WHERE does a travel writer go on holiday? It is a good question. I’m lucky my work takes me, 20-30 times a year, around Scotland and overseas, sharing my action-packed experiences. It’s harder to find time to switch off and relax as a family. But that is exactly what I promised I’d do with a Mediterranean holiday camp break.

A neighbour I’ve travelled with before doubted I’d be able to take an “actual holiday”. He smiled at my destination on Catalonia’s Costa Daurada.

Maybe it is no coincidence I chose an autonomous region of Spain locked in a constitutional battle over its prospective independence? And I am here in general election week, with billboards screaming “Independencia”.

He also doubted I would be “able to stay in one place”. If you are going to try to stay static, Camping & Resort Sanguli is a fine choice. This holiday park celebrated its half century last year – they’re well-versed in relaxation with swimming pools, flumes, an amphitheatre with evening shows, sports facilities and a flurry of eating and drinking venues.

The National: Staying put in glorious Salou

We’re staying in a Eurocamp mobile home Azure XL (www.eurocamp.co.uk). It’s more of a cute wood-clad cabin, with a large deck where I am typing this on our last day, shaded by the pine trees that soothe Sanguli. We were checked in by the smiley Eurocamp staff in seconds and settled into an ideal base with a well-equipped kitchen, dining table, two bathrooms and three bedrooms, so the kids had their own rooms.

One of the joys of going abroad is savouring local food and wine. We’re lucky as Mercadona, my favourite Spanish supermarket, is next door. They’ve a brilliant range of fresh produce, including a fish counter where I snared plump prawns, fresh sea bream and squid to cook on the gas BBQ that Eurocamp provide. And Mercadona do a decent Albarino for under £5. Dining on the terrace with the girls trying the local food has been an utter delight to match any fancy restaurant and I’ve been able to do all the cooking: another joy.

You could spend a week in Camp Sanguli and never leave, but it’s definitely worth heading out. Just outside is Ponent Beach, with its clean sands and calm waters. It is serious switch off time here with just sea, sand and big blue skies. There are a couple of beach bars for sundowners – I recommend one night (slowly) enjoying the flagon of Hendricks they serve with tonic and cucumber.

Salou may be a resort, but it’s not drowned in skyscrapers and neon. We swished through the town checking out the other main beach of Llevant and the wee shops and cafes. On Mondays there is a fleamarket, where my daughters went clothes shopping. Given the Spanish heatwave, wide-brimmed hats were a present from dad. Salou offers decent restaurants too, including Michelin-starred Deliranto, but I’d promised we’d not do “fancy restaurants”.

We did do Salou’s PortAventura World. If you’re taking kids to the Costa Daurada, Costa Brava or Barcelona it’s nigh compulsory. I’m not a huge fan of theme parks, but this one is done so well, with not a single oversized mouse in sight – Spain’s largest theme park is surely its best. We spent a full day (it opens from 10am to 10.30pm) wrapped in its myriad charms. There are log flumes and other welcome cooling water rides, a whole host of adrenalin-pumping roller coasters and fun shows; a liberal sprinkling of decent places to eat and drink too.

PortAventura’s adjacent sibling is Ferrari Land, with its 16 rides and attractions. My teenager Tara couldn’t get enough of Red Force. Three times she soared off on Europe’s tallest and fastest roller coaster, which reaches speeds I’ve never travelled in a car in Scotland – up to a whopping 112 mph!

I’d rather slap on hiking boots than strap into a rollercoaster, so the next morning at 6am I set off solo on the Cami de Ronda. This spectacular hike is surprisingly wild, working north of Salou to the lighthouse at Cap Salou via wooden boardwalks and beaches. I left the seabirds at the coast to uncover an old Spanish Civil War position in the forest a Eurocamp employee had told me about – they are a mine of information. I ended my 10km walk at La Pineda, a twin resort, the end of the Cami de Ronda.

My girls questioned whether heading out on a catamaran later was in the spirit of “staying in one place”. Their doubts disappeared as they whooped through the waves on the netting. It’s sheer bliss being under sail with deep blue below and above, knowing a snorkel awaits before a return sail with a wee chilled Cava.

The National: Staying put in glorious Salou

Yesterday I broke my promise we’d “not go anywhere”. I was a bit sleekit, pointing out to my girls the best shops are in the nearby city of Tarragona. It proved a winner, Iberia’s first Roman city, with remnants shining through the grand stone streets.

We were also lucky to witness the local “Human Tower”. This glorious tradition sees the community get together to literally support one another building improbably high towers of people. With this, the ice cream and nighttime buzz, the girls weren’t even fussed about the shops. Surely a sign of a great family holiday all round.


A KEY to trips with kids is always having loads to do. Yes, ours do get “tech time”, but we also go old school with physical games. On our trip to Salou, we took with us old favourite word game Bananagrams (a quicker, more fun Scrabble), and handy beach-friendly waterproof Dobble picture-matching cards. My wildcard was newbie Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza, a brilliantly fun mind-bending version of Snap that had us all in tears – in a good way. www.asmodee.co.uk