Thursday, 30 September 2010

Free park-ing

As a family with not a particularly large income, activities that keep the children occupied that don't cost a lot are quite important if we're to keep our heads above water. Things that are free are even better. Most of the time, Monkey and Missy Woo are happy to go and play out with the children that live on our road - which thankfully doesn't have a lot of traffic - to ride on bikes, or just play cricket or football. There aren't many girls of Missy Woo's age living on the road, so she does tend to get bored quite easily and ends up coming in, just as I think I've won myself a bit of peace. Gah.

There is a tiny park on the estate but they are not allowed to go there unless they are with an adult. They know how far they can wander from home and they are pretty good at sticking to it. Mind you, I thought I'd lost Monkey one day during the summer holidays when he was out on his bike one minute and not there the next. I found him at the house across the road, after a bit of frantic searching, watching a DVD with his friend.

If we need a proper park, a big favourite with the children - and me - is Withy Grove Park in Bamber Bridge. The playground there was regenerated only a few years ago and it's fantastic. It has equipment for all ages of children from babies upwards and there's a mini skate park for the teenagers. Missy Woo likes the non-scary things - some little rockers in the shape of marine creatures, and playing with lots of sand. Monkey is more of a daredevil - 'twas ever thus - and tries to go on the zip line that is designed for bigger boys. He does climb up to the top of the big corkscrew slide, disappear into the silver tubing and reappear, laughing, at the bottom a few seconds later.

The park is next to the leisure centre where the children go to swimming lessons so we often turn up there early for a quick runabout to let off steam before going inside, although getting them out can be like herding cats. The only downside is the cafe there only opens at weekends but the ice cream van visits regularly instead. Oh, and the M6 runs down one side of the outer edge of the park so it can be loud.

Another big favourite with the children is pizza. They could happily eat that, or pasta, every day of their lives. Over the summer, Pizza Hut had a kids eat free deal over the summer, for children under 12, but this has now been extended until 9th January 2011. For every adult main course or adult lunchtime buffet purchased, an accompanying child can choose from either a FREE 2 course kids meal (includes a drink) or a FREE kids lunchtime buffet (includes pizza, pasta and salad).

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