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.
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.
Every year Padstowians return from all over the world to participate in their annual celebrations. With the event falling on a public holiday this year it seemed too good an opportunity for me to tick this event off My Bucket List.
As with any long weekend the weather forecast was rubbish! However, with clear blue skies and full sun promised by the afternoon we decided that we would try and catch some of the afternoon celebrations.
Having struggled in the past to park in Padstow we also took the option to tick a second item off My Bucket List and decided to cycle the 6 miles along the Camel Trail from Wadebridge. This ended up working really well and added to the whole day out.
After arriving into Padstow around 2.30pm we set off to try and find one of the ossess – this is no easy task. As the route isn’t published it is a matter of either watching them enter or leave their stables, asking someone dressed in white whether they actually have any idea where they are or stumble across them by accident.
The parades are not just limited to the harbour area and although slow can travel to the far edges of the town so it took us quite a while to locate the Blue Oss which had headed up to Prideaux Place. The processions are accompanied by drums and accordions and led by “Teasers”. The tune is catchy and was in my head for the rest of the day.
In the evening the two ossess come together around the May Pole. By this time we had already left but I can imagine this must be one of the highlights of the day and something we could try to see in the future.
As the weather had been miserable around the middle of the day the crowds were smaller than they would have been had it been dry and this meant that it wasn’t horrendously busy so it was easy to find a spot to watch.
Apart from the processions there was a reasonably sized fairground and of course the normal wide range of food offerings throughout the town. There isn’t however any of the normal event markets or much else. It does seem like a wasted opportunity but the celebrations bring in big enough crowds without the organisers needing to put on anything else.
I certainly would recommend that everyone visits Obby Oss once in their life and if the weather gods are good next year we might just go again.
April was another very successful month for ticking things off my bucket list with visits to both Kennall Vale and the Tregothnan Garden Opening. I also managed to check out the Porthleven Food Festival and Rogue Theatre that I had featured in my Things to do – April 2016 blog.
Here are a few things that I want to try and do this month:
Obby Oss – 2nd May
Each year Padstowians return from all over the world to participate in this annual celebration and this year the event falls on a public holiday. The two osses parade throughout the town a few times during the day so there is plenty of opportunity to catch them. The parking is normally difficult in Padstow so it looks like a good opportunity to tie in a cycle along the Camel Trail at the same time and tick two things off my Bucket List.
Enys Gardens – 30th April – 7th May
Enys Gardens will be hosting their Bluebell festival at the beginning of the month. Despite being on my door step I have never visited the gardens, but I am determined to get there this year to enjoy their spring event.
Helston Flora Day – 7th May
Helston Flora Day is usually held on May 8th, unless that date falls on a Sunday or Monday, in which case the previous Saturday is take so this year the event will take place on a Saturday so I defiantly want to make the visit (although if it rains I might wait till next year when it also falls on a Saturday)
Trebah Mousehole Cat – 27th – 28th May
We have been regular visitors to Trebah over the years and this time of year the gardens really start to spring into life. However I have never been to a performance in the amphitheatre. This half term Trebah host the tale of the Mousehole Cat, the book is a family favourite so an evening out looks on the cards.
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!
Tregothnan has been home to the Boscawen family since 1335 and the private historic gardens and arboretum are amongst the largest in Cornwall. Apart from one weekend a year the gardens can only be visited by prior appointment, however, each spring the gates are opened for what is billed as the UK’s largest Charity Garden event.
Being a private residence it isn’t set up for visitors like Heligan or Trebah and there are areas that are closed off to the public. I kept having to remember that there is a reason there are no signs giving you information next to the tea plantations or the obligatory childrens activities. But there is something quite exciting about exploring someones private garden and I spent most of the visit wondering how much time the family actually spend in there, where they have bbqs and if they had a dog that they walked throughout the grounds.
I was surprised to see a camellia maze and the kids and I amazingly managed to find the middle without too much trouble (maybe getting lost so many times in the Glendurgan Maze has given us a second sense). We were rewarded by finding a full sized model cow – a bit random!
The weather was perfect to enjoy the estate and after two hours of strolling around the grounds we headed to the stable yards to sample the food offerings. I have to say that I was initially a little disappointed to see that the ice cream on offer wasn’t from one of the Cornish suppliers but the Kenyan Coffee ice cream was so divine so I will excuse the use of a Devon brand.
As Tregothnan is the location of the UK’s first tea plantation and despite being a coffee drinker I felt the need to have a cup of the local speciality and it tasted …….well like tea!
The event sells out every year and therefore after seeing the forecast we purchased our tickets in advance. Normally a Private Garden Visit starts at £65 per head (admittedly you are accompanied by one of the garden staff) but for the charity opening the entry fee this year was £10 for adults and free entry for children offering reasonable value for money.
I’m glad to have ticked a visit off My Bucket List and I do recommend it however, I’m not in any rush to go back – I’d rather visit some of the gardens who are set up for visitors (and especially families). I also love being able to see gardens at different stages and how they evolve with each season, so it is a real shame that the gardens are only opened to the general public the same time every year, but then again it’s better than not being able to enjoy this little part of Cornwall at all.
Have you been before? Did you go? I would love to know what you thought?
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?