A Break At Center Parcs Whinfell Forest

When I retired in January 2020, I wanted to treat my family to a special holiday, so we booked to go to Las Vegas and New York. Sadly due to the pandemic, this got cancelled. After some discussion about waiting and rebooking, we decided that none of us knows what may happen in the future. With that in mind, we booked a break to Center Parcs, initially for February 2021, but this also got postponed and we finally managed to get there in October. I went with my husband, our eldest daughter and her friend, and our youngest daughter and her boyfriend. It was a brilliant weekend and well worth the wait.

An Afternoon Of Laughter

We arrived slightly late at Whinfell Foret, due to being stuck in traffic for a while. Once we had checked in, we were straight to the pool, as we had booked a session for the afternoon. The “tropical Paradise” is a large swimming area under a dome. There are slides and chutes, as well as a wave pool and a rapids area. We did spend a fair amount of our time in the outdoor pool, which is a tempting tropical temperature on a fresh autumn day.

We left the pool area a couple of hours later, as we could now make our way to the lodge. Some of us walked up, whilst the others went to bring the car with all our belongings. It seemed like a long walk on that first afternoon, but once we knew our way around the forest paths, the walk seemed to get shorter each time.

The lodge was absolutely spotlessly clean. we quickly allotted the three bedrooms and each one had a bathroom, so we all had our own spaces to retreat to. We unpacked some of our things and then it was off to our next activity – football pool.

The sports area was nice and quiet, so we were soon on the “pool table” and were told we were the last spot of the day, so could stay as long as we wanted. The object of the game is to kick a white ball which then knocks one of the coloured ball into one of the pockets. The same rules as normal pool, but using your feet instead. Sounds simple and in theory it was, but as some of us have no coordination, the ball was off the “table” more than it was on. We played in various combinations of teams and there was a lot of witty banter going on. I laughed so much my sides were aching.

It was then back to the lodge, where we cooked pizzas and snacks for tea, had a few drinks, then played Pictionary Air, which involves drawing items for your team to guess, with the added hurdle that you are drawing in the air and only your team can see what you are drawing. again we laughed all the way through.

It was then off to bed for some rest, ready for the activities the next day

Aerial Challenge And Bowling Fun

The following morning, after a freshly cooked breakfast, we set off to take part in the Aerial Challenge, which is an obstacle course high in the trees, ending with a zip wire back into the village area. we were all booked on to take part, but there was a massive shock for me. As you were being fitted for safety gear, you were then placed on the scales as there is a weight limit. It was here where I was told (thankfully very discreetly) that I was too heavy to take part. I was really disappointed, but also extremely angry with myself for once again allow myself to gain so much weight. However I pulled myself together and became the official photographer for the others taking part.

They all managed to complete the course and I was so proud of my youngest daughter who was terrified of being up so high, but managed to calm her nerves and terror with a little coaxing and encouragement. She was so pleased to have overcome her fear and not let it beat her. It was great to hear her screaming in triumph as she came down the zip wire.

We had a break for a coffee and a walk back to the lodge for lunch, before making our way back to the village centre for our ten pin bowling session. It is a while since we have been bowling, but we soon managed to get back into the swing of things and had an amusing afternoon, mostly taking the mickey out of each other.

We then had another session booked in the pool, so we enjoyed the rest of the afternoon on the slides and in the pools

We went back to the lodge for a rest and a shower, as we had booked a meal that evening in the Lakeside Lodge. It was clear that there was a shortage of staff, but the service and food was pretty good, until a very large group arrived and we were virtually left in the lurch. As a result of this we didn’t order any desserts or further drinks and made our way up to the sports bar to play pool, this time on a proper table with cues (not that I’m much better at that)

A Not So Restful Sunday

On the Sunday morning, we had split activities at first. Some of us played table tennis, whilst the others went to the golf driving range. I was the only one that knew how to play and particularly how to score, so it was nice to show the young ones how to do it.

We were then booked in for an archery lesson, so we walked to the outdoor activity centre, where we were given an hours lesson in target archery. We all seemed to get the hang of it fairly quickly and took up the challenges set by the instructor, who pleasant enough, but not quite as funny as he seemed to think he was.

There were a few misses of the target by most of us, resulting in a search for arrows in the grass. There was one slightly hairy moment when the instructor shouted “stop”, just as I had pulled my bow back, and I didn’t know what else to do but let go. Luckily it was an amusing moment rather than causing any harm!

We went back to the lodge for lunch and a few games before a sauna and then getting ready for our evening meal. We had booked “Hucks” which was advertised as an American Diner. The waiter came and told us that we had to book everything on the app and then reeled off a list of things that weren’t available. The food was okay, but not very inspiring and definitely felt like it was mass produced. It was definitely overpriced and a little disappointing.

We then went to the bar in the village centre. I wanted to go into the amusements area, where all the coin operated games are (very childish I know, but I still love to do this). We ordered some drinks and sat in the bar, but it had a very different feel to the rest of our experience of Center Parcs and was more like being in a cheap pub, with children running amok whilst their parents drank and ignored them. We decided to go back to the lodge and have a few drinks in peace.

Swimming And Pancakes

On the Monday morning we had a quick breakfast and packed up our lodge, before heading off for another session in the pool. As it was the first session of the morning, it was really quiet, so we decided that we would try all the slides and rides before they got too busy. It was great to be able to just get on and off them as we wanted without queuing. We also managed to get in the jacuzzi whilst it was quiet. We ended the morning with a nice relaxing float in the warm outdoor pool.

We were all then really hungry. My daughter and her boyfriend were desperate to try the pancake house, so we sent my husband in to charm the hostess into getting us a table. He did a magnificent job and in no time at all we were sat enjoying the pancakes with gorgeous sweet unhealthy toppings.

We then went into the sports centre for a few games of pool before setting off home.

I had an amazing weekend and I am sure that the others enjoyed it too. It was so nice to spend time with our daughters and to see the young people getting on so well. The banter and laughter made the weekend so much fun. Despite it being such a busy, active weekend, I was really tired, but also felt refreshed by the whole experience. I feel so blessed to have these wonderful moments with my family and to make such great memories.

Cornwall Revisited (3)

Eden Project

We had visited Eden Project back in 2009 when our girls were still quite young. I remembered this as a really great day out. Unfortunately, on this occasion we were a little disappointed with the experience and felt it was overpriced. Luckily, we managed to book using Tesco Clubcard Vouchers, which made it worthwhile, otherwise the steep £35 per person would have been a bigger blow (we are from Yorkshire after all!).

The Biodomes have some amazing plants and trees, which are fascinating to see. There is also a lot of information about recycling, climate change and sustainability. Reading about the destruction of areas of rainforest and people and animals being driven from their homes for mass production and profit is pretty heart breaking and made me think more about this than being preached at or watching protestors on the television.

There are some areas of the project that really look tired and need some revamping. It feels a little run down. There are also areas that are not open, due to “Covid” which should really be taken into consideration when looking at the ticket price.

The gift shops stock some beautiful sustainable products and gifts, but again they are expensive, and it is a bit sad that sustainability may only be affordable for those with lots of money to spare.

We had a good morning but were really expecting to have a full day there, so were really surprised when we had seen everything and were on our way back to the cottage in the early afternoon.

Luckily the sun had come out, so we were able to get the kayaks out and spend the afternoon and evening paddling up and down the estuary, which was great fun.

We made fish finger sandwiches and potato wedges for tea, which we took down to the fire pit,where we sat relaxing and watching the glorious sunset. What a perfect end to the day!

Marazion Beach Day

We packed up the car with our kayaks and paddle boards and headed to the beautiful area of Marazion, to the beach overlooking St Michael’s Mount. Having seen how beautiful and calm it was on our previous visit, we decided that it would be a perfect place to practice and improve our skills on the paddle boards. Once we had set up camp (we still take so much stuff every time we go out!) and had a bit of lunch, the tide had started to come in, giving the perfect opportunity to paddle in safety.

From the beach, the water looked very calm, and we were convinced that it would be as easy as paddling on the lake. We couldn’t have been more wrong. I was knocked off my board by a wave as soon as I had got on before I even had chance to stand up. My husband paddled along with his usual confident air, and we were all extremely impressed with his proficiency, until he was knocked off by a wave and he disappeared into the water (we didn’t laugh much!). It certainly wasn’t easy to stand up and to be honest, I gave up and decided to just sit on my board and paddle. The others managed to stand, but it was not easy. My friend spent the afternoon practicing getting back on to her board, but was not particularly successful and we could hear her screaming and laughing right across the beach.

We had a fabulous afternoon but were extremely tired and a little bit wind swept by the time we left the beach. We decided to call in Newlyn for fish and chips on the way back, so we didn’t have to go to the trouble of shopping and cooking food. Later that evening as we sat at the cottage, we were all struggling to stay awake after the exertion and all the fresh air. Needless to say, we all slept well.

Cornwall Revisited (2)

Newlyn and Mousehole

On Thursday morning, the sun was out and it was warm, so we spent the morning relaxing in the garden at the cottage. After lunch, we decided to drive to Newlyn and walk along the coastal path to Mousehole. The walk is around a mile and a half and is a shared footpath and cycle path. There are coastal views along most of it, and at various points along the way, St Michaels Mount can be seen from slightly different angles. There is also a memorial to the Penlee Lifeboat disaster, where the crew lost their lives whilst attempting a rescue in an horrendous storm. The garden is set on top of the cliff above the old lifeboat station.

The weather was just right for walking, warm with a gentle breeze, but not blazing sunshine.

Mousehole is a stunning picturesque village, with quaint cottages sitting around the harbour. It was late in the afternoon and quite busy. It was great to see children, having finished school for the day, playing on the beach and in the sea. After strolling through the village, and enjoying the scenery, we called for a coffee, before heading back on the path to Newlyn.

We were unable to find a restaurant which was open and had room for us to eat, so called for takeaway from Lewis Fish and Chips. We sat on the benches by the war memorial eating them out of the box. They were excellent and I would recommend them if you were calling at Newlyn at any point.

The Minack Theatre

Having featured recently on a documentary, the Minack open air theatre had been added to my list of things to do. We had tickets booked for Thursday evening, for a production of The 39 Steps. The drive to the theatre is an interesting one, on some very narrow and winding roads. Once we arrived, the staff were amazing, guiding us to a parking space and then into the seating area.

The view from the top of the theatre is breath taking, looking down on the theatre itself and in the distance, out to sea, where several fishing boats were bobbling around.

As the production began, the sun started to set. The play was amusing, and all the characters were played well by the small cast. As it became darker, the moon cast an eerie glow on the boats out at sea, creating a unique atmosphere as the play continued. It was a chilly evening, but we were well prepared with coats, hats and blankets. At the end of the production, we all had slightly numb bottoms and achy backs, but the experience was well worth it.

Marazion And St Michael’s Mount

On Monday, we had pre-booked tickets to visit the castle at St Michael’s Mount. We visited last year but could only get tickets to the garden and were unable to visit the castle. We were very lucky again with the weather. We drove to Marazion, a picturesque village, with a soft flat beach and crystal-clear waters.  We walked to the castle along the causeway, which is only visible during low tide. The causeway is cobbled and flanked on both sides with rock pools.

The grounds of the castle are beautiful, with well kept lawns and beds. The route to the castle is very steep, up lots of steps cut from the rocks. The view from the walls of the castle is astonishing, looking out over the bay and the coastline of Cornwall.

The castle is worth visiting, having developed over centuries from being a monastery in the 1100’s to now being owned jointly by The National Trust and the St Aubyn family. There is an online tour which gives information for each room as you walk around the castle. There are also guides on hand if you have any questions. There are the usual art works and artefacts, but it is the structure of the castle and the location that is most impressive.

After visiting the castle, we sat on the lawns in the sunshine, eating lunch, before heading back to the mainland. The causeway was now closed, due to the tide coming in, so we were taxied back by one of the little motorboats, which was only a short journey, but worth the experience.  We had a little wander around the village and then sat looking out across the bay, watching the kayakers, paddle boarders, swimmers and the unusual sight of a man riding a shire horse along the beach.

Cornwall Revisited

After having such an excellent time in Cornwall last year, we decided to book the same cottage for this year (we actually booked it whilst we were still there as we had a feeling that holidays abroad would not be on the cards). We set off on Thursday lunchtime, meeting our friends and staying overnight in Bristol, before travelling down to Cornwall on Friday. We had a short stop off in Polperro for the extremely tasty crab sandwiches at the museum tea rooms on the harbour. Our  cars were even more packed than last year, after the purchase of the paddle boards and more recently inflatable kayaks. Luckily, we managed to squeeze everything in, with a little room to spare to pick up the click and collect order at Tesco in Truro.

We arrived Ruan Dinas in Coombe early Friday evening. The cottage is just as we remembered it and this year, we have the added bonus of staying for two weeks.

We all spent the first couple of days relaxing around the cottage, the garden, and the riverside, with a short trip to the garden centre and a wander around the shops in Falmouth. I also had my first go at fishing, but didn’t catch anything, which was okay as no one else did either.

My husband was the first to be brave enough to take his paddle board onto the estuary straight away. The rest of us were a little more cautious. We were convinced that the tide would wash us out to sea within minutes, but we soon realised that this was not the case. I took my board out the following day, and me and my husband paddled up and down the river a couple of times, with our friends in their kayak.  I must admit I stayed kneeling all the time, as I didn’t feel confident enough to stand up in the tidal water.

Enjoying The Sunshine

On Tuesday it was a beautiful sunny day, so we decided to paddle the kayaks up the estuary and have breakfast at the garden tea rooms. Unfortunately, when we got there, the tea rooms were closed.  After making our own breakfast, we paddled a little further down the river, around the large ferry which is moored up in the widest part of the estuary, and in and out of a few of the coves. The river was surprisingly calm and easy to paddle. We even sat in the kayaks in the sunshine for a while, just relaxing and watching the world go by.

After lunch we set off to the pitch and putt in Falmouth. We had an amusing afternoon, one we had negotiated the grumpy attendant, who opened a window and served us through a tiny gap. He was not amenable to any queries and slammed the window shut after pointing out the signs which said the café and toilets were not open. The fact that he was so rude, just set us off in fits of laughter, which continued around the course.  None of us are particularly good, but it all adds to the enjoyment.

Making the most of the glorious sunshine, we drove down to Swanpool Beach, where we were tempted by the quirky named ice creams at the beach café. I chose “Malt Pleaser”, which was a Cornish vanilla ice cream cone covered in Maltesers. After sitting for a while, we walked along the coastal path to Gilly Vase Beach, stopping to take in the outstanding views. At Gilly Vase, we strolled through the beautiful gardens before heading back on the coastal path to Swanpool.

Driving back from Swanpool, we took the scenic route and came across Pendennis Shipyard. It was fascinating looking at the huge ships in dry dock and seeing the people at work who looked like tiny ants in comparison to the ships.

Messing About On The Water

The following day we booked to take our Kayaks and paddle boards to Stithians Lake for the day. The idea was that it would be a safer expanse of water to practice our skills and improve our technique. It was a warm sunny day and we had packed the car the night before, ready to set off early in order to set up camp (we have so much stuff between us, including an event shelter, four paddle boards, two kayaks, a gas stove, chairs, food in two cool boxes, wet suits, towels and changes of clothing).

Stithians is one of the South West Lakes and is a large expanse of freshwater, with all the facilities to launch your own boats, hire, or even take lessons. I decided to get some practice in on my paddle board first. After lots of attepts at standing up on my own, I eventually managed to stand up with help from my husband. I was paddling along merrily for quite a while, before the wind got up and started making the water quite choppy. Needless to say, I was soon off my board and into the water. I managed not to panic but couldn’t manage to get back on my board at such a depth, so swam almost the length of the lake using my board as a float.

After lunch, I had another go. This time the wind made me drift into the banking at the other edge of the lake. At this point I should have gone from standing to kneeling but wasn’t quick enough and as I hit the bank. I fell forwards, face planting the board. Once I had recovered (and stopped laughing), I decided to sit on my board and paddle back to the shore, which took some doing as the wind was constantly trying to blow me in the opposite direction.

It was at this point we decided to give the kayaks a go. We paddled around the edge of the whole lake, which was easy when going in the direction of the wind, but much harder work when going against the wind.

After an amazing but tiring day, we headed back to the cottage, where we cooked a meal and then took drinks down to the firepit on the jetty. We sat toasting marshmallows and laughing at our antics.

A Bit Of A Catch Up

I thought I would just write and let you know what has been going on over the last couple of months. In many ways things are starting to get back to normal, although the pandemic is still very much with us.  I am still quite cautious if I am in a place with lots of people and feel more comfortable in the outdoors than being in an enclosed area. I have managed to get out and about to a few places and return to some of the things that I really love to do.

I’ve managed to get a couple of decent walks in with my brother, whose Charity Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge is delayed until next May. So far I have walked Pen-y-Ghent and Ingleborough with him. He is really good as when he gets a little ahead, he walks back to collect me, meaning he always walks quite a bit further than me. I am still unfit, having reverted to all my old eating habits during the last lockdown over winter. I get plenty of exercise but I do need to stop eating quite so much of the wring types of food, especially in between meals or on an evening.

Having said that one of my other great loves is eating out. It has been great to start doing that again over the last few weeks, particularly in places where you can book a table and know that it is not going to be overcrowded. We have met up with friends on a couple of occasions and it has felt great to be doing something “normal”

As a little treat, my sister in law and I took our mums and mum-in-law out for afternoon tea at Angelina’s Tea Rooms in the Mill Village at Batley. To be fair I had bought the vouchers as a present for Christmas 2019, but we have never been able to use them. It was a really pleasant afternoon, as we rarely all get chance to spend time together. It was lovely to see the older ladies relaxing and chatting whilst enjoying their teas. There were plenty of sandwiches and cakes for all of us and as much tea as you could drink. They all went home with a little box of leftovers which was an added bonus.

Birthday Treats

At the end of July, for my youngest daughter’s birthday, we took both her grandmas (my mum and mum-in-law) out for lunch at The Garden Café, at Bennetts Eggs in Liversedge. It was a warm sunny day. The food was great, if a little much for both the older ladies, who went home with a doggy bag to have for lunch the following day. We had a lovely afternoon, and it was great to be able to spend some time together. After lunch we strolled around the little petting farm before dropping them off back home.

Later in the week, as another birthday treat,  we went to an Escape Room with my husband and my daughter’s boyfriend. I absolutely love escape rooms, and this is one of the things that we have not been able to do over the last eighteen months with all the restrictions. I enjoy the puzzle solving and working together. I am always amazed at how everyone thinks differently. Puzzles that are obvious to one person don’t make any sense to another and it is great to see everyone playing their part to get out in time. If you’ve never done an escape room, I would recommend you give it a go. They are all different levels and themes, so you would be able to find one that suits you. The one we chose was a Titanic theme, in an Escape Room very close to our home. It was not too difficult, and we managed to get out with a good amount of time to spare, with lots of laughs along the way.

A Trip To London

In august it was my eldest daughter’s birthday, so I arranged to visit her. I travelled down on the train and we stayed in a nice hotel near to St Pauls Cathedral. She only lives forty-five minutes away from the centre of London, but I thought it would be nice for her to have a change of scenery, after the lockdowns and not being able to do many of the things she normally enjoys.

I arrived on the Sunday afternoon, and we popped into the amazing Theatre Café for lunch and a couple of cheeky cocktails, before going to the theatre. We had booked to see David Walliams’ Billionaire boy at the Garrick theatre. This may seem a strange choice for two adults, but as her friend was in the production, it was great to support them and see something that we wouldn’t normally see. The production was entertaining. There were lots of funny moments, which appealed to adults, but went over the children’s heads. However, the children did find the jokes about “pooping” and “farting” hilarious.

We popped back to the hotel for a relaxing swim and sauna, before heading out for something to eat. It wasn’t easy to find an open restaurant close by and we did not want to go too far. We arrived at Gordon Ramsay Maze Grill just as they were about to take the last orders at 8pm.  The atmosphere was pleasant enough, the service was efficient, and the food was reasonable, but I was not completely blown away. It did feel that they were getting ready to close by the time we finished our meal. By the time we left there was just us and a couple of ladies on the table next to us. Luckily, no one made us feel that we were being a nuisance by being there.

The following day I had persuaded my daughter to take part in a Sherlock Holmes outdoor game, which took us around the streets of London following online clues on an app. It was an interesting couple of hours. I was surprised by how much building and maintenance work was going on. Considering the amount of time restriction have been in place, it would have been more sensible to carry out the repairs then, rather than in the height of the summer holidays. It was certainly much quitter than usual, with the obvious lack of international tourists, which seemed strange in a capital city.

On the Monday evening, we went to the open-air theatre at Regents Park. We had enjoyed it so much last year, I didn’t really mind what was on, I just wanted to go back. This summers production was Carousel, which I haven’t seen for years and even then, only on film. The production had an unusual setting, with very neutral colours and clothing styles, which di not depict a particular era. The singing and dancing were beautiful. Although it is probably an outdated story, it had been altered to make it a little more relevant to modern times. I am not a fan of changing everything to suit modern values (sometimes we need to see how things were, to understand how far we have come and how much change is still needed), but on this occasion I think that it was needed and was not overdone. All in all, it was a great evening, helped by the warm weather and the different atmosphere that is gained by being outdoors.

On Tuesday, we went out for a walk and had breakfast, before checking out of the hotel. We walked to the station and got on the same tube, before saying our goodbyes and heading off home.  Although we had had a busy couple of days, I felt relaxed as I travelled back home.

Paddle Board Practice

After having our paddle board lesson in June, we decided to invest in a couple of inflatable paddle boards to take with us on our holidays. Although that sounds fairly straight forwards, as we knew exactly what we wanted, it seemed that everyone else in the country had also had the same idea. We eventually managed to pre order some and they arrived on 2nd August. As it was a fine sunny day(and we were self isolating), we spent some time inflating them in the garden. This took quite a while and a lot of energy. Needless to say we have now invested in an electric pump!

Over the August Bank Holiday weekend we went up to Ullswater and spent the day on the lake, with friends practicing on our paddle boards. We had a great day, but I am still struggling to get from kneeling to standing without leaning on my husband. Luckily he is proficient and very confident on his paddle board, so is able to assist with this without me tipping him into the water. Hopefully it will come with practice. If not I’ll just have to keep leaning on him every time i want to stand up!

Taking On A New Challenge

One of the activities that was on my list of things to try when I retired, was stand up paddle boarding. Unfortunately, due to the travel restrictions, not mixing in groups and all the other strange things that have happened over the last eighteen months, it was something that I never got round to doing.

However, last weekend I finally managed to go and give it a whirl, along with my husband and two friends. We had booked a beginners lesson with Lake District Paddle Boarding. The lesson was three hours long and we booked a private lesson for just the four of us as we did not want to be holding anyone back or being embarrassed by not being able to actually get on the boards.

I have to say that we had an excellent afternoon. When we first arrived on the edge of Ullswater, it was very murky, overcast, with a chilly breeze. Whilst we sat and ate our picnic, we were all shivering – I think from the cold rather than the sheer terror of what was to come. We were all convinced that we would be in the water within five minutes and frozen to the core.

We went to introduce ourselves to our instructor Joe, who was excellent. He reassured us that we would be able to get on the boards and was confident that we would be paddling across the lake by the end of the afternoon. We were slightly more doubtful! He also convinced us that the water wasn’t actually that cold and we would not be chilly if we fell in.

The first hurdle was to get into a wetsuit. This is no mean feat when you’re younger, but when you are over fifty, overweight and not particularly fit, it becomes a bit of a workout in itself. By the time I managed to shoe horn myself into the suit, I was definitely not chilly anymore. I was relieved that I had fitted into one, as I had nightmares about being stuck half in/half out of a wetsuit, witnessed by hoards of Lake District tourists.

Joe explained the basics at the side of the lake, whilst we watched and asked questions. He was really encouraging and patient with us. He made it sound very straight forward. He then got us all to get onto the boards, kneeling up and we set off into the water. They were much more stable than we had anticipated. After about ten minutes, the boys were already trying to stand up and doing a pretty good job of it. Us girls were a little less confident, but with lots of help and encouragement we were all actually standing on the boards and paddling, much to our amazement. It was quite hard work, requiring a considerable amount of concentration. The advice to look ahead to where you are going and to relax, really helped, but what you actually want to do is look down at the boars and cling on by clenching your toes.

After we had paddled up and down near the shore for a while, Joe then suggested that we paddle across to the island in the middle of the lake. Despite our initial reluctance, we were now all up for this and made our way across with a combination of standing and kneeling, depending on the choppiness of the water. I was mostly kneeling, as I still did not feel particularly confident. Once we had had a short rest on the island, we then crossed the lake into some of the more sheltered bay areas, where it was a little easier to stand up. I still needed a bit of help getting from kneeling to standing, but I managed to paddle standing up for a short while.

Joe showed us some further skills on the boards and also some tricks, which the more confident paddlers tried, some with more success than others. The boys both ended up in the water, mostly from showing off and being over confident. But we laughed so much! Once we had gone in and out of a few more of the little bays, it was time to make our way back across the lake to where we started. I don’t think any of us could believe how quickly three hours had passed by.

As we set back off, the steamer was approaching and Joe warned us that it would cause a few waves. The choice was to kneel down and be more stable in the waves, or stand up and try and balance. Needless to say the boys tried standing and riding the waves and ended up tipping off into the water.

We all managed to make it back safely and a little quicker than going out, as the wind was blowing us in the right direction. We had had a great time and were really impressed with the whole afternoon. We all had slightly achey legs and had definitely used muscles that we hadn’t used for a while.

I would definitely recommend this as an activity and would suggest booking a lesson to try it out with some instruction. I can also heartily recommend Lake District Paddle Boarding and particularly Joe, who was encouraging, amusing and very knowledgeable, nit only about paddle boarding but about Ullswater too. One of the other really nice things was that he took lots of photographs throughout the session, which he then sent us free of charge. The photos make us look much more confident and proficient than we were!

Stand Up Paddle board lessons in the English Lake District. (lakedistrictpaddleboarding.co.uk)

A Cornwall Holiday (4)

I am told that no holiday is complete without a boat trip, so today we decided to take the Enterprise Boat Trip from Trelissick to Falmouth. From the cottage there is a woodland walk which takes you to the landing at Trelissick, where the boats run to Falmouth. We set off in plenty of time, as we did not know how long it would take us and we also intended to have some lunch at the café at the National Trust Gardens at Trelissick.

We arrived at the gardens at around 11-30, but they were closed. Online it showed that they were open and that you had to pre book online, but it was all locked up. Pretty disappointing really, especially as we had just missed a boat at 11-15am and the next one was at 1pm.

We walked down to where the car ferry was running and watched that for a little while. Luckily we had a few snacks and a flask with us so we passed the time until the next boat was due.

The boat trip itself is run by Enterprise Boats. There were only a few passengers, but we chose to sit outside as we wanted to see the scenery. It was very bracing! There was a small amount of commentary at the beginning and the end, but for the rest of the journey (45 minutes in all), you are left just to enjoy the scenery.

We got off the boat at Falmouth and headed straight for lunch at a tea rooms that had been recommended to us.

Dolly’s Tea Room – Falmouth

This had been recommended to us in the information that came with the house we were staying in. It is a very quirky tea room, which doubles us as a wine and gin bar on an evening.

On arrival we went up the stairs and there was a sign asking us to sanitise our hands and ring the bell so that we could be shown to a table. We sat in a window seat. the tea rooms themselves are in a big Georgian building which is decorated in an eclectic mix of wallpaper, with various wall hangings, informative and amusing blackboards.

We ordered sandwiches and I had homemade soup with a chees scone. The food came quickly and was presented in a lovely array of mismatched china crockery, all adding to the quirky atmosphere. The food was really good and the staff were really pleasant.

We then had a short walk around Falmouth, purchasing big pasties to take back to the house for tea and then boarded the boat back to Trelissick. The woodland walk was shorter on the way back (had taken a few wrong turns on the way there) and we were soon back at the cottage.

The fire pit was lit and we warmed up the pasties and peas, taking them down to the fire pit and once again enjoying a lovely relaxing evening. Afterwards we went inside and enjoyed a few drinks whilst playing cards.

Everyone’s Heading To St Ives

The following day we decided to drive to St Ives, mainly for cream teas in a café there that was described as having the best cream teas. St Ives was unbelievably busy considering it was the last week in September. We parked in the overflow car park and headed straight to the recommended tea shop.

Olives Cafe – St Ives

We arrived at the café, but it was busy both inside and out. We were told that a table would be about 20 minutes and we opted to wait as the reviews of the café had been so good. After about 15 minutes we were told that we could have a table and we ordered our cream teas. There was a choice of scones all of which were delicious and large. The tea came in a nice big pot, so you could get several cups. The food was so appealing when it came that we were so busy digging in that we forgot to take photos, but take my word for it, it was definitely worth the wait.

After our cream teas we walked through the little streets of St Ives looking in some of the shops, but it was so busy, it was hard to keep your distance from other people and because of this, not really a pleasant experience. It’s great that the area is having lots of visitors, but difficult in the small towns to make it feel safe.

We walked up the very steep hill back to the car and decided to go for a drive to find somewhere a little quieter, when we came across a little gem.

Penwith Pitch And Putt

On the drive back we spotted a sign for the pitch and putt at St Erth. What a brilliant little place this is. It has a 12 hole pitch and putt, a crazy golf and a football golf. We chose to play pitch and putt, which we haven’t done for years. It’s a lovely course, well set out, clean and well looked after. We had a really good laugh and managed to get all the way round without losing any of the balls, although we had to dig a couple out of the little streams that were running through the course.

Afterwards we went for a coffee in the little café and had just got inside when it started to pour down with rain, Luckily it was a quick but heavy shower and it had cleared up by the time we had finished our drinks, ready to head back to the cottage after another lovely day in Cornwall.

A Cornwall Holiday (3)

Another beautiful sunny day again in Cornwall. Our plans were to go and enjoy a day at the beach and hopefully for me to be able to swim in the sea.

Porth Beach

We initially intended to go to Watergate Bay, but on our way came across the very beautiful Porth Beach. The beach is fairly narrow, but the tide goes out a long way, leaving a long stretch of really flat sand. A stream runs into it from one side. There are tiny coves and bays all the way down, allowing people to sit in what appears to be their own little area. It gives protection from the breeze(not that there was much breeze today) and also allows families to contain small children in a smaller area on a large expanse of beach.

We settled on the beach with our chairs, drinks and snacks. It was really hot and sunny just like a summer’s day. I was going to wait for the tide to come in a bit before going for a swim, but having looked at the tide times, realised it was still going out and low tide wasn’t until 4pm!

I made my way down the long stretch of sand to the sea. The lifeguards were there and there was only a small area between the flags that was safe to swim in. I headed into the extremely cold water, but once you were in, it was a great feeling and your body soon adjusted to the temperature. It was hard to swim in as it was really shallow for quite a way out, however there were some enormous waves which allowed you to swim with them as they came into shore.

It was a really great feeling and I spent quite a bit of time in the sea and went back in for another dip later on, even persuading my husband to join me.

We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and soaking up the sun, before heading back to the cottage

Pizzas and an Open Fire

Ruan Dinas, where we are staying has it’s own jetty, which has a fire pit. In the evening we cooked pizzas in the cottage, made up gin and prosecco cocktails, then made our way across to the jetty(literally 10 seconds from the house). It was dusk and it was so relaxing and enjoyable to sit by the open fire, drinking eating and laughing. We even did the obligatory toasting of marshmallows on sticks over the flames.

As it got dark and the tide was coming in we went back up to the house and played cards for the rest of the evening, whilst having a few drinks and snacks and proper belly laughs.

A Cornwall Holiday (2)

We awoke to glorious sunshine on the first full day at the cottage. Sitting in the garden with a cup of coffee we sat enjoying the calm and tranquillity. Other than the squirrels through the trees and the various birdsong, it was silent and so peaceful. The sun was shining over the river, with just a couple of boats sitting in the water, making it look like a true picture postcard.

We sat for a while before having breakfast and then set off to go to the local garden centre, as one of the locals had told us that they did fishing tackle, which you just have to have when you’re so near the water.

Carnon Downs Garden Centre was a really enjoyable place to look round. We purchased fishing gear and a very exciting windy crabbing line (a step up from winding string with a hook round a piece of wood). We had lovely sandwiches in the cafe which had a gorgeous view out of the large windows.

We then set off into Truro in search of wet suits as we were planning to swim and hopefully paddle board. Unfortunately Truro was completely devoid of wetsuits and we came back empty handed.

Back at the cottage, we sat outside for a while, as the tide was completely out and we couldn’t fish or swim until it came back in. Later fishing rods and crabbing lines in hand we went down to the quay (literally a 30 second walk from the cottage). It took about 5 seconds to catch a crab with a cheap piece of bacon on the crabbing line and a bucket full within about half an hour. The fish however, were not for catching.

I managed to get into the river and swim (I had bought a wet suit before I went). I have had open water swimming on my bucket list for some time, and I was not disappointed. After the initial entry into the water, which takes your breath away, it is really invigorating and you truly do feel alive. The only thing was, I felt quite constricted in the wet suit, so next time I will give it a go in just my swimming costume.

St Michaels Mount

The following day we made the journey to the lovely area Marazion, in order to walk across the causeway to St Michael’s Mount. Unfortunately we could only get tickets to the island and gardens and not to the castle itself. This was to limit the number of people on the island at any one time, which is understandable at the moment. You can only go to the island if you have a ticket for the castle or gardens.

It was another sunny, warm day. We parked near to the beach and the then walked over the stone causeway to St Michaels Mount. The view of the castle from the shore is breath taking. The causeway is a nice walk and the tide was still going out, leaving the rock pools at the side of the path which are always full of interesting wildlife.

Once of the island, there was a one way system in place and we walked round to the lawned area where we bought sandwiches and coffee (and cakes of course) then sat on the grass enjoying the sunshine and the spectacular views looking back towards the mainland.

We then went to the gardens at our allotted time and walked through the terraces. There were some stunning flowers and plants and some huge succulents. We really enjoyed walking around in the sunshine.

After this we had a quick stop in the gift shop before walking back across the causeway and to the car.

Still in search of wetsuits, we decided to have a drive to Penzance to see if we could find any there. We parked at the harbour and walked into the Town Centre, but again no wetsuits to be found ( unless you want to spend £500). I’m not sure what else there is in Penzance itself, but I have to say I was a little disappointed (Sorry Penzance) I think I expected something a bit more quaint and piratey and maybe a police man on the corner bemoaning his lot.

A Cornwall Holiday (1)

After all the ups and downs of the last few months and lots of “will we, won’t we” in relation to holiday bookings, we finally had our foreign holidays cancelled for this year (I thought I would be disappointed, but actually quite relieved). We were fully refunded for all of them, so a few weeks ago decided to book something in the UK.

We decided to book a week in a cottage in Cornwall. Pretty straight forward you would think, but not as easy as it seems. After lots of searching on the internet, most places being fully booked, we finally managed to find what looked like a lovely cottage in Coombe, near Truro.

An Overnight Stay In Bristol

As it is such a long drive from Yorkshire to Truro we decided that we would have an overnight stay in Bristol to break up the journey (in truth it was also because I had a voucher for a free overnight stay at any Village Hotel and Being a true Yorkshire girl, I didn’t want to waste it!).

One of the lovely things about the journey was that my husband had put some CD’s in the car just in case we got bored with listening to the radio. One of the CD’s was one that had been recorded by our daughter. It just said “The Jennings Family Favourite Music” on the front. It had so many great tracks on there that were linked to lots of events and memories over the years. We had a really good sing along and also reminisced about why each particular track was on the CD. Neither of us could remember when she had made it, but it was definitely a good way to pass some time on a long journey.

We arrived at the Hotel at about 4pm. The hotel itself is very modern and quite Hi Tech, well especially for us over 50’s. The room was clean and had a huge bed. Other than wearing masks in whilst moving about in the hotel and being unable to get in the lift with anyone else, it was very much business as usual. We had a table booked for the evening, so decided to have a quick coffee before getting changed and going for food. However, it was a lovely sunny afternoon and after sitting outside in the sun for a while, decided to order from drinks from the bar. Needless to say we never got changed before our meal, as it was just so lovely to be sat in the sun enjoying a drink and a chat.

The following morning I got up early and went for a swim in the pool before breakfast. I was in the pool on my own for the first 15 minutes or so which was lovely. A couple of other people got in soon after, but I was able to enjoy a nice peaceful swim to start the day.

We then went for breakfast, which was slightly different due to the current restrictions in place, so there was no ” help yourself”, everything was served to you. This didn’t alter the enjoyment and all in all it had been a relaxing start to the holidays (A bit like staying in the hotel at the airport the night before you fly)

An Afternoon In Polperro

As we couldn’t get into our accommodation until 5pm, we made a stop at Polperro along the way. This is somewhere I had not been before on my holidays to Cornwall. It is a picturesque fishing village, very quaint and pretty. We had a walk through the village and then stopped for lunch at the museum café. The museum itself wasn’t open, but the café was serving food outside and as it was another beautiful day, we sat overlooking the harbour eating delicious sandwiches stuffed with fresh crab.

We then had another walk through the rest of the village, then onto the beach and across the rock pools. By the time we had been to the supermarket for supplies, before going to the cottage.

Ruan Dinas

The cottage we had booked is called Ruan Dinas and is situated at Combe near Truro. We followed the directions given by the owners of the cottage, which took us down a small track. There were a few hairy moments or two along the way, but at the bottom of the track was a beautiful bungalow with an amazing view of the river.

Once inside we were impressed with the open plan layout, well equipped kitchen and comfortable seating. The bedrooms are large and lots of storage (always pack too much stuff!). We unpacked and had a coffee before walking down to the waters edge. It was high tide and there were young people swimming in the river, as well as people kayaking and fishing. It was such a beautiful evening and it really felt like I was on holiday at last.

We had a hearty home cooked tea, including a couple of glasses of wine and pudding and custard. The ginger sponge pudding had been made by my friend, who had been to the eye hospital for an examination and had to wear sunglasses whilst making it as her pupils were so dilated. As you can imagine, she got a lot of sympathy and from then on the pudding was renamed “one-eyed ginger sponge”.