylish but environmentally friendly petrol hybrid and has low emissions, and great fuel economy, so we’re doing our bit for the planet.
Outdoors watching the children play is my happy place
Driving in London can be stressful, but the car is brilliant at manoeuvring in tight local streets and with its blind spot monitor, parking assistance and enhanced safety features, it’s a pleasure to drive.
Arriving at Wimbledon Common, we piled out and headed off for a brisk family walk, Daisy racing ahead excitedly. I’d love to bottle her endless energy! Outdoors, in the fresh air, watching the children play is my happy place, and it makes all the difference as a parent when you arrive somewhere feeling relaxed. Al and I strolled, and it felt like the perfect way to spend a Saturday.
My stash of snacks was soon demolished so we decamped to a local cafe for takeaway treats. We were soon slurping hot chocolate and eating bowls of chips to warm us up, Daisy waiting patiently by the bench for any scraps.
Great days out near you
IF you’re stuck for inspiration for your next adventure, here are some of my favourites
Take in the views
If you live close to the coast, there’s nothing better than a walk to blow away the lockdown cobwebs. Or try coasteering – discovering caves and rock pools spread along the shore.
Britain’s 15 National Parks contain some beautiful and inspiring landscapes – perfect for walking or cycling. Plus there are 15 National Trails and nearly 50 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty across the country – find your nearest at visitbritain.com.
Many outdoor National Trust locations are open for local walkers, so – while enjoying the exercise – you can steal a glimpse of some of Britain’s most impressive heritage homes and buildings. But do check nationaltrust.org.uk before you set off.
As dusk began to fall, it was time to pack up and head home, the children’s cheeks flushed pink and their eyes heavy with tiredness. Belting them into their car seats, I knew they’d sleep soundly after all that fresh air.
The hybrid system is self-charging, so there was no need to find a charging point while we were out – one less thing for me to worry about. Al and I put it in electric mode on the drive home, which is so quiet when you set off from the lights, and we let the twins have a little nap. After unpacking the car and putting Harris and Riley to bed, it was time to phone for a takeaway and put our feet up for a boxset binge.
Yes, it’s nothing like strolling on a beach in the Canary Islands or racing down a ski slope in the Alps, but a local trip is still a great mini adventure, and that’s what really matters to me.
To find out more about the new Suzuki Swace, go to cars.suzuki.co.uk/swace