Shropshire Star

Money Saving Amy: Following footsteps of Harry Potter in the forest

Use online vouchers for cheap breaks and books, says expert Amy Grayland.

The Forest of Dean

Hello everyone. This week I’ve got a fab freebie for you, plus a nice break away in a magical forest.

And, with World Book Day looming, I have some advice on how to get a free book for your little one and how to get through the dreaded fancy dress day at school without having to pay a small fortune.

A bargain break

Last week I headed off on a weekend ‘staycation’ to Whitemead Forest Park in the Forest of Dean.

It is a wonderful place to visit and gets an honourable mention in the Harry Potter books. JK Rowling was brought up in the region and used to enjoy trips there herself, so when Harry and co seek to escape the clutches of Dumbledore, she sends them camping in the woods.

We had no magic tent at hand, but still stayed in a very comfortable glamping pod, complete with double bed, sofa bed, kitchen area and bathroom. Plus this Friday to Sunday included a family crazy golf pass, a marshmallow toasting kit and access to the swimming pool and spa, plus free kids evening entertainment.

You may assume this cost hundreds, as many locations like this would. But this only cost £159. I couldn’t quite believe it myself bagging a bargain that was this good.

This was through the Wowcher website. This weekend offer has now sold out but you can still bag yourself a one or two-night midweek glamping pod with pool and spa access included for only £44.10 for one night for two people, or £84 for two nights for up to four people!

This is a very good bargain if you want a peaceful break in the forest. The site is beautifully clean, with lots of surrounding forest walks and two on site parks for children along with a restaurant and bar and entertainment venue.

Wowcher also have a wide range of other brilliant mini breaks on offer at incredible prices, so take a look and try to book yourself a treat.

My top tips are to always double check that you’re getting a bargain, compare the deal with the holiday park/hotel’s direct website. Also go through TopCashback to save even more! You can get one to nine per cent cash back depending on if you are a new or existing customer and how much you spend.


Have you heard of geocaching? If you love being outdoors and getting fresh air then this is a fun, family friendly activity that anyone can do.

Geocaching is an activity hunting for hidden treasures all over the country. The geocaches can range from tiny tubes with a scroll of paper to write your name on, to boxes containing memorable items.

There is an app for geocaching, the app will show you all your local ones and give you a guide to find them, they’ll then be a clue such as “under a tree stump near the path”.

It’s great fun for everyone and we had a fantastic time searching for geocaches in the Forest of Dean. A great free activity to do while on a staycation.

Bag a free book

World book day is coming up on Thursday March 7 and you can head to to download your world book day token to claim your free book. There’s a lovely range to choose from which includes an Elmer the elephant book and a Greg the sausage roll lunchbox hero book.

The titles books are suitable for a wide age range and a fab freebie to get your little ones reading. Some shops will accepted the voucher on the phone and they’ll be able to scan it, some shops will require the printed voucher, so just check the website before heading to store to ensure you can claim your book.

Fancy dress tips

If your little ones' school is celebrating, and you’re worried about where to get a costume from that won’t break the bank, try Vinted or Facebook Market Place for affordable second hand items.

Another lovely idea is buying a simple plain T-shirt from Primark, that would likely be around £1.50 and draw a design on that T-shirt.

Pinterest is great to help you find DIY costumes on a budget ideas, from turning cardboard boxes into wearable costumes, or butterfly wings from cardboard, to showing you how to turn the clothes and accessories you already own into costumes. There’s a book for every story, so you could even stick to using make up for face paint to turn the kids into a simple cat or a dog.

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