When abroad, I devour the guidebook. I attempt the language, read famous books and watch classic films set where we're going.

I eat the food, insist we see the sights, learn the history and become expert in local customs. I do this right up until I'm home, when I disregard the country, forget everything about it and return to watching crime boxsets with a bag of Wotsits on the sofa like none of this ever happened.

My kids were, until recently, pretty cool with this. True, on one French sightseeing holiday, I was forced to convince them there was a difference between a French and English minute to justify the fact a chateau "just round the corner" had taken so long to reach.

"Daddy. You said 10 minutes."

"French minutes, guys."

The villa challenge

But now they're older and wiser it's harder to convince them of the merits of a red onion museum 50 miles away. Siding with the kids last year, my wife scoured the James Villas website after I'd fallen asleep in front of the TV and out-manoeuvred me into spending a week in Frigiliana, Andalusia, sat around the pool of an idyllic Spanish high-end holiday home.

They loved it, of course, but being ginger, I burn faster than thin-cut pizza. It was 38 degrees most days.

Despite the Alhambra Palace being practically on our doorstep – a mere two-hour drive away – I had to lounge poolside, the kids periodically squirting me with water pistols to prevent me drying out like a seal at a dolphinarium.

This year when my wife came off the phone from Oliver's Travels, announcing she'd booked a week in another villa with a pool, this time near Arezzo in Tuscany, I was ready for her.

Child-fooling tactic 1

As I write, we've not had a single pool day. Instead, I've been baiting the kids out with gelati.

“Of course we're not going to Pienza to see the papal palace of Pius II. No, kids, we're going for an ice-cream. But, hey, if we happen to pass the palazzo, we might as well pop in to escape the heat, right?”

Child-fooling tactic 2

Banning iPad use unless we're driving is also a useful move. It’s incredible what my son will do for an hour on FIFA 16. Yesterday he actually bolted for the car, which was bound for a display case containing the gammy tooth of Renaissance poet Petrarch.

Child-fooling tactic 3

I've also shamefully been abusing the National Lightning Safety Institute website's advice on swimming pool use in thunderstorms.

"Cloud looks ominous, guys. It’s up to your mother: either you flirt with the voltage or we could go to Cortona, which is famous for its stracciatella milkshakes."

Source : www.telegraph.co.uk/

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