With the summer well under way, it's great to be outdoors. Here are some ideas to make your family time in the garden last longer.
I think we'll all agree how happy we are to finally see the back of the dire weather at the beginning of 2013 and look forward to what looks like to be a long, hot, record breaking summer! So there's no need to spend £1000's on holidays to warmer climates when you've got everything you need right here in your back garden and with these great products you'll be keeping the kids entertained and the parents contented.
Kudu Wooden Play Centre from plum- £949
From an early age our daughter has always been impossible to remove from play centres when it's time to go home, you know the type which you see in the gardens of pub restaurant chains. Thankfully nowadays Plum have got a great range of play centres to suit not just the size of your garden, but your wallet too! Plum's website has a huge selection of quality outdoor toys, so your only problem would be which one to choose.
My task in hand was to build the Kudu Wooden Play Centre which is an excellent example of an affordable play centre for a medium sized garden that's good value for money as it features a 9ft play tower with sandpit below, climb ladder with monkey bars, 2 swings, a glider swing and an 8ft wave slide! The age group for this item is recommended at for 3-12 years which is perfect for my almost 3 and 9 year old to test it out, but if you just have younger children you know you'll get many more years of play out of it. Assembly really requires 2 adults and you could probably get it done in a day, but it's possible to build on your own which I did do finding time in between the school run and my youngest ones afternoon naps.
The play centre comes flat-packed with 4 main bundles of wood and the straightforward instructions help you locate what part you need to which bundle they're in, essential tools are an electric drill, socket set and a rubber mallet. (NB: It is required to anchor this product to the ground with the supplied anchors, but after assembly). I made good progress on my 1st stint building the main tower, the heavy duty materials used gave me confidence that this product would be safe and sturdy for our children. I did find it a little tricky locating wooden parts in the flat pack bundles to begin with, but the more you progress the easier it gets and the only part I did find a little frustrating was attaching the canvas arches, but this is probably where you need someone to help you.
The following afternoon, after the smart looking roof assembly was added you could really see the full piece come together. I shifted the tower to exactly where I wanted the final resting place to be as it would be very tricky to move on my own from here on. Next were the climbing ladder and monkey bars to be fitted, then the final wooden structure, the swing beam. This is where you begin to realise how uneven your garden is, but don't worry as you'll be anchoring it down when complete. I proudly showed my wife what I'd achieved that evening. Everything was fantastic apart from location ..she wanted it moved backwards diagonally by a metre or two! I didn't cause a fuss as I kind of agreed with her, but I don't think she realised what was involved. So the next day after removing the swing beam and monkey bars, moved the tower to it's final, FINAL resting place. With the main construction finished I was on the home run with just the making up of the swing accessories before completion.
There's nothing more satisfying than sweating in the garden for just a few afternoons than watching your kids faces light up with delight. Apart from swinging for hours on end, our daughter now practically lives in the tower like some kind of princess waiting to be rescued by her prince charming and our young son absolutely loves the glider swing and has a constant grin from ear to ear only for it to be met with a screaming fit when it's time to come off and go indoors! This product is absolutely great to encourage active play for fitter, happy children and perfect for encouraging them to get off their games consoles for some summer fun in the garden.
There is something for everyone with prices ranging from £39.99 - £3,299.99.
Corfu Rattan Style Garden Furniture Set from Keter - £349.99
It's great to sit outdoors in comfort with all the family, whether it be just catching up on their day or relaxing with a glass of chilled rosé watching the sun go down. The stylish Corfu Rattan Style Garden 4-piece Furniture Set from Keter looks simply stunning in any type of garden and conservatory. Contemporary in design this furniture set needs absolutely no maintenance due to being constructed from durable weather-resistant resin, so no embarrassing moments when auntie falls through the decayed seat or a rusty leg collapses sending grandad into the flower beds! And no need to worry about direct sunlight fading the woven texture of this Rattan furniture as it's UV protected and will not fade over time.
The 2 seat sofa, 2 chairs and coffee table set comes flat-packed and will take you a good hour or so to construct, nevertheless it's very easy and the straightforward instructions guide you through with ease. No tools are required apart from the plastic wrench which is supplied and any unsightly screw nuts are closed off with coordinated covers. Once assembled, the ample seats have comfortable outdoor grade cushions to finish off the look. I was really pleased with the sturdiness of construction, especially with clumsy and over excited children running around the garden. Also, being very stable and with no sharp or hard edges it makes perfect sense for any young family to invest in this very practical and fashionable item.
2 Burner Gas Grill BBQ from Wilko- £125
At £125 you can't go wrong with this large 2 burner gas BBQ available from selected Wilko stores. Yes granted it'll take an average DIY'er over an hour to assemble, but that's how I expect Wilko can keep the cost so low. We haven't barbecued for a long time so this is an ideal model for BBQ novices to cook for a fair amount of family and friends.
After easy assembly, I was pleased how rigid the frame was which gives you that extra piece of mind over safety. The only extra you have to buy (obviously) is the propane cylinder from your local DIY superstore and once you've easily attached it to the supplied regulator you're ready to go. The uncomplicated controls are obvious and very easy to use, I stuck to the obvious foods like sausages, burgers and chicken legs to begin with and was pleased that all the food was cooked evenly unlike some charcoal grills. With the chicken and larger pieces of meat, you can put the lid down and grill it indirectly for very tasty and juicy results, the handy temperature gauge will let you know if things are getting a little too hot! This BBQ also features a handy side burner that you could use for frying those yummy sweet onions or warming some spicy baked beans for example. All in all this is a good quality and easy to use BBQ and probably the best value for money on the market.
Available in selected Wilko stores.
Rancho Playhouse from Keter - £99.98
The Keter Rancho Playhouse will keep your young ones entertained for hours on end. For indoor and outdoor use, this playhouse is made from durable plastic resin with no sharp edges and non fadable colours. This will literally take you less than 15 minutes to construct from flat pack and requires no tools apart from a plastic spade key provided. Our 2 year old son loved continually opening and closing the two window shutters and keeping daddy out with the closeable front door and at the end of the day what an ideal place to store all of your children's outdoor toys!
Cast Iron Chimnea from La Hacienda - RRP £119.99
As the day draws in and when it's time for the kids to go to bed, what a great way to relax outside in the early evening with this cast iron chimenea from 'La Hacienda'. Chimeneas originally from Mexico were used by tribesmen to provide heat for their families and for cooking and baking.
This solid cast iron chimenea is easy to construct and ready to use in less than an hour. Not only can it be used to get a nice romantic atmosphere with the wife in the late evenings, it also comes with a cooking grill so you can enjoy a little late supper. And unlike most summer garden equipment, why not even use this for winter garden activities, roasting chestnuts on an open fire?
See more at: www.lahacienda.co.uk