So far my prejudices have been confirmed. You do not have to spend money to have fun. My proof was given on our French holiday. The Pickle is a little hedgehog obsessed - she has never met one but they seem totemic for her - as she says on school mornings when she is struggling to get up 'Don't you know that I am a hedgehog and hedgehogs are nocturnal?'.
You imagine my delight when I discovered 'Nigloland' a hedgehog themed park close to where we were staying. What could be a more perfect birthday treat? We drove just over an hour and sure it was a very impressive theme park. Unlike Disneyland Paris the food is even edible and the marketing is coy enough that every step is not an ingenuity test in child distraction. The Pickle was impressed by the Hedgehog ride we went around twice in succession.
(as I was trying to save Dino boy from extinction my hands were full, no images exist so here is one from http://www.snegidhi.com/2010/108-13-07/dirty_day_06.jpg)
Was this of the highlight of the holiday? Is this the day that the Pickle keeps on chatting about? No not that, nor even the visit to the snail farm but a picnic in the Forrest. We then found a deep puddle and carefully scooped up water and ferried it across a clearing to a mildly dried up mud pit. On hour or so of intense concentration and yippee! Mud, mud, glorious mud! Initially mud oozed between our toes then as I retired from the fray the mud started to fly. I remember my exorbitant mineral mud spa treatments, but the Pickle was doing one DIY, followed by full on mud angels.
Later we walked down the hill, through the vineyards back to the car, while the muddy children came along with a friend. Our fragrant dusk walk was shattered by a pungent pong, a couple of seconds later we hear the crunch of tyres and we saw the car complete with muddy girls. Yes, it stunk that much. Next game, a shower than a bath brimming with bubbles.
Back from planet holiday and our new skates arrived. Skates:10m v boxes: hours of fun - game Olympics won by the boxes as they are currently a row boat and submarine. Happy families :)