Porthleven Food Festival 2016

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Events held in April always run the risk of being ruined by the wind and rain, but this years Porthleven Food Festival was blessed with near perfect weather. The festival hadn’t made my bucket list because I had visited four years ago, but watching from a distance it was growing into one of Cornwall’s must do events of the year with over 30,000 visitors making it worth another visit and therefore had made one of my Things to Do in April.

There have been a number of improvements since my last visit, including an extra tent for the food demos and this year a new literary element and extra stage showcasing local chefs. The town was busy, but not rammed and there was a great buzz around the Harbour. In fact I would say that the organisers have got the balance absolutely right and have somehow managed despite the growth over the past seven years, to retain a real community feel to the event.

With nearly 100 stalls showcasing foods from all over the world your hardest decision of the day will be what to have to eat! I had a Morocon Chicken Curry with coconut rice from Kaites Cornish Hot Pots (£6 per portion) – it was a lovely warming dish full of flavour.  We also treated ourselves to some chocolate covered marshmallows from Chocolate Kisses (£1 each) – yum yum!

I was a little disappointed with the childrens area. I know that food festivals are generally targeted at adults without children but there seemed from the pre event marketing to be enough to keep my two engaged. Apart from the circus tent manned by Swamp Circus the only other activities were charged fairground rides, even at the “Free” craft session we were asked for a donation (but there didn’t seem to be much option not to donate the requested £1 which seemed a little steep for the mask making on offer). There were no children related food elements that we came across such as make your own pizza or potato printing. I don’t mind paying for things but I’m not a huge fan of fairgrounds and there was little else on offer.

This was my second visit to the festival with children in tow – next time I will leave them at home – therefore I can’t classify the event as Family Friendly – its not that you can’t take them its just they do feel a bit of an after thought and tucked out of the way. Saying that the organisers have developed a festival that is well worth a visit and you certainly don’t have to be a foodie to enjoy it.

Have you been before? Did you go? I would love to know what you thought?

www.porthlevenfoodfestival.com

 

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Kennall Vale

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I love Facebook. I love how I can keep in touch with people who I don’t get to see. And I love discovering new places recommended by friends. Cornwall is the most beautiful part of the country and there are so many hidden gems, but despite being less than 15 minutes from home I had never visited Kennall Vale before. The woods made my bucket list because I had seen so many pictures of my Facebook friends enjoying walks and the stunning setting.

After an abandoned attempt to tick this off my list in the Easter Holidays (as part of my Things to Do – March 2016 post) because the weather was sooooo bad, we had a near perfect set of conditions for my first visit. Although sunny and dry on the day, it had absolutely tipped it down the day before and the run off from the rain meant the rivers and man made waterfalls were fast flowing.

The reserve managed by the Wildlife Trust is the site of  the old Kennel Vale gunpowder factory which closed in the first decade of the last century. The ruins provide stunning interest points and places for children (and adults) to explore. There are bridges over the streams to play pooh sticks and plenty of places to get close to nature.

We will definitely go back. The first bluebells were starting to show and I can only imagine how beautiful they must be in full bloom.

There isn’t a car park and you have to park in the nearby residential lanes – but at least that means no car park charges!

When I got home I posted some photos of my visit on my own Facebook page and guess what …….. A friend commented that it looked so amazing she was going to visit – I love Facebook!

www.wildlifetrusts.org/reserves/kennall-vale

 

 

 

 

Porthcurno Telegraph Museum

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As we were heading to the far west of the county over Easter to visit the Minack  it seemed like a good opportunity to pay a visit the Porthcurno Telegraph Museum. Since re-opening after a multi million pound  development a couple of years ago it has won numerous awards and therefore I was curious to see what all the fuss was about (although for some reason it hadn’t made my bucket list).

In the late nineteenth century, the remote Porthcurno became internationally famous as the British termination of early submarine telegraph cable and the attraction is located a stones throw from the stunning beach. The museum showcases both the local history of the area and also how communications have developed over the past couple of centuries. It doesn’t sound the most exciting but it really deserves the awards it has received.

We had a lovely time. There were plenty of child focused activities for the kiddies. Their favourite was the morse code machines where they could send each other messages (or just make a lot of noise). They also enjoyed finding the knitted carrier pigeons although we didn’t manage to find them all despite a second good look around the museum.

The volunteers were wonderful and went out of their way to make the experience even more enjoyable. Being Cornish residents we qualified for the locals pass which was a little of extra paperwork when we arrived but gives us free entry for a year (Adult £8.50, Child £5). If you are going to tie a visit to the museum with a show at the Minack you can get 15% off your entry.

To be honest I wasn’t overly impressed with the cafe – despite being the Easter holidays there was wasn’t much choice and a little on the expensive side for what was on offer so we gave it a miss despite planning on having lunch there. However, with Porthcurno beach just a short distance away I would choose to have a picnic on the beach rather than inside anyway (unless it was raining and then the small cafe could be very busy).

It is somewhere were you can easily spend a couple of hours as a family with a wide variety of things to do for all ages. I think that we will try to make the most of our passes and visit again within the next year, it is a bit of a shame that it is over an hour from Falmouth as if it was closer then I am sure we would be regulars.

www.telegraphmuseum.org

 

Things to do – April 2016

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Wow what a month I have just had!! I managed to tick visits to Heligan, Fifteen, the Lobster Hatchery, Ben Anslie’s Post Box, the Minack Theatre and the  World Pasty Championships off my bucket list and do even more fun things on top and I really think writing a wrap up post at the beginning of the month helped me focus on what I could be doing (along with some slightly better weather).

I didn’t make it to Kennel Vale (as we got rained off) or to the Hidden Hut (due to family commitments) that I hoped to as part of my Things to Do in March but there is still plenty of time to fit those in.

Easter traditionally kicks of the event season for the year and this month there are a number of festivals that I am keen to get too. Here is a short list of things to do in Cornwall this month.

Rogue Theatre Wild Spring Hare –  March 25th – April 3rd 

After watching last summers performance, Rogue Theatre are now a must do activity for our family. Wild Spring Hare is their Easter show and is “an adventure for spring, an eruption of imagination and possibility, a twisting of paths, a collection of tales and a quest for life’s hidden treasures”. Sounds Fab!!!

Truro Festival 2nd to 9th April

The Truro Festival has a number of free and paid events throughout the city and with such a wide range there really does look like there is something for everyone. As it is the Easter holidays I will be checking out what is on for the kiddies.

Porthleven Food Festival – 16th to 17th April

I visited this event a few years ago when the kids were very small and really enjoyed it. The festival is growing year on year and so I think that it deserves a return visit. This year a new literary element has been added with a talk by the hilarious Sgt Colin Taylor who generated a massive Facebook following with his posts about life being a police officer on the Isle of Scilly.

Tregothnan Charity Garden Opening – 16th to 17th April

Annoying clashing with the Porthleven Food Festival Tregothnan opens it usually private gates every April. With sweeping vistas over the River Fal, Camellias, Magnolias and some of the biggest Rhododendrons in the world this event sells out every year so I will be getting my tickets very soon.

Porthminster Cafe 

St Ives is amazing and a must do for anyone visiting Cornwall for the first time. In the summer the town can get super crowded and therefore visiting slightly out of season means that you get to enjoy this seaside resort without thousands of others. We can get some lovely spring days with clear skies – lunch at the Porthminster Cafe seems like an excellent idea to make the best use of the sun.

 

 

 

Minack Theatre – The Lightkeepers Lunch

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Looking at my bucket list there are a lot of things that are outdoors and are best enjoyed in the sun. But the trouble with the Cornish weather is that it is so unpredictable that you can’t plan things and guarantee that it won’t be raining. However, after seeing that the Minack Theatre would be putting on a family friendly performance (at a very family friendly time of 2pm) during the Easter holidays I booked for me and the kiddies to watch the Lighthouse Keepers Lunch by the newly formed Minack Youth Theatre.

Well, it could not have been more perfect. Concerned that despite the sun shining there may be a cold wind I packed four blankets, hats, scarves, gloves and thick coats. We ended up stripping down to our t-shirts and it really did feel like it could be mid-summer. We booked into the lower terrace and arrived about 45 minutes before the performance and got an amazing view (to be fair the vista is stunning from every vantage point).

The show was really good! Both my kids really enjoyed the story (they probably didn’t appreciate the setting as much as I did) and were singing the songs most of the way home. I overheard that the 2pm show was the only one this week to sell out – I hope the theatre take this on board and have more afternoon performances in the future. Whilst I am sure it is spectacular at night it is dark by 7pm in April and therefore you don’t get the bonus of the view. The tickets weren’t particularly  cheap (especially as the show only lasted 45 minutes) with the adults £11.50 and under 16s £6 but it isn’t something we are likely to do more than once a year.

After the show we enjoyed a drink and snack in the cafe looking over the stunning Porthcurno beach. If you are not lucky enough to get tickets for a show a visit to the Minack is still worth a look. Its history is almost as interesting as the view and as we didn’t see any dolphins in the bay there is an excuse to go back.

https://www.minack.com/

Lost Gardens of Heligan

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I had high expectations of the Lost Gardens of Heligan, especially after receiving lots of reports that it was better than Eden (which we love). So when they introduced a new locals pass, 2016 was going to be the year we finally made our first visit and ticket it off my bucket list.

The only downside of the Locals Pass was that you had to visit the garden in March to qualify, but with the school holidays starting the logical time to go was towards the end of the month and tie in their Easter celebrations. As with most long weekends there was an appalling weather forecast so we decided that Good Friday offered us the best opportunity to maximise the experience with a bit of sunshine. Thinking that everyone else would be doing the same we decided to arrive at opening time (10am).

Getting the pass sorted was easy, for one adult and two children over 5 it was £25 and we get to visit as many times as we want for a year.

The first thing that greets you is the giant’s head – this is one of the iconic pictures you regularly see of Heligan but it is just as impressive in the flesh – after the obligatory family photos in front of the head we moved on to the Easter Fun.

The additional Easter activities on offer were brilliant. The egg hunt involved finding over 100 eggs (we missed quite a few but still qualified for the chocolate bunny), there were newly hatched chicks to coo over, egg crazy golf, Easter egg craft, cress head making and my personal favourite an egg race. All activities were included in the price and were suitable for a wide variety of ages.

We got to cross the rope bridge, saw daffodils and magnolias, posed in front of the mud maid, climbed over the woodland playground…… Phew! After romping around the gardens for nearly three hours it was time for a late lunch which involved going back out through the entrance. I couldn’t quite believe the size of the queue – there must have been over 100 people waiting to get in. My advice to everyone visiting attractions in the school holidays is always to get there early (unless you are going to Ships & Castles swimming pool but that’s a different story). We had an amazing day and were ahead of the crowds so didn’t have to wait to participate in any of the extra activities.

The end of March even on such a sunny day probably isn’t the best time to see Heligan in all its glory and you can see some of the summer flowering plants coming to bud – but I can’t wait to go back – it certainly gives Eden a run for its money and defiantly worth the trek from Falmouth and now with the Locals Pass it is a real bargain!

www.heligan.com

Throwback Thursday – Folk ‘n’ Cider Fayre 2015

Cider festival

Most of us who were brought up in Cornwall probably enjoyed a night or two drinking cider on a beach with their friends. These days I prefer wine to cider but faced with the opportunity to try over 40 different varieties within staggering distance of home it seemed like a good opportunity to reminisce my youth. Between four of us we managed to try every single one of the 44 on offer (only halfs mind!) with the winner being Thatchers Red. My personal favourite was the mango, lime and ginger (not really a cider classic).

Folk music isn’t really my thing but it is easy listening and it doesn’t impact on the enjoyment of the cider! And after a sampling a few of the drinks on offer most music starts to sound good anyway.

This event has traditionally been free but in 2016 they are introducing an entry fee – it’s a good day/night out so probably worth it if you haven’t been before.