Fun things to do at home or away
Here are some ideas to keep the family entertained while you are unable to tour - some are perfect fo those wet days in the caravan too!
RSPB Pocket Guide to British Birds, 2nd Edition
RRP: £6.99 (rspb.org.uk)
What better way to while away spring and summertime in the garden than with a bit of bird spotting? This beautifully illustrated book from the RSPB features 215 of the most common birds found in Britain. Comprehensive descriptions as well as information on geographical populations, habitats and distinctive calls are presented in a logical, easy-to-read fashion, while the artwork – showing males, females and juveniles of each species – is superb. Another handy feature is the mention of ‘confusion species’ so you’ll soon know your lesser redpoll from your common redpoll!
As summer gets into full swing, your garden will start to burst into life. But extra light and warmth will also encourage the growth of weeds – so keep on top of them by hoeing regularly when it’s dry. Here are some more jobs to concentrate on...
- Plant out summer bedding
- Pinch out sideshoots on tomatoes
- Harvest lettuce, radish and early potatoes
- Shade any greenhouses to prevent ‘scorch’
The Traveller’s Alphabet
You’ll already be familiar with parlour games such as ‘I spy’ and ‘charades’ but we doubt you’ll have ever played ‘The Traveller's Alphabet’. We came across this entertaining diversion in a Victorian book entitled Cassell’s Book of Indoor Amusements, Card Games and Fireside Fun.
The instructions are as follows...
Sit in a circle of three or more players. The first player says, “I am going on a journey to Amsterdam.” The others chant, “And what will you do there?” The first player responds with a verb, adjective and noun, each of which must start with the letter ‘A’. So he/she might say, “I shall acquire amazing anecdotes”. The second player moves on to the next letter of the alphabet; he/she could say, “I am going on a journey to Bath.”... “And what will you do there?”... “I shall buy beautiful bouquets.” And so on!
This fantastic game has everything going for it – it’s quick, it’s easy to learn and it comes in a neat package. Played in teams, the concept is wonderfully simple – win enough letter cards to spell the word ‘Linkee’. On the reverse of each letter card is a series of four questions, which are read out by an appointed ‘question master’. As soon as you recognise a link between each of the answers, you shout the word ‘Linkee’. For example, if the answers to questions one, two and three were ‘John’, ‘Paul’ and ‘George’, you could take a chance, shout out ‘Linkee’, and explain that the link is ‘The Beatles’. Get it right and you win the card. Get it wrong and you are out until the next round. A ‘Dinkee Linkee’ version is available for younger players.
Many people are unaware that ‘virtual’ tours are now available at number of famous attractions across the world. It is possible, for example, to view many of the treasures of the Vatican Museums in Rome via its website. With just the aid of a mouse and a monitor you can gaze in awe at Michelangelo’s famous Sistine Chapel ceiling fresco, browse the Pio Clementino and Chiaramonti museums or marvel at the statues of the New Wing. It’s a great way to get a feel for the place and plan for future tours of this famous city state.
Photo: David Chapman
Attract visitors to your garden
Wildlife lovers may be interested in an online guide offering advice on attracting more birds to your garden. Produced by the RSPB and available at rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/advice/how-you-can-help-birds, it includes instructions for making bird baths and nestboxes as well as information on the type of feed to put outside, plus much more.
A similar guide shows you how to make changes to your garden with wildlife in mind – see rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/advice/gardening-for-wildlife. Also be sure to read David Chapman’s recent article about building a wildlife pond.
Try some colouring-in
A range of downloadable creative activities – inspired by the Club’s historic collection at the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu – will keep families entertained. A number of colouring sheets featuring caravans from different decades are free to download from the Beaulieu website (see link below). These can be coloured in or even used to make collages. Also available to download is a 3D cut-out caravan – use a straw and circular pieces of card to create axles and wheels, hitch it up to your favourite toy car and away you go!
Visit beaulieu.co.uk/activity-sheets to download your craft kits, and why not spend some time browsing the National Motor Museum’s website (nationalmotormuseum.org.uk), where you can see highlights of the Club collection as well as other treasures from the museum’s motoring archive.
In addition, Club member Carol Kaczor makes caravan, motorhome and campervan journals which have proven popular with other members. Carol has kindly made two free colouring-in pages available for children, which may keep little ones occupied at home or when you are next touring. You can download the pages from leisurelogsjournals.co.uk, and keep an eye out for Carol’s Children’s Holiday Activity Journal, which will be available soon!
Photo: © RHS Katy Prentice
Give butterflies a boost
Can you dedicate part of your garden to the insects? The Wildlife Trusts and Royal Horticultural Society are urging gardeners to help butterflies and moths with their Wild About Gardens campaign, which in 2020 is titled ‘Grow a Secret Garden for Butterflies’.
They are asking people to create a spot in the garden – or any available outdoor space – for butterflies, and to plot it on an online map (see wildaboutgardens.org.uk for a free advice booklet and the map). Numbers of butterflies and moths have been in decline, but it is hoped that the project will increase the type of green spaces that these important pollinators need in order to survive.
In support of the campaign, horticulturist and TV presenter Frances Tophill said: “Our garden flowers and plants provide a rich source of rejuvenating nectar for these much-loved garden visitors as they emerge from hibernation to herald the start of spring.” Ellie Brodie, senior policy manager of The Wildlife Trusts, added: “We know that UK wildlife is in decline and needs our help – that’s why we’re asking gardeners to work together and create a wave of long grass, wildflowers, colour and perfume across the country – a nature recovery network for these gorgeous creatures.”