IT’S the school holidays and as every parent knows, the insatiable vampire parasites we call children will be sucking your wallet and purse dry. Luckily I’ve got some simple alternatives to costly summer holiday activities.
Kids love animals. Thank fuck the dinosaurs are all dead, or you’d be at Knowsley Jurassic Park every weekend. However they’ll still demand to visit safari parks and petting zoos. Here’s how I avoid those hefty entrance fees.
Find a disused local factory, or as I prefer to call it, ‘rat petting zoo’. With luck there’ll be thousands of cute little vermin scurrying around. Do emphasise to kids it’s important to avoid being bitten by their new furry friends because hospital parking costs a fortune these days. If the rats are shy, there’s bound to be pigeons and some interesting moss, so there’ll be plenty to see.
Even at a slightly unsafe factory, kids will want souvenirs. It’s tempting to let them bring home a deceased rat, but the diseases don’t bear thinking about. I just buy a few catnip-infused mice for cats – you can get four or five for a few quid – and hey presto, a plush ‘rat’ toy which they can pay for out of their own pocket money.
And here’s a great tip for any day trip, whether it’s the rat zoo or a free steam engine museum – the key to keeping your expenditure down is to take your own food and drink with you.
Kids will constantly be demanding expensive bought ice creams, and even in a cool box a tub of Asda budget soft scoop will soon melt. So I take some cornets and a tub of Smash with sugar stirred in. If you start them young, they can reach their teens thinking ice cream has a slightly unpleasant potato taste.
The local leisure centre is a great source of activities. Swimming is healthy, opens up a host of recreational possibilities, and may even save your child’s life. However I almost shat a brick when I discovered it was £4 a session.
Instead I’ve invented what I call ‘theoretical swimming’. Get the kids to lie on your coffee table and do the moves for doggy paddle, breast stroke etc. It’s a great introduction to swimming that will give them a head start when they can pay for their own bloody lessons.
And finally, no summer holiday would be complete without arts and crafts. I remember doing brass rubbing, pressing leaves and flowers, playing pooh sticks – all extremely boring but with negligible costs. You’ll actually get plaudits from middle class parents who love this sort of traditional shit. Just don’t mention that it’s because you’re not paying 40 fucking quid to go to the local water park.