Cheap days out
Spare time and no cash is a bad combo. Lift the boredom by escaping just for the day.
Sometimes the classics are the best. The picnic is a warm weather staple, whether you're trekking through the countryside with a wicker hamper or collapsing in the local park with sandwiches from the newsagent.
Your nearest stately home may not charge for you to get into the grounds, meaning you can enjoy a flashy aristocratic setting without parting with your cash. Pretend to be posh at these picnic locations.
If you prefer something more urban and know someone with a conveniently flat roof then hold your picnic there. Cover it in blankets, remind people to stay well away from the edges and call it a 'Picnic in the Sky'. If the weather remains traditionally British then push your furniture back and eat on your living room floor. Think creatively and your picnic could be the high point of the summer.
Brit-style beach barbie
Right, this isn't Australia and it never will be. We live on a cold, damp little island with a severe shortage of athletic and bronzed beach dwellers. This shouldn't prevent us making the most of our windswept beaches though. The key is being prepared, even if that means taking sunscreen and an umbrella.
Go online to check the regulations that apply to your chosen beach. Most UK beaches allow you to have barbeques, but they might request you keep to a certain area or don't start the fire until after six o'clock in the evening. You'll need a barbeque that's easy to transport (perhaps a disposable one) plus food, drink and blankets to sit on and to wrap up in. A windbreak or, on the slightly less nerdy side, a small tent could also be handy - just remember to keep the fire away from anything flammable.
Try the Good Beach Guide for a list of Britain's best beaches.
Time to release your inner commando, because paintballing isn't as expensive as you might have thought. Entry prices start from around £10 and you can even take your own lunch to some centres. Find a centre, check the costs online and try to avoid the marauding stag parties and corporate-away-day types.
Free festivals have diversified massively since the early mud, dope and spacerock days of the 1970s. Now you can attend Latin American carnivals in city parks, catch rising comedians on the Edinburgh Fringe or check out new bands in a castle. The variety is bewildering, but best of all they don't cost a penny. Keep an eye on your local paper or listings magazine and check out eFestivals for a hugely comprehensive guide to festivals, both free and ticketed, in the UK and the rest of Europe.
This isn't about your parents dragging you over rain-spattered cliff tops or slogging home because you've lost your bus fare. This is walking for fun and it's different, promise. A long walk gives you a great opportunity to really talk to your friends and there's something quietly exhilarating about setting yourself in motion.
Walks are a great way of exploring your area and you can plan a local route using the Ordinance Survey's Explore function. Try the National Trust for walks past castles and the like. You can also search for suggested walks in your nearest town if the countryside isn't your thing.
It's never nice to be stuck miles from home in pain, so take the usual mix of sunscreen and waterproof stuff. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes with decent socks and have a packet of plasters ready to deal with blisters. Take water and some snacks and try and finish up near to a good pub or a nice café.
Bike riding has similar advantages to walking, but with added speed. Try Sustrans for route planning and make sure you have all the gear we mentioned in the walking section, plus a puncture repair kit.
You don't need a pool to play in the water. Wild swimming is the name given to swimming in rivers; lakes; the sea or any other natural body of water. Think of splashing through brooks, swimming in lakes hidden in the Welsh mountains or running over warm pebbles to be hit by the waves on the south coast. Wild swimming can mean romantic and secluded skinny-dipping or being macho enough to brave swimming under a freezing waterfall.
The UK's waterways are the cleanest they've been for over a century, but it's still worth looking into your chosen swimming spot before you dive in. You'll need to know about currents, tides, any hidden obstacles and the depth as well as the water quality. The people over at Wild Swimming have a great list of swimming spots they've already checked out. Remember though, you should never jump into unknown waters, especially on your own.
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