The best thing we bought this year was annual membership of the National Trust. So very middle aged of us - for shame and not even forty. Ah yes a few sweet years still linger between me and the big FourOh. However I don't need to wait for the widening waist band and slipping dress sense to enjoy the bounty of this most illustrious organisation. National Trust is where it's at I tell ya.
For a mere eighty quid a year we can truss up the kids and shake them down in country estates, castles, glorious gardens and wild woods. Space, oodles of the stuff in every direction and fresh air coming out of our, well, our mouths. Breathe in - annnnnd- breathe out. It is like therapy for all the family. And the best bit is it's not retail therapy.
I have become the picnic guru. Who wants egg sandwiches and sausages everytime? Nope, no one. But even on a budget a picnic can be a treat. I've been getting glam with the sarnies, going for wraps or diddy ciabatta slices to shake it all up. This is for me really, my chance to get creative with the day. But with places like Aldi the baby girl and toddler boy (and me and hubby-man) are scoffing serano ham and cream cheese on ciabatta - yum.
On the baking front I can whip up a batch of the best brownies ever for less than £1.50 and that'll make enough for at least 2 trips out. It's the Hummingbird Bakery recipe and is the fruit of much searching on my part for the ideal brownie. Try it - I swear you won't regret it.
So, we've had top notch grub, amazing scenery and exercise beyond the minimum requirements. All on a shoe string. If you use your membership more than four times then every visit after that is free really as you're looking at £20 a pop for 2 adults to get into most places - under 5's go free anyway. We use ours every week almost, it has become the Saturday tradition. Scoop up the kids and go get some culture in the great outdoors. Toddler boy loved his last day out so much he danced round the kitchen singing 'I love the world' when we got home. Can't ask for more than that really.