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!


The fabulous Annabel Karmel has kindly agreed to share her wisdom with us on her guest post for baby budgeting. It’s over to Annabel for her top five, baby budgeting foodie tips:

  • Get a group of friends together and each make up a batch of different recipes and then swap them so that you each have a few portions of each recipe and that way you can find out which flavours your baby likes without much wastage.
  • My baby purees are very tasty so you can be cooking for your baby and yourself at the same time. By simply adding extra stock to your baby’s purees and some seasoning you can make a perfect soup for yourself.  Lentil and Vegetable puree for example would make a delicious lentil soup.
  • Buy fruit in season – it always tastes better and it’s cheaper.

  • Always freeze any left over baby purees as baby purees will only last 24 hours in the fridge. And make sure you put the date on the batch you freeze, keep a list if what you have in the freezer so that you make sure you use them before their use by date and there is no wastage.
  • If you do Freeze your purees, you can use my Stackable Pots to put a frozen puree in for when you are out and about with your baby and hopefully it will have defrosted in time for lunch, this is a lot cheaper then buying jarred baby food.


For more foodie tips and recipes please visit Annabel’s website www.annabelkarmel.com

Thank you so much Annabel for sharing your tips! If anyone has any baby budgeting food tips to add to these we would love to hear your commnets…..


Our baby budgeting ‘Going Green’ guest post today is from  Margarita Woodley. Thanks Margarita for a really informative post!

I have been following Baby Budgeting for a while – what an “Ingenious” topic to blog on – after all Babies do cost a fortune! And all of us want the best for our children, providing them with as much nutrition, fun and experiences as possible! Thank you Baby Budgeting for all your ideas so far.

 Being a “little green” (note, the word “little” – I basically “try”), I was pleased to see the “Green Month” theme and even more pleased when I was “allowed” to contribute. There is one topic close to my heart, but I would like to submit two posts over two days which refer to it:

 The Nappy Mountain!


Photo curtesy of Kingston & Merton Nappy Network

 For first two years of your babies life, not only will you be using up over 5000 nappies, it estimated that these will cost you a minimum £800. Every additional half year will mean an approx extra 730 nappies at a minimum of £125 per 6 months! I think that these calculations erred on the side of “cheap” and minimum use. You will probably be spending more!

 There are two ways to help reduce costs and the impact on the environment. I will talk about one today and the other tomorrow….

 Firstly: Potty Training!

Out generation is encouraged by books, media, health visitors and (I don’t doubt) the nappy manufacturer’s to potty train our children later and later. Many families don’t even THINK about potty training until their child is 2.5 years old, let alone starting potty training at that age. And when they do, they frequently use the “half way” house pull up nappies.

 Now think: each month you probably spend at least £20 (optimistically cheap estimate!!). So every month you delay potty training, that is £20 pounds down the drain – in some cases children are trained 18 – 24 months later than it is possible (i.e. at 3 – 3.5yrs) – that is £360 – £480 wasted on nappies alone?! (not mentioning the cost of baby wipes or nappy bags).

 Our parent generation trained children around 18 months. Ok, this means the process is slower, more work and more infuriating, BUT if a child isn’t trained til 3.5yrs – that is at least £500 less spent by our parents.

 I potty trained mine just before his 2nd Birthday. It took 3 weeks (very boring) and we do still have accidents now (4 months later) – but this is normal. No one tells you this. Everyone tells you “we did in 1 day”, “we did in 3 days” – making you wait and wait and for “the right moment”. Some children will take 3 weeks regardless of when you do it. Some will do it faster. It is hard to decide when exactly is the right time.

 Pull up nappies just prolong the process and make money for the nappy companies. Don’t go there. They are a waste of money. Go nappy cold turkey and you will sort it faster. Don’t wait for summer. Do it when it is right. We did it over Christmas – in some ways winter was better, as when Red Ted wet himself it just went into his trousers and not all over the carpet.

 And here’s a scary fact: your child is more likely to experience incontinence problems if (s)he is trained after the age of 32 months  The ONLY observed downside of training early, is that it may take a little longer.

 Ok. Enough lecturing. Save money. Potty Train.

 Go to The Good Life Bloggers for some tips to help you succeed and to stay calm! Or to read our journey when Potty Training!


Our guest post today is from Brenda at the green familia and here she shares some fab tips on energy efficiency.  Thank you Brenda!

Energy efficiency at it’s purest!

One of the easiest ways of saving money and being kind to the environment is to be energy efficient.  Here are some tips on how to achieve this.

  •  Turn off all electrical appliances at the wall when not in use.  Even leaving them on standby is still using up electricity which you are paying for!
  • Keep your fridge and freezers dust free at the back.  Once a month get into the habit of giving them a dust down, this helps them be more energy efficient.
  • When replacing your washing machines, dishwashers etc, go for one that has a high energy efficient rating. Which? Is a good resource for finding out the best ones.
  •  Turning your heating down by just one degree, can also help you lower your energy bills.
  •  Ensure your house is fully insulated from the loft to your doors and windows!
  •  Switch to low energy light bulbs.
  • When cooking, make larger portions and freeze the left overs for another day. 


  •  Use lined curtains on windows that are slightly draughty to prevent too much heat loss.
  •  Invest or make your own door draught excluders, again to prevent heat loss.

These are only just a few tips, but if you can implement a few of these into your daily lives, you will find that eventually your energy bills will be less and you will have a more energy efficient house which will help in your strive to be greener.

Brenda writes over at www.thegreenfamilia.co.uk, which is a light green natural living shopping blog.


Wecome to our guest post from Mummysaver.
Many thanks to Becky for swapping posts with me, it’s fun to read what other creative mums out there are doing!  And so kind of her to lend me a voice to her loyal readers.
My post today is tips for how you can  help others, which cost little to nothing and make you feel fantastic about yourself.

Tip 1: Donate the deluge of plush toys to sick children.
Anyone quietly suppressing a sigh and saying, “thank you so much that’s really thoughtful” through your strained smile as a family friend turns up with another  plush toy, which unbeknownst to them will be completely ignored in favour of the one ratty favourite, taking up yet more space.  What to do?  Well, you could donate them to the charity shop but would you buy a plush toy in a charity shop?  This is the best idea I’ve seen so far: “http://www.postpals.co.uk” will link you up with a sick child.  You can correspond, send toys and your child’s artwork to cheer them up.  See, everybody wins!
Tip #2:   You can donate £1 to The Children’s Society for free!
All you have to do is http://www.thegoodchildhood.com/pledge/ go to this website, pledge to do something from a list of selfless things.  For example, donate some clothes to charity, fathers take the family outside into fresh air over the weekend (don’t we understand what a huge undertaking that is!!!), organise a fun family activity, or pledge to eat together as a family three times this week.
Tip #3: Donate blood.
I did this yesterday and saw two mums with their (admittedly miles-better-behaved-than-Babysaver) little ones in the buggies.  This would NOT be possible for me with Little Mr. Hyper so I left him with nanny and went by myself.  Takes less than an hour and I asked the nurse whether they ever had to throw donated blood away, she said they use most of it within a week of donation for patients.  Afterward you can have a nice cuppa and as many snacks as you want.  Go to the <a href=”http://www.blood.co.uk”>Blood Services website  to get a donor number and book an appointment near you.
Tip #4: Become a microfinancier
You can open an account at Kiva for as little as USD $25 to invest in microfinance projects.  You could help a lady farmer in Bolivia buy some new machinery, or a mum who runs a corner shop in Africa improve her premises, or a lady shoe merchant in Kazakhstan increase her on-hand inventory.  The partner organisations are very carefully vetted and payback rate is better than 98%!  Although you do not earn interest on your investment, when your investment is paid back by the borrower you can re-lend/recycle your money, and you can withdraw your money at any time!  So the only “cost” to you is the interest you would have earned if that money were in your savings account.  My money really helps someone so much more than just that extra couple of pounds it would have earned in the bank.
Tip #5: Volunteer.
Until I stopped working 70 hours a week I didn’t have the time to volunteer.  Now I do and it’s so wonderful.  You can find any kind of volunteer work to suit your interests and available time at the http://www.do-it.org/”>do-it.org website.  Seriously, I saw all sorts of stuff from turning up ad-hoc on Saturdays to do gardening, working in a charity shop, visiting local housebound people, to being on the Board of Trustees.  Maybe you can find a fun idea to involve the whole family on a regular basis in community service?
BONUS! Tip #6: Click for your favourite cause.
Set your browser homepage to http://www.thehungersite.com The Hunger Site and click at least once a day to donate food from the site’s sponsors.  From this link find similar sites donating to breast cancer, animal rescue, child health, rainforest, and literacy.
There you go, six ways to help others for minimal money cost to yourself.  Have fun and feel great!
About mummysaver:
Kristin lives in a beautiful green part of London and is the mum of a  very  energetic toddler Babysaver.  Check out her blog http://www.mummysaver.co.uk for ideas and funnies to help mummies and daddies save money, the planet, time and their serenity!
Thank you Kristen – a brilliant post and some fab ideas!

I have been involved ina blog swap and my swap partner is the gorgous Pippa from a mother’s ramblings. Enjoy her post….it’s fab and it really makes you think. Over to Pippa……………
Hi Everyone!
If I were asked to define myself I would say I was a Stay-at-Home-Mummy. Technically I am a Work-at-Home-Mummy but I don’t really count my job as work as it is a lot of fun. Plus whilst I’m working I am normally playing with Baby Boy or watching him play or Tweeting or reading blogs… you get the picture right?

Last Tuesday I took a day off of being a SAHM. Daddy took the day off and dealt with the school run and looking after Baby Boy for the day. As I went swanning off to London I was worrying. I was worried that Baby Boy was going to scream the house down when he realised that I wasn’t around and then hate me forever more, I was worried that I didn’t have my security of my four walls or my label of SAHM.

I didn’t need to worry though as when Daddy and Baby Boy picked me up from the train station later that day, Baby Boy flashed me a smile to let me know that he didn’t hate me for leaving him and was very interested in the bag of goodies that I was carrying.

When I walked in the front door I could tell that something was different.

A quick glance round the living room showed that the floor was hoovered. The clean clothes that had been dumped on the back of the sofa by me weren’t there. Oh my Goodness was it true? There were no toys spilled across the floor…

I went to the kitchen. The kitchen was shiny. There were no dishes on the side or in the sink. The washing machine was running and there were no piles of colour sorted washing on the Kitchen floor.

That evening as I worked I questioned Daddy on what he had done hour by hour. Minute by minute. He had done all the household chores for the day, he had run some errands, he had played with Baby Boy.

He had done more chores in one day than I had gotten round to in the last week. He was a better me than I was. I shall now have to work hard at being a better him than he is. Now, where’s that copy of FHM…


And a bit about Pippa just in case you didn’t know…
Pippa AKA Mummy  is a SAHM (well WAHM) to daughter Top Ender (age 6) and son Baby Boy (nearly 2) and loving wife to Daddy. She tries to fill her week with housework, playing with Baby Boy and Top Ender and her weekends making memories… she fails on the housework front though.
Her blog name is A Mothers Ramblings and the url is http://www.amothersramblings.com
and her Twitter url is http://www.twitter.com/PippaD as her twitter profile name is @PippaD
Thank you Pippa ….what a beautiful family you have….and do you rent out your husband?