Wednesday, 17 August 2016

My favourite family friendly things to do in Cornwall

Since we discovered Coombe Mill a few years go we've been on all our family holidays to Cornwall with one then two boys. It was my dream to holiday in Cornwall for years having spent the odd day there when I was touring the country for work. I stayed in St Austell, Wadebridge and Padstow - all for a day at a time - and I really wanted to visit again and stay longer.

The main reason I like visiting Cornwall is because it's so beautiful and there is so much to see and do. Yes it's a long drive, but we've done it so many times now that the kids are used to it and Hubbie is well practised on the route by now. We pack the car, plug Brown Bear into his tablet and Blue Bear watches DVDs of Paw Patrol and we're off. There is one stop just outside Exeter for lunch and loo breaks and we usually arrive late morning or around lunchtime.

A younger brown bear feeding the animals

Coombe Mill is the perfect holiday destination for our family. Fiona and her lovely family are so welcoming and they really know how to make families with young children happy. The boys have plenty of room to roam, there's outdoor play, indoor soft play, trampolines, den building, a fairy garden, the evening mini train ride and the famous morning feed run with children taking turns to drive the tractor with Farmer Nick. My boys take part in everything and we have stayed in a riverside lodge, a Scandinavian lodge and a cottage on our numerous visits. One visit we stayed in Eden and would take it in turns to see whose windows the llamas were outside each morning - the boys loved it when it was their windows.
Our llama neighbour

We spent Christmas at Coombe Mill a few years ago and it was wonderful and so special with a festive themed train and a house party hosted by Fiona and Nick on Christmas Eve. I can highly recommend it and we even take turns to go to the gym to get away from the kids for a while. This summer we even took advantage of the offer of babysitting and went out for the evening which was a great treat for us as it was the first time we've done gone out by ourselves on holiday. On the basis of that I'm sure we will be willing to do it again in future.

This time we travelled on Ruby 

When we are staying there we have a few favourite activities that we like to do with the kids. The all time big hit is Lappa Valley where you arrive via steam engine (usually Muffin or Zebedee, but this time it was Ruby) and can ride an Intercity 125 and take a ride through the countryside on another steam train. There is a boating lake which is great fun with the kids, crazy golf, a massive playground and this summer a new cafe as well as the cream teas and ice cream we have grown to love having while we're there. The cakes are homemade and the staff are so friendly and helpful. When we visited once and a childrens' entertainer made a balloon sword for Brown Bear and it burst he ran over with a replacement one just before we boarded the train to leave. Lappa is a firm fixture in our holiday itinerary and I am dreading when the boys will be too old to want to go any more.

The boys play golf and practise driving - it's all go.

My personal heaven in Cornwall is the Eden Project which I first visited over a decade ago when it had not long opened. It has been wonderful to visit in recent years and see how much it has developed and we even went to the Eden Sessions in July to watch the Manic Street Preachers perform there. When we stayed at Christmas we also went ice skating at Eden and met Father Christmas - who I swear was the real deal. Look at the photo of him and tell me you don't agree - I dare you !

It's Father Christmas ! 
Ice skating with Pingu

I've taken the boys to hear stories, to take part in activities and showed them round the biomes, but however much I try I cannot get my boys to enthuse about it as much as I do. I could happily spend all day there and when we visited this summer I did as I went on my own and enjoyed taking my time. I even fulfilled my ambition to climb to the top of the rainforest biome and conquered a fear of heights while doing it. The best way to keep the boys on side is to keep them well fed and it's easy to do at Eden as the food is made fresh and the kids' meals include a packed lunch with extensive choices of contents. I usually share my meal with the kids as portion sizes are so generous and the cakes are amazing. It was a real treat this year to visit on my own and savour a cup of tea and a cake without having to wipe anyone's face or take anyone to the toilet.

I'm at the top of the rainforest ! 

Many years ago I booked a surfing course on Fistral Beach which I then bottled out of doing. I have made so many excuses in the intervening years including, "I'm unfit," "too fat," "we are nowhere near the coast." Finally this summer Brown Bear was old enough to take lessons so we went to Polzeath Beach and booked him in with Surf's Up school. He only agreed to do it if I did too, so I finally got to learn, despite having a wobble about parading on the beach in a wetsuit. Fiona's children have all learned to surf with them and if you are staying at Coombe Mill they offer a discount. We had a lesson with Shaf and Harry who were great teachers. Harry was with Brown Bear the whole time helping carry the surf board and assisting him with trying to stand up. I was so proud of how well he did and we both had such a blast. I certainly intend to go again and hopefully Blue Bear will want to try when he is older too.

Me and my surfer dude !

When I tell people that we are going on holiday to Cornwall I'm not sure they really know how special it is to us. There is so much to do and I haven't even mentioned the beaches !

Beach babies 

I want my sons to have great memories of family holidays and having fun with us - I hope that they remember Cornwall with as much fondness as I do when they are grown up.