Mum in the Middle: Explore the world on your doorstep

There can be no denying that my children are all growing up – fast! I want to have as many memories of their childhood as I possibly can. Looking through some old photographs recently, I realised how many happy days out we have enjoyed as a family – many of them in Essex.

With the soaring cost of everything from food to fuel, going out as a family can seem like an expensive luxury but enjoying a day out needn’t be expensive. We are very fortunate in this county to have so much on our doorstep from coast to countryside and it costs nothing to swim in the sea, walk in the woods or play in the park. When they were very young, our children all enjoyed Sunday afternoons at a local playground and as they got older, this turned into trips out on bikes to be replaced again by walks along the estuary, sometimes now, joined by one of their friends or boyfriends. These occasions are the glue that holds families together and they are the times that our children will also remember when they look back on their childhoods. I can remember days out with my own parents and sister and how much I loved it when aunts, uncles and cousins all joined in an impromptu game of cricket or rounders.

The summer holidays are nearly upon us. Families are being squeezed financially at the moment, making it harder than ever to get away but it is still important to have time out together. With ‘staycations’ becoming more popular, it is time to take a good look at what is on our own doorstep. Some of our happiest times been those that have cost the least; the day we got our kite stuck in a tree, getting lost in the woods, building a damn in a stream, running barefoot across the mud, crabbing, walking the dog… the list goes on.

I must admit, that now the house is largely occupied by teenagers, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get everyone together. The kids would naturally rather spend time with their friends than mum and dad, but there are still times when we manage to pull it off. And the summer months do offer opportunities if you look for them, such as free concerts or festivals, boot sales (my girls love a bargain), or camping.

When my husband first suggested that we bought our own tent, I wasn’t at all sure that I would take to sleeping in the great outdoors. However, our first trip was a resounding success, thanks in part to the glorious sunshine (I should add that we have since had several trips in the rain so we always have a pack of cards handy!). The children all love camping, they have so much freedom on a campsite and always make loads of friends. And they don’t seem to care about the weather. Another good thing about camping is that you really don’t have to travel very far. Our own county has lots of good sites, making it an ideal choice for a weekend away and no moaning about the long journey.

So I for one, intend to get out and explore the best of what Essex has to offer again this summer.


By Essex Mums Guest Blogger Kim, author of the blog Mum in the Middle


For ideas to keep the family entertained this summer, take a look at the Things to Do section and browse events in your area.




Essex Mums Newsletter May 2010

Hello everyone,

Hope you’re having a lovely weekend. I’ll try to keep this short as I’m sure you’re all very busy!

Firstly a big hello to all our new forum members from the last month – we had around 50 new members join in April, which is just great. While some of you have dived right and and become familiar faces already, many are still being a bit shy. There’s no need! We’re a lovely bunch and always keen to meet new people, so please come and say hello! You can either introduce yourself or get stuck into an existing thread, and hopefully can meet new friends. If you need any further encouragement, take a look at this thread started by one of our members about life without Essex Mums and see some of the lovely things that are said about what other Mums have gained from the site.

Now that the weather is getting nicer (and hopefully will stay that way), more meet-ups are being planned, so come and take a look, or feel free to start one near you. Last month we had a great day out organised by one of the forum members at Wat Tyler Park, which had a great turn-out, though unfortunately lots of us got separated before the picnic! I know a few people have commented that the meet-ups often tend to be in the Southend area, and this is true, but the only way to combat this is to suggest something near you! I’m more than happy to put something on the Facebook Group too and invite people that way, please just let me know. I know it can be daunting starting something yourself, but perhaps suggesting a picnic in the park is a good way to start. Everyone is welcome to come along to the coffee mornings/afternoons too, and we’re looking for more people to hold them, so why not hold one yourself?

Evening Echo
Some of you may have seen me in the Evening Echo last week talking about the site. Well, keep an eye out this monday too as a few of our members will be in there talking about the upcoming election. When the articles appear on their website I’ll share them on Essex Mums too.

Shopping Guide
As the year is ticking by (how can it be May?!), all shopping guide ads are now reduced from £50 to £35, so if you’ve been umming and ahhing about being included, now is your chance!

As always, please send me any upcoming events you have, particularly for half-term or bank holiday. Also make sure your attraction is listed on the map and Places to Go section!

Your Input
Please take a moment to look around the Family-Friendly Eats and Places to Go sections as they need your input! They are very much works in progress but please leave your comments and ratings. Likewise, if there’s anything you would like to say on the Blog, please get in touch!

I always appreciate feedback about the site, whether good or bad, so please get in touch if you have something to say. Whether it’s ‘this part of the site looks wonky to me’ or some fantastic idea you have about how the site could benefit you, please do let me know.

At the risk of sounding like a nag, please do remember to vote on May 6th, both nationally and locally. I know Mums often feel like they have no voice, and wonder if their vote really makes a difference, but you only need to look at the political sway large Mums’ sites like Mumsnet have been having recently to realise this isn’t the case at all. Politicians know well that Mums are the ones who really understand what is needed in crucial areas like Health and Education, for example, and it’s important that you use your voice to try and get a better future for you and your children.

Hope to see you at a meet-up soon!
Kind regards

Essex Mums Newsletter March 2010

Hello everyone!

This month, Essex Mums turns two! I’m so pleased the site has made it this far, and changed so much – for the better I hope! We will be celebrating the birthday with a party at the Totz Parent & Toddler Group at St Stephen’s Church Hall in Prittlewell on March 25th, from 10am to 1pm, with lots of fun things, including music from Tara at Jo Jingles and messy play from Sharon at the Buttercup Club. I would like to take this opportunity to invite you all! It should be a really fun morning, and I hope I’ll get to meet a few new faces, as well as catch up with some familiar ones. Check out the Meeting up section of the forum for more details and mention if you’re planning on coming along.

Competitions & Offers
An exciting new addition to the site is a page for competitions and special offers for Essex Mums users: I thought it would be fun to launch this page as a tie-in with the second birthday, so all winners will be announced at the end of March. If you would like to run a competition on the site, please let me know! The special offers are all great deals for Essex Mums from some of the fantastic companies advertising on the Alternative Shopping Guide: What better excuse do you need to get spending on some of the wonderful goodies listed?

Family-friendly Eats
I have finally got round to starting work on the Family-Friendly Eats section: It’s still very much in the early days, but more venues will be added over time. The idea is that people can rate places according to how family-friendly they are, as well as writing reviews, and maybe in the future we can use this information to both praise the places that have done well, and get those that haven’t to buck up their ideas! Take a look, and if there’s somewhere you think deserves a mention, please let me know.

Business Opportunities for parents
There’s now a brand new section of the forum with lots of great ideas for Mums (and Dads) who are interested in starting their own business, including everything from party organisers to franchises. If you’d like to be listed, please get in touch:

Other sites
The Dulwich Mums & Dads site is now up and running, though very much in it’s early days: It’s exciting to think of sister sites across the UK one day! If it’s something you, or someone you know might be interested in, please let me know.

Everything else
As always, we have loads of great ideas for days out, classes, groups etc. in the Things to Do section:, in-depth information about these places, in the Places to Go section:, helpful links for parents: and have had some really interesting blog posts this month: The forum now has nearly 1400 members, and once again I would like to encourage all of you to come and say hello! If there’s anything you would like added to the site, please let me know, or feel free to post it yourself to the forum.

Hope to see you at the birthday party!


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