23rd March 2007 at 00:00
Allison Gribbon teaches art and design and is senior pastoral leader at Gartree High School, Oadby, in Leicestershire

Favourite place when you have time off?

I took friends from London to Rutland Water, which is less than 30 miles away from Leicester, and they said: "We never thought Leicester would have countryside." Leicester's not the first place you'd think of to visit but it does have lots of things to do that are family, as well as me, oriented.

Last half-term, I went with my kids (five and nearly two) to the National Space Centre (spacecentre.co.uk) in Leicester - my oldest loves pretending she's an astronaut - and to the New Walk Museum, (leicestermuseums.ac.uk) which has a dark and spooky Egyptian room and what she calls "real dinosaurs", which are full-sized replica skeletons.

Friday was my payback. I went with some friends to Ragdale Hall (ragdalehall.co.uk) for a day of pampering. It looks like an old stately home and is such a beautiful place, but it's not more than half an hour from the city centre. I'd call it a very exclusive spa - no children or mobile phones allowed.

When's a good time to come?

We love watching the floats go by at the Caribbean carnival in summer.

Apparently it's the biggest in Britain outside Notting Hill in London.

Lunchtime treats?

Queen's Road in the Clarendon Park area of Leicester has little wine bars, cafes and bistros. Jones's is famous for its pasta and mussels. Leicester market is massive and brilliant for food. I always get my fresh fish there and they have lovely cheeses, particularly Stilton. Outside Leicester, you have Melton Mowbray, the home of the pork pie.

Evening delights?

The Case (0116 251 7675, www.thecase.co.uk) in the city centre is gorgeous, with a little champagne bar downstairs, but it's not cheap. The food is beautifully presented modern European, with unusual veg, nice sauces and lovely puddings. Last time, I had a raspberry creme brulee - the kind of dessert which makes you think: "I wish there was more of this."

Don't miss Last summer, we went to a brilliant 9ft-high corn maze the size of three fields at Wistow (www.wistow.com). From the air it looked like a ship, but every year they grow it in a different pattern.

Remember to buy On the Melton Road on the way out of the city centre, the specialist Asian shops have an amazing variety of fabrics Renata Rubnikowicz Find out more Special offers and accommodation on Leicestershire's gourmet trail, including the Michelin-starred restaurant The Olive Branch at Oakham and Ye Old Pork Pie Shoppe at Melton Mowbray, at www.gourmettrail.co.uk.More information can be found at www.goleicestershire.com

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