Just over 15 months ago I used to be a London Cheapskate and ran a website about cheap and cheerful (or indeed free) things to do in London. Then I was a Rugby downsizer, as my income took a hit as soon as I left London and started to work from home. Now I'm back to Cheapskate status, my income is still low (thanks a bunch credit crunch), but I'm hoping that living in a city will unlock some monetary opportunities.
But I disgress, I'm posting to share a very satisfying afternoon that cost me nothing, except leg power. I strapped my daughter in her stroller and pushed all the way to St Giles Church in Castle Street and we visited the Festival of Trees (click here for details), which is free, although I gave Michela some coins to put in the donation box. The trees, decked by local organisations are magical - Michela loved the one where most of the decorations are knitted, including a lovely nativity at its feet.
Then we crossed the road to visit Kettle's Yard's house and gallery. These are both free, but do visit their site before you go as they have unusual opening hours. The house is wonderful, full of art, with the books and objects of the previous owner in display. You cannot touch the objects but you can sit on the wonderful chairs and banquettes throughout. If you go with a small child, the house has lots of steps, so it's best if she/he is in a sling or if she/he can walk.
The gallery has changing exhibitions and they often have free events such as concerts and talks.
From there we walked into the centre, it's a lovely stroll and at one point you walk on a Bridge over the Cam and can stop to watch the slow progress of the punts.
At the Lion Yard shopping centre, we visited the newly refurbished library, which has a great children's section. Michela sat at a tiny table for a while and started drawing with the crayons, played with the fittings (there is a cute train with wagons full of books and some ducks made of fabric) then I read her a few books.
On the way back she fell asleep, exhausted, no doubt by all the stimulation. What a lovely day and it didn't cost a penny (except donation to the church, which is optional)!