The husband and I headed down to Cornwall recently for a week of sunshine and relaxing with the kid. We’d been given some hotel vouchers so we decided to base a little trip around one night at a nice hotel, spending the rest of our time in a holiday park chalet. Now, I’ll be honest with you, despite having stayed in some very cheap and cheerful, hostels pre kid when I went travelling with the Mr, the types where the mattresses tipped inwards so you both slept in a dip, I turned my nose up at staying in a holiday park. As I’ve gotten older, I like certain comforts and to me and my inner snob, a holiday park conjured up images of dreary, chavy, loud arcades and chain smoker parents. Not my idea of a holiday. Possibly a bit unfair and biased? Yes, I know but I’m being honest and I didn’t think it was my cup of tea thank you. When we decided to go to Cornwall, I’d initially looked at lots of Air BnB houses and found a few lovely little places, but the Mr soon put these plans to rest as the price of a Haven Chalet was so cheap compared to what I was looking at. So he went ahead and booked it despite my reservations.
We headed down on a Bank Holiday Monday and after a looong time in the car, we arrived at Perran Sands, the holiday park site just outside of a little town called Perranporth. It was a dismal wet, foggy afternoon and everything looked really bleak. And I won’t lie, I wasn’t impressed when we drove up outside our chalet. I wasn’t expecting much as I’d looked at photos beforehand, but I still felt rather let down when I saw the place. It was very basic and I’m not sure which part of it was ‘comfort plus’, as it apparently was, but it was very clean throughout, I’ll give it that. Let me mention that when we booked our accommodation, ours was the ‘best available’ online, however our chalet backed onto far better chalets which had double doors that opened on to a little green area with swings (that we just sadly looked at from our kitchen window) Looking at the Haven website now, these are ‘premier chalets’ only just available, so it seems like we just missed out. Anyway, chalet woes aside we unpacked and headed down to the main beach accessed via the holiday park. It was okay, but not that great we didn’t spend too long there. We decided instead to go for dinner in one of the restaurants on site ‘Surf Bay’. We tried to get a table but despite the place being barely full at 6pm we were told we’d have to wait thirty minutes to be seated. By now we had a pretty hungry toddler so there was no way we could wait it out. We headed back to our chalet, fed the kid then the Mr went out to get fish and chips from the onsite take away, which turned out to be pretty bad, which was amazing given our seaside location! We decided to call it a night and head to bed early.
Thankfully the next day was utterly gorgeous. With bright sunshine and blue skies we headed off to check out the Eden project. One of the great things about where we were, was that it didn’t take that long to drive to the other side of Cornwall. It took about 30 minutes to drive to the Eden project from the holiday park. Unfortunately Olivia wasn’t in the best of moods and spent the entire day moaning. We managed as best we could to largely ignore her and take in the beautiful sites. The Tropical bio dome was really cool although don’t, I repeat don’t, go in there with freshly washed and undried hair like I did, I came out with the biggest bouffant you’ve ever seen. The Mediterranean bio dome was equally as impressive and pretty, albeit smaller and we just had a lovely time just walking around, looking at the different plants and areas, despite the whinging child. In hindsight there wasn’t really enough to keep a two year old interested. There’s a small ‘soft play’ on site, but it’s more just cushions and costumes, and there are lovely little paths and gardens for kiddies to run around, but this just wasn’t enough for Olivia, but hey, we liked it nonetheless. We had a nice coffee and lunch there, we felt that everything was reasonably priced, sometimes with these places the prices can be extortionate, but it wasn’t. Oh and beforehand, we picked up a Guide to Cornwall brochure with loads of vouchers inside which gave us 10% off our entry fee. Another oh, don’t offer your kid the chance of a tractor ride when actually all it does is take people up and down from the entrance, oops.
We did another fab day trip to The Lost Gardens of Heligan, a secret garden on a family estate, overgrown and forgotten after the outbreak of WW1. It’s a huge (and I mean HUGE) site. Again we lucked out with the weather, it was a beautiful day and again we went with a moaning child :/ We learnt some valuable parenting lessons here, as we took our Maclaren buggy and opted to do all the walks that weren’t buggy suitable. Yes, we are those idiots. Of course Olivia didn’t want to go in the buggy, or walk, she wanted to be carried – the entire way. We ended up pushing an empty buggy over bumpy paths, carrying a heavy child in the hot sun. In hindsight (again!) we have a rucksack carrier that we should have bought to chuck her in (bloody hindsight) Anyway, regardless of the child, we did a lovely walk, taking in the beautiful sites. We hadn’t realised it was so large and in fairness to the kid there was a lot of walking to do which possibly made for all the moaning. The best bit was the Jungle garden, a beautiful large pond with some amazing tropical plants but we got to this when tantrums were at a peak, so we decided to cut our losses, grab an ice cream and head home. All in all, well worth a visit but take a packed lunch and have a strategy about how to transport your child around! Oh and from memory if you do the Lost Gardens first, you get discounted entry into the Eden Project too.
A few other things we did during our four days at the holiday park were sitting in the grassy sand dunes flying a kite. We also had a nose in the arcade and the kid went on a few rides. The soft play unit there was tiny and could only have about two/three children in it at any one time so that wasn’t so great. I also took her on a few of the outside climbing frames but to me they weren’t that good, I was expecting better given the site size and space. There were lots of daytime activities available but obviously you have to be with the child, and that’s not what we were there for. Outside of the park we spent one afternoon at a picturesque little town called Porthtown and sat on the beach there. It was a lovely little beach with lifeguards and a small bar/café. Also Perranporth town itself was nice, lots of touristy shops where we purchased the obligatory bucket and spade and kid sunglasses. The beach there was good too, really big and also with lifeguards. The kid absolutely loved paddling in the sea despite it being freezing! One thing to note was that everyone on every beach we went to had a dog. From what I saw they were being properly controlled and all mess being picked up, but I did also see quite a bit of dog mess around and the odd dog did run up to Olivia, and a few times she didn’t really like that. So just something to be aware of.
The last day of our trip we de-camped and headed off to spend our one night in our nice hotel, ah the St Moritz! We drove up the coast making a quick pit stop in Padstow to grab a coffee and have a wander. I would’ve loved to have stayed longer in Padstow and maybe had lunch in Rick Steins, but another time perhaps. We headed on to the hotel, arriving early hoping we could check in. Thankfully we could and a very friendly receptionist showed us to our room. I could have wept, it was a lovely large family room, with complimentary his and hers Cowshed minis curtsey of our hotel vouchers, and there was a HUGE bed! It was heaven. We had lunch outside in their Seaside restaurant and I had the most delicious Crab salad and glass of Sauvignon Blanc, now this was what I had been waiting for. Post lunch we grabbed our swimming gear and took the kid into the on site pool. We had the place to ourselves, and took it in turns to hit the sauna, steam and Jacuzzi. Bliss. That evening we had a babysitter (amazing!) and ate in the a la carte restaurant, me and the Mr had the most wonderful food with one or more cocktails beforehand, lush. We just wished we’d stayed more than one night.
Okay I’m going to lay it to you straight, here’s what we learnt from this trip:
- Despite my initial opinions about our chalet, it was fine as a base from which to explore Cornwall, but there were a few things that we hadn’t considered beforehand: You had to take a lot of things yourself like: all towels including a bath mat (!!), condiments like salt & pepper, bin bags, hand wash, washing up liquid etc, the list went on and actually this was a pain in the back side in the end. Also the chalet lacked obvious things like hooks on backs of doors or shelves in the bathroom, small things I know but these things do make a difference.
- Something we hadn’t considered was that there was only a shower and once there, Olivia was very unsettled and didn’t sleep well. Had we perhaps been able to bath her maybe we could’ve chilled her out a bit. Now obviously you’re not going to get a bath on the Haven sites I realise that, but that’s something for us to note in future.
- A place for your kids to play outside come tea time/pre bed time is very useful. As I’ve mentioned our chalet backed onto a green play area which we couldn’t directly access or let Olivia go in without one of us being with her. We’ve learnt that we need either a balcony or outside area for her to run about in.
- Foolishly we thought we could relax during this break, having not holidayed with a two year old before. Yes, yes, I know. So next time I think we will potentially look at somewhere where we could have more access to on site babysitting or kid’s clubs where you don’t have to be with them (ha!).