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holiday in somerset on a shoe string budget. Can it be done?

(28 Posts)
chocoholic05 Mon 07-Jul-14 12:39:54

We have booked and paid for a holiday in Somerset. However since then money has been very tight for us. I'm not working at the moment and my husband now has a lower paid job. So can we still have a good holiday in Somerset - near minehead or are we destined to be counting pennys and being bored and frustrated about our lack of money for the fortnight?

Thisvehicleisreversing Mon 07-Jul-14 12:45:17

There are amazing walks and lovely scenery around Minehead. The beach is great too.

Could you afford day passes to Butlins? If the weather's bad you can go there and make use of the brilliant pool and free kids shows.

misscph1973 Mon 07-Jul-14 12:47:31

I guess it depends on 2 things: 1. Your expectations. 2. The weather.

if the weather is good, you can just stay at the beach and not even want to do anything else. If the weather is really bad, then your might have to adjust your expectations.

I would say that you can plan your way to a good holiday without spending too much money. Just make sure that the entire family are onboard. Bring board games and research activities that are free. Somerset is full of nature, it shouldn't be hard.

Personally I loathe spending money on theme parks and other over priced activities. Obviously this is partly because I don't have the money, but also because I have found that "proper" family activities (we do a lot of walking and exploring) are so much more rewarding and are the ones you will not only remember but also really builds that family bond.

SantasLittleMonkeyButler Mon 07-Jul-14 12:53:37

I would say that you definitely can.

Where are you staying? Are there any facilities included in the price you have already paid?

Assuming you are self-catering, you can holiday in the UK for pretty much the same as it would cost you to live at home for the week/fortnight. Hopefully you will have good weather, in which case the coastal path walks and beaches in Somerset are beautiful and free.

Research the location of the nearest cheap-ish supermarket to where you are staying (may not be an Aldi or a Lidl close by, but there do seem to be Iceland's in more locations), and do a shop when you arrive to cover picnic lunches too, so that you don't find yourself in the situation of having to buy lunch out.

We also take a flask of coffee & a big bottle of diluted squash on days out with us as even buying coffees & juice can really add up over a week.

We have been in similar situations over the years and our motto has always been "if we can afford the petrol to get there, we will go" grin.

You don't need to spend huge amounts of money to have some lovely days out.

Jenijena Mon 07-Jul-14 12:56:03

Assuming the place you are staying has afreezer, can you buy ice cream and cornets (and sauce and toppings?) for less than the cost of one round of cones out and about?

chocoholic05 Mon 07-Jul-14 13:04:23

It's a holiday bungalow actually not in minehead but blue anchor nearby. No facilities as such but has a lovely garden with garden furniture. Has a freezer, fridge, microwave, washing machine and tv etc. Thanks for the tips and advice. We usually like to save money for days outs, meals outs even treats like ice cream. It's simply not possible this year as we are trying to manage on a week to week basis.

SantasLittleMonkeyButler Mon 07-Jul-14 13:37:24

I'm sorry if I'm mentioning things you've already done - but would doing a carboot sale before you go or eBaying some stuff be possible, to help you raise a little more spending money?

I only mention it because we did a carboot sale yesterday and were fairly shocked to make £140! We were just selling old baby equipment, toys, crockery etc. - nothing special!

ChickenFajitasAndNachos Mon 07-Jul-14 13:46:27

I think you could have a lovely time without having to spend much. You could take some ice pops for the freezer, visit pound land for beach ball and buckets and spades and perhaps a couple of colouring or sticker books depending on the age of the DC. Then when you are there visit all the local parks and the beach. When we have gone on holiday in the UK we often took a couple of cake mixes or some biscuits to ice as he DC enjoy this. You could have a big cooked breakfast and make some sandwiches for days out and then some easy meals for dinner or perhaps a chip supper on the beach. Do you have a flask you could take?

chocoholic05 Mon 07-Jul-14 13:50:49

That's brilliant santas! Definitely worth considering! My boys are aged 6 and 8 and love exploring the outdoors.

MammaTJ Mon 07-Jul-14 13:58:49

Blue Anchor has a lovely beach. Minehead does too.

Get in to Minehead and catch the open top bus to Lynmouth, then visit the flood museum, have a stroll around, catch the Cliff railway.

As PP have said, there are wonderful walks around and about.

The nearest Aldis and Lidls are in Taunton and Bridgwater, but Minehead has a Tesco, Morrisons and Iceland. Minehead would be where most people in Blue Anchor shop.

If there are any specific questions you want to ask, either ask on here, or feel free to PM me (local, who actually like holiday makers).

chocoholic05 Mon 07-Jul-14 14:12:59

Thank you mammatj smile

Icantcook Mon 07-Jul-14 14:14:57

Checkout the tourist info when ypu get there as there may be vouchers of some sort that might make aomething a bit of a treat rather than totally out of your league

If you aee exploring etc could ypu get a vheap scrap book and ypur boys could do a guide/holiday journal of everything you dp.

Icantcook Mon 07-Jul-14 14:15:29

Checkout the tourist info when ypu get there as there may be vouchers of some sort that might make aomething a bit of a treat rather than totally out of your league

If you aee exploring etc could ypu get a vheap scrap book and ypur boys could do a guide/holiday journal of everything you dp.

IrianofWay Mon 07-Jul-14 14:19:32

Don't know how old your kids are but there is a free rare breeds farm at Doniford, very near Watchet. It's not huge but has some interesting animals.

West Somerset Railway is nearby - if you go to the far ends of the line (Minehead and Norton Fitswarren) there are little museums and of course the trains to watch. Standing on the brdige at NF while the steam trains go underneath always amused my kids!

It is an utterly beautiful place for walking and watching nature. Horner Combe is near you plus Selworthy Beacon. Tarr Steps and lynton and lynmouth aren't far.

Lidl and Aldi in Bridgwater on the way to Minehead - not sure if there are any closer.

Thisvehicleisreversing Mon 07-Jul-14 14:36:30

Do you have or know anyone with a Natwest gold account?

You can get family national trust passes for free with these accounts. We used ours in May to visit Dunster castle, we loved it and it was even better knowing it was free.

Sunnymeg Mon 07-Jul-14 18:00:39

From Blue Anchor you can head into Exmoor. Lovely places to walk in and for children to run around in. It's worth looking at Dulverton, Horner Woods, Bossington and Allerford, Tarr Steps and Robbers Bridge. Porlock is worth a drive to have an ice cream and walk along the harbour. I echo what was said about Lynton and Lynmouth. Watersmeet is lovely but National Trust so quite expensive. The Museum of Somerset in Taunton is free if it is a rainy day. If you can run to retail therapy there is retail shopping at Clarks Village, it is a large outlet centre about 30 miles away but another rainy day option.

MyFirstName Mon 07-Jul-14 18:10:18

Take everyone up onto the Quantocks and go and pick Wortleberries. Free (bilberries) and lovely. Lovely day out if you take a picnic.

Second Doniford - fab rockpooling beach - though not that comfy for seating...and the sand out towards the sea is fab for proper sand constructions.

Crabbing is a cheapy option to...think it was Blue Anchor harbour we used to go to.

Staryy Mon 07-Jul-14 18:17:40

You can go to Kilve, up the Quantocks, beaches, walks, the cinema in Bridgwater is really'll have a good time smile

KnappShappeyShipwright Mon 07-Jul-14 18:22:43

You're not far from Tropiquaria, there are often vouchers inside leaflets at attractions - we filled a day there when the DCs were little, just taken a picnic rather than relying on the café as we found it very disappointing for what it costs. Minehead beach is nice, the tide goes out a long way but we've spent many days flying kites, playing French cricket and digging for treasure there.

Kilve Beach is good for fossil hunting, so I'm told. I've been in Somerset for over 10 years and still not made it there yet!

Agree that the Taunton Museum is great, they often have free activity days for children during the holidays. The weather on that coast is often different to the rest of the county or further inland so if it is raining where you are staying, don't despair. Have a lovely time!

MammaTJ Mon 07-Jul-14 20:11:16

Tropiquaria is definitely worth the entrance fee. Here is more info

There is a massive indoor play area, a smaller outdoor one, loads of animals to see. Cuddle a snake if you want to.

I agree about taking a picnic though, I would never rely on their, quite frankly rubbish, cafe.

MammaTJ Mon 07-Jul-14 20:13:06

Staryy, we mainly use the cinema on Butlins, which is not overpriced. You do not get access to Butlins, so only pay for the cinema no no, people do not sneak on to Butlins afterwards, ever

WhatAHooHa Mon 07-Jul-14 20:48:22

6 and 8 are such lovely ages for outdoorsy holidays; we used to go walking exploring even in really horrible weather, finding shelter somewhere to share a flask of hot choc with mini marshmallows (big treat!) and a choc bar each before wandering back home.

Treats could be fish and chips on the beach rather than a proper meal out, playing on the 2p arcade machines (50p each goes a long way!), maybe look into some geocaching or creating treasure hunts for them, along with all the local suggestions above... and buy a tub of ice cream, some cones and some hundreds and thousands for ice creams throughout the week rather than getting them from the ice cream van!

CerealMom Mon 07-Jul-14 21:01:03

I third Kilve. It's a pebbley (boulders really) beach with lovely grassy walks around. We always come back with ammonite fossils. There is a tea shop there and a car park and public loos further down.

maudpringles Mon 07-Jul-14 21:03:12

Another vote for Trop and the West Somerset Railway, really worth the money.
Also, maybe check the Gazette website to see if there are any special events, fayres etc.
Our Quantocks are fab for walking on.
The swimming pool in Taunton has been refurbished.
The Somerset museum is good.
Further afield- The Donkey Sanctuary near Sidmouth has free admission but a cracking day out, bit of a journey ....but if you love donkeys...
Have a great holiday.

missingmumxox Mon 07-Jul-14 23:06:33

Don't know summerset at all, but some stuff we do on any day together.

beach, normal beach sandcastles, crabbing, this requires a cheap line, sure you could make your own the ones I have cost me £1.50 each about 3 years ago they are great, you only need them for the children as they will need adult supervision, (mine remains pristine in the packet) a big bucket to collect them in for study it should be big and only a couple at a time the lines have hooks on them, you are NOT hooking the crab, you use this to hand bait off, I use bacon, you need a long peice to dangle from the hook. (use internet to print off discriptions of common UK crabs)
internet to print off common seaside birds, wildlife, plants and the like or find books in the library, I found a series called the phillips guide they are lovely, but I am sure there are loads of that type of book ready to be borrowed.

something I am going for this holiday is geology and fossils, I really wanted to do stone polishing but the machine are expensive, but during my investigation I realised a whole untapped sorce of interest/fun my boys have always collected stones but never occured to me about finding out about boys always ask me what the are and I don't know, so fossil hunting is added this year, last nightt I found a site UKAFH they do a free membership and have a list of good areas to explore and what you might find there.

Kite flying, poundland and the like do 2 fo a pound they won't suvive high winds but are fun, or spend some time making kites then try flying them (cold day activity) they also have all sorts of beach type stuff and games.
icepops in the freezer, I freeze a few at a time to prevent the whole lot being eaten at once.

ordinance survey maps, either range finder or leisure, they are not cheap about £9 but I use mine for years and years, so see if you can borrow one, these show trails, parks, pubs, beaches, historic sites, they provide days of interest and entertainment for no money.

geocashing if you have a smart phone I have no idea why but my boys love finding the little pots and adding there names, sometime the pot is moe interesting, I think it the thrill of the chase them being like a spy trying to get to it without the muggles realising what you are doing smile (I believe you can do it without but I find that too difficult.)

play parks.

take tablets if you have them and the place has wifi, and DVDs I found on holiday I used to pack to much in and they just wanted down time like we grown ups do.

we also do resturant nights, which is normally pizza, we make a base but you can buy them, some tom puree, cheese then what ever you have to hand for topping, get the children to draw the pizzas and write a "menu" if they can or you do it, I also do potato wedgies, garlic bread, "boys" salad which is raw carrot, cucumber, apple and grapes, just choise what your children will eat and then I get one to act as waiter to us all, then they both help throw the pizzas together and I do the rest, they then serve it and prepare the bill, which is normally a bazillion dollars! this is a game which I hope will evolve to the point I get to sit back and just eat lol.

picnics, freeze small drinks in place of ice packs, make a weeks worth of sandwichs on day one, anything without mayo or eggs or salad almost will freeze this really cuts down on cost so 2 loaves of bread £2 butter £1 pack of ham, chicken or cheese say £5 (I think i am being generious there) so less than £10 including frezer bags remembering the 2 bread bags can be used for freezing. pack of mini sausages freeze in batches of say 10, multipacks of crisps, hidden and fruit.

you can't forget the lack of money as you need to plan, but honestly use your imagination, look through you childrens toys you have forgotten, for ideas, this is the stuff memories are made of...and if you are not convinced, you don't want to kno how much I earn or my DH but we earn a lot and this is what I have found my boys love, its what they talk about the next year and ask to do again, trust me on this they might whine as you drag them out, but if you are laid back, interested and enthusiastic about in their bit of "snot" they find in a rock poo.l they enjoy it, after all if you work they see precious little of us so embrace it.

I have a merlin premium pass, by heck its simple on paper, but they never whine as as much as they do at these theme parks, because it is a constant I want! and my "NO's" we end up hot, bored from queueing and fractious, no this has its place but my boys have never ever said remember at chessington/alton towers....I lie Blackgang chine on the isle of whyte which is a glorified park smile

you will have great time, loads of ideas here from posters.

missingmumxox Mon 07-Jul-14 23:13:20

lol took me so long to write my epic, that you have all beaten me too it, but at least you know that children love this stuff or we wouldn't all do it.

qwertybirdie Mon 07-Jul-14 23:39:19

Tesco clubcard exchange is great for this. We do it for our holiday every year. I change some for pizza express, and the rest for days out in the area. It really helps. Even if you don't have vouchers, look on eBay. You can still get good deals for them, especially if they are short date.

Also, check group on and other deal sites for the area you are going to. We found a deal for a cafe which cost us £3 each for a full meal last time.

TheFantasticMrsFox Tue 08-Jul-14 01:26:42

Check for "lost" Nectar/ Clubcard points either for shopping while away or exchanging for days/ meals out.
As a PP said, could you do a car boot? Even £50 could get you a day out somewhere special.
Beg or borrow NT or EH passes- DM has them and happily loans them for us to use. We have never been caught yet grin
Geocaching is great for kids, sometimes the only way we could get DS out willingly when he was younger.
Buy ice lollies etc in the supermarket and split multipacks. Always take a packed lunch. Even if you decide not to use it, you still have it if necessary.

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