The Half Term Challenge
I look forward to school holidays because it means I can get up just a little bit later (if I’ve booked time off work) and not have the usual morning stresses of getting the kids up, ready, fed and out of the front door in time for school, before Sukh and I head out to work. I’m sure most of you who are parents will sympathise here and agree mornings are testing at the best of times.
The holidays bring stresses of a different kind though especially when you hear ‘I’m bored’ every five minutes. It’s difficult to be doing ‘interesting’ activities all of the time and sometimes it’s hard to make the kids understand that spending some time at home is OK. We don’t have to be running around ragged 24/7.
Just over a week ago it was half-term and I knew I had a bit of a challenge on my hands. Sukh was working away at the Winter Olympics in South Korea, which meant it was down to me to keep the kids busy and entertained. So I drew up a rough plan of how the week would look. I wanted to plan fun activities over the course of the week so when it got down to spending time at home, they would appreciate it.
Christmas holidays are fairly straight-forward to sort because there is so much going on and you can easily find ‘fun’ things to do. The same goes for Easter. I usually take the kids on egg hunts and with the weather being a little better it’s easier to spend more time outdoors. The summer is the easiest to plan because most days the kids are happy just going down to the park, spending time in the garden, enjoying family barbeques and if we’re not abroad, we’ll plan a couple of weekends away. October isn’t bad either because there are plenty of events around Halloween.
February half-term is easily the one I dread. The weather is awful and there aren’t any big events happening to keep the kids busy. So that’s why I had to come up with other ideas to keep them entertained.
On Monday I took the kids bowling. We hadn’t been for a while so it was a nice treat. For the first time Shivam decided not to bowl with the frame and he was brave enough not to have the side barriers up too! He got really upset every time he missed hitting a skittle but towards the end of the game he was easily knocking down five or six skittles. He even asked to take some of my turns for practice! Shalini’s quite a good bowler now and we will definitely be taking the kids more often. I used to love bowling and Sukh and I went quite frequently before we had the kids. Since then, we’ve only been a few times because it usually ends up with Shivam getting upset at his score!
We spent a bit of time in the arcade and as soon as Shivam saw the pool tables, that was it! We had a pool table in our villa in Orlando when we went last summer and Shivam spent all his time perfecting his play.
Since then he’s been badgering us to take him out for a game so this was a bonus. He and I played a couple of games and he’s decided it will be something he and his Daddy do together in future when it’s a ‘boys day out’.
I didn’t want to out and about the entire week. With Sukh away, it had been a manic month so I was really looking forward to some downtime too during the holidays. I planned a couple of film days. Rather than have the kids telling me they were bored staying in, I told them we’d make it exciting by having lazy pyjama days watching films back-to-back. I bought plenty of popcorn and snacks and we cuddled up under blankets on the sofa.
Mid-week we went to Rock-Up, an indoor climbing centre. The kids have never done it before. Shivam wanted to go to Flip Out, a local trampoline park but we’ve done that a few times now and I suggested we try something new. We met my sister’s family as her kids go to Rock-Up quite regularly. It was a nice way for Shalini and Shivam to spend some time with their cousins in the holidays.
My sister suggested we go first thing in the morning because the earlier sessions are quieter. It’s a popular place and gets really busy in the holidays. The place is really colourful and I was really surprised to see how many different walls there actually were. From afar they seem easy, but up close some of them looked quite challenging.
Shalini was really brave and conquered a fair few walls. Shivam was quite scared and only got a quarter of the way up on most of them before he decided to climb back down. I decided not to climb but it looked like such fun and the kids really enjoyed themselves so I will join them next time.
We went out to lunch with my parents before heading across town to visit a friend and her new baby.
Before the holidays, I had come across Treasure Trails online. They’re guided trails and you can choose any town or city you want to explore, picking a treasure hunt, a murder mystery or a spy mission. Shalini and Shivam love playing Cluedo and they have so much fun on treasure hunts I create for them at home, I knew it would be something they’d enjoy.
I’ve never been to the Cotswolds but it’s always appealed to me with its scenic towns and villages. I picked the trail at Bourton-On-The-Water, which is described as ‘the Venice of the Cotswolds’, an hour and a quarter from us. It cost seven pounds and it arrived within a couple of days.
We enjoyed the scenic drive through country roads and the kids enjoyed counting different animals they saw along the way. We arrived just before lunchtime. It was a sunny day but chilly so we wrapped up warm, and off we headed to start the trail. Some of the clues were a little difficult but we enjoyed the challenge.
Shalini was really good at solving the clues. Some of the signs or plaques we were looking for were well hidden yet she was able to spot them easily. The best clues were when we had to solve a riddle. Shivam loved scribbling out the suspects and weapons who were cleared of the murder.
The trail takes around two hours covering a couple of miles but you can take as long as you want. That’s exactly what we decided to do so we could really enjoy the area, nipping in and out of shops. The village was fairly busy with coach loads of tourists coming in so we decided to wait until after the lunchtime rush before stopping for food.
We ate at The Croft Restaurant. All of us had Bangers and Mash and it was the perfect comfort food on a chilly day. The February breeze had made us quite hungry and we emptied our plates in no time.
The trail took us down some muddy paths and over the riverbank. We were surprised at how well organised it was and how clever the clues were. If you get stuck you can get up to three answers to the clues by text – which we really didn’t want to do but had no choice a couple of times. That isn’t bad going seeing as there were around twenty-one clues in total.
Once we had finished the trail and solved the mystery we treated ourselves to a lovely Afternoon Tea at the Smiths of Bourton Tea Room. The kids had a hot chocolate with a slice of Victoria Sponge while I had a traditional cream tea.
Shalini and Shivam really wanted an ice cream and there were a lot of cute parlours dotted around the village but it was too cold for me to give in. Bourton-On-The-Water is really picturesque and it’s somewhere I would love to visit again in the summer, this time with Sukh – and the kids can have that ice cream I’ve promised too!
All in all we had a fantastic day and the bonus was we were able to solve the murder mystery. You can submit your answer online and all correct answers are entered into a prize draw. Whether we win anything or not, I know it was seven pounds well spent.
The week flew and not once did I hear those dreaded words ‘I’m bored’. I think I succeeded in providing enough entertainment throughout the week so that the kids looked forward to some down time at home too. One point to Mummy! I’m already starting the activity plan for the Easter holidays and they’re not far off. A treasure trail may definitely be on the cards again if the kids have their way.