Like a lot of families, we find January a bit of a struggle financially.
Not only is there a longer period between pay dates, but we also have Eliza’s birthday to factor in to the equation too.
I am always on the hunt for inexpensive or free days out to keep the children entertained, so when I was approached by Scottish Friendly to show how easy it is to save money each month by discovering affordable days out in my local town, I happily accepted.
Their new Disposable Income Index showed that 19% of us want to opt for more staycations, while 16%, like us, are looking for cheaper style holidays. In fact I have been busy saving for the last year and even a cheaper holiday is still frustratingly out of reach at the moment.
With it being January, many of our local attractions are closed until February half term and I wanted to take the children to somewhere we have never been, so when a ‘kids go free’ post for Kingston Maurward came up in my facebook feed I found my fun day out.
Kingston Maurward is a land-based college set just outside Dorchester that is home to spectacular gardens and a small animal park. We paid just £6.50 entry price, instead of £24, so I treated the kids to a bag of feed (50p each) so they could feed the animals, although they were initially transfixed by a large plastic cow that they could “milk” at the entrance.
Once they spotted the animals at the bottom of the hill though, they shot off at speed. Eliza and Isaac managed to stay upright but Sebby managed to go over in the mud which everyone, including him, found hilarious (thank goodness I brought baby wipes and a change of clothes for the journey home).
The kids are fairly fearless when it comes to feeding animals, but the sight of a rather large Alpaca heading towards them at speed made them a little nervous, however it, and the goats, couldn’t have been more friendly and once they realised we had food, were stalking us around the paddock.
We wanted to feed some of the sheep that were also in the paddock and ended up having to be quite stealthy as the Alpaca and Goat were determined our food was just for them.
Once our food had all gone, we stroked the ponies before heading back up the hill to see some of their other animals which included some giant rabbits, guinea pigs, an eagle owl, barn owl and harrier hawks.
They also have a small classroom where the kids got to identify animals by touch, look at some animal poo and see how the animals grow from babies into adults. In busier times Kingston Maurward also has an owl show, but sadly it wasn’t on for our visit so we headed to the farm themed park to burn off some energy.
It was then time to head off and explore the gardens which are grade II listed and whether you are a serious gardener or just someone who is looking for a beautiful place to visit they will not disappoint you, even in January.
There is a huge variety of plants and trees to see as well as a pond and fountain and a beautiful lawned area which I can imagine would be perfect for picnics when the weather gets warmer.
The kids loved exploring and playing hide and seek in the gardens as there are plenty of hedges and nooks and crannies to hide inside and behind.
We spent a good couple of hours on site and I could imagine spending a full day here when the weather is warmer, but the favourite activity had to be feeding the animals.
We have added a new ‘go to’ place to our Dorset itinerary and I do advise you keep an eye on the Kingston Maurward facebook page for their events and offers. We will certainly be back for lambing weekend in March!
A day out for one adult and 3 children for £8 – bargain!!
What are your favourite days out on a budget where you live?