5 Ideas for Frugal Family Fun on the Waterways

Peggy Melmoth, who has written this wonderful guest post, travels the waterways with her husband and two daughters aged 4 and 2. Peggy has lived on a canal boat for eleven years and writes a blog about family life, living aboard at www.narrowboatwife.blogspot.com
Twitter: @boat_wife

There are over 2000 miles of canal network in the UK and over 50 per cent of the population live within five miles of a canal. Even if you live in a city you may find that your local canal or river is haven of tranquillity and a place to discover wildlife.

budget canal boat

Hiring a narrowboat for a holiday may not be a low cost option for a family on a budget but during the winter season some companies offer a half day rate of around £70.00 on a weekday. The cost can be shared by a group. However, the towpath is also a wonderful location for low cost family fun.

1 Cycling
Before embarking on a long journey consider a list of useful things you may need such as spare inner tubes, repair kit, pump, spanners, lock, and water bottles. BW keys are available to buy at any boat yard or chandlery (about £3) and will give you access to taps on the towpath to refill water bottles. Cereal bars and Kendal mint cake are perfect for keeping up the energy and a Nicholsons canal guide is a good map to plan your route and stops.

2 Fishing
Fishing can be begun with very little outlay on equipment and the under 12’s do not need to purchase an Environment Agency rod licence. Most of the fishing rights on the canal network are licensed to angling clubs, but the stretches that are not let are made available by the BW Waterway Wanderers permit. Adult permits are £20 and Junior permits (under 16) are £5 for the year.

3 Foraging
My children love finding blackberries on the towpath but there is much more foraging to be found.
Belle Tidy’s blog ‘I Know a Bank Where the Wild Thyme Grows’ has plenty of tips on what to find on the towpath, and recipes so that you know what to do with your finds when you get home. Imagine dandelion marmalade and rosehip bread or red clover rice salad, and of course all sorts of jams and chutneys. (For grown-ups she has a surprising range of vodka based recipes!)

4 History
While history may not be your children’s favourite school subject there are thirteen waterways museums in Britain. Entry to the London Canal museum is free. It has a full size replica of a working narrowboat cabin so that visitors can see how narrowboat families used to live. They also run activities for kids in the school holidays such as ice-cream making, roses and castles painting and boat trips.
Find your nearest museum at http://www.canalmuseum.org.uk/waterways-museums.htm

5 Rainy days
If you love the waterways as much as I do you might want to force canal themed books onto your children too. Rosie and Jim books have been around for years, but a more recent canal series is Muddy Waters. It’s a series of books about colourful canal boats with names, that started in Oxford and go on adventures. An undiscovered gem that gives a flavour of the history of the waterways are the Bert and Betty books; picture books for the very young describing the life of 19th century boaters http://www.thebraunstonboaters.co.uk Try also cooking a boat themed recipe together from the very affordable book ‘Favourite Boating Recipes’ by Cas Best £1.35

Find more watery things to do in your area by searching for your region on the Waterscape website. http://www.waterscape.com/in-your-area

And don’t forget to carry your polyester designed swimwear and moisturized sunscreen products inside a waist strap backpack for an enjoyable travel and swim time. A soggy swimsuit is never fun to put on!



Huge thans to Kathryn Brown who blogs at Crystal Jigsaw for this wonderful and  useful guest post:

North Northumberland, by Kathryn Brown (www.crystaljigsaw.blogspot.com)

 Northumberland, castle

There is a little corner of England right at the most northern point which borders Scotland; this corner is known as north Northumberland and boasts some of the most incredible coastline in the UK.  Probably the most famous of these stretches is Bamburgh beach”, approximately 3 miles of sandy dunes and glorious while sands, not to mention turquoise sea lapping ashore to our “blue flag” beach.  But the real eye candy that is without doubt an unforgettable sight is the magnificent Bamburgh Castle”; a thirteenth century edifice overlooking the small village of Bamburgh, standing proud as it appears to rest in its twilight years, guarding the Farne Islands out at sea and the countryside beyond.


Adult – £8
Child – £4
Senior – £7
Family – £20
Website: http://www.bamburghcastle.com/index.php

Schools Per/Pupil – £2.00

(Children 5 to 15 years
Under 5 FREE
Groups are 15 or more people
Family, 2 adults & up to 3 children)


Let me now take you to Alnwick Castle”, a beautifully graceful stately home to the Duke of Northumberland and his immediate family.  The castle displays wonderful architecture, almost priceless paintings and a fascinating array of personal antiques collected over hundreds of years by the many Dukes of this beautiful county.  And of course, Alnwick Castle was the setting of JK Rowling’s famous series of books from Harry Potter so it is always a favourite with the children. 


Adult – £12.50

Child – £5.50

Concession – £10.60

Open:  31st March to 29th October 2010, daily from 10:00am – 6:00pm

Website: http://www.alnwickcastle.com/


 About 10 years ago, the Alnwick Garden”, a part of the castle grounds, was designed by the Duchess of Northumberland, a beautifully landscaped area containing hundreds of varieties of plants, several impressive water features, a shop, restaurant and a recently erected tree house, which is a huge attraction for any children who like climbing!  


Adult – £9.50

Child – £7.20

Concession – £8.20

Website: http://www.alnwickgarden.com/visit/visit

 You can combine entry with the castle also which does save a small amount.  There is a huge car park opposite the gardens and several within the small town of Alnwick.  And don’t forget to visit the shops and cafes in the town centre of which all are child friendly.


Along the coast road from Bamburgh we arrive at the beautiful fishing village of Seahouses” which currently boasts five fish and chip shops, some eat in, together with various pubs and cafes.  Seahouses also has a crazy golf and large soft play area for the children, together with tables and chairs outside on the lawn should the weather be kind. 

There is also a lifeboat station in Seahouses which allows visitors to admire the life-boat and read a little information about its local services and history.  The walk along the harbour is a beautiful one, and here, you can buy tickets to sail over to the “Farne Islands”, a cluster of seventeen islands, some of them inhabited by rare wildlife, such as the grey seal and various sea birds.  On a calm day it is a must, a trip you will remember for life.

Website: http://www.farne-islands.com/index.htm 

The northern coast of Northumberland is very child friendly, offering many eateries, places to visit, interesting historical information and wonderful beaches.  There are many caravan sites in the area, not to mention B&B’s, hotels and guest houses.  It has become quite competitive in recent years with the number of holiday cottages now on offer, all in good locations, excellent views of either countryside, coastline or both, and all of a good standard of accommodation.  Three of the Alnwick Castle Cottages are on my own farm land and I can personally recommend them to any families who have children, dogs, elderly relatives, or if they just wish to take a break in peaceful surroundings with the sound of sheep and birds for company, and occasionally a tractor!  Tel: 01668 219941  People who do come to the cottages can buy eggs from us ! A  most beautiful and tranquil setting on a sheep and arable farm in the middle of the countryside, yet only a couple of miles from the wonderful coastline of Bamburgh. 


Thank you kathryin I feel inspried to visit…how gorgeous!


Well well well! Hi!! I’m the very mad and somewhat lovely (if I do say so myself) Hayley from Singlemummy.net  and this is my first Guest Post Day that I have taken part in even though this is the second time around for some people I know! Organised by the lovely Erica  Most people have swapped with just one person, we however have had a little triangle! I’m writing for Babybudgetting, babybudgeting is writing for New Mummy and New Mummy is writing for me!

Having browsed through the lovely baby budgetting blog I noticed a distinct theme, other than money of course, that of BUGGIES!! My favourite thing ever! Now if I remember correctly here and I’ve got to think, two seconds…. I had eight buggies in 3 years. Yep I am a buggy addict. Or is that was? I got rid of the final buggy last October just prior to J’s birthday. He never really used it by that stage as he has always been exceptionally active.

I can safely say my buggy addiction isnt over though. The amount of times I get buggy envy when i’m out and about, yet I dont even have a baby to put in them now! J cant stand the things! So heres a little of my buggy history.

The first buggy we had was a graco travel system,  a 3 wheeler. Except the front wheel didnt swivel. We brought it on budget. It had a pushchair, a car seat and was a good price. Great we thought. Turned out it was hideous to push and I mean awful! It steered to one side and having had a c-section I found it painful to push!

My next investment was by far my favourite! It was a hauck one, it was wicked! Amazingly light. Cool colour. Loads of room underneath. Easy to push. Seat was able to drop back not in stages but smoothly as you did it at any level you wanted. Seat was forward and rear facing. Amazing. Best buggy I ever had!

Other buggies we had consisted of a umbrella pushchair which had weighted front wheels. – Yep give it its due it was alot harder to tip over than most buggies were!

We also had a quinny zapp which was good in that it could turn round 360degrees easily, great for tight corners, however had no basket underneath and you only had to put your hand bag on it and it tipped!

We got a graco pushchair on freecycle –

graco mirage It looked like this but was an older style and quite heavy and chunky but was very comfy, had a huge basket and lasted through my criticisms for quite a while actually!

We also had a mamas and papas for all of 5 minutes, it was brought on impulse at a car boot, in a horrible condition and I quickly realised it was awful.

Then there was the plain basic one that none of the wheels moved on

 was quite good but hard to steer!

One of our last buggies we had was this one


A chicco yellow stroller. Reason I got this was the seat was high off the ground. J has long arms and used to try and touch the wheels. Dangerous and so that saw the end of our McClaren and this was its replacement.

As I type this I can remember even more! Some lasted a few hours some lasted days others lasted years. The reasoning. Freecycle!

Yep that amazing word that all new parents love! If any buggy went up on freecycle I had it! and I always had an excuse why the one currently possesed was no good!

So heres my advice when it comes to buying them. If your going to buy a buggy/pram/travel system DO NOT go on budget! I made that mistake with our first ever buggy and it was truely terrible! Only so that we realised after we had had J. If your going to pay out then INVEST wisely! This could be a lifelong commitment. It could see you right through, if you make the right choice!

But dont forget the joy that is freecycle. If you get hold of a buggy on there and you dont like it, just freecycle it again!

That or enter all the competitions you can such as the lovely babybudgetting ones and hope you win one of their stunning buggies!

Hayley Glenister

This year for the third time running I am cycling 54 miles from London to Brighton in aid of British Heart Foundation, I have a fundraising target of £400. Even if its a couple of quid please consider sponsoring me


Thanks Kate for a fab, green guest post that affects all of us…some top tips indeed! Over to Kate….

Thanks to Becky at Baby Budgeting for allowing me to write this guest post. I’m expecting my first child in May and invested in “How to afford time off with your baby” a few months ago. I really enjoyed reading it and felt compelled to offer a few of the money saving, green tips I have learned working at kitchen appliance retailer, Appliances Online…

When it comes to eco-friendly tips, the words green and cheap often go hand in hand, especially in the world of kitchen appliances. The most obvious way to go green is to choose the most energy efficient models in your budget next time you upgrade, which will save you money in the long run. But if you’re not ready to change your appliances there are still ways you can reduce energy usage (and electricity bills) in the kitchen. Here are my top five tips:

1.      Cool leftovers before freezing – using leftovers is a great way to save on grocery bills but make sure the food has cooled before freezing or putting it in the fridge. If you put hot food in a fridge or freezer it will raise the internal temperature of the appliance. This can spoil your stored food and your appliance has to work harder to regain its original temperature – which unnecessarily wastes energy.

2.      Use your sensor tumble dry settings – yes, in an ideal world we’d all be line drying our clothes to save on electricity but in the “lovely” British climate this isn’t always possible. Plus, if you live in an apartment like I do, you probably won’t have the space to air your clothes outside so you’ll find you have days where the tumble dryer is in very high demand.

Sensor drying stops means the machine automatically stops when the laundry is done. Many of us just estimate the length of cycle with the timer settings and this leads to over drying and energy wastage.

3.      Iron clothes when damp – leave a little moisture in your tumble dried clothes and they’ll iron more easily. The benefits of this are threefold; you save energy in your tumble dryer, you don’t waste water re-dampening the fabric to get rid of difficult creases, and ironing is far easier (which saves electricity as well as your valuable time). Sensor tumble dryers often have several drying levels to help you choose – cupboard dry, hanger dry and iron dry.

4.      Use your pan lids – because heat can’t escape a covered pan will boil water in a fraction of the time of an uncovered pan. Not only does this save energy, it’ll help get tea on the table much more quickly.

5.      Completely cover hob burners with pans – using a pan which doesn’t completely cover the burner on your hob allows heat and energy to escape – so save energy by not using small pans on large burners.

Hope this post has been useful – for more kitchen appliance tips you can read the Appliances Online blog.


On ‘going green month’ at baby budgeting we have profiled rentabuggy and now its time to consider rent a sling. Slings are a great ‘green’ option that encourages walking and is conducive to bonding well with your baby. But which one to get? Over to Laura Summers, our guest writer on slings….

When I discovered the joy of carrying my baby in a sling, I was overwhelmed by the amount of choice out there.  Searching for reviews showed me that no one sling or carrier suits all parent and baby requirements.   This led me into thinking I needed to try before I bought as each ‘mistake’ was going to prove costly. hence I developed Petit Poppet my try before you buy sling loan service

Petit Poppet allows you to try any sling from the site before you buy with the added bonus that 100% of loan fees are donated to SANDS (Stillbirth & Neonatal Death Society UK).  In addition to this, should you wish to buy following your trial, you receive a 10% discount on your purchase which means if you try and then buy, it only costs you 5% on top of the retail price to make certain you are buying the perfect product.  Perfect financial sense!  It’s a win, win for the charity and the customer and with the product range expanding all the time the site aims to have a carrier to suit every set of requirements.

Head over to www.petitpoppet.co.uk to check out our slings for yourself.

Thank you Laura!