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.
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.
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!
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!