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Escape, ease off, and explore this summer!

17th July 2019

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The summer break is upon us at last!

So, as we studiously ignore the left over paperwork and leave behind the classroom, we can begin to contemplate what to do to fill our free hours. Sleep, obviously. Then maybe tidy up that pile of Christmas decorations that is still in the corner, then a nap, followed by a nice meal out (where you can stay up a bit later as there is no school!)

Here at Your Favourite Teacher, we’re looking forward to some well deserved R&R but after about a week, a sense of restlessness has been known to set in; after all, we haven’t stopped since September. So instead of dusting the loft space, or any of the other menial tasks to procrastinate and pass the time, we started to investigate what activities are available for teachers to enjoy over the summer break that are free, cheap or discounted.

Surprisingly, there are very few establishments that offer discounts directly to teachers if you just turn up with proof of your employment, such as an ID. This is very different to the US model, where multitudes of restaurants and retail shops will grant a discount in this way. However, there are many online sites that do cater for teachers so that they can take advantage of discounts in high street shops and online. For example, Discounts for Teachers, Teacher Perks and PS Discounts are all free to join and boast of dozens of opportunities for saving money in shops and on other useful expenses like insurance and mobile phone bills. For those with itchy feet who want to see the world, ITIC offer discounts on flights and holidays when booked with with STA Travel. However, they charge £12 per year for this service, which is still a bargain at £1 a month.

Less surprisingly, many of the summer activities are catered towards entertaining children and young people during the break. However, what about you? If you have kids, consider finding a loving relative or understanding friend to pass them off to and have some well deserved “me” time. If you are a free agent looking to sofa surf for the majority of the break and are only looking for a few day trips to break up your Netflix binge watching, then it’s good to remember that a lot of the city museums and art galleries have free entry and you only pay for specific exhibitions. Here are a few grown up attractions happening over the break, which are free or cheap, although there is much much more to explore!

Manchester:

The remembrance festival of the Peterloo massacre is prominent this year in both Manchester and London. There are some excellent exhibitions and talks all around the Manchester area, including “Disrupt? Peterloo and Protest” at the People’s History Museum. Manchester Metropolitan Museum also has a special exhibition of John Ruskin named “Devil’s Darkness”. It celebrates the 200 years since his birth and showcases his art, architecture and paintings which influenced design and education.

For those seeking a more relaxed summer vibe, the beach for the “Great Northern Summer” is once again at the Great Northern Warehouse where you can pull up a chair and enjoy the sun and sand. The 1st to 4th August has a Summer Sound Clash Music Festival at the Turtle Bay Restaurant, where they offer four days of Reggae, food and drinks. The Grub Food Festival is on at Fairfield Social Club until 31st December, also offering craft beers and music.

Leeds:

For you fashionistas, Abbey House Museum is running an exhibition on changes in Children’s fashion from the Victorian period named “He/She/They?”and Lothurton Museum are running one on “Fashion Forward”, which examines contemporary catwalk design. The “Fashion Forward” exhibition, however, is a cost of £7.50 but is well worth the trip.

Other interesting tours are at Temple Newsam, which gives a full tour of the cellars and history of the last 500 years. The house itself also has exhibitions on the art and artefacts in the house and they have also put together a “Fantastical Beasts” walk, where guests can spend their visit searching for the mythological creatures featured in the Harry Potter stories in the artwork and other objects around the house.

Leeds Discovery Centre offers a behind the scenes talk, where visitors can view and learn about the unusual and rare objects on display at the centre. Kirkstall Abbey are also hosting an outdoor market, where local producers of food, jewellery and fashion have stalls ready for you to explore. Why not pop down and treat yourself?

Birmingham:

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery are exploring the diversity that makes up the city this summer, including looking at issues conflict and equally community support, in their exhibition “Who is Birmingham?”. The museum also looks at body image in “Within & Without”, with some focus on how this issue is reflected in art and the media and the wider impact on society.

Lapworth Museum of Geology is also a great day out, for those with a curiosity for fossils and extreme natural phenomenon, like volcanoes. They have state of the art galleries and lots of interactive exhibits to fire up your interest.

For those who like a different kind of rocking out, the Midlands Arts Centre has a series of exhibitions centred around Metal Music, with specific focus on Black Sabbath. The Home of Metal pieces include clothing worn by the band and other memorabilia from their UK and global tours. The exhibition is a reflection of the dedication of Sabbath fans and is a must see this summer.

London:

The Science Museum is a great day out for adults and kids. They have dozens of fantastic exhibitions this summer, including “Driverless: Who is in Control?”, exploring cars that don’t need drivers and the integration of A.I, and the new exhibit “Top Secret”, examining codes, ciphers and code breaking.

The V&A has an exhibit showcasing Beatrix Potter’s art, with enchanting pieces and anecdotes about the author on display. Mike Nelson’s sculptures, “Asset Strippers” has also been highlighted as a must see this summer and is on display at the Tate Britain. Here, he has transformed giant machine parts from all walks of industry to create more fragile pieces, showcasing a bygone era of industry.

For those of you who love a mystery, or enjoy solving one, the Wellcome Museum has an exhibition examining our fascination with magic, aptly titled “Smoke and Mirrors”.

The Capital hosts lots of outdoor markets, such as Leddenhall, Spitalfields and Borough, for interesting places to eat and drink this summer. The Royal Parks are gorgeous in bloom and they cost nothing, so you can grab a book and a blanket and spend your day by the fountains or even searching for the secret garden in Regents Park?

Bristol:

The city views are spectacular in summer, so finding things to do shouldn’t be too difficult. The classics include visiting the SS Great Britain, although this is not free. However, a 5% discount can be made by booking tickets in advance online. Some choices this year include seeing Banksy’s “Devolved Parliament” at the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery. For those who love a bit of history and ancestry, the Bristol Archives have a display of 10 Centuries of records for the public to view and see the activities of their ancestors that travelled through the city.

Honestly, there are so many things to do that we couldn’t possibly pack them into one short blog. As with all days out, we recommend you visit the website before you travel to check that it is everything you hope for. Many of the train companies offer 2-4-1 offers on attractions if you pay for your rail ticket and download the voucher from the website in advance. There are some great things to do that will rejuvenate you for the autumn term.

The summer is yours to explore, so get outside, eat, drink, be merry! It need not cost you your hard earned cash and will get you out into the sunshine. September will be here before you know it so make some excellent memories to get you through until next summer. Make the most of your time off and have fun! From all of us here at Your Favourite Teacher, enjoy your summer break.