Sunday, 16 March 2014

What Kids Learn on Holiday

Child building a sandcastle on the beach.  This is a tricky post for me to write, as it's been a long time since we've been able to afford a 'proper' holiday. We are very lucky though, as we live in a lovely part of the world, with easy access to other lovely parts of the world. Wales to the West, The Cotswolds to the North East, the Forest of Dean to the North West, Somerset to the South and in the South West is Weston super Mare and the South West coastline. So, for the last few years we have mastered the 'stay-cation', and had lots of lovely picnicky daytrips instead. That's not to say I wouldn't love a holiday somewhere different, away from our every day home life, but what's the point in wasting time thinking about what you don't have?

The last 'proper' holiday we had, was in 2010 and it was to Butlins. It was lovely to see my son, who was then four, in awe of the Bob the Builder and Thomas the Tank engine characters and the children loved the swimming pool. We did struggle with the crowds though. There were people everywhere and you did seem to spend an awful lot of time queueing! I think what the children learned on this holiday was probably patience!

Bob the Builder on stage at the Butlin's live show

A lot of our day trips since have been to the various beaches that are within an hour's drive of us. The four main ones are Weston super Mare, which is very commercial, with a large pier that has lots of rides and many exciting trinkets and food items to buy. A good place to learn moderation and the meaning of the word 'no'! Next is Kewstoke, which is very, very quiet and a lovely place to take small children to, if you don't want to spend a king's ransom. However it seems to have recently become 'dog beach', where mutts of all shapes and sizes meet to frolic, chase sea gulls and occasionally get a little too involved in other people's picnics! So, we learn... tolerance! Third is Brean, home to a lovely beach, but also arcade-type amusements, a funfair and an adventure park, if you've got a lot of time and a bit of cash to spare! It's a good place to learn to build sand castles, but also, there's a good lesson in sharing, because there's something for everyone to do, and we have to divide the time fairly throughout the day.

Child building a sandcastle on the beach.

This is a hairy example of one of the residents of the many farms that surround us. I think it's really important to teach children to respect animals and their environment. My son has always enjoyed getting close to the farm animals and learning all about them. It's also really good excercise, as farms usually involve a lot of walking! 

Small boy petting large cow.

My dad has a boat. Which is immensely useful for cheap day trips. It's been an intense learning curve, particularly for my son, who has discovered: Water is wet. I am not a natural floater. Things I like that are dropped in the canal, generally sink without trace. Oops.

Girl on Canal Boat

The cheapest and most educational 'stay-cation' trips we've had have been to Wales. This is because Wales does a brilliant line in free museums. And I don't mean stuffy, musty old buildings, I mean museums like Caerleon, with it's huge grassy Amphitheatre, where you can sit where genuine Roman soldiers would have sat, and wander through original Roman Baths, containing the actual footprints of Romans still visible in the floor! And St Fagan's, which is a huge open-air museum with row upon row of actual houses dating back to Celtic times, which you can walk into, and find the actual furniture of the day! I genuinely think there are few things more educational than being in the middle of real life history. For more information about what's fun to do in Wales, visit their Facebook page here.

Poster: 'Girls wanted for pickling and bottling' at vintage store.


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