It’s half-term! How did that happen? It seems that most of us are still de-cluttering and tidying up after the festive season, and yet here we are again with school-holiday obligations and a whole week of finding activities to occupy the minds of bored kids young and not quite so young. If the thought of acting as scout leader/ring-master/prison warder (delete as applicable) fills you with dread then fear not as we’ve put together this handy guide to getting practical and creative with the kids during the school break…
As the British weather is unpredictable – even recently we’ve had unseasonably warm spells and ridiculously cold patches too – it’s likely that youngsters may kick up a fuss about being made to go for bracing walks and other outdoor activities. So if you’re hoping you spend some quality (haha!) time at home chilling with the children, it’s best to have some creative and interesting activities up your sleeve. We always feel that February half term marks the start of the gardening year, so now is the time to hand them a rake and a big bag and get them started on helping to clear the leaves and twigs (bribery may need to take place). Consider getting the hose-pipe or pressure washer out, especially if you have outdoor tiles and slabs that could do with a bit of a spruce up. Few kids can resist the lure of a spraying water everywhere. Wellies required! Our outdoor tiles, such as Beton Soft, Nexus, and Arena Cinza are non-slip and need minimal maintenance, just a good sweep as necessary and perhaps a hose down every now and then to keep them looking good.
Whilst you’re in the garden, and have helping hands available (well, maybe!) consider re-painting any past-its-best outdoor furniture, exterior doors, or window frames. Colours and finishes from Sandtex are suitable for masonry, wood and metal, so can literally cover every outdoor eventuality. And if you’ve recently installed outdoor tiles, a quick half-term makeover could be very timely. The chairs here are in Sandtex 10 Year Exterior Satin Black; wall is Sandtex Ultra Smooth Masonry in Olive; French is Sandtex Ultra Smooth Masonry in Black.
We think this is a fabulous idea – simply pick up a couple of pallets from builders yards/suppliers (or if you’ve had some tiles delivered by Tile Mountain, put the pallet they arrived on to good use), give it the once-over for splinters and any loose joints, then give it a coat of woodstain. This one has been treated with Sadolin Classic Woodstain in Natural to create a simple yet practical picnic table. There are plenty of other things you can transform surplus pallets into too, check out our Top 5 Ways To Recycle a Pallet post for inspiration.
Using Up The Spares…
Our customers may have the odd tile left over here and there from their projects. After my massive kitchen-dining-hall floor tiling project, I had a few left, which I was pondering what to do with. I’ve kept half-a-dozen emergency replacements safely stashed under the stairs, waiting for the day when someone drops the large Le Creuset cast iron casserole dish on the tiled floor and it suffers any damage. Although, I must emphasise that many things have been dropped onto my lovely Bengal Winter White tiles but nothing has happened to them so far! They are living up to (and even exceeding) expectations! Anyway, I have so far used my spare tiles under plant pots in the garden, amongst the gravel to steady rickety outdoor tables and pots, on top of an old outdoor table, and I’m also planning to use them for a front step and outside porch floor, which will be done when the new front door is installed. Watch this space!
As far as individual tiles are concerned, I had a quite a few colourful glass mosaics sent to me as cut samples too, so I have re-purposed those by adding sticky pads (from Pound stores everywhere!) and using them as coasters, under vases, under candle sticks and for larger tiles, as place mats. It’s vital to use sticky pads to protect indoor surfaces, or you could use felt, (from craft and sewing shops) fixed into place with regular PVA glue.
Other practical half-terms task that you can get your clan involved in areputting up nesting boxes, making a wildlife garden or clearing a space for a vegetable patch. There are lots of ways to get youngsters interested in the outdoors (and away from their screens). We rather like this nest box from CJ Wildlife, suitable for blue tits, thanks to its 28 mm diameter entrance hole. And, if you like a bit of silly décor in the garden (as I do!) let me introduce you to Gino the Flamingo, who cheers up my temporary gravel ‘patio’ area, and of course it was a local gift-shop find.
Under pressure to re-decorate? Well, if it’s that urgent and you’re pressed for time, persuade the kids in question to do the prep work. Wallpaper stripping can be surprisingly satisfying, and in our opinion, it’s never to early to start on the DIY education! Careful preparation is everything, and then of course, the results will be fabulous. We think this new design from Katie Bourne Interiors is going to be a winner …
Getting Out and About…
And if you’re really not up for anything that involves painting, sweeping or digging, get those jackets on and have a march around some spectacular scenery. Your local paper (and its website) will have details of walks and rambles, and some may also gives details of car-sharing and lift-offering opportunities.
The Imagine Childrens Festival is on at the Southbank from 13 – 24 Feb, and involves over 180 events. This year’s offering includes theatre shows, art installations, a comedy club and lots of other things; half of the events are free, others you’ll need to book. And if the weather is nice it’s always fun to have a good old look around the Southbank in general.
If you’re Midlands/Birmingham-based there are lots of events within striking distance, from safari parks to arts centres and at Drayton Mannor Theme Park in Tamworth there’s a Thomas & Friends event from 9 – 24 Feb; have a look at Visit Birmingham here for some wide-ranging ideas.
The Invisible Worlds exhibition at The Eden Project appeals to all ages, and is well worth the trek, or perhaps you’re nearby and haven’t caught up with Invisible Worlds yet … it’s their newest permanent exhibition, and embraces our ideas of space, sense, speed and time, so could provoke some interesting conversations on the way home.
You might also enjoy these posts on the Tile Mountain blog…