Gammon starts school in September. He’ll be four years and not even a month old on his first day. But his tender young age is a whole other post in itself. For another day.
The thing i’m struggling at the moment to get my head round is the fact that we won’t be able to take holidays whenever we want, like we have been since, well, forever. We’re going to have to be ultra organised and plan in advance to avoid the ridiculous school holiday rush, like every other family with school-aged children in the United Kingdom. And we’ll need to book early, in order to get the better deals.
So, in order to prove that I can (if I put my saturated mind to it) be as organised as Imelda Marcos’ shoe closet, I’m going to start planning now for the next school holidays, which Google tells me will be Autumn half term, Monday 28th October to Sunday 3rd November 2013.
Here’s what I’ve come up with - my Top 10 ideas for Autumn fun in the holidays. Talk about forward planning! I’ve specifically included fun activities to do at home, just in case my new found organisation stumbles at the first hurdle and I don’t actually get round to planning anything travel-related!
1. Out & about: leaf hunting trip
One thing we all associate with Autumn is falling leaves. Spend the morning out walking with your kids, hunting for the best coloured and sized leaves. You should find a mixture of orange, yellow, red, green and brown colours, and a multitude of different sizes too. Scrunch them. Roll in them. Throw them. Bury yourselves in them. A truly memorable experience for young and old.
2. Craft: leaf printing/rubbing
Take the leaves that you’ve collected and spend the afternoon doing leaf printing (paint one side of a leaf a multitude of colours and place it down on paper to form a print) and leaf rubbing (place the leaf under a piece of paper and rub over it with a coloured pencil or crayon to form a rubbing). There you have a whole day’s entertainment – job done!
3. Travel abroad: Dahab, Egypt
You’ll always pay more to travel abroad in the school holidays, but if you book early and choose the right destination, then it might not necessarily cripple your piggy bank. Avoid the usual obvious autumn sun destinations… instead opt for somewhere not as firmly on the tourist trail and you might be pleasantly surprised. One good option is Dahab, with an average maximum temperature at this time of year of 31C (it’s way too hot to visit in summer!). It’s a small Bedouin coastal resort 100km (60 miles) north of Sharm el-Sheikh (closest airport), with a great relaxed backpackers vibe (which means it’s very cheap once you’re there!), world-class diving spots in the Red Sea (the most famous being The Blue Hole), and lots of windsurfing. We rode camels, went on a Bedouin safari and even climbed nearby Mount Sinai (the mountain where, in The Bible, Moses was apparently given the Ten Commandments by God). Your kids will love the adventure of it all!
4. Rainy day entertainment: Autumn-themed DVDs
We all know the weather in autumn can be a bit iffy, so you’re probably going to need an arsenal of electronic devices to get you through those dark and rain-soaked days. How about snuggling up under a cosy blanket with the heating on with popcorn in a bowl and watching films set in Autumn, such as ‘A Bug’s Life’, where the grasshopper baddies give the ants until ‘when the last leaf falls’ to collect food for them, or ‘E.T. The Extra Terrestrial’, where the kids dress E.T. up as a ghost for Halloween in order to smuggle him out of the house. Both oldies, but goodies!
5. Travel in the UK: Butlins
Parents don’t have to be the only ones to entertain the kids on half term breaks in 2013. Leave part of that to someone else while you get a bit of R&R yourself after a long school term! Butlins resorts offer a whole range of different Autumn half term holidays, with activities sure to suit your family. But they are very popular, so don’t miss out, escape on October half term breaks and restore your family’s va-va-voom, ready for another school term stint of hectic madness.
6. Holidays: Halloween – Thursday 31st October
Although an American tradition, the celebration of Halloween seems to be getting more and more popular around the world. Throw caution to the wind, take an ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’ type attitude, get zombied up and go Trick or Treating with your kiddies. They might be pepped up on sweeties for a while, but hey, it’s the school holidays so it’s not like they have school the next day or anything!
7. Games: Apple bobbing
Linked to Halloween, this game involves a bucket or paddling pool of water, a bag of apples, and a group of kiddies keen to have some watery fun. Put the apples in the water, tie your kids’ hands behind their backs, and get them to dunk their heads in the water and try to pick an apple out by biting it with their teeth. Obviously you need to be sensible – it’s probably one for older kids only… or merbabies.
8. Out & about: Blackberry picking
You’ll be surprised where you can find wild blackberries growing in your local area. Spy a spot, grab an ice cream container, some disposable gloves (to avoid stains to fingers) and grab the kids for some thorny adventures. Just try to get more in your tub than in your tummy.
9. Cooking: Blackberry Crumble
Take your blackberry foraging haul and get cooking with the kids. Blackberry Crumble is a really easy recipe as it’s just fruit and breadcrumb topping all messed up. How can you possibly go wrong? Serve with custard or ice cream, or even both for a totally decadent experience. Here’s a simple, yet scrummy recipe.
10. Holidays: Guy Fawkes night – Tuesday 5th November
Although this will technically be held once school has gone back, this event is just too good not to celebrate. The ultimate Bonfire Night celebrations in the UK are in the town of Lewes, about a 20 minute drive from us here in Brighton. Historically, celebrations in Lewes date back as early as 1661, with more formal organisation in the 1850s. These days, six different societies put on five separate firework displays and bonfires, with a massive parade through the streets of Lewes featuring all sorts of historical fancy dress, flaming torches, burning barrels pulled down the road and political and modern effigies thrown onto the bonfire. It really is something to behold! But if you can’t make it out and about to this historic party, then you can always check out firework nights in your local area. You maybe have to pay for a show, but to see the looks of wonder on your kids’ faces as they gaze above will most definitely be worth it.
So, what will you be doing for your Autumn holidays? Please tell me all about your favourite activities in the comments box below.