February half term – is it the most challenging of all the school holidays? The weather is usually pretty cheerless, there’s not much to do and they have a strong argument for staying indoors on their tech. But I’m not having that all day long; there aren’t many holidays left when I’ll be able to get them to do things with me, so I’ll be getting them out and about for exercise before anyone is allowed near a power button. A trip to soft play no longer cuts it with a world-weary 11 year old, but with age also comes greater hardiness, so I plan to get us out in nature as much as possible, despite the weather. That on its own can be a tough ask, though – it takes extra motivation to get them outdoors in the winter without a good dose of whingeing – but I think I’ve found some solutions that make fresh air more fun. Here are five February half term activities in Milton Keynes that do just that, and they’re very easy on the bank balance as well.
Not just restricted to Milton Keynes, this one is international – and once you’re hooked, you’ll be looking out for nearby caches wherever you go!
Geocaching is a whole subculture I never knew existed until our oldest learned about it in Scouts – with its own community, and even its own coded abbreviations. Thousands of caches are hidden all around us – physical pots, tubs and containers with paper logs detailing who has found them, and sometimes a couple of knick-knacks for swapping. Download the free app, create an account and you’re away. Take a pen to sign the logs, and log your finds in your online account as well. You can plan a whole route around the caches in your area, and it turns instantly from a fresh air exercise to a caching quest.
The Love Exploring App
Turn a walk round our beautiful local green spaces into a mobile phone quest for electronic treasure, with the completely free app, Love Exploring. Follow the route and instructions, and when you get to a hot-spot the app will tell you to point you phone in a particular place, and hey presto, on the screen is a brilliant image of a mythical creature, right there in the park! Get the kids to pose for photos, or even let a child do all the operating, if your patience is up to it. It’s good fun and keeps them interested in the walk, and some of the walks have quiz questions too. There are lots of MK routes to follow, and several different themes, including dinosaurs, fairies and a spooky one too. It’s very clever, and very entertaining too!
The Parks Trust
We find something fabulous to do with this charity most school holidays, and I love the activities for three reasons: first, they are outdoors. Second, they are always educational but fun as well. And third, they are always very reasonably priced.
However, they do sell out very quickly – I am gutted to be too late for tickets to their star-gazing session – but a walk round Campbell Park to learn about the trees? Yes please.
Treasure Map Trails
I’ve yet to try one, but I’ve heard so many good things. Treasure Map Trails are “fantasy-themed treasure maps of towns and cities for young explorers”, which add a big dose of interest to wandering about in a new place. There’s no actual treasure to find, but there are lots of local landmarks and features to spot, all set within the map’s fantasy recreation of the area.
This is another one that can be done in lots of different locations around the UK – there are many maps available. Our local maps include Newport Pagnell, Buckingham and Stony Stratford – which may just be the one we’ll do, because it’s set as a school for witches and wizards: irresistible for my not-so-little Harry and Ron.
They’re past the age of enjoying a Julia Donaldson book now (sniff) but they do hold fond memories of them – so I’m going to roll the dice and see whether a Superworm Trail in Salcey Forest captures the imagination. If not, there are usually some excellent spots there for den building, a great play area for older kids, and labyrinthine paths and tracks for them to tear up and down with the dog. And it’s got to be worth it if there’s a cafe and hot chocolate, hasn’t it?
Will I succeed in my mission to achieve fresh air time that’s free of the usual bout of whingeing? I’m not sure…but at least I will get to feed my geocaching addiction!
And if the weather is really too bad for outdoor February half term activities in Milton Keynes, I can always resort to the old “Raid the Recycling” standby…