Summer Holiday Survival Guide
by Hanna Lindon
Wondering how to keep the kids from climbing the walls this summer? Don’t panic – we’ve come up with ten fun suggestions that won’t break the bank.
Keeping everyone happy during the long break is a task that will tax even the most ingenious of parents. If you can’t handle another morning down the local park then here are ten ideas to keep the kids active, engaged and having fun all summer long.
Kids love nothing better than a good treasure hunt, making geocaching the perfect way to get them outdoors. This great globalised scavenger hunt involves tracking down boxes of hidden ‘treasure’ using a GPS app on your smartphone. It’s free, fun and open to anyone – all you need is a cost-free subscription to www.geocaching.com. Caches can be anything from a list of names rolled up in an old film case to a bumper Tupperware box filled with goodies. The only rule is that you have to replace anything you take with an item of your own.
Cycle the South Downs
The South Downs National Park contains an incredible 1,213 kilometres of bridleways, including the world famous South Downs Way. Your nippers don’t have to be fighting fit or approaching their teen years to manage an epic downland bike ride. Hire electric bikes for the day, opt for a tandem or fit a tow bar attachment to your bike so that you can give them a break when they get tired. Top family friendly cycling areas include Friston Forest, Stanmer Park, Devil’s Dyke and the South Downs Way itself.
Learning to navigate using a map and a compass isn’t just fun – it’s also a useful life skill. There are orienteering clubs and courses on offer, but with a bit of research online you can easily teach kids the basics of navigation yourself. Challenge them to find a particular point on the map and hide a treat there to reward them for their efforts.
Have Fun at a Festival
There are dozens of festivals and events taking place across Sussex during July and August. Some of the free family events to try in Sussex are; Paddle Round the Pier (1st-2nd July), a weekend of water-based activities along with music and kids’ entertainment. If cycling is your passion, try the Worthing Street Velodrome event (1st-2nd July). Hoping for a windy day is the Brighton Kite Festival at Stanmer House (8th-9th July). Later in the holidays, spot the Red Arrows at the free Eastbourne International Airshow (17th-20th August).
Hit the Beach
Sussex has an incredibly diverse array of beaches. Take scooter obsessed kids to Saltdean, where they can practice their skills on the three mile long Undercliff Walk that runs alongside the beach. Tide Mills is an atmospheric shingle beach tucked away off the A259 between Newhaven and Bishopstone – older children will love exploring the ruins of the abandoned village that once stood there. If you can handle the 25-minute walk in, then Cuckmere Haven is one of the most beautiful beaches in the area, with iconic views over the Seven Sisters. In search of tropical-style sand? You’ll have to head west to West Wittering near Chichester or east to Camber Sands to avoid the traditional Sussex shingle.
Sleep Under the Stars
Kids love the novelty of sleeping outdoors. You don’t have to splash out on a campsite – why not create a Bear Grylls-style experience in your own garden? Barbecue some sausages, eat sticky marshmallows toasted over a bonfire and swap ghost stories as dusk falls before snuggling up in your sleeping bags and admiring the night sky. A tarpaulin underneath your roll mat will protect you from the worst of the dew – and if it rains then you can always retreat to bed.
Find a Free Museum
Not all museums cost the Earth to visit. Sussex has some fantastic free institutions, including Henfield Museum, Horsham Museum, Hove Museum and Art Gallery, and Steyning Museum. Teach the kids about local history and have fun at the same time. Many local libraries also offer free childrens’ groups, talks and classes over the summer that are worth checking out.
Build a Doll’s House
What to do when it rains is one of the perennial problems facing parents during the school holidays. If your kids are creative, why not get crafty and build a doll’s house out of old cereal packets? All you’ll need is glue, duct tape, paper, scissors and some poster paints to decorate the house once it’s finished.
Get in the Saddle
Learning to ride is a time-consuming business, making the summer holidays a great time to start. Make sure that the riding school you choose is properly licensed, preferably with British Horse Society (BHS) or Association of British Riding School (ABRS) approval. If regular lessons are too pricey then some local and national clubs offer horse-based activities for kids who don’t own a pony. Super-keen children may also be happy to offer help with mucking out and yard duties in exchange for rides – an age-old route into equestrianism.
Explore a Nature Reserve
When the local playground starts to pall, bundle the kids into the car and head to your nearest nature reserve. There are some fascinating spots scattered around Sussex where they can explore wildlife trails, learn about conservation and come face-to-face with local fauna. Spot kingfisher, tern and osprey at Weir Wood Reservoir nature reserve in the Ashdown Forest, follow a mile-long nature trail through East Grinstead’s Ashplats Wood Nature Reserve or see a riot of wildflowers at Bedelands Farm Nature Reserve near Burgess Hill.