A Staycation Summer Themed Ideas and Activities for the Whole Family!

Latest TT Strange Times News

Latest TT Strange Times News

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Inspirational People – For Inspirational Times...

Inspirational People –
For Inspirational Times...

A closer look at another inspirational figurehead…

>> Click here to be inspired!

Let's Get Moving...

Get Moving…

Whether you’re inside or outside in your garden, try these fun ideas to keep your mind and body busy!

>> I want to get some FRESH AIR FUN…

Getting YUMMY With it...

Getting YUMMY
With it…

With a different recipe or foody suggestion for each issue, there’s no need to get food bored!

>> Yummy, yummy, get in my tummy!

Our TOP Five...


A pick of five top items for this issue, ready for you to delve into…

>> Show me the TOP five items now!

Competition Time!


Why not enter our themed competition? You could win a Treasure Trails gift voucher in preparation for when we can all get back out there!

>> Don’t leave me out – I want to win!

Puzzle Time...


Exercise your mind as well as your body with our selection of quizzes!

>> Stretch my mind please…

Inspirational People – For Inspirational Times:

Joan and Patrick Laurance

TT Strange Times - A Staycation Summer - Joan and Patrick Laurance - image copyright of Family Holiday Association - https://www.familyholidayassociation.org.uk/

Family Holiday Association founders Joan and Patrick Laurance

For this seventh edition of TTST we are honouring two people whose names and work are probably not very widely-known, but who, through their selflessness and commitment to their cause, made an enormous difference to the lives of nearly 200,000 people.
Although many of us are fortunate enough to be able to take annual holidays, not everyone is as lucky, and for this reason a national charity which has been running for 45 years was born.

In 1975 North London couple Joan and Patrick Laurance desperately needed a break. Pat had been made redundant, they had suffered the loss of their three-month old baby, and had another daughter in poor health, but were unable to afford to go away. They and their daughter were invited to stay at a friend’s seaside home in Essex whilst the friend was himself away from home.

TT Strange Times - A Staycation Summer - Joan and Patrick Laurance stayed at Southend-on-Sea and an idea was born...

The break was just what the family needed and back at home the couple felt refreshed. They decided then to do what they could to help other families in similar situations.

Pat was a local councillor and donated his expenses towards the launch of the new charity. He asked his fellow councillors to do the same and most agreed. According to Joan, “Pat could talk a cat into having puppies,”.

Pat and Joan also contacted friends and relatives to ask if they would contribute £50, or whatever they could afford. Joan also wrote to anyone else she could think of to ask for help.

Before long, the couple had the money they needed, and the Family Holiday Association had become registered as a national charity.
The next step was to write to their local social services department to ask if they knew of any families who might benefit from a holiday.

Joan and Patrick decided that for a family to be awarded a holiday, the family needed to be under stress and not to have had a holiday for three years. The couple were particularly keen that children should be able to see the seaside, as they had done.

TT Strange Times - A Staycation Summer - the couple were particularly keen for children to experience the seaside, as they had done themselves many years previously.

Over the last 45 years the Family Holiday Association has helped nearly 200,000 people in over 52,000 families to get a vital break.

In addition to his work for the FHA Pat worked as a Samaritan volunteer, refereed youth football into his 80s and jointly ran an elderly people’s club. He continued to play tennis and table tennis up to the time of his death in 2008 and was a keen follower of Southend United and Essex County Cricket Club.

Aside from the FHA, Joan was involved in numerous other community activities, including serving on the former Hampstead community health council in north London. She was also a long-serving volunteer with Samaritans and the British Red Cross, and for many years helped crew a tea trolley on the wards of the Royal Free hospital in Hampstead. She was awarded a British Empire Medal in 1986 and passed away in 2019.

This extraordinary couple founded the charity on the belief that holidays are a lifeline, not a luxury, and this is a key principle that survives to this day.

Let’s Get Moving:

Time for some Physical Activities!

TT Strange Times - A Staycation Summer - Trust us -there's nothing better for exploring your chosen summer staycation destination than a Treasure Trail!

Okay, so we may be slightly biased, but we think getting out and about on a Treasure Trail is one of the best things you can do on your staycation!

As you may know, there are currently well over 1,000 Trails available and with locations across the UK there is sure to be one (or more!) near your home/holiday destination

Of course, you could just use our search function to find a Trail, but we thought we would use this edition of TT Strange Times to showcase some of the more quirky Trails in our catalogue; the ones with extra-special themes or backstories. But don’t despair if one of the ones we are showcasing this time isn’t near you! There are also the coastal path Trails, if you are looking for something slightly different…

Whichever Trail you choose, please remember social distancing if your fellow Trailers don’t share your household!

To read more about our quirky Trails, and to locate your nearest one, please click on the link below.

» Quirky Treasure Trails perfect for these “Strange Times”

TT Strange Times - A Staycation Summer - Bust out your inner Scully or Mulder - you have the opportunity to go UFO hunting in Wiltshire with a Treasure Trail!

Getting YUMMY With It…

Bringing the Holiday Food Home!

TT Strange Times - A Staycation Summer - Yum! A traditionally pan-cooked paella...

Just because you are not heading abroad on holiday, it doesn’t mean you can’t try the sort of food you would be eating there.

And whilst you could, of course, go out and get a takeaway, or visit a restaurants for the first time in months (you are on holiday, after all) a fun alternative is to re-create at home the sort of dishes you could be eating if you were far away from these shores.


As well as cooking (or collecting) the food, why not really enter into the spirit by decorating your dining room (we don’t necessarily mean with paint or wallpaper!), or dressing up, to create an authentic holiday dining experience.

There is an enormous range of recipe ideas online, but we have had a quick trip around the world to select some of our favourite dishes; see our suggestions below:

Dauphinoise Potatoes

Although theoretically a side dish, we see no good reason why you can’t consider this your main dish, served with a salad or fresh vegetables. Whether you’re a vegetarian or just don’t fancy meat tonight this French dish of deliciousness with its caramelised topping and creamy, cheesey, garlicky potato interior will just hit the spot every time. It’s a firm favourite in our house!


Beef Stifado

If you are a meat eater, I can really recommend this beef stew – it’s especially delicious served with the potato dauphinoise!

We first discovered this dish when we lived in Cyprus for a couple of years many years ago and it has been a firm favourite ever since for the combination of tender beef, the rich tomato and wine sauce and the sweet shallots. You need to prepare it in advance as it cooks for quite a while, but it’s well worth the wait!



A work trip to Valencia in Spain a few years ago introduced me to the delights of authentic paella, cooked traditionally in an enormous flat pan over an open fire, fuelled by orange and pine branches along with pine cones. The dish is infused by a wonderful smokey flavour. The restaurant was in a small, back-street courtyard, and I can still conjure up the atmosphere created by the smells, the lights etc.

Below is a recipe for a traditional Valencian paella. Feel free to modify it if you don’t really fancy the rabbit or snails… And if you don’t eat meat, take the chicken out too.


Jerk Chicken

A few years ago I was lucky enough to spend a holiday in Jamaica, to celebrate a ‘big’ birthday – I am not saying which one!

Full disclosure here, I am not a fan of spicy food, but I am assured by my holiday companions that jerk chicken is absolutely delicious and a popular addition to a summer barbecue!


Tiramisu Ice Cream Cake

If, like me, you can’t see the point of a meal without dessert, you are going to love this recipe. Perfect for a summer meal, and especially when we are just becoming able to have friends or family over again, this delicious twist on a perennial favourite, tiramisu (meaning ‘pick me up’ or ‘cheer me up’ in Italian) will delight your guests. Recipes named ‘tiramisu’ are unknown in cookbooks before the 1960, but interest in tiramisu in the United States increased in 1993 when Tom Hanks’ protagonist in the comedy Sleepless in Seattle heard of it only as a mysterious thing that modern women loved…

This woman loves it too!


Our TOP Five…

Staycation Activities

So many attractions and entertainment possibilities come with a hefty price tag now!

Well we all love a bargain, and you can’t get a better bargain than completely free!

TT Strange Times - A Staycation Summer - Why not get out and draw while on a camping trip?
Our TOP Five for this edition of TTST is therefore focused on our top five FREE things to do whilst on your staycation in the UK!
Climb a Mountain!
TT Strange Times - A Staycation Summer - Snowdonia - complete with a rather large rock just waiting to be climbed!

Many years ago, I climbed to the top of Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa in Welsh) in North Wales, which is 1,085 metres (3,560 ft) above sea level, with my husband and teenage sons.

I was far and away the least fit person in my family, and I did need a lot of encouragement on occasions when I was finding it hard-going, but the view at the top, and the sense of achievement for having made it, were well worth the calories and effort expended!

I was really proud of myself, and my super-fit companions were proud of me too.

Looking back at our photos from that day still makes me smile.

Go Camping!
TT Strange Times - A Staycation Summer - Camping can be a fun, free activity if you find the right spot!

My Snowdon adventure took place during a very enjoyable camping holiday in North Wales.

We were blessed with great weather and had a lovely time. Of course, it might not be possible for you to get to a campsite, but what’s to stop you camping in your back garden?

The biggest joy of camping, in my opinion, is the fun time with your fellow campers. Telling stories by torchlight, drinking hot chocolate, being warm, dry and cosy in your sleeping bag when you can hear the patter of rain on the tent roof, cooking your own breakfast in the morning – these are all wonderful shared experiences and create amazing memories.

And if you do end up camping in the back garden, you are nice and handy for a loo break or a snack in the night!

Head to the Beach!
TT Strange Times - A Staycation Summer - A trip to the beach - note the season accurate depiction of the British Summer.

Did you know that the UK has 7,800 miles of coastline?

Or that the furthest away from the sea you can get in the UK is a mere 70 miles?

So, what’s stopping you?

Dust off that bucket and spade, unearth the windbreak, pack up your picnic and off you go! We would strongly recommend, however, that you avoid the more ‘obvious’ beach destinations, which can often be unpleasantly overcrowded. Or maybe you could just head down late afternoon/early evening, when the majority of beachgoers are heading for home.

Whilst you’re there, if sunbathing’s not your thing – or if there is no sun to bathe in – may we recommend a ‘beach art’ competition?

Agree a theme, and teams then collect whatever you can find around you to create your picture within the time allowed. Then enlist the help of a friendly passer-by to act as your judge.

Film Day!
TT Strange Times - A Staycation Summer - Have a marathon Star Wars movie day. Kylo Ren, though hellbent on galactic destruction, still has time for a quick chat and to check out this little girl's notes. Maybe they are detailed plans for a next generation Death Star?

Okay, so you may feel as though you have watched enough TV during recent times, but during inclement weather (not entirely impossible in the UK in summer!) why not indulge in a themed film day?

When my sons were younger, they and my husband would, once a year, have a ‘Star Wars’ or ‘Lord of the Rings’ day.

Such days are not for the faint-hearted, given how many films there are in each of these series, and how long some of them are,  but with prior-preparation (lots of snacks) and commitment to the cause (wearing comfy clothes) they made it through.

Dyed-in-the-wool fans can take it a step further and dress up as characters from the films

So, go on, dig out those DVDs and enjoy!

Visit a Museum!
TT Strange Times - A Staycation Summer - Museums - truly fascinating places where you can lose hours very easily...

Some people tend to view museums as boring places.

To that we say, “You just haven’t met the right museum yet!”.

We are extremely fortunate in the UK to have such a wide range of museums to visit – and so many are free of charge! And after months of lockdown the news of the re-opening of museums was very welcome – almost as welcome as being able to get our hair cut again!

So, we say, if you fancy doing something a bit different during your staycation, check out the free museums in your area.

We promise you’ll find (out) something that may well surprise you!

Our Survey Says…

Those are our top five ideas for free things to do on staycation, but we’d love to hear yours too. Leave a comment or tag us on social media using #OurSurveySays to let us know your go-to free activity.

Competition Time!

The Cryptic UK Location Spotter Wordsearch

TT Strange Times - A Staycation Summer - Time to flex that brain muscle again and be in with a chance to win a Treasure Trails gift voucher!

For this edition’s competition we have The Cryptic UK Location Spotter Wordsearch.

Let’s see how well you can identify some UK locations from the cryptic clues provided!

>> Click here to download The Cryptic UK Location Spotter Wordsearch

Easy right? So, once you’ve got your final answer, send send it to us using the Entry Form below and include the hashtag “#UKCryptic“.

From all entries received, a winner will be chosen who will receive a Treasure Trails gift voucher!

Closing date for entry was midday, Friday 17th July 2020.


This competition is now closed.

Congratulations to Nigel James who was picked from all correct answers to receive a Treasure Trails gift voucher!

The answer was IRONBRIDGE.

The Clue was ‘Remove the creases from this card game for four people’.

Puzzle Time…

Time to Switch Thinking Cap Mode to ON!

If you are looking for some indoor entertainment, we are pleased to present our latest Virtual Trail.

They are nearly 200 years old, large, green, and regularly used by 37 million people.

What are they?

The 27,000 city parks which feature all over the UK!

TT Strange Times - A Staycation Summer - Escape to the green space to let your mind breathe!

Although they were once seen as a radical and revolutionary proposition, they are now part and parcel of our towns and cities. The events of recent months have shown how essential our town and city parks are to people’s wellbeing – especially people without access to their own gardens.

They are also great places for us Trail writers to set clues!

Several parks may claim to be the UK’s first urban park (or what we would today consider as one) but a leading contender is Derby Arboretum, which opened its gates in 1840 and is often described as “Britain’s first public park”. Although green spaces and common lands had existed previously, as had private parkland and gardens, the park in Derby was the first to be deliberately planned as a place of public recreation in an urban setting. This city park still has many of its original Victorian ornaments and structure but has also been updated with playground and sports facilities. It is also said to have inspired the design of Central Park in New York in 1859.

So you now have the opportunity to go on a virtual visit to five popular public parks in the UK, solve the clues and get the code which is the solution. 

Click HERE or on the image opposite to download the Virtual Trail – and good luck.

(Stuck? don’t worry, the answers can be found here!)

TT Strange Times - A Staycation Summer - Time to NOT get out and explore those beautiful open green urban spaces with our latest Virtual Trail!