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Hints & Tips

Alison Cork | How to Enjoy the Great Outdoors With Your Kids This Summer

I try to encourage my children to spend their holidays exploring the great outdoors rather than remaining glued to the TV. Whether you have a lovely sprawling garden or even just a little bit of space, there’s no need to travel far for fun. Here are some of my favourite summer garden activities that will keep your kids entertained and out of trouble!

Build a hutAlison Cork | Build a hut with kids

This fun game is perfect for the whole family and will really tap into your children’s creative genius. Simply pull out all your old sheets, blankets and cushions and have a great time building a hut where you can enjoy a picnic or simply relax.

Create natural art

Keep your little ones amused whilst teaching them about the wonders of nature; ask them to collect everything and anything from leaves and twigs to stones and feathers and make a beautiful collage picture. Be sure to take a snap of their masterpieces once they’re finished!

Go on a treasure hunt

Your children will be busy playing detective with this exciting game. Write up a list geared towards the age and level of garden knowledge of the children playing, naming a variety of items, plants and flowers to find. Not only will they love the challenge of having to tick each item off the list, but will also learn a thing or two about the treasures of nature.

Get cooking

The Barbecook Joya Grill is perfect for teaching children how to cook; its ceramic burner box is filled with water which never overheats and it comes with four bamboo food tongs for turning your food safely.
Alison Cork | Barbecook

But what to cook on the BBQ that children will enjoy? My advice would be to avoid spicy foods which might be a little too hot for such young palates, and to stick to safer options. Here are a few suggestions:

Main Course

Children do tend to get bored quickly, so opt for an ingredient like tuna steak which takes minimal time to cook, is delicious and healthy. Or try king prawns on a skewer, marinated in lemon and garlic. Simple and tasty!

On the side

Herb hummus with roasted garlic

The combination of garlic and thyme in this dip is heavenly, and the rich creamy texture goes brilliantly with the vegetable sticks. Serve carrots with their green tops still on, baby corn, radishes and celery in a little plant pot for a bit of fun.

What you need:

  • 2 whole bulbs of garlic
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp tahini or peanut butter
  • Sea salt and pepper for seasoning
  • Sumac powder and extra olive oil for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  2. Remove extra papery skin off of garlic bulbs and slice the tops off to expose the flesh.
  3. Place the bulbs in a small dish, drizzle with 2 tbsp of olive oil and lay the thyme on top.
  4. Cover with aluminium foil and roast for 45 minutes or until soft. Open foil and leave to cool until safe to handle.
  5. Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their papery skin then transfer cloves to a food processor. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini and salt and puree until smooth. Sprinkle sumac on top and add a drizzle of olive oil if desired.


My all-time favourite dessert at a BBQ is a warmed banana. Whilst you eat your main course and while the BBQ is cooling down, pop some bananas wrapped in tin foil on the grill, turning them once or twice. When you unwrap the little parcel, you will find that it has gone slightly gooey. Serve with some toffee sauce or ice cream if you’re feeling a little naughty. Another way to encourage your children to eat more fruit is by creating a fruit kebab. Apples, pineapple, strawberries and a whole host of other fruits work well placed on a skewer and grilled on the BBQ for just 30 seconds. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon or a dollop of honey for extra sweetness.

For more recipes and inspiration, visit

Alison Cork

Alison Cork

Community User

Alison Cork is a Home Expert and TV Presenter. She was a regular contributor to 60 Minute Makeover and appeared on ITV's This Morning. She is the author of Special Occasions and The Streetwise Guide To Renovating Your Home