Monday, 4 November 2013

Rain without the wallet pain

On Saturday, our original idea was to go to Roslin Glen to see the autumn trees. But by the time we had packed bags and got coats and shoes on, the rain was falling steadily. So there we were in the car, all dressed up and nowhere to go. To add to our conundrum, we also knew that we didn’t want to spend too much money, which is tricky on a rainy day when you have little ones to entertain.

Because we were heading in a westerly direction (my husband saying, ‘Where shall we go, then?’ and me frantically leafing through my edition of Edinburgh for Under Fives for ideas) we decided to pop to EICA at Ratho. I’d heard good things about the Rocktots playroom and knew it was open at weekends.

There was ample parking, which was a great start, and lots of people milling about with canoes which interested my three year old daughter. Then when we got inside, the view down to the climbing walls from the café was incredible, like something from the Matrix. My daughter declared that she wanted to climb the walls like that, so we headed quickly towards the playroom before the idea took hold in her head.

Rocktots is great, with safe little areas for babies, all sorts of toys for toddlers and a bouncy castle. There is a café area where you can station yourself, and water is provided for free. We spent a happy 90 minutes there, then got in the car unsure of our next destination. We’d spent a fiver on playroom fees and didn’t want to spend too much more. My husband suggested Dobbies Garden World at Lasswade.

The great thing about Dobbies (apart from the brilliant, child-friendly café with its fantastic cakes – which were on a 2-for-1 offer!) is that you can spend a lot of time there with little ones, for free. We spent ages looking at the fish in the pet area, then at the guinea pigs and rabbits and budgies. But my daughter was absolutely fascinated by a model dinosaur in one of the displays that roared at passers-by. There was a model band made up of a walrus, a rhino, a hippo and a giraffe. Christmas displays were up so there were plenty of twinkly lights, which interested the baby. We had a lovely time just wandering around and looking at things. I even resisted the temptation to pop to the new branch of Lakeland – result. By the time we got out it was dark and time to head home for tea, bath and bed.

This is just one way to pass a really pleasant rainy day in and around Edinburgh with minimal damage to the bank balance. You could also go to the National Museum of Scotland, a gallery or a library – the new Drumbrae Library is great place to spend time. The Penicuik Centre is highly recommended by our researchers too.

Have you got any favourite, cheap, rainy day activities? Let me know at and your ideas could appear in the next edition of the book.

Until next time, keep dry!