A family break which doesn’t break the bank

Views: The setting of the Min-y-Don camp.
Views: The setting of the Min-y-Don camp.
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IT’S holiday season, but for many parents, this can be a daunting prospect.

The pressure of the expected family holiday in the summer holidays is ever-present, but it’s not cheap. Especially if you’re a single parent.

But one Sheffield mum has found the holidaying solution - an activity camp in Wales.

Fiona Walton, aged 52, from Crookes, has been staying at the Min-y-Don in Snowdonia, Wales every summer for the past three years. Her ten year-old daughter and 15 and 18 year-old sons love it.

“It’s fabulous, the kids have loads to do and the activities include canoeing, abseiling and rockclimbing - which are enjoyable for all ages. It doesn’t matter how old you are because you do it to your level anyway. An 18 year-old can enjoy rock climbing as much as a five year-old.”

For Fiona, a teacher, it means she can have a well-earned rest. “I don’t have to keep them amused, entertained, or constantly interact with them - there are young guides and enthusiastic staff who take them on the trips and lead the activities. My children can relate to them and it means I can treat myself to an hour with my book.”

But the social side of the holiday is good for parents too. “We’ll sit together at night and drink a bottle of wine. There are people who go every year but it’s not cliquey and it’s not just single parents - there are quite a few couples too.”

A week’s stay at the Min-y-Don is £230 for adults and £60-£195 for children, depending on age from Monday to Saturday.

This includes activities, food and accommodation. “We have to drive to North Wales but once we are there that’s pretty much it, my car is parked up and 
I barely drive, which is great for me.”

“It was cost about £25 a head to do each of these activities and if we rented a cottage we’d have the added food costs and I’d have to drive everywhere. This is wonderful because I can properly relax if I want to but equally I can join in.”

And Fiona’s not averse to joining in.

“It’s great - if I’m feeling enthusiastic I’ll get stuck in and it burns the calories but equally, if I don’t I know that the kids are safe and I can put my feet up.”

The camp is a Christian camp, with a daily ‘Thought of the Day’ but there are plenty of non-Christian guests at the camp, many of whom opt out of these sessions.

Gina Higgins, 49 - also a teacher - from Millhouses, is a loyal non-Christian guest at the Min-y-Don and says the camp is perfect for her and he two boys to go on holiday.

“I’m not a practising Christian but I think it’s good for the children to be around other children who have a faith. The staff and other guests are all so kind, not in a sycophantic way but in a caring way. The fact they see other children practising faith fosters discussion. I want to imbue my children with principle and a moral compass, which I hope will prompt them to consider the consequences of their actions.”

Gina goes to the Min-y-Don on her own. Her husband’s a chef so his weekends aren’t synchronised with hers.

“So I go without my husband,” she says, “but it’s great - we have a gang there and we book at the same time every year at Easter and my kids genuinely look forward to it more than their summer holiday. And it’s so reasonable - if you were to pay for activities like this individually it would cost a fortune.”

For details about the Min-y-Don visit http://www.minydon.

Seaside delights come to Sheffield

THE PEACE Gardens is giving Sheffield a taste of the seaside.

A helter skelter, swing boats and a beach have been winched on to the award-winning public square for ‘Sheffield by the Seaside’.

And in true seaside style, there are also dodgems in Fargate and a children’s boating pool in front of the town hall. The council’s 
even dumping sand in the award-winning square to 
create a true seaside atmosphere.

Who would have thought Sheffield was one of Britain’s furthest cities from the sea?

The council’s city centre 
management team is working with Farrers Funfairs on the event, which starts today (Thursday) and runs until August 27.

William Percival, of Farrers Funfairs, said: “We are 
pleased to be able to bring all the fun of the seaside to the centre of Sheffield. Most of the activities are free of charge,but we have set the charges for the rides at an affordable 
level to encourage families to use them.”

More than 20 tonnes of sand are being dropped into the Peace Gardens for the beach, although the nearest visitors will get to the sea 
are the Peace Gardens 
fountains. Other attractions include Punch and Judy 
shows and sticks of Sheffield rock.

Other children’s rides have been installed elsewhere in the city centre.

The seaside will be open in Sheffield every day between 10am and 6pm.