Jubilee Pool

DSC_1643.JPGOpening this summer, after a £3 million upgrade (following damaging storms in 2014 which nearly caused its closure) Jubilee Pool should be on everyones to do list this year.

I am not a big sea swimmer in fact you can probably count on one hand the number of times I have swum in English waters over the past 15 years, so taking a dip an unheated pool isn’t necessarily the first thing I think of doing on a sunny day in Cornwall. However, when I saw some stunning photos of the refurbishment by Adam Gibbard, I was determined to make a visit this summer.

As it turns out I didn’t have to wait long as the opening bank holiday weekend in late May offered perfect weather and finding ourselves without anything planned we packed our wetsuits and headed west to Penzance.

So, my only moan – there’s no dedicated parking and arriving after lunch meant we had to park a good 10 minute walk away.

Although it was a little windy, the shape of the art deco complex means that you can find yourselves a sheltered spot no matter what direction the wind is blowing. There are seats and tables located around the pool and we managed to bagsy a bench.

And the water…… Well it wasn’t as cold as I was expecting! Apparently it was 19 degrees – warmed by a couple of days of sun preceeding our visit. I borrowed a shorty wetsuit and that helped with the chill, but I almost think I could have gone in without one (or maybe not!).

The kiddies pool is great for toddlers and those learning to swim. The shallow end of the main pool is 1m but it drops away quite fast and our kids got out of their depth really quickly so preferred the smaller (and slightly warmer) pool.

In between swims we walked around the pool and at the far end you can catch glimpses of arguably West Cornwalls most famous landmark –  St Michaels Mount.

A family ticket for 2 adults and 2 children was £13.40 for locals but unlike other pools where you can get thrown out when it gets busy you can stay there all day so offers good value for money. Spectators only pay £2, so even if you don’t fancy a swim it is still somewhere you can enjoy a sunny day and on Tuesdays they are open till 8pm.

There is a café onsite selling hot drinks and chips which is great to warm yourselves up after a dip.

I would recommend a visit to everyone of all ages. There was a lovely atmosphere with people really enjoying this revitalised attraction and I will definitely be making a return visit!

http://www.jubileepool.co.uk

 

Advertisements

Cornish Pisky Pal Trail – Roskilly’s Farm

_20160529_214112.JPG

The trouble with entertaining children during the school holidays is how the costs can easily add up. Even a visit to the beach can result in parting with up to £20 by the time you’ve shelled out for drinks, ice creams, bouncy castles and car parking.

I’ve come to the conclusion that this is just something I have to accept however, I am always on the look out for cheap activities that can be enjoyed by the whole family.

I had come across the Cornish Pisky Pal Trails on Facebook (it really is my number one source of information of fun things to do!). Normally the trails are set around the village of Coverack on the Lizard, but for the late May bank holiday Roskillys Farm hosted the handmade three inch piskies.

The trail consisted of 39 small named piskies which were hidden around the farm and woodland (there was a shorter trail which would have been appropriate for preschoolers). After purchasing two trails at £2.50 each we set out with our directions to find the numbered willow markers. When you find one of the markers, you look for a Cornish Pisky Pal hiding nearby. These are well hidden,  in fact much harder than I was expecting. You then write the name of the pisky next to it’s number and then the first letter of each pisky’s names are put together to make a Cornish Pisky Pals phrase (I won’t give it away!!!).

The trails were perfect for our 5 and 7 year olds. They needed a little help finding the markers (we couldn’t find three of them) and we made sure that they followed the directions but the nature of the set up is that it is suitable for all primary aged school children. The weather was dry which was perfect so it is a good cheap day activity when the sun isn’t out enough to go to the beach – even with light drizzle it would be ok if you are dressed appropriately.

We spent just under two hours on the trail and returned to the Roskillys cafe where we had hoped to reward ourselves with a pasty, but they had run out so we had to make do with ice cream instead! We also had time to visit the farmyard animals before we headed home and met a very noisy goat.

If I have one criticism it is that the first few piskies were hidden in the hedge along the road. There were quite a few cars moving around and that meant finding the markers was even more difficult.

I would recommend this trail to all of my mummy friends and I am pretty sure that we will be making a return journey to the Lizard really soon.

www.cornishpisky.co.uk

Enys Gardens

_20160522_164818

Enys Gardens made My Bucket List when a couple of friends visited to see the fields of bluebells and said how impressive they were and being less than a 10 minute drive from my house I couldn’t quite believe that I hadn’t been there yet.

The gardens are normally only open on a Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday which does limit your options but for our visit it was sunny with a fresh wind so perfect to get outdoors (but not nice enough for us to head to the beach). The house only opens on selected weekends throughout the year but that didn’t bother us as our motivation was the bluebells, however I would be keen to go during the Bluebell Festival next year when you can get a chance to explore the family home of the Enys family.

In order to make sure that we saw the the iconic spring flower at their best we chose to hold off visiting until the website advised that the fields were in full bloom. Going slightly later in May meant that whilst the bluebells were fully out the grass was also quite high slightly affecting the blanket of purple but they still were worth the visit.

There are a number of other features which are also quite impressive. The pond is just as spectacular as Trebah or Heligan and there is a waterwheel which offers a lovely backdrop for a family picture! The fields reminded me of Trelissick (although admittedly they don’t have the vista which includes the River Fal) and because there aren’t as many visitors as the some of the established gardens there is a real feeling of calm – it is somewhere you could take a picnic and a good book and easily spend the whole day there.

Adults are £5 and children 6+ £2 so fairly reasonable compared to other gardens reflecting the limited facilities but as we spent over two hours wondering around it offered good value for money.

The cafe set within the house courtyard is quaint. The menu isn’t extensive but you can get a High Tea for two for £15 which is the perfect way to round off your visit.

For me Eyns Gardens has the potential to be up there with the other Great Gardens of Cornwall but to do so would require significant investment. However, it is a little gem worth visiting especially when the bluebells are in full bloom.

www.enysgardens.org.uk

 

 

Rogue Theatre – Wild Spring Hare 2016

easter rogue.jpg

I LOVE the Rogue Theatre and I would recommend them to anyone visiting Cornwall. Their performances aren’t just for children and families they really are something that can be appreciated by people of all ages (although I wouldn’t necessarily recommend for under 5s).

After really enjoying Blackbeard’s Heart  last summer (which was one of the first experiences that I managed to tick off My Bucket List) the kiddies and I were all looking forward to the the Easter tale of the Wild Spring Hare which had made my Things to Do in April blog.

The show involved five mini performances spread around Tehidy Woods near Portreath. For the first four scenes each of the stories revolved around the discovery of eggs involving the Wild West, witches, crows and a frozen ice queen! It all sounds a bit random but somehow it totally made sense.

For the final scene all the characters came together along with the Wild Hare, but not until we had the opportunity to fill up on hot chocolates and hot cross buns! Unlike a lot of other establishments the refreshments don’t feel like a money making exercise and are fairly reasonably priced. At the end of the finale the actors share their artistic skills with free face painting (well it’s obviously included in the price but’s its nice not to have to part with any more money) and some nature craft – this time it was fairy wands made out of sticks and ribbons.

I love the quirky decorations scattered around Tehidy, the kids are highly amused about the door in the middle of the wood and I am amazed how the stories are linked into local folklore. You really do feel like you are being exposed to something unique and special and at £7.50 a ticket the two hour experience was worth every penny.

After watching two day time performances I really want to experience an evening show and the extra magical experience of watching these very talented individuals lit only by fire and fairy lights.

Just prepare yourself for mud and go with it – appropriate footwear is a must even in the summer (I learnt my lesson after wearing flip flops last time) and if you haven’t made it to a show yet then make sure you get to one really soon!

www.roguetheatre.co.uk/

 

 

Porthleven Food Festival 2016

porthleven food festival.jpg

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

 

Kennall Vale

kennel vale.jpg

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

portcurno museum.jpg

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