This is the story of steam. And not the variety usually coming out of parental ears when trying to deal with the kids during the holidays. It's a tricky time - especially if you don't want to travel abroad ... and especially if you decide it would be a good idea to go north and find yourself in relentless traffic, in lashing rain, on the A1. Foolhardy or, maybe, just plain foolish?
A case of steamy windows then on the motorway but, with serendipity the rain eases as we near our destination. We - myself, my wife Laura and our three children, Ella, seven, Olivia, three, and 20-month-old Liam - are spending three nights in Keldy, a collection of impressive ski chalet-style cabins in Forestry Commission land on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors. It sounds idyllic. It looks idyllic. It is, to be honest, idyllic. The blurb claims it's an area of outstanding beauty. It's no exaggeration. We also have the luxury of being housed in one of the VIP cabins which, obviously, intrigues the children who, when they have VIP explained to them, shrug as if such treatment is only natural for persons of their calibre. But the extra outlay appears to be worth it.
All the cabins on the site are spacious and open-plan with impressive balconies, well-equipped kitchens and huge floor-to- ceiling double-glazed windows, although some may still be described as fairly utilitarian.
The VIP variety has plusher furnishings, a flat-screen TV and a DVD player - not exactly Grizzly Adams but a Godsend in an unremitting downpour of a day. The superior cabins, one up from the standard, also have these gadgets, but there are add-ons for the VIP - namely a wood burner... and an outdoor hot tub. Now obviously we're here to explore the forest walks - some led by rangers - rivers, streams, breathtaking hillsides, glades, the fishpond and badger hides and breathe in that wonderful, wonderful fresh air. But an outdoor hot tub! On a chill spring afternoon!
So while my wife unpacks the wellies, waterproofs and whatever, a military-style logistics operation in itself, it's only natural, and purely for the purposes of this article, that I jump in the tub. It's glorious and very VIP-ish, especially with the drizzle wafting gently over the balcony and the wonderful view across the forest- clad moor-side through the rising steam of the water. And then, of course, the kids decide to get in too. I protest about laws banning minors but I am drowned out. Almost literally.
They love it. …