Saturday, 2 August 2014

40 Days of Summer - Days 1 to 10

Today is the first day of the summer holidays for us. It's amazing how quickly the time goes. It doesn't seem five minutes ago my son had his nose pressed up against the window, praying for snow, yet now, here we are, waving another school year goodbye. He is eight now and today we were talking about making the summer holidays count. Even he is beginning to notice how quickly they fly by! So, we came up with a plan. 40 Days of Summer. The idea is to make a point of doing something fun every day of the holidays. As he is getting older, I am aware that it won't be long before he is off doing his own thing and won't be so interested in the little activities together as a family. I thought this would be a great way to make some memories and share some great summer adventures!

Day 1: Make a Rocket Cake!

L has a bit of a cold and it was insanely hot today, so we stayed in for some of the day and made a rocket cake. It was a variation of our trusty Pizza Cake recipe, because I found this brilliant new cake tin in Sainsburys in the sale for just over £5! It's great for the money, sturdy and the cake comes straight out of the tin every time.

The beauty of it is, it's really fun to decorate and very appealing, especially for boys who need dragging away from the iPad or Playstation! I recommend Cadbury's Giant Chocolate Buttons for the port holes and we used orange Midget Gems for the fiery tail!

#40DaysofSummer What will you do today? 

Day 2: Swim, obviously, it's 28C!!

Today we literally could not move, because we are British. Little heatwave results in large puddle of family members melted on the floor. So, there was only one place to go... Here!! >>>  
I bought this 8ft Bestway pool in a post-summer sale for about £10 or £15. This is the first year we've really used it, but it's been so worthwhile this summer already. Once it's filled, you can get a little Chlorine Dispenser that keeps it clean, so it's relatively economical on water, as you only fill it once, and the inflatable top keeps the water in, so you don't get an empty pool surrounded by lush grass, after a couple of uses! L's swimming has really improved, as he feels more confident snorkelling in circles around the pool! There are lots of games we play to increase water confidence too, like throwing in a coin for him to find. He doesn't know he's learning to swim underwater, he just enjoys finding the coin! You can make water toys out of pretty much anything, kitchen utensils (tea strainer, jug, funnel) or water bottles with sports caps for squirting! You can fit a fully-grown human in these pools too. It's so peaceful, just floating about in the sunshine on a hot day! If you can see the appeal of some relaxing floating, I have found the same pool in the Argos sale for half price at £19.99. Considering how much summer is left, I think that is a great price.

#40DaysofSummer What will you do today?

Day 3: Table Tennis Championships!!

Today was another swimming day, but when it got too hot, we retreated indoors, in the interests of sun safety, mainly. So, what to do? L was full of his usual beans, so I thought something relatively physical was in order. Out came the table tennis set and we all took it in turns to be spectacularly useless at it! There are no Forrest Gumps in this family, it would seem. Although, in fairness, our dining table is considerably smaller than I realised! It's great fun, though, and is entirely possible to play on a small table, it just takes some getting used to! If you are playing with small children, the bounce, hit method works well. Bounce the ball first, then hit it and allow it to bounce before returning it. This lessens the chance of stray balls and unexpectedly fast ones, so injuries are less likely. The set we have came from Sports Direct and is currently less than half price in their sale for £6! I was surprised how much energy table tennis requires and would definitely recommend it for using up excess energy on a rainy day, or if it's too hot to be outside! 

#40DaysofSummer What will you do today? 

Day 4: Picnic in the park!

Four days in and our first picnic of the holidays! We love picnics. L is quite a fussy eater, so it's a good opportunity for him to be involved in the planning and choose what he wants to eat. He always eats really well on picnics and I think it's because he has that element of control over what he gets! He is 'between bikes' at the moment. That is, he is still quite stumpy-legged, but not stumpy enough for his old bike. He isn't confident on the new one yet, as there seems to be quite a significant difference between the sizes, but he was happy enough on his scooter! I actually prefer scooters sometimes, as there's less to carry home in the event of an accident or other child-related drama. As well as the essential hurtling about, we also made 'shadow selfies'. L has been learning about light and shadow at school, so it was even educational! If you are of the stumpy legged variety, you can stand on a bench for the full effect!

#40DaysofSummer What will you do today? 

Day 5: £1 Rollerblading!

This is a bit of a cheat, really, because I popped out this morning to our local Waste Management site and happened to find a pair of rollerblades in the right size for £1! Our local council (like most, I guess) are very keen on recycling and recently set up a little shop where you can buy used goods that are still fit for purpose. The prices are very reasonable and it's a real Aladdin's cave. You can find anything from skis, to sun roofs, to soft toys. It's a great place for students, too, as there are all sorts of furniture items to choose from. If your local Council doesn't have a Reuse shop, it would be well worth finding out if there are any plans to start one. They are great for the environment too! Anyway, today's picture is a tentative shuffle across a carpark. I'm told rollerblading is harder than it looks, but for £1 it won't be the end of the world if he doesn't take to it. He's a long way off championship speed skating, but, hey, at least he's outside and I'm sure he'll get faster eventually! 

#40DaysofSummer What will you do today?

Day 6: Play Park and Muffins!

This should have been posted yesterday, but I found bananas reduced to 1p a bunch in Tesco, so I had to divert my attention to making mountains of banana-based cakes! Yes, it was another day at the park. This was a swing park, though, so there was less hurtling and more trying to swing higher than Dad. The great thing about #40DaysofSummer is that the emphasis is on spending time together, not on what you actually do. Children have a fairly low attention span, so twenty minutes seems like a really long time. This is great news if you work and find your time really stretched. I think the term 'quality time' is overused and has lost its meaning, but giving a child your full attention, and throwing yourself into something they enjoy, for even just a little while, is so worthwhile. So don't be put off making memories because you're short of time, or money, just get out there and do something silly! You will put a smile on both your faces!

#40DaysofSummer What will you do today? 

Day 7: Inventing!

A big black cloud descended over my little house today. Then it went away. Then it came back. So, it turned into one of those days where going out was just too risky, as we are primarily bus travellers, which is fun, until everyone gets wet. Especially if it happens on the way to your intended destination! It never did rain, but we still have a sky full of menacing clouds, even now. Which is typical, but I can't spend the whole of day 7's post moaning about the weather, can I? I thought it was about time to excercise my son's brain, so I set him a little challenge. Could he invent something, with a specific purpose and then build it, demonstrating what it does. Out came the Lego... 
When he eventually finished (see blueprint, right!), he had created a working contraption. for picking up dropped toys when he is strapped in the car! In the interests of adaptibility, he also found it was very handy if a bad smell should impinge his nostrils. I think a visit to Dragon's Den may be looming, I can really see that one coming in handy! 

#40DaysofSummer What will you do today?

Day 8: Water, Water Everywhere!

We ventured further afield today as the temperature had dropped a little. Bus travel is so exciting when you are small. I remember it well, nose pressed against the window, a world of possibilities over the horizon! Bus-face is one of my favourite things about day trips. I love the build up of excitement as we get further and further away from home. Today, we were only going to The Waterfront, about 10 miles away, but it honestly could have been the moon, for the anticipation it created. We got to our destination at around 11am and it was brill. Firstly, we spent two hours watching sport on a Big Screen while L frolicked in the various water features, then we had a spot of lunch on The Waterfront, over looking the boats. This was followed by a fabulous 45 min cruise of the Floating Harbour. It was such an enjoyable day. The thing we love most about Bristol is the atmosphere, it's so laidback and serene. All the children played so happily together and there was not a tantrum to be had anywhere! 

#40DaysofSummer What will you do today?

Day 9: Let's Go Fly a Kite!

I know kites are normally an Autumn pastime, but today was a windy day. Living in a hilly area it is pretty much law to own at least one kite, as there is usually a bit of wind somewhere. The great thing about kites is that they don't have to be expensive. I know you can buy uber-technical trick-kites that will do somersaults, pirouettes, and possibly make you a cup of tea, but for little ones, the cheaper the better. This rather lovely example came from Poundland. It is very light, so it flies easily and can be controlled by little hands and is dead easy to put together. As proven by me. If I can do it, it must be idiot proof! Flying kites isn't nearly as difficult as some people think. If you have a small, light one, like this, You can just find yourself a good size hill, throw it, and use the string to pull it into the wind until it starts to fly. Then, unravel the string, by flicking the handle side to side and you're away! There is a real sense of achievement when someone really small makes their kite soar 'miles' into the sky! For an even cheaper version, and more amusement, you can make your own here.

#40DaysofSummer What will you do today?

Day 10: Sand Castles and Seascapes!

We are already a quarter of the way through the holidays! This is unbelievable to me and reinforces how important it is to make every day count, before everyone goes back to school and thoughts turn to more wintry pursuits like moaning about the cold and *shudder* Christmas! But not today. Today was a day at the seaside. Weston-super-Mare to be exact. Not famous for its rolling waves, we were very pleased to find the tide was in when we arrived at 9am. This was so unexpected, we were totally unprepared. Not one to be put off, L pretty much dived in anyway!
He didn't mean to, he's just one of those children who is either wet or grubby most of the time. After a long and enthusiastic spell in the waves, 'trying not to get wet', we made sandcastles whilst attempting to dry off. This didn't work, so we trooped off to the shopping centre, in search of dry clothes. After a quick rummage in Peacocks, a less soggy L was once again ready for action, so we headed for one of the arcades near the seafront with a selection of Penny Falls machines. I am sure these are more popular since Tipping Point arrived on our screens, but we've always found these great fun. The machines take two pence pieces, which I save up in a money box between visits. The fun part is that, as well as winning more two pences, if you manage to tip some over the edge, you can also win small figurines and keyrings. We got quite a haul for the princely sum of £6 between four of us and over an hour's entertainment!

#40DaysofSummer What will you do today?


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