Saturday, 24 May 2014

Summer Holiday Activities for Kids

I know, I know - it's still 7 weeks until the kids break up for summer (count 'em, 7!) but I am already preparing for them. My boys are almost 12 and 6 and, as I have bemoaned many times before, will happily play play on screens for 12 or 14 hours if given the opportunity, stopping only to use the toilet, snack, and argue with each other. I can't blame them. I would have done the same if I had the option of more than a mere four telly channels and Pong.


I do this sort of list every year. The aim is not to get  through all the activities, but to take the hassle of out finding something fun to do under pressure. Some of these can be done anywhere, while others are child friendly activities and family days out in South East Wales, where I live. I will be adding to this list so please let me know if you have any suggestions and, if you've got a similar list for your area, add a link to your blog post at the bottom.

Everything on this list is either something I have done, or which I genuinely would do. I've not simply generated a list of random places.

Free Places to Go in SE Wales
Blaenavon Big Pit
National Museum Cardiff - I Spy Nature, Art Collection, WWI
St Fagan's
Caerleon Roman Museum, baths, and amphitheatre 
Cardiff Bay - parks, walk, cycle, scoot
National Trust: Tredegar House grounds, Duffryn Gardens
Walk up the Sugarloaf
Walk up the Skirrid
BMX track in Blaenavon
Ride along Newport - Brecon canal path
Welsh Proms free daytime concerts in July
Explore castle ruins at Abergavenny, Skenfrith, Crickhowell
Bedwellty House and Park in Tredegar
Porthcawl Beaches

Skenfrith Castle

Cheap Things to Do in SE Wales
Super Tubing at Festival Park in Ebbw Vale. £5 for 5 rides. Accepts Tesco vouchers and sometimes has Groupon deals.
Boat trip in Cardiff Bay
Cwmcarn Forest Drive £5 per car. It's closing in November so get in while you can.
Car boot sales are great for browsing and picking up cheap toys/games/books

Other Things to Do
Rearranging bedrooms - surprisingly satisfying and fun

Techniquest in Cardiff Bay

Ways to Spend Less and Still Have Fun
Orange Wednesday, cheap Tuesdays at Vue, or choose daytime sessions
Voucher Cloud - have downloaded this but still not used it
Exchange Tesco vouchers
Vouchers on cinema receipts (currently ours has 20% off at Harvester on them)
Kids AM sessions at the cinema - £1.75 at Vue, or £3 for a 3D film. Cineworld's prices are cheaper, at £1.50, or £1.25 if you book in advance with MyCineworld.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Meal Planning Monday - 5 May 2014 - the Morrisons Mums Edition

How excited was I to be given £80 worth of Morrisons vouchers as part of their BritMums #MorrisonsMums bank holiday campaign! Fresh food is good, but free fresh food always tastes better, so I got stuck into my meal planning with gusto.

I will say that I am a fickle supermarket shopper. Within two miles of my house I have access to Morrisons, Asda, Sainsburys, Tesco, Aldi, Lidl, Iceland and Marks & Spencer. With eight supermarkets to choose from and the need to keep an eye on my budget, I vary my shopping depending on who has the best deals. I have always found Morrisons to be one of the more expensive supermarkets, but they've recently put their prices down on a lot of items and I wanted to see if it made any difference to my weekly shop.

On the menu this week:
Pork and Beef meatballs with homemade tomato sauce and spaghetti
Venison burgers with salad
Chicken wraps and salad
Dinner for breakfast - bacon, sausage, egg, beans, toast/bagels
Steak with Bearnaise sauce, spinach, and new potatoes
Fridge Frittata

There is quite a lot of meat in the menu this week, partially because I didn't have to pay for it, and partially because I have been training for an upcoming weight lifting comp and want more protein.

The kids have been after me to make mint ice-cream so, taking advantage of a sunny bank holiday, we used this fast and delicious recipe, which uses milk, double cream, sugar, and fresh mint. A batch serving eight people worked out to £2.01, or just over 25 pence per portion when served in bowls, and tasted just like summer.

Another hit was the venison and pork burgers (£2.59 for 2), which I served with a fresh knot roll (25p each), yellow peppers, baby spinach, and salad tomatoes, costing around £1.82 per serving.

I can't say I'm a Morrison's convert, but having seen their new prices and the quality of their food, not to mention the lovely staff and well laid out store, I will be a lot more open to shopping there in future. 

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Easy Bank Holiday Weekend Activities With Kids

Hooray - it's a long weekend! I really shouldn't be so excited. We've only just gone back after Easter holidays, but I am not going to turn down some quality sleeping in time. What are you going to do with the kids? I am not going to jinx things by saying it too loudly, but the weather forecast is actually not that bad. We might get to enjoy being outside without our hoods up! If you exhausted all your child-entertainment ideas during the school holidays and your inspiration tank is still running on empty, have a look at these family bank holiday weekend activities.

1. Weekend Box Club (
I was lucky enough to be given a weekend box to try a while ago, and on a wet old day over the Easter holidays, my 6-year old and I got stuck in. It's ideal for parents or grandparents who want to do something together that doesn't involve board games, screens, or having to spend a fortune. The Weekend Box comes with 4 activities and virtually everything you need to do them. There's something to make, something to cook, something to read or write, and something green. You can see more here.The Weekend Box Club is a subscription service with fortnightly deliveries. I will say that at 6 (nearly 7) my son found a couple of the activities a little boring, but we adapted some to make them more engaging and spent a happy hour chucking gold coins in cups and drawing on balloons.

2. Indoor tennis
Speaking of balloons, they're something I always have handy. Balloons are cheap and fun entertainment for kids of all ages. Blow them up and have a balloon fight, draw or write on them, play indoor keepy-uppy, blow them up and let the air out slowly so it makes a hugely irritating squeaking noise, or blow one up up then let it go and see who can catch it.

3. Cook
You're going to have to cook at some point over the weekend, so why not get the kids involved. Bank holidays are for barbeques and salads. Why not make your own burger buns, experiment with salads, or set up an ice cream bar for dessert. Alternatively, popcorn is always popular here - especially when it's topped with something sweet. You'll find a plethora of popcorn recipes on Pinterest , or try this Caramel Marshmallow recipe

4. Get Out
Left to their own devices, my boys would be plugged in for eight(teen) hours straight, with only the odd break for a kick of football, to bicker over who is in who's Minecraft world (the online equivalent of "get out of my room!"), go to the toilet, or to get some food.
I make sure they get outside to do something, or we all suffer! Don't get me wrong, they often bitch and moan every step of the way, but they usually shut up at some point, and everyone is happier for some active time outdoors. Geocaching is a fun purpose to a walk. Find your nearest National Trust property and enjoy the gardens, head up a mountain, or go somewhere you can throw sticks and stones in the water.Enjoy the bluebells before they disappear. Sometimes we do chores such as cleaning out the shed or cutting the grass, but it's got to be done so why not do it together and turn house work into something less drudgey? Plus, what parent doesn't get a kick from watching their kids being useful?
The key with my two is to bribe them with a treat of sorts, whether it's ice-cream while we're out, or screen time without nagging when we get back. Another inexpensive way to have fun is browsing at a car boot sale. I give the boys a few pounds each and off they go.

5. Be a Tourist
If you haven't done it for a while - or have never done it - play tourist in your home town. Visit places you'd normally send your visitors, check out local beauty spots with a picnic, explore the landscape or the history. Just type in your area + tourism into Google and see what comes up.

OMG - there's two of them!
If you're looking for something else, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is out. Captain America is a great film (and not only because it has my fantasy husband, Chris Evans, wearing tight t-shirts). Rio 2 is not bad for the younger kids, and Tarzan is also getting positive reviews.

There's also a new lot of LEGO Minifigures out and they're SIMPSONS! As with the LEGO Movie Minifigures, these are £2.49, so I guess the 50p per packet increase is permanent (Boo to you LEGO) . Go feel a few packets and see which ones you can find.
Lego Simpsons Minifigures £2.49 each

What do you have planned this weekend? If all you do this weekend is faff around on Pinterest, don't worry. The great thing about May is that we get another long weekend at the end of the month!