Hand-Picked High Days and Holidays
School’s out for Summer! After an almost-normal school year after quite a few extra-ordinary terms, it’s time for a well-earned, long, hot Summer.
Summertime and the Living is Easy
Have you got holidays planned? A staycation, perhaps? A lovely family time at home with some days out and picnics? Some time has passed (I know, quite a lot), but I still remember the pure, unadulterated joy of breaking up for Summer. Oh, those weeks and weeks of freedom and possibility stretching endlessly ahead.
And, you know, looking back, we didn’t go on exclusive all-inclusive holidays or to scarily expensive UK activity centre breaks. No. Just picnics by a stream, fun days in local parks, swimming, maybe trips on the train to Manchester or Buxton. And yet we remember those days as idyllic and happy. There’s a lesson there.
Making Memories to Treasure
Cliché or not, it’s fair to assume you’ll be making memories, so make them good ones. Fill your days with fun and laughter – and the easiest way to do that is to keep the little ones happy. Everybody can be happy when little ones – and teenage ones are happy! And whatever you do, DON’T forget to take lots of photos – you don’t even need a camera these days. It’s hard to believe we used to have to send film cartridges off, wait a couple of weeks, then hate all the snaps anyway.
Take loads of photos, and make sure YOU’RE in some of them. As well as recording all those happy days, you could use the pics for a rainy-day scrapbooking activity or even make gifts for grandparents. Do I need to mention that we’ll all start thinking about Christmas soon after the kids go back to school?
Hand-Picked Holiday Inspo
So, hand-picked just for you, here’s some inspiration for days out and activities, all within easy reach of us. Most won’t break the bank, and some are FREE. Let us know if you’ve any other favourites, and tell us where you get to:
Take a train to Buxton. A short stroll down from the station leads into the town centre and Pavilion Gardens. Buxton’s Pavilion Gardens date back to 1871 and comprise 23 acres of beautiful gardens. Wander around water features and lakes; ride the miniature railway or hire a rowing boat on the boating lake. There’s a café, an ice cream parlour – boasting 24 flavours – and plenty of outdoor seating. Gallery in the Gardens showcases local artists, and we’d highly recommend treating yourself to a tipple from the Forest Gin shop. Other highlights include a well-equipped adventure playground and a coffee van. Check the website for a host of activities over the summer.
Enjoy a ramble around Tittesworth Lake. Two marked walking routes around Tittesworth offer the perfect way to appreciate your surroundings. Families may prefer the easily doable 1.5-mile route, or there’s a longer five-mile trail, which affords breathtaking views of The Roaches. Why not get into ornithology? That’s bird watching to you and me. A plethora of our feathered friends can be seen flitting around. Look at the RSPB website for hints and tips and add a new dimension to your day – it’s also an interest your kids can carry on once home again. Plenty of car parking is available, and it’s just a fiver for the entire day – take a picnic or see what tempts your tastebuds in the café. Another lovely walk is Mam Tor, where you can watch hang gliders and then stop for cake at the café, Bean on the Edge. Talking of Edge, Alderley Edge is ideal for a yomp, and there’s lots to go at in the village food-wise afterwards. Or head into New Mills and walk the breathtaking Torrs Millennium Walkway.
Although it’s too late for little lambs, Blaze Farm over at Wildboarclough is always a lovely day out. Loved by tots and teenagers alike – and their grown-ups – there’s plenty to keep you busy for the best part of a day. I’ve still got pottery made at the Potty Sheep pottery studio when mine were little, and I loved the sheepdog who’d throw his toys over the wall for visitors to throw back. As well as farm animals, there are nature trails with an abundance of wildlife to spot, a delightful tearoom, so lunch is sorted, and the Waller family farm’s Hilly Billy ice cream is something else.
Chatsworth House is stunning and so much more than a stuffy stately home. Kids can splash about in the famous water feature, the adventure playground is one of the best around, and there’s a working farm with lots of animals. Entrance fees can be kept down by not going inside the house and gardens. Enjoy a wander around Bakewell afterwards, and splash about in the shallow river meandering through the big park.
Lyme Park is an absolute treasure, right on our doorstep. As a National Trust property, there’s always loads on. Set in 1400 acres of craggy moorland, magical woodlands and manicured gardens, kids – and dogs – can run themselves ragged. Picnics are welcome – go with friends, take a gazebo and set up for the day. Crow Wood Playscape, the children’s play area, is open after recent renovations, though do check on the day you plan to visit as some work is ongoing. Yes, there’s a parking fee, but once in, there’s plenty to keep you busy for a full day. Take a kite and head up a hill, always take a football, and take wellies if there’s been rain.
Another National Trust property not too far away is Quarry Bank Mill, over in Styal. However, head to Wilmslow Carrs Park first for a great – and cheap – day out. Let the kids play first, then walk along the Bollin, which takes you all the way to Quarry Bank Mill, where there’s another play area and ice cream. The walk takes you through Styal Woods – and can keep you out of the sun for a while.
Have you ever visited the Avro Heritage aviation museum? An up-close-and-personal look at some iconic aircraft AND the opportunity to book cockpit tours. What’s not to love? The Avro Heritage Museum celebrates Alliott Verdon-Roe and his company, Avro. Based at Woodford Aerodrome, the site saw the production of uber-famous aircraft, including the Lancaster, Vulcan, Nimrod and BAe 146. The Avro Heritage Museum is also home to the only all-white Vulcan bomber. There are activities and things to do for everyone, as well as a café which offers fantastic views of the mighty Vulcan bomber outside.
Take a train into Manchester – or plan a day hopping on and off trains. Most museums and galleries are free to enter, and many will have activities throughout the Summer. The Museum of Science and Industry is fascinating and refreshingly hands-on, though sadly, the main Manchester Museum is currently closed. Hopefully, it’ll be back open again by half-term.
Many days out are inclement weather-friendly – and let’s face it, little kids LOVE sploshing about in wellies! But, on days when staying in is the new going out, one sure-fire way to entertain kids of almost all ages – and adults, too, actually – is with arts and crafts. No, don’t panic – they DON’T have to be messy, honest. Although yeah. They’ll probably favour the activities that ARE!
Crafty Little Beggars
We’ve got lots in for crafty days; why not visit and have a browse? Treat yourself to something lovely while you’re at it. Let’s be honest; you’re going to deserve it!
A flower press is a lovely – and traditional – craft item. Kids can collect little leaves and wildflowers on their adventures and then create a work of art at home. This can be as simple or as ambitious as they like – a full-on collage with photos or just an easy pattern on paper. Here’s a tip: invest in a cheap laminator, then their masterpieces can be preserved forever. They could even make bookmarks or journal covers. Or why not try your hands at origami? Perhaps go in at entry level with a cute ready-cut origami kit.
We’ve also got you covered on those interminable car journeys. Cornwall on a Saturday morning? Not a problem. Take Travel Bingo – calling house will be a welcome break from ‘are we nearly there yet?’ Have you any sure-fire boredom busters for travelling? Please share; we could all use some help!
Let There Be Gin
And, when it all gets too much, and the house is a tip, there’s always wine. Or gin. We did suggest you treat yourself to some Forest Gin from the Pavilion Gardens. And we can help with a glass for that! Oh. And, for those days when the only thing getting you through is coffee, this mug sums it up beautifully.
We would LOVE to see your photos and hear all about your summer of adventures – or artistry. And gin. Chin chin!