Sunday, 30 December 2012

All new no price tags

I haven't posted for a while and that's because there are changes afoot at no price tags.

It'll all be a bit swankier - if you have any ideas that you think could make no price tags even better please let me know!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Be in it to win it: Baby & toddler show tickets up for grabs

Oooh I've got some tickets for the Baby and Toddler show to give away. Hip hip hooray!

Thanks to lovely Karen at BoobieMilk, I have five pairs of tickets for the show at Glow, Bluewater from 5-7 October. And they could be yours.

As well as lots of companies showing off their baby and toddler wares, there are free workshops on just about anything you'll ever need to know about having a family. And loads of restaurant offers too.

To be in with a chance to win, just click on the box below and tell me your favourite free thing to do in Kent.

The competition closes on Saturday 29 September at 5am. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Enjoying the last of the sunshine at Barden Lake

Ooh I took Calum out cycling this weekend. We went set off in Tonbridge and followed the cycle path (regional route 12) through Haysden Country Park and past Barden Lake.

It was lovely! It was sunny and it seemed like everyone was out on their bikes enjoying the last few days of summer.

The route is really easy and runs alongside the footpath so you don't have to worry about knocking over walkers. And you're almost immediately cycling past fields and through woods so it really feels like you're on an adventure.

We stopped off at a little clearing with lots of hills and bumps, where Calum tried out his cycling skills. And then off to the cafe for an ice cream. Hooray!!

The route goes out through the park and on to Penshurst. We tried it, but part of it is on a windy country road. I freaked out when a car zoomed round a corner and decided we might try it another time (hmmm - maybe not!)

Don't be put off though. I'm sure if you're a confident cyclist and don't see danger at every turn you'd have a great time!

Take a look at the Explore Kent website for more cycling routes.

Haysden Country Park
Lower Haysden Lane
Tonbridge
TN11 9BE

Peril at Ightham Mote

Stunning views - worth the peril??
I'm making it a bit of a mission to explore our local woods this autumn.

Autumn is just about my favourite season and I love the idea of seeing all the leaves changing colour, rooting around for blackberries and checking out weird fungi.

And as with every one of my missions, I have (of course!) made it my family's mission.

And so it was that we headed to Ightham Mote, in search of woody adventure.



Blackberry picking
There are three 'official' walks through the woods outside Ightham Mote. They're all free, but you do have to pay for parking in the National Trust car park. The upside of that is that there is a little cafe and a picnic area - a perfect spot to prepare for the perilous walk ahead - or recover from the perilous walk. Whichever suits you best.

The lady at the Ightham Mote reception told us that the longest walk (still only two and a half miles) had lovely views, so we decided to try that one.

What she didn't tell us was that the lovely views came with a huge drop (no barriers - eeks!) that actually made me feel a bit sick. I had to sit down. And hold onto both little no-price-taggers like a woman possessed.

Add to this the fact that you have to cross a road twice (with no warning), and that the path really isn't pushchair-friendly and I would say it is definitely not a walk for people with small children. Unless you don't mind heights and are prepared for a bit of unexpected traffic.

The views are really lovely though, and we all loved picking blackberries and spider-spotting (lots and lots of spiders). And we completely recovered after a post-walk drink at The Plough in Ivy Hatch - their beer garden has a sand pit, badminton, petanque and chickens.

It made up for the peril, but I think we might have all enjoyed it just as much without fearing for our lives.

Check out the Woodland Trust website to find out where your nearest woods are.


Ightham Mote
Mote Road,
Ivy Hatch, Sevenoaks TN15 0NT

Parking: £2

Friday, 31 August 2012

Fabulous free summer

Sooo long since my last blog - it's been a very busy summer.

We've been making the most of some of the great free things that have been on over the lasr six weeks.

We've been on bat walks, checked out gloworms and found terrapins in a Maidstone Park.

Calum's shown off his acting skills and made ghosts at Sevenoaks library.

We've checked out the bouncy castle making its rounds, seen some Olympic marathon action and seen rare newts at Bough Beech.

We've made jumping frogs and an insect house. We've all tried our hands at archery (I hit the target - whoop!)

We've been for walks, made sand castles on the beach and spent time at the swings.

It's been a lovely (almost!) free summer holiday - I hope you've had a great one too.

 Keep an eye on my facebook page so that you know what's coming up over the next few weeks.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Free fun through the holidays

My two would rather play frisbee than bounce
We're just back from a free family day at Otford Park - there was lots to do for children of all ages (although my two decided that our own frisbee and the swings that are always there were fun enough . . .)
Bouncy castle for older children
It was organised by Spring House and there are plenty more throughout the summer (check out my terrible photo with all the dates). Check the times before you go - we got there at 11am, half an hour after it was supposed to start and it wasn't in full swing until noon.

Not complaining though - with a free bouncy castle and lots of play things for little ones it was a great way to spend a few hours in lovely Otford.
Lots of shade and fun for little tots
My terrible photo of what's on - I will get a better version!

Monday, 23 July 2012

No Price Tags at the Olympics

Credit: MoHotta18
No tickets for the Olympics? Never fear! I've got some of the best, free (of course!) ways to enjoy the sporting event of the year . . .

Road cycling: 28 July - 1 August
Head to the Mall to watch the start and finish of the men's and women's road cycling - we're tipped for a medal so it's definitely one to watch.

Race Walk: 4, 11 August
Speed walking!! Again, stop off at the Mall to see the winners cross the finish line. I think my little ones (and I!!!) will really enjoy watching to see if anyone breaks the rules of the race and forgets to keep one foot on the floor at all times.

Triathlon: 4, 7 August
Hyde Park is the venue for this triple race - it's likely to be crowded but you will get to see top athletes running, swimming and cycling, as they go for gold.

Marathon: 5, 12 August
The marathon will pass just about every tourist spot in the capital - from Trafalgar Sqaure to St Paul's - a bit more serious than the usual London marathon and certainly won't last as long!

Swimming marathon: 9-10 August
The swimmers are set to race for two hours (!!!) as they swim six laps around Hyde Park's Serpentine. The south side of the lake will be open to spectators without tickets.

Paralympic Games - Marathon: 9 September
The Mall is obviously the place to be this summer, with the Paralympic Games marathon starting and finishing here too!

London 2012 Live Sites
There are five official Live Sites across London showing live coverage of the Games (with a bit of entertainment as well!) There are lots more throughout the capital to try too.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Fancy an Oyster?

Whitstable Oyster Festival
So it's officially festival time in Kent - here's a taster of what's on this weekend and (of course) they're free. Hooray!

Saturday and Sunday

Whitstable Oyster Festival
I love Whitstable, so I really don't need an excuse to go. But if you do, the Oyster Festival starts tomorrow and goes on through next week. Perfect if you're looking for something to do in the first week of the very long summer holidays!

There's absolutely lots to do. Some activities are paid for but there are plenty of free things to try out too.

Some of this weekend's highlights include the Oyster Parade (with music, giants, performers and more), Taiko drumming and the Whitstable Brewery Beer Festival (free entry during the day). There are lots of things for children, as well as markets and of course plenty of oysters.

I really want to go and see the Grotters and Glows (lots of glowing oyster shells on the beach) and the fireworks on Thursday . . .


Deal, Walmer and Kingsdown Carnival and Regatta
The carnival and regatta runs through next week too. There's a mix of sailing, open-air concerts, fireworks and more this year.


Sunday, 15 July 2012

Olympic fever

The Olympic torch is heading our way - check to see if you're on the route.

Boats, bikes and beach (well . . . kind of) in Tonbridge

Tonbridge Park (the old racecourse) is our very favourite west Kent park - it's got lots of open space for kite flying (lots of people out today) and playing sport. Its playground is great with a good mix of things for older and younger children, a massive sand pit (a bit soggy this morning!) and zip wires.

The mini steam train runs in the afternoon on summer weekends and is always a hit - although you have to pay to ride it. And there's even a castle to explore.

Add to that a skate park, outdoor gym (ha ha), basketball and tennis courts, fishing and mini-golf, and there really is something for just about anyone.

The park is great for cycling and is part of cycle route 12 - which goes through Haysden Country Park (another fabulous place to go with free things to do over the summer holidays) and on to Penshurst.

Calum zoomed round the big playing field on his bike today while Orla splashed about it the puddles. They both loved watching boats and people canoeing down the river.

Tonbridge Park
The Slade
Tonbridge TN9





Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Sunshine, cows and journey sticks at Open Farm Day


It was Open Farm Sunday this Sunday, and we had a lovely time at Romshed Farm in Underriver.

It was a rare day of sunshine so we packed a picnic and our wellies. We joined the tour a bit late, so we didn't hear much about their animals or their organic ways, but we did get to see their turkey chicks and ducklings. The piglets were hiding very well.

I spent a lot of the tour wrestling Orla away from the electric fences (toddler horror) and explaining to Calum why they were there in the first place.

Enjoying the puddles
After the tour we went for a walk past cows and sheep. By this point Orla was much more interested in the puddles than anything else (hooray for wellies!)

My winning stick

All the way round the farm we made journey sticks - something I've never seen before but will definitely do again. We collected things we found and attached them to a stick with a piece of string. Doesn't sound much, but it all ended up very competitive in my family.

Of course, my stick won.

Romshed Farm is holding an open evening on Thursday 28 June from 6pm - with bat walks, moth traps - and food and drink.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

It's Open Farm Sunday

Hooray! We're going to a farm in Underriver today as part of Open Farm Sunday - visit the website to find out your nearest . . .

Monday, 28 May 2012

Beside the seaside

This weekend there were lots of free things to try - I really wanted to go Medieval at Badelsmere, Mr No Price Tags fancied the open day at Lullingstone.

But as the morning got hotter and hotter yesterday we realised it would be horrific to take two little ones out for the whole day.

So we decided the beach was our best bet. And instead of going for the day, we decided to go in the evening when it would be a bit cooler and less crowded.

As we drove down to Camber Sands hoards of people were leaving. We cruised past traffic jams and found somewhere (free - yay!) to park really easily.

The beach was still busy when we got there (I can't imagine how crowded it must have been during the day). We got ourselves a spot not far from the sea and had a fabulous evening - and dinner - by the sea.


A perfect way to end a very hot day!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Medieval battles, jubilee decorations and geocaching . . . what will you get up to this weekend?

Have you seen our playground review yet?
We have been a family of sickos for the last couple of weeks so we haven't been able to make the most of the free events I've been so excited about.

But the sun is shining, the children are (more or less) well, and I have more free things to share with you. And hopefully try out myself!

Here are just some of the activities Kent has to offer this weekend:

Friday

Baby Bounce and Rhyme
Tunbridge Wells Library, Mount Pleasant Road, Tunbridge Wells TN1 1NS
10 - 11am
Lots of nursery rhymes and other songs for your little one.


Heritage tree walk
Mote Park, Maidstone ME15 7RN
10am - 12.30pm
Check out some of Mote Park's special heritage status trees - email moteparkevents@maidstone.gov.uk to book your place.


Friday Fun at the Museum
Tunbridge Wells Museum and Gallery, Mount Pleasant Road, Tunbridge Wells TN1 1NS
10.30 - 11.30am
Craft and story telling for 2 - 5 year olds.


Saturday

Badlesmere Lees Medieval Fayre (and Sunday)
Ashford Road A251, Badlesmere Lees, Nr. Faversham ME13 0NX
From midday
See medieval battles and enjoy stalls, live music and rides.


Sunday

Moth morning at Bough Beech
Bough Beech Visitor Centre & Nature Park, Bough Beech, Four Elms TN14 6LD
10am - 12pm
We went to a moth morning earlier this year and we really enjoyed it. There should be more moths this time too, because the weather has been so warm this week.


Explore South Blean Woods
Chartham Hatch CT4 7NT
10am - 12.30pm


Lullingstone Country Park Open Day
Castle Road, Eynsford DA4 0JF
11am - 3pm
Woodland walks, pond dipping, geocaching, scavenger hunt, face painting and live music.


Craft corner
Tunbridge Wells Museum and Gallery, Mount Pleasant Road, Tunbridge Wells TN1 1NS
1 - 3pm
Make your own jubilee decorations (for ages 8+)


Monday, 21 May 2012

Kent's best playgrounds?

We love playgrounds. We're always on the look out for good ones - especially when we're away from home for the day.

That's why I asked no price taggers to tell me their favourites. I will have definitely missed out some, so let me know where you and your family like to go!

Danson Park
Danson Road, Bexleyheath DA6

We haven't tried this park yet, but it comes recommended by @_ginger1. As well as the great swings and play area, the park hosts a free 5K run every Saturday morning and a festival every July.

My toddler loves Danson Park in Bexleyheath. Lovely playground, lake, duck pond & lots of green for running about like a loon. @_ginger1


Grosvenor & Hilbert Park
Auckland Road, Tunbridge Wells TN1

Grosvenor and Hilbert Park has real variety in terms of surroundings - hidden nooks & crannies to run around in, plus nice cafe @FeeHorne


Shorne Woods adventure playground
Brewers Road, Gravesend DA12 3HX

A giant adventure playground for older children, and smaller swings and playthings for younger tots. This is the best playground we have found so far. Shorne Woods also has a trim trail and is perfect for little bikes.


Tonbridge Racecourse Sportsground
Castle Street, Tonbridge, Kent TN9 1BG

Tonbridge has a massive playground with kit for all ages. We love the giant sandpits and the zipwires. And Orla is going to try out the little climbing frames next time we go.

A trip to Tonbridge Park can easily turn into a day out, with lovely walks and bike rides through to Haysden Country Park.


Otford Playground
High Street, Otford TN14

Recommended by Bloomers, Otford swings have been repaired and are ready for action! Lovely views of the North Downs. And extra great in the summer if you like cricket as the Otford team plays on the field next to the playground.


Pennington Grounds
Pennington Road, Southborough TN4

Another recommendation - the park has zip wires and a good variety of activities not just swings and slides.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Another fantastic free week ahead . . .

I've just got back from a lovely walk around Knole Park - lots of puddles to splash in!

I have some great free things to share with you this week. I hope you get a chance to try some.

Wednesday
Mum & Co at St Nick's, Sevenoaks, TN13 1JA
9:45 - 11:30am 1:45 - 3:30pm (not completely free - £1 charge for each session)

Story time at Sevenoaks Library, TN13 1LQ
11.15 - 11.45am

Thursday
Spring tucker in the countryside
Cobtree Manor, Aylesford ME20 7AE
10am - 12:30pm

Friday
Baby Bounce and Rhyme at Tunbridge Wells Library, TN1 1NS
10 - 11am

Saturday
250 years of the Sandwich
Sandwich Festival

Orchid Walk at Darland Banks, Darland Ave Gillingham ME7 3ER
10am - 1pm

Mini beast hunt in Mote Park, Maidstone ME15 7SU
10am - 12:30pm

Shorne Woods Country Park open day
Gravesend, DA12 3HX
11am - 3pm

Thornden Wood and the Wild Art Trail
Thornden Wood Road, Herne Bay CT6 7NZ
2 - 4pm

Sunday
Spring tucker in the countryside
Cobtree Manor, Aylesford ME20 7AE
10am - 12:30pm

Trosley Country Park open day
Meopham, DA13 0SG
11am - 3pm


Sunday, 6 May 2012

Muddy walks at Shorne Woods



Calum and Orla take shelter!

So it's still raining. After a week or so in the house, we decided enough was enough and headed off to Shorne Woods Country Park, near Gravesend.

Not quite dressed for the weather (as always . . .) we took a short route round the woods. The path was easy to get round with a pushchair even though it was a bit muddy.

Unfortunately for us, Orla wasn't in the pushchair and, as we couldn't find her wellies, I spent a lot of the walk scooping her up before she launched herself into big muddy puddles. I wasn't that successful - but Orla had a great time.

The woods are part of the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. And they really are a very pretty place to come for a walk or a bike ride.



Spider sculpture
You can also try your hand at fishing, or test your fitness on the trim trail that runs around the park.

It was cold today so we didn't stop off at the adventure playgrounds. There are two - one for little tots and another for older children. They look great and we'll definitely be back to try them out.

Instead we set off to the cafe. Hooray! It was very nice to have somewhere to warm ourselves up. There are baby changing facilities too.

Shorne Woods is holding an open day on Saturday 12 May.

Shorne Woods
Brewers Road
Gravesend

DA12 3HX


Parking: Monday - Friday £2.00. Weekends and Bank Holidays £2.50.

Monday, 30 April 2012

Free treats in store for the bank holiday



Turner Contemporary in Margate

We were away at the weekend so we didn't get to try any free things on offer - booo. Let me know if you did.

I have rooted out some great things for this bank holiday weekend . . . I really can't wait! Here are some of the best:

Saturday

Dawn chorus walk at Mote Park, Maidstone
5 - 8.30am

Flower festival (also Sunday and Monday)
The Drive Methodist Church Sevenoaks
10am - 5pm

Broadstairs May Fair (also Sunday and Monday)
From 10am

Rochester Chimney Sweeps' festival (also Sunday and Monday)

Family craft session
Edenbridge Library, Church Street, Edenbridge TN8 5BD
(10.30am - 12pm)

Sunday

Early Birds at Cobtree Manor Park, Aylesford
5.30 - 7.30am

Turner and the elements exhibition opens
Turner Contemporary, Margate

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Moth man at Bough Beech

A chocolate tip moth (gailhampshire)
We dodged the showers on Sunday and met Alan the moth man at Bough Beech reservoir. He had set up traps on Saturday night and was showing all the moths he had caught.

It was a bit chilly on Saturday so he didn't have as many as he'd hoped. But we got to see quite a few furry, sleeping moths including a rare chocolate tip, that lots of people stopped off to see on their way through the visitors' centre.

So now I feel a little bit like an expert - there is no real difference between moths and butterflies, moths can fly in the day, and some can't eat.

The centre has a little cafe (hooray!) and a shop. It's also got a few activities for children - the snake skin and microscope combo were a great hit with Calum.

Alan will be showing off some more moths on Sunday 27 May from 10am until 12pm. There are more free (and cheap) events at Bough Beech this spring - and there are lots of walks to try out too.
The bee house at Bough Beech

Bough Beech
Ide Hill
Sevenoaks
Kent TN14 6LD


Free parking

Sunday, 22 April 2012

So many free things to look forward to this week . . . and this summer!

I've been making the most of the rainy weather this week and used the time to look for free things to do over the next few months.

The more I looked, the more excited I got - there are absolutely lots of festivals, carnivals and street parties to look forward to in the next few months.

I'm going to try to let you know about them before they happen so you don't miss out on some great days out.

Let me know if you hear of any so I can share them with other no price taggers!

Here is just a selection of some of the free things that are happening this week:

Monday:
Baby Bounce and Rhyme for non-walkers
11.30 - 12.15
Spring House, Sevenoaks TN13 1LQ

Check out your local singing groups here

Tuesday:
Little Stars play activities for children under 5
2 - 3.15pm
Halstead Community Primary School, Otford Lane, Halstead TN14 7EA

Wednesday:
Story time
11.15 - 11.45am
Sevenoaks Library, TN13 1LQ

Check out your local story times here

Thursday:
Ramble with ranger
10am - 12pm
Cobtree Manor Park, Aylesford ME20 7AE

Friday:
Literary Walk
2.30 - 4pm
Meet at Tunbridge Wells Museum and Gallery, TN1 1JN

Saturday:
Quarry Wood in spring (a guided walk around the wood)
10am - 12pm
Maidstone ME15 0NH

Ramble with ranger
10am - 12pm
Cobtree Manor Park, Aylesford ME20 7AE

Sunday:
Open day at Teston Bridge Country Park
11am - 3pm
Teston, Maidstone ME18 5BX 

Craft corner at Tunbridge Wells Museum and Gallery
1pm - 3pm
Tunbridge Wells Museum and Gallery, TN1 1JN



Saturday, 21 April 2012

Where are your favourite playgrounds?
















I'm on the hunt for the best playgrounds in Kent for a big no price tags feature next month - just in time for the holidays and hopefully a bit of sunshine! Where are your favourites??

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Kites at Greatness

So windy today so we took our kite down to Greatness playing fields. We were the only people there (except a couple of dog walkers and some skaters) so we had the whole field to ourselves.

The playing fields are much nicer than they were - we had a go on the swings but didn't have time to feed the ducks at the lovely tidied up Mill Pond.

It was a great, spur of the moment afternoon that we all really enjoyed.

If you like kite flying look out for the Kite Festival at Teston Bridge Park on Saturday 11 August and a giant kite festival in Margate in September.

Greatness Recreation Ground
Mill Lane
Sevenoaks TN14 5BX
Free parking

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

No price tags on Facebook

No price tags has a Facebook page - like it and you can keep up to date with my blog and find out about free things to do in Kent before they happen.

A collection of collections at the Kaleidoscope Gallery

I have never been a collector (I was always quite jealous of my cousin's pig collection when I was little, but never had the staying power to have one of my own . . .)

Sevenoaks Kaleidoscope Gallery is showing off a collection of collections this month - from frogs and owls to comic books and teddy bears. It's quite interesting to see what people have decided to spend their time hunting for and cherishing.

Each collection has a little tale about why the collector started and which pieces are really important to them. I like all that!

Orla liked the shiny shells (downstairs in the library) and the stuffed wild cat (which I actually think is not part of the exhibition).

There's a little area with owl pictures to colour in. Take a look when you're there and see if you can find Orla's . . .

Sevenoaks Library
Buckhurst Lane
Sevenoaks TN13 1LQ

Monday, 9 April 2012

Whoop whoop! I've made the shortlist!!

Hip hip hooray! No price tags has made the Brilliance in Blogging shortlist.

Please vote for me (again!) here. Fill in your details and check No price tags in the Go category before April 30.

Fingers crossed . . .

Planes and helicopters on my Kent big weekend . . .

Hundreds of free tickets to attractions in Kent are up for grabs once a year as part of my Kent big weekend.

We've never entered the draw before, but this year I was very organised and put us down for some really great days out - Eagle Heights, Riverhill Gardens, horse riding, rock climbing. You name it, we were up for it.

The draw took place, and I have to say I was a bit disappointed when the email arrived to say where we were going.

We headed off to the RAF Manston Museum, just outside Ramsgate. Perhaps the attraction furthest away from our house and I really wasn't all that excited by the prospect of a day of old planes.

We even toyed with stopping off at Whitstable instead, but I never turn down a freebie so we perservered.

I'm really pleased we did - the visitors' centre has a renovated spitfire which Calum and Orla really loved. There a hundreds of little things to look at - and each one has a story that the great volunteers there are really happy to tell you about. Calum even got to ring the bell on the WW2 fire engine.

That part of the museum is completely free too.

The main part is in an old aircraft hangar - it costs a whopping £1.50 each when you don't have free tickets.

We got to peer inside some old aeroplanes, look at RAF motorbikes and cars, and get freaked out by models of people in bunkers.

I must say I felt a bit stingy not paying because, although it is great and Calum and Orla had a brilliant day, the museum does feel a bit old and tired. It looks like it needs a bit of TLC - I'm not sure how many £1.50s it will take though.

RAF History Museum
Manston Road
Ramsgate
Kent CT12 5DF
T: 01843 825224
 

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Last chance to horse around

There are hobby horses galore at the Kaleidoscope Gallery in Sevenoaks - but only until Saturday.

The Farningham Hobbyhorse Project was launched last year as part of the Kent Cultural Baton. Its 120 horses were decorated by the people of Farningham and are meant to represent an ancient horse fair.

They are very bright and colourful - perfect for little ones. Orla and I loved looking at how different each one is. We might even have a go at one ourselves!

The exhibition is free and the project is run by Rosalind Barker and Franny Swann.


Kaleidoscope Gallery
Sevenoaks Library
Buckhurst Lane
Sevenoaks TN13 1LQ

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Vote for no price tags!

No price tags is up for a Brilliance in Blogging award. Hurrah!

Please vote for me in the Go! category by clicking on the BiB badge in the top right hand corner of my homepage. Fill in your details and scroll down to the Go! section. Then pop in the no price tags url: www.nopricetags.blogspot.com

Voting closes on Thursday 15th March.

Thank you very much . . . I'll let you know how it goes!

Monday, 5 March 2012

Egg hunts, Depeche Mode and chasing pigeons on the South Bank

It was a very cold and windy day on the South Bank on Friday, but Orla and I decided to brave it and find out what it has to offer.

It was much quieter than at the weekends, so Orla could roam free(ish) and take in some of the sights close up.

We looked for eggs in the Faberge Egg hunt. Orla was really impressed by a very still silver man - especially when he waved at her. She loved the boats on the river. But her favourite thing by far was chasing the pigeons outside the Royal Festival Hall.

We sneaked in there for a bit of shelter and to use their baby changing room. We couldn't stay for the free lunchtime concert (we were in London to have lunch with a friend). Instead we went across to the Hayward Gallery.

I never thought the Hayward had many free exhibitions. And if Friday was anything to go by I was probably right. They had a little free taster of a paid-for exhibition exhibition for us to try - this one was all about 80s sensation Depeche Mode.

We walked into a very dark room showing a film about really quite fanatical fans with shrines to Dave Gahan (lead singer - now I know!), miming in empty car parks and watching concerts on dvd over and over again.

I might have enjoyed it more if I had not been with an 18-month-old. But I was, so we left quite quickly.

My tip for the South Bank: find out what's on so you don't miss the great free concerts at the Royal Festival Hall.

Faberge Egg Hunt until 21 April 2012
Around London

Our Hobby is Depeche Mode until 13 May 2012
Hayward Gallery
Southbank Centre
Belvedere Road
London
SE1 8XX

Monday, 27 February 2012

Lard at the nature reserve (I'm told it was smelly)



Oooh - lard!
I found lots of free things to do around Kent at half-term - the most revolting was rubbing lard into a pine cone at Sevenoaks Nature Reserve.

Calum said it was "disgusting and smelly" but he actually really enjoyed making the bird feeders and our small donation was definitely worth it.

Here's what you'll need to make your own bird feeders:

lard (bleugh)
a selection of bird seed
grated cheese
raisins
pine cone (with string to hang up the bird feeder)
plastic gloves (optional - but quite a nice option I feel . . .)

Mix the ingredients together with your hands and then push the mixture into the gaps in the pine cone. Then voila! You have your very own bird feeder to hang in the garden.

Sevenoaks Nature Reserve often has events in the school holidays - we've been pond dipping and been to their big wildlife festival in the summer. Keep an eye out for them!

Free parking

Sevenoaks Nature Reserve
Bradbourne Vale Road
Sevenoaks TN13 3DH

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Story time at Sevenoaks Library

Story time at Sevenoaks Library has been running on Wednesday mornings at least since my five-year-old was a baby but I have never been. Until last week that is.

We huddled together with around ten other little ones and listened to stories and sang songs for half an hour. Orla mainly enjoyed taking books off the shelves.

The story-teller was lovely and very patient, the children absolutely loved it, and it's much calmer than the library's Thursday singing session.

If you have a little one under five you really must try it!

Story time - Wednesday - 11.15-11.45

Sevenoaks Library
Buckhurst Lane
Sevenoaks TN13 1LQ

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Free half-term saviours!

Half-term is here and this holiday is probably one of the hardest. It's always cold, it gets dark early, unlike the Christmas holidays there's no promise of presents and parties.

So I've compiled a list of some great free things in Kent (and a few in London) this holiday . . . if I've missed anything let me know and I'll make sure I add it!

Please double-check that the event is still on before you set off.

Every day

Riverbank Tales
Bank of England Museum, Bartholomew Lane, EC2R 8AH
10.30am, 11.30am, 12.30pm, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm
Stories from Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham.

Free Family Fun
Lakeside, West Thurrock Way, Essex
Make your own monsters and visit the Monster Garden every day this half-term.


Sunday 12 February

Community Fun Day 11am – 4pm
Sevenoaks Leisure Centre
Trampolining, martial arts and roller disco (from 2.30pm)
 
Making Sense
Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, London, W2 3XA
Events for children of all ages.

Art workshops 11am & 2pm
National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN
Free hands-on art workshops, meet in the Education Centre Foyer (Orange St entrance). For children aged 5 to 11.

Monday 13 February

Anglo Saxons 10.30-12.30
Folkestone History Resource Centre in Folkestone Library
Meet an Anglo Saxon skeleton, try your hand at Anglo Saxon craft and write your name in runes. Tickets available from the library counter.

Burst of Brightness: Sunsets and Ships
The National Gallery Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN
(and Tuesday 14) For children aged 2 to 5

Vicious Venoms and Poisonous Parasites Workshops 11.30am, 1.30pm, 3.30pm
Centre of the Cell, Newark St, London, E1 2AT
Workshops about the most deadly venoms and poisonous creatures. Age 9+. Also Wednesday 15 and Friday 17.


Tuesday 14 February

Crafty Critters 10.30-12.30 and 2-4pm
Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery
Free art and craft activities throughout half-term (until Friday 17). No booking required.

Romans 10.30-12.30
Folkestone History Resource Centre in Folkestone Library
Touch real Roman objects, design your own mosaic and make a Roman sword. Tickets available from the library counter.

Storyscape 10.30 - 11am
The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN
Interactive story-telling session.

Wednesday 15 February

Community Fun Day 11am – 4pm
Edenbridge Leisure Centre
Trampolining, mountain bike stunt show and pool party

Fossil Fun 10.30am – 12.30pm
Folkestone History Resource Centre in Folkestone Library
See real dinosaur bones, make your own fossil and go on a dinosaur hunt. Tickets available from the library counter.

Bookworms story time 11am – 12pm
Turner Contemporary, Margate
Story time for children under 5.

Feeding Frenzy for Birds 2 – 3.30pm
Jeffrey Harrison Visitor Centre, Sevenoaks Nature Reserve
Make your own bird feeder – donation required. Book on 01622 622 012.

Historical finger puppets 10am – 4pm
Dover Museum
Make your own historical finger puppets.. Entry to the museum is FREE on Family Days. There is no charge for the activities.

Dear Lido
The Construction Gallery 74-80 Upper Tooting Rd, London SW17 7PB
Family workshops
Feb 15: bunting making and a tea party (1-3pm, 4-6pm; all ages)
Feb 16: 'Make a Splash' vintage swimming caps workshop (11am-1pm; age 5+); vintage hair and make-up workshop (7-9pm; age 16+)
Feb 17: set design workshop (11am-12.30pm, 1-2.30pm; age 5-11)
Feb 18: dance workshops (11am-noon, 1-2pm; age 11-16).
Booking by email is essential.

Catch a spider or two stories and crafts
Walderslade Hook Meadow Library
Ages 3-8 years. Booking essential.

Bugs and butterflies stories and crafts
Wigmore Library
Ages 3-8 years. Booking essential.

Toddler Club 10am - 12pm
The Woodlands Farm Trust, 331 Shooters Hill, Welling DA16 3RP
Adult £2, children free


Thursday 16 February

Ladybirds and butterflies stories and crafts 2.15-3pm
Grain Library
Ages 4-10 years. Booking essential.

Caterpillar capers 11-11.45am
Lordswood Library
Ages 3 - 8 years. Booking essential.

Butterfly and ladybird stories and craft 3.45-4.30pm
Thomas Aveling Library
Ages 3 - 8 years. Booking essential.

Forest crafts 2.15-3pm
Wigmore Library
Booking essential.

Bugs and beasties 2.15-3pm
Gillingham Library
Ages 4-10 years. Booking essential.

Beastly bugs 2.30-3pm
Rochester Library
Ages 4-10 years. Booking essential.

Beetlemania 2.30-3.15pm
Cuxton Library
Ages 4-10 years. Booking essential.

Friday 17 February

Feeding Frenzy for Birds 2 – 3.30pm
Romney Marsh Visitor Centre
Make your own bird feeder – donation required. Book on 01622 622 012.

Forest crafts 2.15-3pm
Lordswood Library
Booking essential.

Catch a spider or two 2 - 3pm
Walderslade Village Library
Ages 3-8 years. Booking essential.


Saturday 18 February

3D pancake masterclass 4pm
Atelier des Chefs, 19 Wigmore St, London, W1U 1PH
How to make volcanoes, icebergs, rapids and forests from pancakes. Limited places, please book by email. Age 6+.

Sunday 19 February

Community Fun Day 11am – 4pm
White Oak Leisure Centre, Swanley
Mountain bike stunt show, bouncy castle and more

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Lost in Manor Park

Another freezing day in Sevenoaks, but I was determined to get us some "fresh air" so we wrapped up warm and set out for Manor Park, just outside West Malling.

We arrived miserable, freezing and completely ready to go home. I think I had totally underestimated how cold it actually it was. It was muddy (again) and we had brought a pushchair to a park that is really not very pushchair friendly.

We hoisted the pushchair over a cattle gate and traipsed across a field. I spotted some highland cows in the next field, but even they had no appeal in what felt like sub-zero temperatures. Here's a good time to say I am completely nesh.

By chance I noticed a really smooth, dry path behind a hedge. So we lugged the pushchair over the next gate and found the path we should have been on right from the start.

Calum zoomed off round the lake on his bike and we finally started to enjoy our morning out.

We finished the walk with coffee and biscuits from the park's cafe. Calum and Orla had a great time in the playground (right by the entrance) which is full of play equipment for young and older children.

There's an old ruined tower that we didn't manage to look at, but we will when it's a bit warmer!

A word of warning - the path round the pond ends at a (quite quiet) road with no gates so watch out for little ones.

This week's no price tags lesson: always look at the map. It will show you where to go.

Manor Park Country Park
St Leonard's Street
West Malling
ME19 6PE


Parking: Monday - Friday £1.50 weekends and bank holidays £2.00

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Calling all freebie lovers

I'm looking for some guest bloggers for no price tags - there are only so many free things I can try out in a week, and I'd love to hear some of your favourite free things to do.

Have you found something in Kent that you can't keep to yourself?

Send your ideas, blogs and pictures to fee_hatton@yahoo.com and I'll be in touch very soon!

Friday, 20 January 2012

Mum & Co - a NICE toddler group

Can't beat dressing up
I'm no real fan of toddler and baby groups - in fact they can send me into a spiral of dispair. They're normally noisy and chaotic, with children fighting over toys and mums seemingly oblivious.

But Mum & Co at St Nicholas' Church in Sevenoaks is the exception. With sessions on Wednesday morning and afternoon, Mum & Co is a little oasis of calm in a sea of crazy baby mornings.

Ok - first things first. It is not actually free (gasp). A £1 entry fee gives you unlimited tea and biscuits, and drinks for little ones. Money that isn't used for refreshments goes to St Nick's chosen charity.

The session is downstairs in the undercroft (there's a lift for pushchairs), and there is a really nice selection of toys. Orla went straight for the dressing up box - but we had fun with the little kitchen, farm animals and train track too.

Although the group is for children over one, there is a little area set aside for smaller babies. And I can't stress enough how much more relaxed and un-crazy this session is.

Everyone helped to tidy up and we finished off with some songs. And I left feeling decidedly less frazzled than I arrived. Just what you need from a morning out!

St Nicholas Church
Rectory Lane
Sevenoaks 
TN13 1JA


Mum & Co
Wednesday 9.45-11.30am and 1.45-3.30pm

Dad & Co
First Saturday of the month 9am - 10.30am

PS St Nick's has a great cafe that serves reasonably priced hot food and sandwiches in the undercroft too.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Duck attack at Bradbourne Lakes

On a sunny afternoon with half an hour to spare, we stocked up on bread and took ourselves off to Bradbourne Lakes.          
                                                                          
Famous among the parents of Sevenoaks, Bradbourne Lakes are actually a series of ponds and they are full - and I mean full - of ducks.

Over the five years I've lived here I've been chased by angry ducks and geese more times than I care to remember.

But if you time it right (when the ducks are well fed and don't rise up out of the water when you walk into the park), it can be quite a nice place to while away some time.

There are two parts to the park - each with its own network of ponds. The northern part is closer to Bradbourne Vale Road so it's a bit noisier, but the ducks there are slightly less crazy.

The southern part is much prettier and more fun to walk around. And once you've run out of bread the ducks tend to leave you alone.

Don't be put off by the ducks though. That is, of course, why my family goes in the first place!

Bradbourne Lakes
Betenson Avenue
Sevenoaks TN13 3EP

Parking is free.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Wet and muddy in Ashdown Forest

On new year's day we always go for a walk and this new year's day was no exception. So although it was pouring with rain, we ventured out into Ashdown Forest.

It wasn't raining when we set off so we didn't take anything remotely waterproof with us. Agh! But luckily we had wellies in the boot of the car, and a battered old umbrella.

The forest is enormous - 6500 acres if that means anything to you! Making it the biggest free public space in the south-east.

It was the inspiration for AA Milne's Hundred Acre Wood in the Winne the Pooh stories. It's made up of forest and heathland, and it might very well be my favourite place in this part of the UK.

I have to admit I am normally a bit disappointed when I go for 'country' walks around Sevenoaks because you still seem so close to civilisation. You can still hear traffic and it never feels completely peaceful.

But Ashdown Forest is totally different - the views are stunning and there is no traffic noise at all (until you get closer to the car parks).

There is a pushchair-friendly walk, but we took our baby carrier and went on one of the steeper climbs.

Although the path was very clear, we managed to take a wrong turn and got a bit lost. Panic.

We soon found our way back to the path and the circular walk we took from the Forest Centre took us about an hour and a half.

It was very, very, very muddy. Calum lost one of his wellies in a big puddle (twice) and there was lots of slipping and sliding. So if with very little ones I'd recommend waiting until it's a bit drier.

Five no price tag stars for Ashdown Forest though. Even in the pouring rain. I can't wait till the spring to try it again!

Ashdown Forest
Forest Centre
Colemans Hatch Road
RH18 5JP

Free parking

Walking maps

 

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