School will soon be out and your grandkids might well be spending some of the long summer holidays with you. This can be great fun but children do have a knack of emptying your pockets very fast. How can you say “no” to all that cuteness and all those must-have treats from grandma and granddad?
But many people simply can’t afford umpteen trips to expensive theme parks, zoos, shows and more in order to keep the grandkids entertained. If you are on a strict budget this season but you’d still like a memorable summer with your little treasures, here are five great ideas to keep you all happy without breaking the bank:
Save vouchers in advance
With the price of a day pass at theme parks like Thorpe Park and Alton Towers coming in at around £50 per person, days out with your grandchildren can become prohibitively expensive. Look out for vouchers offering two-for-one deals, discounts or similar.
Tesco Clubcard vouchers are good at offering discounts on days out to expensive attractions such as Hampton Court Palace and London Zoo. The Merlin Pass gives special offers on Chessington, Thorpe Park and Alton Towers, ideal for thrill-seeking grandkids and grandparents alike.
It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on the local and national newspapers, as well as on the attractions’ websites for offers on days when there are discounted prices or even free entry.
Kids love to splash and frolic in the water, especially during the summer and many leisure centres offer free or reduced-price swimming for under-18s during the holidays.
If you are short of local swimming pools or just prefer the seaside, you might like to pack a picnic plus the buckets and spades and head off to the seaside. There’s plenty of free fun to be had as you and the children while away the hours in the fresh air building sandcastles, gathering shells, exploring rock pools or simply playing, while the older ones might also enjoy a spot of body boarding on the waves of our safest British beaches.
Some of many UK beaches well worth a visit include: Croyde Bay in North Devon; Great Bay in the Isles of Scilly; Blackpool Sands in Lancashire; Sinclair’s Bay in Caithness and Porthcurno in Cornwall.
The Fire Station open days
The fun of the fire station is sure to bring many a memorable experience to share with your little ones. Check online for open days laid on by many of the UK’s fire stations throughout the year, giving you the opportunity to meet your local fire fighters and witness exciting fire and rescue demonstrations, as well as get valuable fire safety advice from the professionals.
There are often special activities laid on for the kids, which are usually free and give you all a valuable insight into the working of the fire station. For any budding firemen in the family, there might also be the opportunity to live the dream by trying on a fire fighter’s uniform – including the yellow hat – and sitting up high in the fire engine’s front cab, ready to face the flames.
There’s something quite delightful about all the family picking fruit from our fields and orchards during the summer months. Pick-Your-Own fruit farms are a fun, inexpensive way to enjoy an active day out together. June, July and August are the months for strawberries, cherries, raspberries, apples, rhubarb, blueberries and plums which you can often munch upon as you go – a great way to help get their five-a-day into them without them even noticing!
Get the kids involved in the entire process from picking to preserving for a great learning experience. Once picked, the fruits will need washing, bottling, freezing or cooking into delicious home-made pies. There are endless opportunities to keep them well amused and off the internet for hours.
You don’t need to drive your family to the countryside to let them feed chickens, stroke sheep and ride donkeys. There are many excellent city farms across the UK to give you a taste of the good life for a minimal entrance fee. Even in the capital, the whole family will love to meet and coo at animals like llamas lazing in London’s Canary Wharf, mischievous goats in Kentish Town and the rare breed sheep off Holloway Road.
Some farms also offer hands-on workshops and other activities, so that you and the kids can learn about the practicalities of running the farms and, of course, how they keep their cute creatures so well and happy.
Us Brits love to be beside the sea and what better way to combine local seaside festival fun with the joys of the beach?
The UK hosts many seaside celebrations free of charge, such as the Isle of Wight’s Festival of the Sea, the Boardmasters and Golowan festivals in Cornwall, and Arts by the Sea in Bournemouth, plus many more, all of which lay on special sea-themed programmes for the whole family to enjoy.