When I was little, half term used to be a week of kicking around at home – don’t get me wrong, we’d have a picnic, go to a beach, go for nice dog walks etc, but it was always up to my mum to amuse us, or for us to amuse ourselves. Nowadays, everywhere you go seems to be offering half term activities, so the problem now is not finding something to do, but deciding what to pick!
I thought I’d do a round-up of some of the things on offer for families next week. I’ll put links to websites for specific times, prices etc, as it will get rather boring otherwise, and if anyone has any top tips for things I should have included, please DO share them in the comments section below. I want this blog to become a really usable resource for rainy days, sunny days, special days, cheap days, active days and lazy days!
Right – where to start?!
Starting from the western end of Lyme Bay, Exmouth’s World of Country Life has a Pirate Week, with lots of pirate themed games and activities as well as it’s usual offering. This is quite an expensive day out, at £41 for a family ticket, but it easily fills a whole day, and there is something for all ages, with a petting area, birds of prey, goat walking, a deer train safari, lots of indoor & outdoor play, a reconstructed Victorian street, and lots of vintage cars, bikes and farm machinery for the more mechanically-inclined.
On the theme of tractors (if you’re reading this from somewhere in London, yes, all the stereotypes are absolutely true! Also, you can pretty much assume all these events will have seriously good food & plentiful cider on offer), Colyton have a Tractor Run on 30th May, from 10am-4pm. There will be over 100 classic & vintage tractors departing Colyton at 10.30 and trundling to Branscombe, so if you love tractors, be on the route, but if you’re in a hurry to get somewhere, avoid it!
Seaton Jurassic in partnership with Dorset Wildlife Trust and the Jurassic Coast Trust are organising a whole range of events including wildlife walks, bird walks, butterfly walks, rock pool safaris, sea stories, and fossil walks. See the website for details.
Axe Valley Wildlife Park is well worth a visit, especially with primary-school or pre-school aged children. They have all sorts including zebras, antelope, wallabies, flamingoes, otters, lemurs, snakes etc, and have lots planned for half term. From Tuesday to Friday they have a Creepy Crawly Show, Reptile Rampage, Guinea Pig Fishing and Ferret Racing, as well as the usual talks and animal handling opportunities. It is a very sweet day out, and had quite a laid-back feel when we went there.
Dorset Wildlife Trust are busy, busy, busy as usual! It is Dorset Wildflower Week, with lots of guided walks etc, although these may be more suitable for adults. Some DWT venues are involved in Dorset Art Weeks, with exhibitions at the Chesil & Kingcombe visitors centres. Kingcombe have a Kids Club, and the half term special activities (at various venues) include Caterpillar Kids minibeast days and Cuttlefish Kids, where children can complete challenges to become a Seashore Superhero! The visitors centres at Chesil Beach and Kingcombe are free to visit and full of great information, and happen to have very good cafes, too, which is always handy. The DWT website is a massive resource full of reserves, visitors centres, activities etc, so if you want a guided walk, crafty day, activity day or just a free walk in some stunning countryside, do check it out, as they are a very active and welcoming organisation, with reserves of all sizes and types dotted around the area. At the far eastern end of the Jurassic Coast is the Marine Centre at Kimmeridge, where they run lots of rock pooling, Eco-crabbing, have a snorkel trail and also rent out Seashore Explorer packs. This is a rucksack with everything you need for Eco-crabbing, fossil rubbing, mermaid’s purse identification, shell hunting and mini-beast identification. It costs £6 to hire (with a £10 refundable deposit) and includes £3.50 worth of crabbing gear etc to keep, so is a brilliant way to entertain a family for a day pottering at the beach. The Dorset Wildlife Trust is also encouraging people to join in with 30 Days Wild, a pledge to do something wild (I think they mean outdoors, not just reckless!) every day in June. This could be. A great incentive to get children outside.
As for less organised activities, the National Trust hilltop sites such as Pilson Pen, Eggardon Hill, Lamberts Castle, Stonebarrow etc are absolutely perfect for a walk and a picnic, maybe with a bit of kite-flying, and Twitter reliably (?) informs me that the mackerel have returned to Chesil Beach (although high tides are at slightly awkward times next week), if beach fishing is your thing. Less busy beaches such as Cogden and West Bexington are brilliant if you want to avoid the crowds, and for a walk with a buggy or pram, try Landgon Woods overlooking the coast near Golden Cap.
So, with all these things at my fingertips, what is my plan? Well, today we’re going to sit back, have a bbq and look at the view, and maybe make a plan for the rest of half term! What is everyone else up to?