Suffolk/north Essex: Rainy day activities that will help you and the children enjoy October half term no matter what the weather
11:00 18 October 2014
Rain. We have seen a lot of it in recent weeks, and not just the odd short, sharp shower, but downpours that have lasted for hours at a time.
With autumn half-term approaching parents, and grandparents, will be scratching their heads trying to think of affordable ways to entertain their off-spring.
But there is a reason Suffolk, and north Essex, are popular with tourists - because there is plenty to offer, no matter what the weather.
Here we ask mums to share their secrets for keeping the kids busy when the sun refuses to come out to play.
Dress for the occasion and have an outside adventure says Louise Burke and daughter’s Lily, nine, and Olive, six
They are looking forward to some outdor fun whatever the weather.
“If it does rain this half term, why not dig out your wellies and waterproofs, and make your way to the park?,” says Louise. “Great Notley Country Park, near Braintree, is a great day out and all it costs is the £3.50 parking charge - take a packed lunch adn stay all day.
“There is lots of fun to be had jumping up and down on the paino keys made from old railway sleepers or tipping the giant seesaw, you can play in the sandpit on brighter days or climb to the highest point in Essex.
“Or why not try geocaching, there are a few treasures already hidden around the park, download an app on your phone to help you find them - or set your own treasure hunt.
“For extra fun, download the autumn adventure pack from the Woodland Trust’s nature detectives website before you go for, this will keep little ones entertained for hours.”
Natalie Sadler, stepmum to Josie, six, says there is no need to spend a fortune
“We love an excuse for an arts and crafts day and when the weather is a little unforgiving we cover the kitchen with cheap plastic tablecloths and delve into the various kits that have been bought as presents at Christmas and birthdays.
“Our last messy day involved plaster of paris broaches, Hello Kitty beads and making themed collages - these ranged from beach scenes to Christmas set.
“The kitchen was a mess but we had fun.
“In recent weeks, Josie and her dad have made a model guitar from the contents of my recycling bag, painted with poster paint.
“This has kept them busy for weeks, spending an hour or two afterschool working on their masterpiece, they are very proud of their joint project and it cost us nothing!
“There does come a time though, when you just need to get out of the house and if the weather really does turn on you this half term, why not try an early morning film?
“Most cinemas now run kids clubs at weekends and during the school breaks and charge between £1 and £2 per prson.
“Be warned, they won’t be showing the most recent releases but at that price, who cares? Take a snack and forget about the weather for a couple of hours.”
We like to relive our youth at Curvemotion, says Charlotte Smith-Jarvis, who is mum to Ella, eight, and six-year-old Ethan
“My husband likes to live vicariously through our children.
“Back in the day’ he was part of the skateboarding movement, spending many a happy summer in his teen years perfecting grinds and jumps, so it came as no surprise to me that our kids should follow in his footsteps - and they have.
“It’s all good and well in spring and summer, when they can make use of the outdoor skatepark, but come wintertime all three of my children (including husband) look longingly at their skates and press their faces against the windows, waiting for the ice, frost and rain to clear.
“So I was more than happy to find out about Curvemotion in Bury St Edmunds.
“Turning up on a really nippy weekend we entered the large building, found on an industrial estate on the outskirts of the town, to find family skating paradise.
“We were all allowed to use our own skates (although they do hire them for a small charge) and there was free-to-use safety equipment too.
“On one side of the airy building was a skating rink with plenty of places for non-skaters to sit. On the other side was a giant indoor play centre with slides and climbing.
“While the surface of the skating area takes a little getting used to (it is a little more slippery than you’d expect) it is perfectly useable and we liked the fact there were special family only sessions, so there was little chance of our tiny people being knocked down by over eager teens.
“Staff circulate the rink and help out any fallen skaters, and are more than happy to pass on their skating knowledge.
“The whole place was spotlessly clean and catered perfectly for all ages.
“I especially liked the fact there was ‘real’ food on offer at the café!
“While the weather worsens and we’re less likely to see dry days, we’re all looking forward to visiting this place more. A real find!”
It is all about Halloween in Claire Jennings’ house
Working mum-of-two Claire is looking forward to the holidays as much as her off spring.
“Finally! October half term. It always feels a world away from the summer holidays. This week is all about Halloween, a scheduled afternoon of pumking carving is a must in our house, as well as spooky house decorating while listening to Thriller!” she laughs.
“But before the hysteria of the evening and my son’s Halloween sleepover, there are four days to fill. My daughter is looking forward to Justjaydance’s Frozen dance class on Monday 29, 9am to12pm at Brackenbury Sports centre, which is only £10 for the morning.
“And Inspire Suffolk is running football day courses for five to 13 yearr olds which will keep my son and his friends busy.
“But with the inevitable rainy day(s) to fill, I asked my children what they would like to do. They were both in agreement to make the most fantastic, cosy, warm den and that I could bring them hot chocolate. Good plan!”
Escape the confines of the house, advises Kate Dodd
For Kate, mum to Matilda, Florence and Lizzie, Playworld is a place of sanctuary on a wet day
“It’s exactly 9.27am. The dining room looks like the upturned contents of Mister Maker’s bag. The front room has been transformed into a princess fort with the cunning use of the clothes horse and the contents of the airing cupboard. I’ve played peacemaker, architect, an angry troll (it wasn’t that hard to pretend) and Tony Hart – it’s time to escape the confines of the house,” she says.
“I would love to pretend my children are content to colour or stick an assortment of food cartons together to create mythical creatures for hours on end. That would be a lie.
“So on a rainy day I need a contingency.
“We enjoy the Playworld at Mid Suffolk Leisure Centre in Stowmarket. It underwent a £200,000 refurbishment in February and in my opinion, is the best space on offer. There are various play areas to suit each age and a good café to restore my nerves. It is especially good in the summer months because the entrance fee also includes use of the main hall, with go-karts, bouncy castle and sports zone. It’s a great place to keep the children entertained while the storm clouds pass. If you really want to exhaust the children, there is also a swimming pool on site. You’re pretty much guaranteed a quiet journey home whilst they snooze - enough to prepare you for the bombsite that awaits you at home.”
Share your rainy day ideas below, or visit our autumn page for more days out ideas