I hope you have some sunshine where you are this weekend. Here in Essex it promises to be fine both days. How lovely! As I am cooped up in an office most of the week I love to get outdoors when we can. I am looking for things to do that don’t cost much. We are on holiday soon and want to save our funds for that. So I came up with five frugal activities ideas. I won’t do them all, but you might like to try some of them!
Five frugal activities for the weekend
Find an open garden
You have to make the most of it when you get decent weather in the UK. Myself and Mr Shoestring love to find an open garden. This weekend there is a whole village of open gardens at Layer de la Hay, not far from where we live. We hope to get to see them on Sunday. At £5 for 12 gardens, this should be a very pleasant way to spend the day.
To find more open gardens near you see here for information.
Make the most of your parks
We are blessed with some beautiful parks here in Essex, mostly owned by the county council and free to enter. Some have organised family activities and tea rooms. Others are wilder and more remote. We like Cudmore Grove, on the coast at Mersea Island, which is just down the road. You have to pay for the car park but other than that it costs nothing.
More widely in the UK, we have our national parks. None very local to us unfortunately but you can check them out on the National Parks website. They are some of the best and most stunningly beautiful outdoor spaces you will find anywhere.
If you have children or grandchildren, every town or city has parks with the traditional swings and slides. In Colchester, we have the beautiful Castle Park. As you would imagine, it has a castle, as well as a bandstand, a boating lake, a tea room, the play park, two museums and crazy golf. It also has stunning gardens. We often take a flask of coffee and cake and sit there when we have been into town.
Here is a list of the top ten public parks in the UK.
Your local council or tourist information centre will tell you where your best outdoor spaces can be found.
Throughout the year, there are great community events going on such as church and school fetes, table top and jumble sales, talks and exhibitions. Once you start looking, you will be amazed at just how many cheap or even free activities are happening locally to you. We love to find a village show, with all the wonderful craft, cake, jam and vegetable exhibits!
To find them check out town and parish council noticeboards, the town council building, your local libraries, the boards outside church and school premises. Look online. A simple ‘what’s on in Essex’ search found an exhibition of watercolours by local artists, a food festival, a free summer concert in the park, loads of open gardens and a free folk music event.
Visit a museum
If the weather is less than perfect you will, in all likelihood, be able to find museums to visit for free in your local area. They are usually owned by the local council and you can get a list of yours from the tourist information office.
Even if they aren’t free, they are usually great value. The Colchester Castle museum usually charges £20 for a family ticket (2 adults, 3 children), but occasionally has free evenings, so we watch out for these. We have a free toy museum, a free natural history museum and, best of all, Colchester First Site, which hosts excellent free art exhibitions and low cost cinema screenings.
Watch a film al fresco
Outdoor cinema viewings seem to be the latest thing. There is something quite appealing about wrapping up, taking a picnic and watching a film in the park. Often they are sing-a-longs, and great fun. We have The Greatest Showman coming to Castle Park soon and I hope to go! Find out if you have any outdoor cinema by doing an internet search.
You can see from my list of five frugal activities that it is often a case of getting to know your local area, and identifying the best places and websites to source the information. It’s not essential to spend a lot of money to have fun! What frugal activities do you enjoy?