Keep the kids amused this summer

Discover new things in the garden. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Discover new things in the garden. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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IN a corner of the bedroom lies a forgotten pile of books, papers and unwashed gym kit. Schools may only have just broken up, but the memory of term time has been wiped from the minds of thousands of children across the Lothians – at least for the next six weeks.

Their thoughts are, of course, now focused on all the fun activities that will fill their days and keep boredom at bay during the summer break.

And as for the parents, their thoughts are very much focussed on how to keep their children out of trouble and how to stop them from getting under their feet.

“Summer holidays can be a stressful time”, admits Nicola Lamond, social media manager for Edinburgh Netmums. “You really need to sit down and work out how you’re going to plan the holidays and what you’re going to do to keep the kids entertained.

“Mums and dads feel like they have to do lots of things .

“I panic and plan too much and end up spending £50 getting in to some attraction, but sometimes they are just as happy with a day at the beach.”

With the help of Nicola and the Netmums team, we have produced a list of fun activities, events and places to visit which might help fill those long days over the next six weeks, come rain or shine.

And if you need inspiration for at-home activities with the kids, have a look at these “sanity savers” featuring 101 ideas for summer fun http://www.netmums.com/activities/free-family-fun/101-ideas-for-free-family-fun.

MUSEUMS AND LIBRARIES

n Somewhere you might never have visited before is the Museum of Edinburgh on the Royal Mile, housed in beautifully restored 16th century buildings on the Canongate. As of July 5, it will be home to a brand new exhibition looking at sport throughout the ages in Edinburgh. To coincide with the exhibition there will be a special come-and-try sports challenge in the museum courtyard for children on July 10. There is also a well-stocked art room where children can draw, glue and create their very own masterpieces.

n The People’s Story Museum is a little gem of a museum on the Royal Mile. Free and has waxworks and displays depicting life in Auld Reekie. A fascinating and interesting place to visit with children.

n The Central Library has a brand new dedicated children’s space with reading “cubby holes” and an arts and crafts area for little ones. The refurbished library also houses a specially designed space for music including an electronic piano.

STAYING ACTIVE

n To help keep kids active, Edinburgh Leisure is offering a host of activities to enjoy throughout the holidays, including free multi-sport sessions. Youngsters aged five to 16 can try football, gymnastics, tennis, boccia, athletics and much more at the Meadows every Wednesday and Friday afternoon from July 2 to August 8.

There’s no need to book, visitors can just drop into The Pavilion Cafe, Jawbone Walk, in Edinburgh’s Meadows.

From today until August 12, Edinburgh Leisure is also offering free swimming to all primary school children at Dalry, Gracemount and Ainslie Park Leisure Centres.

n Zorbing – the craze has arrived in the Lothians! So if you fancy rolling downhill inside a giant transparent ball all in the name of sport, then head to the new zorbing site next to Midlothian Snowsports Centre at Hillend. Visit http://www.zorbing.com/locations-edinburgh.php. For more information and to book.

n A massive new trampolining centre, called Gravity, is set to open next month. It’s still all a bit secret just now but check out the preview to whet your appetite www.gravityedinburgh.co.uk.

n For a fun and exciting new sport, why not try out surfing? Coast to Coast at Dunbar offers fun junior surf and adventure activities over the holidays. Each week lessons in surfing, coasteering, 
stand up paddling and bodyboarding are offered. Visit www.c2csurfschool.com/surf for a full programme of lessons and to book.

GET OUTDOORS

n Dr Neil’s Garden Tour, next to Duddingston Kirk. Often called Edinburgh’s Secret Garden, this is a magical place to explore all sorts of treasures to discover such as bridges, statues and little hidden paths. Open from 10am until dusk. Free, but a small donation is always welcome.

n Pick your own fruits at West Craigie Farm, South Queensferry. Lovely cafe with pedal toys and kids’ books and games. Chickens and pigs to say hello to, nature trail and tractor to climb on.

n Take a ferry to Inchcolm Island, where you can 
explore and play on the beach, find the hermit’s cave and have a picnic before sailing back again.

n The grounds of Lauriston Castle are home to more than 300 trees and are worth a wander – especially on July 29 when children are invited to visit and learn how to identify each one. Entry is £5 per person. Guided tours of the castle take place every day at 2pm except Friday.

n Five Sisters Zoo, West Calder. We all know Edinburgh Zoo but have you been to Five Sisters Zoo? It’s smaller but has a huge range of animals to see – everything from guinea pigs to bears. It has a friendly feel and a huge playpark and picnic tables. Animal handling sessions for the kids.

n Yellowcraig Beach and playpark, near Dirleton, East Lothian, is a fabulous place for a day out in the summertime. Before you walk to the beach there is an amazing play park with a huge spider web climbing frame, rope swings, swing hammocks and much more. Then walk to the gorgeous beach itself – dunes, sand and rock pools.