A Postcard From: Cornwall

In a nation currently bogged down by Brexit and so much sadness, it provides me with a little bit of optimism when I think about how beautiful some of our landscapes and coastlines can be. It’s genuinely fascinating also to think of how drastically a climate can change in a Kingdom that from top to bottom, is under 900 miles long.

The experience of hopping on a domestic flight to Cornwall was amazing. It took just one hour from Leeds, rather than 8-hours on the road, minus the stops. Because there is no gentle introduction to the milder temperatures as you’d get when driving down the country, I really did get that fabulous feeling of being ‘away’.

We picked up a hire car from a family-run business, who I’d really recommend for costs and the personal service. We stayed at The Esplanade in Newquay – a family-orientated hotel, that just couldn’t do enough for us and the kids. In just one week we managed to get around the Eden Project, Land’s End, The Lizard, Falmouth, Truro, Porthcurno, St Austell and Bodmin. Phew! Here are some of my favourite pics fro the trip:

 

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Minack Theatre
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Land’s End
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Porthcurno Bay
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Fistral Beach
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The Eden Project
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Things You’ll Know When: Taking Kids to a Hotel

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I adore hotels. If anybody asks me what I’d like to do for a milestone birthday treat, invariably I’ll say that I want to check in somewhere swanky and make use of all the glorious facilities. I loved hotels before I had my kids – in fact I lived and breathed them for work – but I think I love them even more now, because time away is so rare and precious. Imagine if you never get to go to the toilet alone, how amazing it is to sit in a roll top bath, gently drinking away the mini bar?

Taking kids to a hotel is a different game. I’m the first to admit that it can be a very stressful undertaking, particularly if your offspring are also budding hotelphiles and want to be everywhere, on everything, all at once. I’ve had a few years’ experience of managing sprogs en vacances. here’s what I know:

Breakfast Tactics

Forget the days of papers, poached eggs and freshly-brewed coffee. Breakfast is now giddy carnage and I always lose part of my brain. The event becomes some parody of a military operation. Remember how you bribed the kids to go to bed last night, with the promise of Coco Pops, Frosties and waffles? Well so do they. Before you know it, you’re juggling tiny juice glasses, burning toast and glaring at the the poached eggy, chilled-out couple by the window. Best way around this is to just feed the kids first. Hungry shoppers are terrible, sweary shoppers, whereas full ones are sedate. Work as a relay team with anybody you’re travelling with. Take it in turns for eating and crowd management. Supplementary iPad or phone always helps too.

Swimming Strategy

Regardless of a child’s age, you can be sure that swimming with them can push buttons. It’s a natural thing to feel jaded, when squeezing your semi-damp body back into jeans, in the way that sausage meat is crammed into a skin. So be kind to yourself. Sometimes things are taken care of, by doing a hoppy, chilly dance from foot to foot, still in swim wear, until children are dried off, given a snack (even though it’s five minutes after breakfast) and supplied with the helpful iPad or phone.

Buddy Backup

Kids just love to make friends in the hotel’s public spaces, so embrace the opportunity to sit back and let the little mites play with their newfound friends. Bonus points for being near a bar so you can sink a drink or two. So what if it’s not yet noon? You’re on holiday, so I won’t tell if you don’t. And don’t worry about having to speak much to the other kids’ parents. They probably feel just the same as you, so it’s perfectly acceptable to just ignore each other a bit; maybe check the headlines, if there’s any charge left on your phone or iPad.

Bolstering Bedtime

Your bathed, fluffy ducklings and more hyper than Lee Evans after a litre of Sunny D. It’s getting late. There’s a feeling that this is never going to end. In all honesty? I just let them stay up until they’ve thrashed it out of their system. There’s a reason why a lot of family hotel entertainment starts way later than a typical bedtime. And a later bedtime many just mean a small lie in the next day. Hurrah! And when they finally snooze, you can blissfully sip wine from a bathroom tumbler, not daring to speak and watching TV with the sound off. Think how lovely your snoozing kids are, vowing never to do this again… until the next flash hotel sale. Happy hoteling!

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A Postcard From: Sardinia

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Our trip to Sardinia was a kind of ‘Babymoon’, if you like. I was 6 month’s pregnant with our second son, and we decided to take a 3-year old Asher for a week away over Easter.

As a family, we’ve loved Italy for as long as we’ve been together, which isn’t actually that long  – 5 years at the time of this trip – to be exact. But in that space, we’ve seen Venice, Verona and Lake Garda as a carefree couple, Tuscany with a toddler and so a trip to Italy’s largest island seemed like a natural progression. Plus, every Italian we know has had good things to say about Sardinian beaches.

Our hotel was located in La Caletta, a small town on the east coast of Sardinia, about 40 minutes’ drive from Olbia airport. An Italian all-inclusive (yay – Italian red and Peroni on tap… oh, I can’t drink) kept Andrew occupied and kept Asher well fed, for the 6,324 meals that he requires a day.

The local area doesn’t sport the prettiest of beaches – you should hire a car and descend the perilous trip to Golfo Di Orosei for that – but it’s a handy and very user-friendly base, especially for those with young children. I should also say that Asher took a shine to La Caletta’s Salvataggio and called him ‘Jingles’ (??) for the duration of our stay. He had a box of sandcastle making stuff next to his lookout, so you can imagine that he made a friend for life out of our curious little tourist.

Even though Sardinia is Italian, it’s very different in terms of food preferences and temperament of the general public. It’s sleepy, full of cured meats, sheep cheeses and gentle language. Forget the mainland’s hand flinging, exuberant dialogues. It’s a beautiful, special place that I’d love to visit again, when I’m not sporting a large bump and a young boy who thinks he’s a cliff-diving daredevil.



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Europe in the 90s as a British Kid

In my life I’ve only really had one super, super best friend, that I couldn’t have lived without. Though I’m quite social, my transient nature probably comes from spending a lot of time ‘away’ from friends during the summer holidays. We’d spend a big chunk of the break in Poland — or should I say — getting to and from it. Here are my takeaways from being a British kid in 90s Europe.

 

Numb Bum Travel

These are the days before Ryanair took us to Poland in under 2 hours. There wasn’t a way around the ridiculous coach ride (excluding ferry, we’re before EuroTunnel too here). I spy with my little eye: the sodding Autobahn for the 12th hour. Who knew Germany was so… ongoing? Does this service station accept Francs, Guilders or Deutschmarks? But I got to eat those huge prezels that would always somehow appear from a Babcia’s handbag, drank vodka and coke on the P&O to stave off tired shivers, have people nod off on my shoulder, the occasional exhaustion nosebleed, and learn to hold my bladder for considerable amounts of time.

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2. All the tapes

As a kid with her walkman glued to her hip, I used to save up my pocket money to spend seriously Zloty, like, a quid’s worth, per bootleg cassette. Who cares if the inserts were a flimsy photocopy, with the worst spelling? Ace of Base, Right Said Fred, Salt n Pepa and a tonne of Eurotrash. It shaped me into the woman with the refined music taste that I am today.76102_story__-sony-walkman

Squared exercise books

Just really exciting to a kid used to writing on boring old lines. My Polish cousins don’t understand this. I’d bring them home and be like ‘who, me? Oh, I’m just writing in my squared exercise book, like the seasoned continental kid that I am’. It taught me to do those cute, loopy French ‘h’s, that even now as a woman in her mid 30s, I can’t not do.

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Giant Cornettos

When you get a cornetto from a street vendor called a 4×4, and it true to name, it’s 4 times larger than the ones at home. You feel silly, you look silly, but it’s hard to go back to the ice cream vans on your road after one of those.4x4

Cif and Daim

Coming back from the Continent, sometime round the mid 90s, to find that Britain had adopted the European Cif and Daim. Then yelling at your friends ARGHH I TOLD YOU SO! And them not really sharing your release. (Below is Czech, but the Ben E.King spin off music is too good not to share).

Vodka

I got to drink vodka, and not just any shit. Wisinowka, Wyborowa, Krupnik and Zubrowka, though you see that in every Tom, Dick and Revolution Bar these days. And it’s sipped correctly – ice cold, out of beautiful crystal glasses.

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Dubbed Telly

English-speaking Goggleboxers… we are all so damn lucky; lucky that we get to watch our programmes, without ONE GUY just reading a script for every woman, man and child part. It was hilarious for the first thirty seconds, but after that, less so.

 

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The Joys of Glamping

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The idea of camping is often far nicer than the reality. Hurrah for Gin nailed it for me this week with her take on it all:

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credit: Hurrah for Gin

So this is why I booked a glamping trip up in Berwick-upon-Tweed earlier this month. The ‘wigwams’ at our holiday park Pot-a-Doodle-Do are dotted around a field like tents, but have the pleasant perks of a fridge, electric and a heater… and no swearing husband also trying to erect a tent and occupy two kids under five.

I started to have a bit of a wobble in the car, an hour or so into our journey up the A1. The sky grew darker and my tentative glances at BBC weather kind of made me wish I’d forgotten my phone. The traffic was awful and we started to bicker about anything we could think of (including half a Co-op cheese and ham sandwich).

It was therefore massively pleasing that when we got to the glamping site , we found that our wigwam was much bigger than I anticipated. Somebody had also left just over £1 in the electricity meter, handy for getting warm whilst we unpacked.

Having read a few reviews, we decided to travel with the bare minimum in terms of food, knowing that there were nearby supermarkets and takeaways. The local chippy was spot on and we sat outside, determined to enjoy our campfire and stop our food from taking off sideways in the North Sea winds.

The benches within the wigwam fold out to make one large bed (King Size, I reckon), plus a single. There are thick mats to go on top, making a spongey, latexy mattress. Definitely take sheets. We were warm, borderline tropical; so much so that in the end, baby actually slept in a nappy on top of the duvet.

There was a shower block and a kitchen on site. Communal cooking doesn’t come naturally to British families — we’re all just so damn awkward — but we got through it and even managed a bit of small talk whilst making a pasta lunch the next day. We braved the wind and went to the beautiful local beach (my ice cream flew off the cone and landed in my hair, baby laughed). Later on however, the wind died down, the sun came out and our eldest fled from us for most of the evening to hang around with his new mate from the wigwam next door. We toasted marshmallows and we swigged cheap prosecco from plastic flutes.

The following morning I woke up, with a fully charged phone and no grass stuck to my face. Refreshed. I felt a twinge of regret that we were packing up and heading to Edinburgh (where the weather turned out to be fantastic and our flat was great). For £24 per person, per night, glamping isn’t much less than a basic hotel room, but it did offer us the element of adventure and the wild outdoors that we hoped for. All of course within a safe walk of an ASDA and a flushing loo.

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Pot A Doodle Do – Activity Centre, Berwick upon Tweed – Borewell, Scremerston, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland, UK, TD15 2RJ

 

 

 

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