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Coaching for Harpenden pupils at Olympic venue

Coaching for Harpenden pupils as Olympic venue



First published


in News





by Frazer Ansell

Students from Sir John Lawes Secondary School in Harpenden were among more than 700 schoolchildren to enjoy exclusive access to coaching at London 2012 legacy venue, Lee Valley VeloPark.

The four day sporting festival is taking place at the venue on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park giving students the chance to take part in a variety of cycling events for free.

Students were invited from more than 100 schools from throughout Hertfordshire, Essex and London.

The event was hosted by Lee Valley Regional Park Authority which owns and runs the venue, and is part of a long standing programme giving schoolchildren opportunities to enjoy sport for free in inspirational surroundings.

The students had coached sessions at Lee Valley VeloPark, which is the only venue in the world where the public can take part in the four Olympic and Paralympic cycling disciplines in one place: track in the iconic London 2012 velodrome, BMX on the remodelled Olympic track, road cycling on the one-mile road circuit and mountain biking on five miles of trails.

Sir John Lawes PE teacher Natasha Hayden said: “This year we won the St Albans and District Sporting School of the Year award. We get involved in everything and give our young people the opportunity to the try every sport they can.

“Coming to Lee Valley VeloPark is a fantastic opportunity, which may only come to them once in their lifetimes. They’re exhausted and they’ve worked their heart off in every activity, but they’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.”

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Innovative app reveals gender divide in cyclists

waterford_man

New app reveals that women tend to stop biking in their middle-age years. Pic: waterford_man

A gender divide in cyclists has been revealed by an innovative cycling app produced by Hackney Council.

The app has revealed that women tend to stop biking during their middle-age years whereas men continue to ride later on in life.

The statistics were revealed after Hackney launched the app, which has recorded 1, 700 journeys since its introduction in June. Its purpose was to help the Council improve the roads and cycling routes.

The app, which is free for cyclists to download, also identified that the majority of female users between 25-44 years old preferred cycling on quiet routes whereas men tend to cycle on main roads and continue to cycle until into their retirement years.

A DfT study of a sample of 3,155 adults living in England found that 63 per cent of potential cyclists surveyed agreed that they would ‘find cycling on the roads stressful’ and that 60 per cent said it was ‘too dangerous to cycle on the roads’.

Dr. Rachel Aldred, a senior Lecturer in Transport at University of Westminster, said: “I think the evidence clearly shows that women on average tend to be more deterred by motor traffic than men. There is little evidence related to age, but what evidence there is suggests there may be a similar pattern as people get older. Therefore the two could combine to mean that older women are particularly under-represented among cyclists, where roads are hostile for cycling – as unfortunately is still the case on many of London’s streets.”

Statistics taken from 600 registered users of the app in Hackney discovered that 70 per cent of the registered women prefer to use their bikes for commuting to and from work only. On the other hand, men tend to cycle for both work and social journeys.

Mark Mihajlovic, a passionate London cyclist, said: “I think women more accurately assess the risk and don’t want the stress; whereas men have more testosterone and are willing to take on a challenge.”

Daisy Samuel, a London student and regular cyclist agreed that safety is most likely the deterrent for females. She said: “It probably has to do with being more aware of the dangers of cycling as you grow older.

“I think as women approach middle age they become increasingly aware of how much they have to lose by taking the risk of cycling in London, whereas men tend to be blinded by ego and the practicality of bike versus bus.”

According to Hackney’s transport strategy of 2014, the borough has the highest number of residents cycling to work in London – 15.4% of all commuter journeys. In 2011, a ‘cycle to work versus car journeys’ survey found that 12.8% of commuters drove and 15.4% cycled to work in Hackney.

Aldred, an elected trustee of the London Cycling Campaign suggested a reasoning behind the number of cyclists in the borough:  “One thing that works particularly well at the moment in Hackney is that cycling is generally permitted in parks – evidence shows cyclists generally value green space and pleasant environments.”

Hackney are the first council in London to launch a free cycling app that enables cyclists to track their journey around the borough and report problems on the road via their camera on their phones.

Cllr Feryal Demirci, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said:  “The ultimate aim of this app is to collect enough data to continue to make cycling in Hackney as easy and as simple as possible.

“But we’re also accumulating really interesting data about who is cycling in our borough and why. The more info we have about who, why and where people are travelling the better we can plan our future transport provision and encourage those not cycling to get pedaling.”

The main aim of the app is to build better bike routes; repair potholes overcome barriers to biking, tackle cycle parking deficiencies, and understand why cyclists are travelling along certain routes while avoiding others.

Cllr Demirci added: “In the immediate-term, it also helps to fix problems now – one user reported a pothole on Chatsworth Road, which is repaired, while 70 more reports have been added to our works programme.”

The app appears to have had a positive reaction from cyclists in the borough. Hackney Cyclist said: “A clear and easy way to report road issues to the council are always best, rather than having to trawl through the council website to find the right person to email. I hope Hackney council make improvements to roads that are reported to them through the app.”

Ethan Ohs, from Hackney is also a fan of the app. He said: “Rather than having to put a cycle computer on my bike I can track my basic miles with little effort.”

Although the app is revealing new statistics, Rachel Aldred believes that marketing plays a key role in encouraging more women to cycle. She argued that “representation of diverse groups in marketing and promotional material are vital- it’s good to see more women cyclists portrayed but it would be good to show more older women riding.”

You can download the app for free from the Apple App Store and Google play.

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Watch the brilliant trailer for charity MAMILs movie (video)

“You must like beer, you must like cake, and you must allow yourself to be abused”

Ripcor the Movie

Cyclists everywhere will recognise elements of themselves, their friends, and most of the people they’ve ever ridden with, in a forthcoming film aiming to raise money for charity.

The film — Ripcor The Movie  — follows a biking group who are “lovers of beer, cake and cycling” , on a training camp in the Alps earlier this summer. You can watch the trailer below.

The group was formed in 2006 by Treve Ripley and Sean Cornell. Since their formation, they  have cycled over 27,000 miles and raised £500,000 for the PACE Centre, a school in Aylesbury for children affected by cerebral palsy.

Their latest charity ride, a five-day, 400-mile trip from Lisbon to the Douro Valley in Portugal last month saw the group raise over £60,000 for PACE.

Ripcor will premiere at the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square, London, on Saturday 1 November. Tickets cost £15 and £5 for kids with all profits going to PACE.

More cycling videos

M-crawl

Michael Kwiatkowski wins the men's road race at the 2014 World Road Championships

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Grant hope for Cathkin Braes mountain bike centre

Impression of the converted churchThe project aims to transform the B-listed former church into a mountain bike and activity centre

Plans to revamp a disused church into a mountain bike centre at the Cathkin Braes Commonwealth Games course are on the brink of securing major funding.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has given initial backing to the bid for a £1.05m grant to transform the B-listed former St Martin’s Church in Castlemilk.

The move includes a grant of £179,900 to further develop the proposal.

Glasgow Building Preservation Trust and Ardenglen Housing Association have two years to submit final plans.

The church, built in 1961, is next to Cathkin Braes Country Park, which hosted the Games’ mountain bike events.

The vision is to convert the now redundant church to become the Cathkin Braes Mountain Bike and Activity Centre.

‘Exciting project’

Colin McLean, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: “This is an exciting project which has been driven by the enthusiasm of the local people of Castlemilk who want to see this empty historic building brought back to life.

“What better way to do that than to build on the incredible success of the mountain biking at Cathkin Braes during the Commonwealth Games.”

Glasgow Lord Provost Sadie Docherty said: “Glasgow’s first purpose-built international mountain bike course at Cathkin Braes is already a permanent legacy from this summer’s Commonwealth Games, providing world class facilities for the people of Glasgow.

“I am delighted that this award from the Heritage Lottery Fund can help deliver more legacy benefits – including local jobs and improved facilities – from the development of St Martin’s Church in Castlemilk into a mountain biking and sports resource centre that can serve both those using the course and the local community.”

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Cape to Cape MTB event kicks off on Thursday with a 1300-strong ‘lycra army …

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Ski resort to open at Wanlockhead in Southern Uplands

Lowther Hills in winterLowther Hills Ski Club has applied for planning permission to build a clubhouse and rope tow

A new ski resort is expected to open in southern Scotland within weeks.

The Lowther Hills Ski Club has applied for planning permission to build a clubhouse and a 600m rope tow on the slope near Wanlockhead.

It is hoping to attract snowsports enthusiasts from across Scotland and the north of England to the village in Dumfries and Galloway.

It is part of a wider plan to market the area as a year-round sports resort.

Those behind the proposals hope to eventually offer visitors to the Southern Uplands the chance to do a range of different activities including mountain biking, hill-walking, golf and curling.

Lowther Hills Ski Club chairman Anjo Abelaira said: “The ski facilities will put the village on the map and it will bring people to the area.

“We will be staffed by volunteers and mainly open at weekends. We will be open for about 25 days between December and March.”

Lowther Hill was a busy ski resort in the 1960s and 1970s when there was a permanent ski tow on the slope.

It fell out of fashion in the 1980s however, and since then local people have occasionally used a portable tow to get up the hillside.

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Exotic Christmas breaks: readers’ feedback

Sally York, from East Sussex, wins a voucher with DialAFlight

India

Jaipur in Rajasthan is a delight at any time of the year, with its prominent
buildings painted in a pink hue, but it is a truly special place to be at
Christmas.

We visited the Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds) and saw the most amazing kite
festival. Children are given a little kite each and hundreds of them are
flown against the backdrop of the palace’s pink façade with Father Christmas
handing out chocolates to the children in the sunshine.

The city comes alive at Christmas, with busy city markets thronged with carol
singers and awash with festive goodies. Churches are decorated with white
and red balloons, and candles are lit in hundreds of windows. Something that
cannot be missed is the monkey temple where you can witness at sunset
monkeys swimming in the sacred pools. It’s altogether a very different and
enchanting city in which to celebrate Christmas.

Lisa Anderson, West Sussex

Malaysia

I highly recommend Penang for a Christmas break. I once had a memorable
stopover holiday at the Parkroyal Hotel overlooking Penang beach and the
atmosphere was very warm and welcoming. It was unusual hearing Frosty the
Snowman being played in the hotel foyer and to see white Christmas trees
with gingerbread treats as ornaments. To celebrate Christmas I enjoyed a
refreshing cocktail and foot massage on the beach, followed by a parasail
ride. Amazing tropical food made a delightful change from the traditional
dry turkey feast.

Fiona King, Portsmouth

We like to visit the Far East during December and January. Christmas Day saw
us at the Spice Gardens in Ferringhi on Penang, Malaysia. A wonderful
morning was spent being shown around the gardens, gaining valuable knowledge
about the uses of spices in Malaysian cuisine. That was followed by a
cookery class given by a local chef. We created a traditional Malay curry
lunch and then sat down together to enjoy our efforts. It was marvellous –
and, as a result, we have this kind of lunch at home every Sunday.

Peter and Anne Taylor, Lincolnshire

England

What better Christmas setting than Amberley Castle, in Sussex, the medieval
fortified home of the bishops of Chichester? Enter the castle through its
sturdy gatehouse and, after admiring the inner courtyard, proceed to the
welcoming domestic quarters. After canapés and drinks in one of the large
lounges heated by log fires, eat and drink well in the grand hall before
retiring again for coffee and brandy downstairs. After festive activities
and further liquid refreshment and mince pies, watched over by shiny but
lifeless suits of armour, retire to one of the large and luxurious
bedrooms – but beware the ghostly things that may frequent the corridors and
rooms of this historic building. At Amberley Castle, all is provided for,
including the possibility of a festive ghostly encounter.

David Rudling, East Sussex

Egypt

I would recommend Egypt for a Christmas holiday, not least because the weather
is so good in December (an average of 19C). It is said that “Once you drink
from the Nile, you are destined to return” – and I would agree. Egypt
provides the perfect balance of culture, adventure and relaxation. In
addition to some of the world’s most famous historical sights (including the
Pyramids, the Sphinx and the Valley of Kings), it offers adventures in the
desert such as star-gazing through a huge telescope, enjoying tea with the
Bedouin, camel-trekking and quad-biking. Other activities include scuba
diving and snorkelling around the colourful reefs of the Red Sea. Or you can
simply relax by the pool with a cocktail or a shisha pipe, watching
traditional belly dancers perform.

What more could you want from a holiday, at any time of the year?

Jennifer Gane, East Sussex

Hong Kong

Christmas is great in Hong Kong. The climate is temperate and you can view the
amazing Christmas displays in the shops while picking up those last-minute
gifts, then head to Victoria Park for t’ai chi or to a temple for reflection
and peace. I would combine it with another destination such as Bali – a
perfect location for peace and tranquillity with top-class service and a
friendly smile.

Claire Thomson, Cheshire

Japan

This is an intriguing choice for a Christmas holiday as there are few
Christians in Japan. However, the Japanese still see it as a time of
celebration and happiness. Father Christmas is named “Santa-san” and several
Western traditions have been adopted, such as exchanging presents and cards.
On Christmas Day shops are open and the food of choice is apparently fried
chicken. Japan is a truly unique Christmas destination, not easily
forgotten.

Helen Greaves, Newcastle

Madagascar

For a complete getaway over the Christmas period, head to Tsarabanjina, a tiny
volcanic island accessible only by boat or sea plane off the north-west
coast of Madagascar. Tsarabanjina is a totally unspoilt eco-friendly
paradise with turquoise waters, coral reefs and protected wildlife. The
staff are lovely and knowledgeable about the unique environment, offering
guided walks, snorkelling, diving and boat trips. There are just 25 private
bungalows which are well spaced to ensure your stay is peaceful. There are
no pools or hot tubs because the Indian Ocean is just steps away from your
door. The sand-floored bar is ideal for a sundowner if you want to socialise
with the other guests; just be aware that the local Malagasy rum is lethal.

Lucy Carson-Taylor, Shropshire

Hawaii

Tropical, and with amazing beaches, Hawaii is perfect for a Christmas break,
whether you want to chill or do something more challenging such as trek up
the volcano. Because it is part of America, you still get a festive feel and
Father Christmas arrives via jet ski at some hotels.

Rebecca Inman, London

Mexico

Envisage yourself in crystal-clear waters, then take yourself to the beautiful
and vibrant country that is Mexico. Begin your journey in Cancun. I
recommend a few days at an all-inclusive to recover from jet lag or take a
boat ride across to Mexico’s hidden treasure, Isla de Mujeres. It has the
most beautiful beach in the whole of Mexico. Rent a golf buggy and head up
to the Mayan temple and witness a spectacular view, preferably at sunset.

You can then venture to Tulum, a jungle town filled with bars and traditional
restaurants. I would order the fish tacos with a classic margarita. Head
down to Playa Papaya at the weekend for a party. If you’re more adventurous,
dive through the cenotes (sink holes) or take a zip-line ride through the
jungle. If it’s sanctuary you seek, spend a day at a beach spa where
treatments are organically sourced and the view will match your tranquil
mood.

Natalie Graham, London

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.

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Christmas Day in Sri Lanka: readers’ feedback

Sally York, from East Sussex, wins a voucher with DialAFlight

India

Jaipur in Rajasthan is a delight at any time of the year, with its prominent
buildings painted in a pink hue, but it is a truly special place to be at
Christmas.

We visited the Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds) and saw the most amazing kite
festival. Children are given a little kite each and hundreds of them are
flown against the backdrop of the palace’s pink façade with Father Christmas
handing out chocolates to the children in the sunshine.

The city comes alive at Christmas, with busy city markets thronged with carol
singers and awash with festive goodies. Churches are decorated with white
and red balloons, and candles are lit in hundreds of windows. Something that
cannot be missed is the monkey temple where you can witness at sunset
monkeys swimming in the sacred pools. It’s altogether a very different and
enchanting city in which to celebrate Christmas.

Lisa Anderson, West Sussex

Malaysia

I highly recommend Penang for a Christmas break. I once had a memorable
stopover holiday at the Parkroyal Hotel overlooking Penang beach and the
atmosphere was very warm and welcoming. It was unusual hearing Frosty the
Snowman being played in the hotel foyer and to see white Christmas trees
with gingerbread treats as ornaments. To celebrate Christmas I enjoyed a
refreshing cocktail and foot massage on the beach, followed by a parasail
ride. Amazing tropical food made a delightful change from the traditional
dry turkey feast.

Fiona King, Portsmouth

We like to visit the Far East during December and January. Christmas Day saw
us at the Spice Gardens in Ferringhi on Penang, Malaysia. A wonderful
morning was spent being shown around the gardens, gaining valuable knowledge
about the uses of spices in Malaysian cuisine. That was followed by a
cookery class given by a local chef. We created a traditional Malay curry
lunch and then sat down together to enjoy our efforts. It was marvellous –
and, as a result, we have this kind of lunch at home every Sunday.

Peter and Anne Taylor, Lincolnshire

England

What better Christmas setting than Amberley Castle, in Sussex, the medieval
fortified home of the bishops of Chichester? Enter the castle through its
sturdy gatehouse and, after admiring the inner courtyard, proceed to the
welcoming domestic quarters. After canapés and drinks in one of the large
lounges heated by log fires, eat and drink well in the grand hall before
retiring again for coffee and brandy downstairs. After festive activities
and further liquid refreshment and mince pies, watched over by shiny but
lifeless suits of armour, retire to one of the large and luxurious
bedrooms – but beware the ghostly things that may frequent the corridors and
rooms of this historic building. At Amberley Castle, all is provided for,
including the possibility of a festive ghostly encounter.

David Rudling, East Sussex

Egypt

I would recommend Egypt for a Christmas holiday, not least because the weather
is so good in December (an average of 19C). It is said that “Once you drink
from the Nile, you are destined to return” – and I would agree. Egypt
provides the perfect balance of culture, adventure and relaxation. In
addition to some of the world’s most famous historical sights (including the
Pyramids, the Sphinx and the Valley of Kings), it offers adventures in the
desert such as star-gazing through a huge telescope, enjoying tea with the
Bedouin, camel-trekking and quad-biking. Other activities include scuba
diving and snorkelling around the colourful reefs of the Red Sea. Or you can
simply relax by the pool with a cocktail or a shisha pipe, watching
traditional belly dancers perform.

What more could you want from a holiday, at any time of the year?

Jennifer Gane, East Sussex

Hong Kong

Christmas is great in Hong Kong. The climate is temperate and you can view the
amazing Christmas displays in the shops while picking up those last-minute
gifts, then head to Victoria Park for t’ai chi or to a temple for reflection
and peace. I would combine it with another destination such as Bali – a
perfect location for peace and tranquillity with top-class service and a
friendly smile.

Claire Thomson, Cheshire

Japan

This is an intriguing choice for a Christmas holiday as there are few
Christians in Japan. However, the Japanese still see it as a time of
celebration and happiness. Father Christmas is named “Santa-san” and several
Western traditions have been adopted, such as exchanging presents and cards.
On Christmas Day shops are open and the food of choice is apparently fried
chicken. Japan is a truly unique Christmas destination, not easily
forgotten.

Helen Greaves, Newcastle

Madagascar

For a complete getaway over the Christmas period, head to Tsarabanjina, a tiny
volcanic island accessible only by boat or sea plane off the north-west
coast of Madagascar. Tsarabanjina is a totally unspoilt eco-friendly
paradise with turquoise waters, coral reefs and protected wildlife. The
staff are lovely and knowledgeable about the unique environment, offering
guided walks, snorkelling, diving and boat trips. There are just 25 private
bungalows which are well spaced to ensure your stay is peaceful. There are
no pools or hot tubs because the Indian Ocean is just steps away from your
door. The sand-floored bar is ideal for a sundowner if you want to socialise
with the other guests; just be aware that the local Malagasy rum is lethal.

Lucy Carson-Taylor, Shropshire

Hawaii

Tropical, and with amazing beaches, Hawaii is perfect for a Christmas break,
whether you want to chill or do something more challenging such as trek up
the volcano. Because it is part of America, you still get a festive feel and
Father Christmas arrives via jet ski at some hotels.

Rebecca Inman, London

Mexico

Envisage yourself in crystal-clear waters, then take yourself to the beautiful
and vibrant country that is Mexico. Begin your journey in Cancun. I
recommend a few days at an all-inclusive to recover from jet lag or take a
boat ride across to Mexico’s hidden treasure, Isla de Mujeres. It has the
most beautiful beach in the whole of Mexico. Rent a golf buggy and head up
to the Mayan temple and witness a spectacular view, preferably at sunset.

You can then venture to Tulum, a jungle town filled with bars and traditional
restaurants. I would order the fish tacos with a classic margarita. Head
down to Playa Papaya at the weekend for a party. If you’re more adventurous,
dive through the cenotes (sink holes) or take a zip-line ride through the
jungle. If it’s sanctuary you seek, spend a day at a beach spa where
treatments are organically sourced and the view will match your tranquil
mood.

Natalie Graham, London

Share your travel tips to win

Each week we offer a prize to whoever sends us the best travel tip. Click
here to find out more
.

Win
one of 40 holidays worth £800,000

Telegraph Travel Awards 2014: vote for your favourite destinations and travel
companies for the chance to win one of 40 luxury breaks worth a total of
£800,000. Closes on October 27, 2014.

Travel
Guides app

Download
the free Telegraph Travel app
, featuring expert guides to destinations
including Paris, Rome, New York, Venice and Amsterdam

Sign
up to our weekly email newsletter

Follow
Telegraph Travel on Twitter

Follow
Telegraph Travel on Facebook

Follow
Telegraph Travel on Pinterest

Follow Telegraph
Travel on FourSquare

Share

How to survive half-term costs without breaking the bank

  • 62% of parents worried about how they will afford the one-week break
  • A third expect to dip into their savings to cover costs 

Rosie Murray-west, Financial Mail on Sunday

10

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Parents up and down the country are bracing themselves for extra expense as the half-term holiday looms. Figures from the Post Office show that 62 per cent of parents are worried about how they will afford the one-week break – with nearly a third expected to dip into their savings to cover costs.

Many face an unenviable choice: spending money to entertain the children at home, or paying for childcare so that they can go to work.

The Family and Childcare Trust says that holiday childcare is both patchy and expensive. Anand Shukla, the charity’s chief executive, says: ‘Far too many parents face a never ending battle to secure affordable, quality childcare just so that they can go to work to provide for their families.’

Little star: Jessie Davidson, with parents Sara-Jayne and Mike, went to Super Camps

Little star: Jessie Davidson, with parents Sara-Jayne and Mike, went to Super Camps

Vouchers meant Jessie could go to holiday club 

Sara-Jayne Davidson was able to use childcare vouchers from her civil service job to pay for a recent holiday club for daughter Jessie, five.

‘Without the vouchers I don’t think I would have been able to go on working after I had children,’ says Sara-Jayne, from Coulsdon, South London. ‘They make a real difference.’

Jessie went to a Super Camps holiday club in Croydon, Surrey, over the summer holidays, where she took part in numerous organised activities including swimming. ‘She absolutely loved it,’ says Sara-Jayne, who works for the Land Registry as well as being a part-time fitness instructor.

‘The best thing is she even loved swimming there – she normally screams when she goes in the pool with me or my husband Mike.

‘It was also flexible – I could pay for a little bit more time in the evenings or mornings if we needed it. She’s already asking me when we can go back again.’

‘Childcare is expensive, but Super Camps compared really well with the childminder that we use in term times,’ says Sara-Jayne, 51.

The charity’s research shows that the average cost of a week of holiday childcare is now £115 and rising faster than both inflation and parents’ wages.

Shukla adds: ‘Many working parents hope that their childcare struggles will end when their children start school.

‘However, our research into holiday and out-of-school childcare shows the opposite is true. The system requires a complete overhaul but in the meantime employers and head teachers should help parents manage the school holidays.’

For those parents who cannot afford paid help, many use their own paid leave to cover the period while their children are on holiday. But then they find that the cost of entertaining their children soon mounts up.

Post Office figures show that parents expect to spend £229 entertaining their children over half-term. Almost a third will spend money on eating out, while other expenses include theme park entry, petrol, cinema trips and sporting activities such as swimming.

Henk Van Hulle, head of savings and investments at the Post Office, says: ‘With the long summer break only just behind us, and Christmas already on the horizon, the autumn half-term break will come at an inconvenient time for many parents.’

Height of fun: Camp Beaumont runs both residential and day camps

Height of fun: Camp Beaumont runs both residential and day camps

Whether choosing to entertain children yourself or to pay for childcare, there are ways to make the half-term week – or weeks, in some cases – less expensive.

Private holiday clubs run by national groups such as Super Camps, Barracudas and Camp Beaumont are one option.

It is possible to bring the cost down by using childcare vouchers if your employer has a scheme. These vouchers, which can be used to pay for Ofsted-registered childcare including holiday schemes, allow childcare costs to be taken out of pre-tax income.

If an employer offers vouchers, up to £55 a week tax-free can be claimed. A couple can both claim £55 a week if they are basic rate taxpayers.

Those who pay 40 per cent tax can claim £28 a week tax-free, while additional rate taxpayers can claim up to £25 a week. These schemes will be phased out next autumn and replaced with a new childcare tax break.

It can also be cheaper to book a full week of childcare in a club rather than selected days.

Guy Ker, managing director of Super Camps, says parents need to see these costs in the context of other half-term expenses.

He says: ‘I’ve got seven children and I know that when you go out costs can mount up. But if you book for the week, the daily price for an eight-hour day at a Super Camps venue comes down to about £35 a day, or just over £4 an hour with activities that range from quad biking to swimming.’

Local holiday clubs run by the council can prove a cheaper option but provision is patchy. The average cost of a council-run scheme is £96 a week, compared with £118 a week for privately run schemes.

Websites such as Netmums as well as local councils are good sources of information.

For older teenagers, the Government’s National Citizen Service can be one way of providing inexpensive skills training and entertainment.

The programme, spearheaded by Prime Minister David Cameron, is open to all 16 and 17-year-olds, and includes a residential programme. More information is available at the website ncsyes and the cost is £50 or less for a three-day residential course. Meanwhile, for parents who are trying to keep entertainment costs down at home, there are still plenty of cheap ways to entertain children.

Most cinema chains run children’s clubs in the holidays where they show films in the morning.

Odeon’s Kids Club offers tickets from £2.50 each and films this half- term include How To Train Your Dragon 2, Planes 2 and Maleficent.

Cineworld has a Movies for Juniors show on half-term mornings with tickets from £1.50 including a free fun pack.

Selected Vue cinemas charge just £1.75 a ticket or £3 for 3D films for children and accompanying adults every morning from October 25 to November 2.


Logo LC


Logo LC


Logo LC


Logo LC

On show: From How To Train Your Dragon 2

On show: From How To Train Your Dragon 2

The Football Association offers free coaching sessions to girls and boys aged five to 11 during the school holidays.

To find your nearest session go to faskills.thefa.com/FindSession. Or try tennisforfree.com for tennis coaching lessons.

Free museums include Glasgow’s Burrell collection, National Museum Cardiff, Leeds Art Gallery and London’s Natural History and Science museums, and the Victoria Albert Museum.

Consumer website MoneySavingExpert provides details of museums and galleries nationwide that offer free entry.

For trips to theme parks and other attractions, booking online in advance is often the best way to get a cheaper deal.

If travelling by train, the website daysoutguide offers details of two for one tickets available to rail travellers on attractions throughout Britain.

Many families choose to save up Tesco Clubcard vouchers for holiday periods. For many top attractions £2.50 worth of Clubcard vouchers can be exchanged for £10 of entrance tickets.


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Biking near misses: cyclists urged to share road experiences in new study

An early pilot study run last month found an average of three near misses per day for cyclists.

The project, run by Dr Rachel Aldred, senior transport lecturer at Westminster University in London, in partnership with laser-projection light maker Blaze, is looking for cyclists UK-wide to keep a diary of their riding experiences on a single day between now and November 2.

While there is significant research into cycling collisions that result in serious injuries and fatalities, the Near Miss Project will examine other unpleasant experiences which, either by luck or avoidance, have not resulted in injury.

These include can anything from abuse, harassment and close passes to what has been dubbed the: “Sorry, mate I didn’t see you’s.”

Researchers want to learn how near-misses affect the way people ride and if it alters their decision to travel by bike at all. They hope to use the findings to brief policy-makers and planners in a bid to call for a reduction in such incidents.

Dr Aldred said: “Although research into near misses is commonplace in other areas of transport, such as rail and air, it’s near absent when it comes to cycling, which is what compelled us to launch the Near Miss Project.

“We carried out a small pilot which revealed the average person experienced three near miss type incidents in just one day. These occurrences can’t be ignored in thinking about what puts people off cycling.

“I’m interested in not only how regularly these incidents are happening, but also the emotive elements involved; how do they leave people feeling: threatened, angry, ashamed, frustrated? What’s more, minor incidents can be viewed as an early warning signal; they may indicate a risk of more serious incidents.”

Emily Brooke, founder of Blaze and an experienced cyclist, said that on one day alone she herself counted seven near misses, including a scooter getting dangerously close and a pedestrian using a mobile phone who stepped out onto the road in front of her without looking.

“Safety is undeniably still a massive barrier to people cycling,” she said. “While a near miss may not feel like more than a frustration or irritation at the time, the potential ramifications could be massive. Our belief is that these incidents – the ones that happen on a weekly, if not daily, basis – are in fact the ones which influence the way we cycle, or if we choose to cycle at all.”

For more information or to sign up, go here

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