Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Keeping Busy In The School Holidays

These school holidays will end soon and Thomas will be going back to school. I am glad that nearly every day of these holidays, we have been out, visiting new places, having fun and going on holiday. But after these 2 weeks out of school, I realised just how expensive keeping the boys entertained for the 6 weeks holidays will be and so thought that I better had start getting prepared now. 

6 weeks is a huge amount of time to fill so I thought that if we started saving now, we would have enough money to plan ahead and get everything ready for when the summer arrives. 

Seaside Escape
The main things that will make a huge dent out of the time and money will be a break away. As you all know, last week we took a family holiday to Cayton Bay, near Scarborough, and even though we loved it, we were gutted that it was such a short break. And so we are planning on booking again for the summer holidays but going away for a full week. 


Paddling in the sea, building sandcastles and getting to do loads of activities that are being held their. All keeping the boys entertained whilst we get a lovely week away from work, away from bills, away from everything. 

Wheely Good Fun
Buying the boys some ride-ons will be great for the summer days of playing out on the street. Thomas already has a bike, which he loves, but has recently been wanting to play at the skatepark at our local park. For that reason, I have been checking out Penny Skateboards UK to find a nice skateboard for Thomas to practice on. I remember when I was a child, sitting on a skateboad and riding down the street and it would be nice for Thomas to learn some new skills whilst playing too. 


Creating a Masterpiece 
Well, maybe not the Mona Lisa, but getting the boys to get creative is a good way to pass the time and make something that can show off their creative sides. Papier-mâché hot airs balloons are fun to do and easy to make. Finger painting is messy but what child doesn't like being messy. Even getting a couple of sticks of chalk and drawing on the pavement is fun for children, heck I find it fun too. I love a bit of hopscotch.

Keeping It Educational
Going out for the day can be super fun but also educational too depending on where you decide to go. We regularly take the boys to significant spots, to bird watch, look at ruins and educate them whilst they get to play. 


This week, we popped to Kirkstall Abbey for a walk around. Kirkstall Abbey is a ruined Cistercian monastery set in a public park on the north bank of the River Aire in Leeds. 
The picturesque ruins are open for the public to walk inside (after extensive renovations a few years back to make it safe) and they are truly beautiful to see. 

Not only did the boys get to run around, climb and check out hidey holes, but as we walked around, I explained all about it's history to help them understand about the building, what is was built for, why it was destroyed and how come we love to visit places like this. 

There are so many activities we can plan to keep the boys entertained for the holidays and I just can't wait to get started organising our days. What do you have planned to keep your children entertained?

Monday, 21 April 2014

Enjoying The Great Outdoors For Free

I love being outdoors, okay I prefer it when the weather is warm, but nevertheless, I love being outside. Being stuck inside is so depressing so we try to get out as much as possible, even if it's just into the garden. The boys love being out too, although they much prefer the getting muddy aspect of things.

The only negative thing about going is, is the expense. I see a lot of advertisements for 'family days out' but once I research them, £300, £400, £500 later, I decide that we cannot afford to go. Recently, we have been out quite a bit so I thought I would write about what we have done, things that haven't cost a penny. 

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Beach Fun
Okay, okay, the holiday did cost us money, but I am talking about the actual activity. Going to the beach cost us nothing. You don't have to go abroad to get the good weather, the UK has some of the most amazing beaches around and when the weather is right, they are just perfect. 

The amount of different things you can actually do at the seaside is immense. From, building sandcastles and burying daddy in the sand to paddling in the sea and blowing bubbles into the breeze. Everything is free, fun and fantastic. 

We visited Scarborough beach and Cayton beach whilst on our holiday in Cayton Bay which I wrote about last week (you can read my post here)

Water Fun
If the weather is warm enough, dig out the paddling pool. Once again, it costs nothing to have water fun and we regularly have ours out in the summer. 

The pool is a great way to have fun and keep children cool in the hot weather also. Water fights are even better and these needn't cost a thing by using jugs, cups and good old splashing hands instead. We even put our slide into the edge also to create our own water-slide which the boys love. 

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Walking In History
Getting out and about is great fun, but it's even better if children can learn as your having a fun day out too. We love going to historical buildings, learning about nature and seeing beautiful surroundings. 

Local reservoirs are a great place to visit. We went to our local, Eccup Reservoir (you can read our post here) and learnt all about birds, the water system and had a fun filled day. Yes, it was a really long day, a 7 mile walk left us feeling shattered at the end but it was a stunning place to see and the kids loved seeing all the nature. 

Old buildings are also great places to learn through play. Kirkstall Abbey, in the north-west of Leeds, is a ruined Cistercian monastery that has now been opened up to the public for viewings. Little sign posts all over explain about the history and what actually happened in each area. (you can read our post here). Not only can you learn about the Monastery but you can run, climb and play in the areas to keep learning fun. 

All these days out are super fun and cost nothing to do. You could even simply play football in the garden or at the local park or dig out your chalk and get sketching on the pavements. Days out don't need to be expensive, you just need to use your imagination and figure out how to do things on a budget. 

Sunday, 20 April 2014

A Photo A Day Project Week 16


The last week of the school holidays have flown by. We have managed to get out quite a bit and the great weather means that we've had fun in the sun also. 

The boys got bored of sticking to paper all the time, so this week I bought some chalk and they loved drawing on the pavement in the garden. We made a hopscotch, wrote our names and even did little doodles too. 

Just making sure the Easter eggs taste okay. Ooops, naughty mummy pinched an egg. Don't worry though, I have replaced it now hehe!

The reason I am always up early on a morning. These 2 monsters always pop into the bedroom and slip into bed with me, usually kicking me out in the process.

Kirkstall Abbey is a beautiful place to visit. We live close to it so visit quite a lot. A few yeas back, they renovated it all, fixing the unsafe parts and then opening up the building to the public to view the beauty and history. 

We've had lovely weather this week so I thought I'd get a selfie whilst chilling in the garden. The boys enjoyed some down time in the pool and Charlie enjoyed riding his scooter. Well, not really riding it, but having fun nevertheless.

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Saturday, 19 April 2014

Our Day At Kirkstall Abbey

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This week, we went out with my sister-in-law Nina and her daughter Laurel. We visited Kirkstall Abbey so that the boys could see some of our local heritage. Kirkstall Abbey is a ruined Cistercian monastery in Leeds, not far from us. It is set in a public park on the banks of the River Aire. 

I remember visiting the abbey a lot when I was a child and wanted the boys to grow up seeing our local significant buildings, getting to learn about our history and also getting to play through learning too.  

The abbey itself is huge. You have to go through the visitor centre to get access to the inside of the building, but first of all, we enjoyed walking around the outside ad viewing the form of the abbey. It's a lovely walk around the grounds and you can even make your way right to Leeds City Centre by walking along the River Aire from here. 

Going through the visitor centre and into the abbey is a truly amazing experience. Before now, I have never been inside the building itself and getting to do some was such an emotional experience. 

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The hard work, the architecture, the true scale of this monumental building is shown from the inside, but not only that. The ruins of the building and destruction are easy to see from the inside. 

Most of the abbey is open to the elements as it has no roof, stair cases are either eroded, damaged or not even there any more and there are random boulders of stone about that have fallen from the abbey in the past. 

Little posts around explained what happened in each aspect of the abbey. What it was used for, who would go there and how it was destroyed. There was also a very dark, quiet area where we could see religious people praying and such and so did not go in there as we didn't want to disturb them. 

The abbey is such a beautiful place to have the pleasure of getting to visit and we all had an amazing day out, learning about its history, viewing the ruins and getting to play a little too.

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History of Kirkstall Abbey
Kirkstall Abbey is a Cistercian monastery. A Cistercian is a member of the Cistercian Order, a Catholic religious order of monks and nuns. The Cistercians were adversely affected by the Protestant Reformation, the Dissolution of the Monasteries under King Henry VIII. 

On 22 November 1539 the abbey was surrendered to Henry VIII's commissioners in the Dissolution of the monasteries where it was disestablished. Henry VIII was the Supreme Head of the Church in England which meant that he had the authority to do this. 

After this time, it was owned by various people and also got destroyed too, as much of the stone was removed for re-use in other buildings in the area. But in 1889 the abbey was sold to Colonel John North, who then gave it to Leeds City Council. 

The Council undertook a major restoration project and in 1895, the abbey was opened to the public to view from the outer edge due to it's unsafe buildings. After a £5.5 million renovation programme to make the building safe, the abbey was then opened and entry into the buildings itself was allowed. 

The abbey is a Grade I listed building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument (a scheduled monument is a 'nationally important' archaeological site or historic building).