March Photo Challenge Day 5: Cornwall!

Cornwall

Happy St Piran’s Day Cornish people! I was briefly planning to try my hand at baking home cooked Cornish pasties to photograph for the occasion but then I realised that I was being ridiculously ambitious when I only had a two hour window in which to fit all my weekly chores and there was no way that I could fit in such a task (even with readyroll pastry!). So here instead is a picture of all the gang on Crooklets Beach in Bude taken on our holiday there last October.

#SnapHappyBritMums #MarchPhotoChallenge

An Autumnal getaway…

R, J & T on Crooklets

Its become a bit of a tradition within our family to take a little break around about the first week of October to celebrate the hubster’s birthday. Before we had the kids it was Portugal and Tenerife but this year abroad was not an option, so I undertook a little websearch to see if anything UK-based grabbed my interest. My main criteria was that wherever it be, it should be geared towards small children so I was thrilled to discover lots of wonderful reviews for Court Farm Holidays in North Cornwall. The cottages themselves are extremely child-friendly, with all the facilities you could hope for, including books and toys on request. Outside there are lots of ride-ons and play equipment and there are regular morning animal feedings down in the nextdoor field where there are two pigs, an alpaca, plus sheep, goats and chickens (although admittedly I couldn’t get JJ interested in going through the gate – the pigs were quite big and they would have scared me at that age too!). The complex also has a heated ‘indoor’ pool with a retractable cover for the summer. I was a bit disappointed in the pool experience though as JJ got a bit out of his depth straight away and lost confidence, whilst EJ experienced his first time in the water and didn’t like being in his inflatable ring at all so I had to try and swim a bit with him clinging onto me like a little cuddly (slightly concerned) limpet.

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When we first arrived JJ was feeling a bit poorly and our first outing – to the Tamar Otter Sanctuary – was not as enjoyable as it could have been for this reason. He actually wanted to go back to the car and sleep rather than look around and I consequently missed a fair bit of what it had to offer although hubster took EJ off on the woodland walk and took some good photos of the wallabies and fallow deer that also live there.

It would seem that JJ’s fever then broke and he perked up on Day 2 when we decided on a trip to Padstow. Everyone knows Padstow is Rick Steinville so I was hoping for a sampling of his fare (the cheaper end of the scale – fish and chips!) but we managed to walk straight past the back of his restaurant and ended up in town proper (which, it has to be said, struck me as extremely dog-friendly – more dogs than kids!) and incredibly busy considering it was a Monday in October. We did have fish and chips which was nothing special, JJ persuaded me to buy him a fishing net on a stick and I then managed to visit the Chough Bakery, right on the quayside, which looked very familiar (turns out it featured in one of those Alex Polizzi business make-over programmes on the BBC a while back). I knew I wanted an authentic Cornish Pasty and had been disappointed with what I’d received elsewhere but this was the real deal. I ate it hours later for tea back at the cottage and it was delicious! Apparently they put a blob of Cornish clotted cream in the pastry which is their USP and it works as both the pastry and filling could not be faulted. Then I was gutted that I hadn’t bought more while I’d had the chance! I also had a delicious orange marscarpone ice cream in Padstow – this was the best food of the week by far so Padstow did live up to its foodie reputation in the end.

On Day 3 it was the hubster’s birthday. Unfortunately this was the only day of the week that it rained. JJ wanted to ride on a steam train (rapidly becoming a UK holiday tradition!) so we began the drive to Bodmin but looking at our leaflets we changed our minds and opted for the Lappa Valley Railway (not far from Newquay) which looked more child-friendly being more of an amusement park with three miniature trains to ride on plus other attractions. This turned out to be a bad idea. The other attractions were all outdoors (all bar one building – essentially a shed made to look a bit like a train – open to the elements at both ends with a few soft play cushions and ride ons for babies), two of the three trains were open air. It was raining. We’d paid over £30 so were a bit gutted overall but we made up for a bad start to the day by going back to the cottage (via the Golden Arches! What plebs!) and then into Bude town in the afternoon for a game of bowling.

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Day 4 was our best day by far. Everyone was feeling good, the sun was shining and we discovered The Big Sheep! This is a kind of children’s farm cum amusement park with bumpy tractor safari, ride on piggies (pulled by another tractor), Indian Running Duck show (they’re herded through a series of amusing obstacles by a sheepdog), sheep shearing, lamb feeding and sheep racing (with betting!). There is also a great indoor playzone there which both the boys loved – EJ was able to get out of his shackles and run about and JJ discovered two slides there which will make every other slide he ever comes across fade into insignificance in comparison – it was extreme sliding! In fact The Big Sheep was so good we took them up on their half-price offer and went back on our last day too!

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The other notable thing we did was go down to Crooklets Beach in Bude. It has to be said that the beaches in Cornwall are dramatic and beautiful and, with the tide out, rock pools emerged in the middle of a huge expanse of golden sand. This was the point at which I began to realise that, despite the use of a baby carrying rucksack which we’d hired from the cottages, the whole beach/rockpooling holiday experience is clearly one which shall have to wait for a later date. It just doesn’t work with a baby in tow although JJ would have loved to do a bit more of it. The only thing we actually caught was a little crab. Which it turns out was already dead!

On our last night we visited a pub which we had tried to dine at on our first night but been turned away from due to it being full. That time we’d ended up at a much less well frequented place which served decidedly mediocre food (a home-cooked or ready meal would have better to be honest!). This time round we remembered to book a table for the first place and had a much better meal. Unfortunately, it was not until we were halfway home on the A303 the following day that we realised we’d left EJ’s buggy in the pub! After initial panic we had a bit of a laugh about it and I suggested we have a T-shirt printed up for EJ saying “I left my wheels in Bude!”.

Overall a very successful family holiday, but I’m looking forward to returning to Cornwall when the boys are a little bit bigger so we can all let loose on the beach!

What memories are made of?

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In September 2010 JJ turned one and the hubster and I got married. The year before we had visited the Isle of Wight with my family (I was about 6 months pregnant at the time) but we hadn’t been anywhere abroad since October 2008 so we took him to Menorca with us for our “honeymoon”. When JJ was about 20 months old I went to a holiday village in the New Forest with him & my mum for a week in June (it rained. Heavily). The hubster wasn’t involved in that one as he claimed it wasn’t worth trying to go on holiday with a toddler as it would be too much hard work. It was a lot of hard work but it was still a holiday. Last year I went away with my family to Devon (see this post) when JJ was nearly three and EJ was five weeks old). Hubster didn’t make that one either as he was involved in stuff to do with the Olympics (professionally – not as an Olympian!).

This year I took the boys to the Isle of Wight with my mum and dad (hubster didn’t get time off work but came down for the tail end of the week). Now we are finally booked in for our first proper “family” holiday – a week in a lovely toddler-friendly cottage in Bude, North Cornwall in October. In considering this it has occurred to me that maybe this is a bit of a frivolous way to spend our money (which is being squeezed every day by austerity measures within the – public serving – organisation for which we both work [me part-time]). Then I realised that, for me, some of my most vivid, happy memories are of holidays. I guess that stands to reason. I tried to think of other great memories from my life. The things that immediately spring to mind are either parties or holidays. Some of my time at College and University.

Holiday highlights of my life (other than those fab childhood memories I have covered in this post and this one) have been an amazing trip to South Africa when I was 20 to stay initially in Cape Town with my Aunt & Uncle & cousins (who were living out there) and then travelling with them across the country, driving the ‘Garden Route’ and going on Safari for three days.

I re-visited Cape Town twice since that time – once on the honeymoon after my first marriage (more on that another day!), and once when one of my best friends won a trip for herself and 5 friends to be flown out by BA and stay there in a four star hotel for a week – incredible luxury!!
The other holiday I consider to be one of a “lifetime” was my trip to Australia for five weeks in 2005. I was between partners and before kids, between jobs but had some spare cash so I opted for a backpacker style trip up the East Coast with Trek Australia from Sydney to Cairns. This included a sailing boat tour round the stunning Whitsunday Islands, a boat trip out to the Great Barrier Reef for snorkelling, white water rafting on the Tully river, a bumpy landrover drive round sandy Fraser Island and a tandem parachute jump from 14000 feet over Mission Beach (if you’re going to do it anywhere, do it there!). I made some lovely friends on the trip and Jack Johnson formed the soundtrack to the adventure (how very ‘mid-noughties’!).

skydiving mission beach

I know holidays won’t be like that any more now I have kids. But a whole new chapter of holidays has opened up and I am extremely keen to have holidays which we can all enjoy.

So is it worth the money? As part of the rich fabric of our lives it can only be a resounding yes!