Top Ten Free Activities for Summer Holidays

Along with Christmas (yes, I’ve said the C word in July), summer holidays are one of my favourite times of the year. Lots of time to enjoy with my daughter and loads of fun activities going on everywhere. However, six weeks of big days out can start to get a bit pricey, so I try to balance it out with activities that are free of charge. I really believe that you don’t need to spend lots of money to have fun as a family. So here’s my top ten free activities for the summer holidays:

1. Parks. Here in Cardiff, we’re very lucky to have so many great parks. Brilliant for outdoor exercise, meeting new children to play with, learning about nature and for picnics. We’ll be spending plenty of time in our local parks over the summer.

2. Libraries. Not only for discovering new books to enjoy, there are often fun activities going on at libraries over the holidays. In the UK, children can sign up for the Summer Reading Challenge, giving plenty of motivation and rewards for reading.

3. Arts and crafts activities. Ok, so it could be argued that this isn’t really free, as you’ll have to buy at least a few things for any craft activity. However, if you get maybe a set of paints, some glue and scissors, hours and hours of creative fun can be had by recycling household items such as kitchen roll tubes, cereal boxes, washing up bottles etc.

4. Printables. There are loads of free printables on the internet. Colouring pages are great for keeping the kids occupied for a bit while you get boring grown up stuff done. There are also lots of learning worksheets and activities to do together. Try looking at Twinkl or the Cbeebies website.

5. Board Games. Again, this is entirely free since you would have to actually buy the board games. But once you have, they’re always there, ready for an hour you have to fill. Anyone who regularly reads this blog knows that we as a family are huge fans of tabletop games. If you’re put off by memories of Monopoly fights, please look around at the games available today. There are such a huge variety, I really think anyone could find something that they and their children can enjoy.

6. Museums. We have several museums within easy reach and they’re all free entry. As a bonus, they’re all running activities over the summer. A great hands-on educational activity.

7. Movie day. While I only do this a couple of times over the six week break, it is nice (especially perhaps the day after a really exhausting day out) to cuddle up on the sofa with a big bowl of popcorn and enjoy some films.

8. Geocaching. A great way to explore the outdoors, searching for hidden caches in parks, around town centres and pretty much anywhere. Pop on the Geocaching website and find caches near you.

9. Visiting the coast. Notice I didn’t say the beach. Yes, the beach is a great, fun and free day out. But there’s plenty more to do at the coastline than making sand castles. You could search rock pools for sea creatures, hunt for shells and even fossils!

10. Historical sites. Castles, ancient ruins, churches and other historical sites are often free to visit and offer a fun way to learn about national and local history.

What other fun free activities do you and your family like to enjoy during the holidays?

Top Five Items to pack for days out

For us, the summer holidays are very nearly here and I know that for many of you, they already are. I’ve got lots of fun days out planned and it should be a great summer.

Of course, especially with a small child, you always need to be prepared for every eventuality. I carry a backpack on days out. It’s much more convenient than a handbag as you’ve got hands free and it can carry much more comfortably. Here’s my list of things to keep in your bag on a day out:

1. Suncream and sun hats. So, so important. Even if it’s a cloudy day, I always keep suncream and hats with us so that if the sun does peek out later on, we’re ready for it and we don’t need to hide in the shade or, even worse, go home to avoid sunburn. I also try to dress Pip in clothes cover her shoulders. I know that I can burn really easily and, given that she has the same very pale skin as me, I imagine Pip would too – hopefully we’ll never find out!

2. Waterproof jackets. I’d recommend waterproofs that fold away into neat little bags, making them really easy to carry around without taking up much space in your bag. They come with us even on sunny days because the British weather is famously unpredictable. Just as with the sun cream & hats, it means that if the weather changes, the day out doesn’t have to end! Plus, it provides a clean and dry place to sit on grass in the park.

3. Water. In hot weather, it’s easy to get dehydrated, especially if having an energetic day outdoors. Keeping a bottle of water handy prevents this and also means that you won’t be spending money on extra drinks while you’re out!

4. Spare clothes. Food mess, travel sickness incident or jumping in muddy puddles (Peppa Pig has so much to answer for), clothes get ruined easily on a day out. I always at least take a spare top for Pip.

5. First Aid Kit. I keep a small kit just containing antiseptic wipes and plasters in my bag every day anyway but if we’re having a whole day out, especially for something like a walk in the woods where getting medical attention isn’t going to be quick or simple, I pack a slightly larger kit. Here’s an NHS guide to what should be in your first aid kit. You can also buy pre-prepared first aid kits but make sure they contain everything you need.

What else would you keep in your bag for a day out?

Jurrassic World Racism Controversy: A Few Facts

There seems to be a big issue with the new Jurassic World movie, as many people seem to think it’s being racist by referring to pachycephalosaurus as ‘pachy’. For those who aren’t aware, this sounds the same as a derogatory term for people from Pakistan (not a term I would ever use or defend the use of, I’d like to make very clear). While I haven’t seen the film (although I really, really want to!) I’d like to point out a few things:

1. The dinosaur in question is NOT pakisaurus. A pakisaurus is a completely different dinosaur, specifically a sauropod, so named because it was discovered in Pakistan.

2. Pachycephalosaurus is regularly shortened to ‘pachy’, due it being a very long and somewhat tricky to pronounce name. Including in Jurassic Park 2: Lost World as shown in this clip. Did anyone cry out for that film to be banned? Nope.

3. This film was made in America, where the derogatory term ‘Paki’ is not used or known. The people who made this film would not have made that connection, never mind put it in the film as some kind of subtle message that Pakistani people should be treated as dangerous animals, as seems to be the main point of the argument.

I really hope people pay attention to these facts, calm down and enjoy the movie – it sounds awesome and I can’t wait to watch it!

Days out in Cardiff: Roath Park

During May half term, myself and Pip took a trip to one of Cardiff’s largest parks, Roath Park. I’ve been wanting to go for a while, given that we’ve visited most of the other major parks in the area and we do love exploring new places.

On arrival, we first took a walk around the lake, spotting the different kinds of ducks and geese there.

FullSizeRender 91

While it would have been really lovely to have a boat ride on the lake, it was a very windy and surprisingly chilly day, especially by the water, and I thought it best to stay on dry land!

FullSizeRender 99 FullSizeRender 103

I let Pip have some time in the playground next. It’s a well-equipped play area with equipment for younger and older children. Always one for making new friends, Pip was soon running around with a group of other children. I can never quite get over how confident she is – you’d never have seen me approaching children I didn’t know to play with at that age!

Next we had a walk through the gardens, which really beautifully kept. Our walk took us to Roath Park Conservatory. There’s a small charge (£1 each, if I remember correctly) for admission but I think it was well worthwhile. Inside are a huge range of exotic plants plus a large pond filled with koi carp of varying sizes – some really huge! – and a few terrapins. Pip loved watching them paddle through the water so we stayed here for quite a while.

FullSizeRender 73

Here’s a video of our day in Roath Park:

Desk Tour

We’ve been doing lots of reorganisation in our home recently. This has included myself and Husband getting a new desk each. I haven’t had my own desk in a few years so this is pretty exciting to me. We purchased the desks from IKEA. We’ve got them arranged together to almost form one desk. It means we can easily chat to each other but still have separate spaces to ourselves.

We’ve added a shelving unit, again from IKEA, for our HP Envy printer and shared stationary stuff. We’ve bought some lovely decorative and organisational bits and pieces for our desks. Now that I’ve got my own desk to put it on, I’ve made a board on Pinterest of accessories for it. Check it out here!

Having a study space will be very useful for my final uni course. It’s always been a bit of a struggle finding quiet places in the apartment to study so this will solve that problem nicely. If you want to see a whole tour of our new desk setup, I’ve made a video of it as part of my introductory vlog video – take a look!

Thanks for reading. If you have any inspiring desk setup ideas, I’d love to hear them!

A Brief Explanation of my Blogging Break

Hello all.

I have not posted on here in about a month now. I have not abandoned this blog or anything. I am simply very busy with work, revising for an important university exam and lots of other bits and pieces that are taking up pretty much all of my time at the moment.

My exam is at the beginning of June and after that, I am committed to posting much more regularly. I’m also going to start vlogging too, which is pretty exciting. In between revision and building new furniture (more on that another time) and family stuff etc, I have made a very long list of things I’m going to blog about once I have time to do so.

I promise there’ll be more posts coming soon!

Gardening, without the Garden

I have always liked the idea of growing my own food. It appeals to me on many levels: it involves being outdoors, it’s a nice, productive and not very expensive hobby and, now from the perspective of being a parent, it’s great for educating my daughter about where her food comes from and how plants grow.

The problem is our lack of garden. We live in a very nice apartment and I know that I’m actually very lucky that my home’s only drawback is that I don’t have a garden but still, it is a bit limiting, especially when the weather is nice.

It seems that the people who own our apartment building had the same thinking. So last year they gated off an area of the car park, put some benches in and some containers of flowers, creating a pleasant place for residents to sit outside. On seeing this, I had the idea that the section of the gated off area under Pip’s bedroom window, which wasn’t being used for anything, would be perfect for us to grow some plants. I very politely asked the owner, who said it would fine, they had hoped people would want to use the area. That was last year though, and too late to start planting anything. So instead I bought a mini greenhouse when one was on offer at our local garden centre and it sat in it’s box in a corner of my bedroom all winter.

Now that spring has arrived, we’ve started our little growing project. It’s amazing how many vegetables you can grow in containers! They will need more water and more feeding than plants grown in the ground – it’s important to remember that if you’re thinking about having a go at this yourself. We’ve been sewing seeds in little peat pots and keeping them on the kitchen window sill where it’s nice and sunny.

tomato day1-13

Last weekend, our tomato and Brussel sprout plants had grown big enough to be moved outdoors so I finally constructed our mini greenhouse and Pip and I spent Sunday afternoon repotting all of our little seedlings into big pots. She was thrilled to have an excuse to get a bit mucky and so excited at the idea that these tiny plants would someday give us food to eat.

tomato plants day 29

greenhouse

We’re also growing chard, courgettes and carrots, although I’ll need to get some deep containers for those since they need plenty of space to grow under the soil.

I’m going to keep one pot of tomatoes on the kitchen windowsill to see if it’s possible to grow them entirely indoors. I’m not sure how well this will work but we’ll just have to wait and see!

I hope this has shown that you don’t need a garden to grow your own veggies! I’ll be posting regular updates on how our growing project is going.

Thanks for reading.