The tiny Greek wedding

So, the big day had finally arrived. The children still hadn’t met most of the people at the wedding and the Groom invited us up to his villa. So I thought, perfect… as the Groom’s family is quite large, so having already met all of the bridesmaids, this trip would mean the kids would know around half of the guests; As we were readying ourselves to go up, we got a message from the Bride freaking out about bus times and pickups… After a short “ok, if you need us to be picked up from ours, we’ll get the taxi back here, be ready and waiting at least 10 minutes ahead of time” she was ok and it was all good.

Imerovigli

So, we headed up and had a somewhat chilled morning at their villa around the pool, overlooking the sea. It was beautiful. But, what the bride doesn’t know is that (well she will now ‘cause she reads this, and will find out – sorry) our taxi came in the wrong end of the road; there was a road closure to resurface part of the road – it wasn’t possible to get through. So they had to drive right up to the top of the cliff road and back down the other side. Our taxi was 30 minutes late. By the time he got us back I had 30 minutes to shower 2 children and myself, get ready and leave.

VIEW

I got the kids completely sorted, but just as I was about to put my necklace and bracelet on, and do my hair, the groom was calling – they were early and at the top of the road waiting! The children were already ready, so it just called for me getting my shoes on – but they wouldn’t stay on, so I ran up the road, in mid-afternoon Santorini heat, with no shoes on. I would just like to comment here, my feet are quite hardy, from lots of barefoot adventures, but even I struggled with the sun heated black tar roads… so I really wouldn’t advise it.

towards Santo

Anyhow, the wedding was Santorini Gem and is next to Santo Wines. It was beautiful, they didn’t have to do much to achieve that, and they didn’t. I mean, of course they cleaned the place and kept it in good order, but to add too much to the venue would have detracted from the surrounding beauty; the views of the Caldera and volcano and up towards the north of the island. The chairs were setup with a few parasols at the front and the cabana was setup in a simple and elegant manner.

Parasols

I would say “the ceremony was beautiful”, but to be honest, I was stressed out trying to keep a 8 and 5 year old happy in the direct sunshine, and slightly entertained by the toddler that had broken free and was running around. Once the ceremony was over, and photos taken, we headed out to the bus to take us to Pyrgos restaurant. We were out on the balcony for ages waiting for the bride and groom to arrive from their photo shoot, but the children were being plied with sugared strawberries and the adults with bubbly, and there was some shady seating… so no one really minded to be honest.

towards Santo

Once the bride and groom had arrived, cut the cake and had their first dance, we could finally head in for food. Which was excellent cause frankly, we were all getting a bit hot and hangry. And it was worth the wait indeed. The food was so scrumptious. I can’t really put any pictures up of the evening as it was all faces and people and I can’t really do that. But I can say, it was great. The staff even got involved in trying to teach 30 drunk brits how to Greek-dance – interesting and very funny.

The plan was that we would book a taxi when we could see the kids weren’t coping anymore… but thanks to meeting people beforehand, thanks to all the hard work and prep we had put into it and thanks to the amazing bunch of people who were there and paid them so much positive attention, we ended up having to call it a night around 11:30pm – the latest we have managed to keep them out by far.
Amazing day. Amazing couple. Amazing celebration. Amazing memories. And new friendships.

A trip with a purpose

To begin this story, I really must rewind to about January/February 2016, when I took a trip up to see my friend and his then girlfriend, so we could all go to soft play together. Though they didn’t have children, my friend is Logan’s Life Mentor; this is the title we gave to 2 of our friends for each of the children, like a Godparent, but in a non-religious capacity, who the children can look to for support and advice and know they are safe to talk to. Anyhow, Logan’s male life mentor has been friends with me since, well we can’t really put a date on it… but since some point in early primary school. He’s always just “been there”.

However, during this trip he had something exciting to show me: a ring! Yes! An engagement ring. I mean, it wasn’t really a surprise, it had been on the cards a while; they had a mortgage and a dog, so this is naturally the next step. He hadn’t gotten everything in place yet, but he knew he intended to propose whilst they were on holiday – and he did… just a couple of months later. I won’t share the details as that’s their special story, but Bruce could certainly take some lessons in romance from this guy for sure!

A couple of months after they broke the news of their wedding, and dropped the bombshell on everyone that they wanted to get married in Santorini, we invited them over to have dinner and to talk about wedding plans and the accommodation we’d booked etc. They asked us to be a part of the wedding: Ariella – Best Man (yes that’s correct, not my first gig either would you believe?), Logan – Page Boy and Caitlin Flower girl… Bruce as he always likes to be, a person on the side-lines spectating, getting free food, but not having to do a lot. Hehe.

Now, fast forward to 2017 and all the way to the day before departure. We head to Heathrow and stay in the Sheraton Skyline Hotel, we got a “secret deal” on Holiday Extras to include our parking. As we were flying out of Heathrow Terminal 5 with BA.

When we got the other side, we had a shared transfer waiting for us. And this went really well. They took us to our accommodation swiftly and the owner was outside waiting to welcome us to Lefteris Houses, which was to be our home for the next week.

During our stay we tried local cuisine, took many walks around the island, hunted down Falafeland (I have a bit of a thing for falafel, no one else quite has the same level of passion as me for it but… still I had to find it – I had heard good things). And we went on a boat trip to the Palea Kameni hot spings and across to Nea Kameni to walk up the volcano. As well as booking a semi private tour (which ended up being completely private) of the island.

Then Sunday night, realising how completely exhausted we were, and that the wedding was Tuesday, we decided we needed a change of pace so booked into an All-Inclusive hotel (Makarios Beach Hotel) at the south of the island, so we could chill in a pool and not have to concern ourselves with sorting meals etc.

Up until this point it had been our family holiday and that is the way we ended that chapter of our trip. With total relaxation. We had enjoyed our holiday wholly and truly. Which was good, because literally the day before we left was having a breakdown and didn’t want to go!

Fira

Fira_2

Review: Makarios Beach Hotel

After several packed days of adventure and walking, we felt it was time to have a good rest. Also, we didn’t have a pool and were frying slightly so we found an all-inclusive hotel on the island where we could chill out around (or even in) a pool and not have to worry about working out what we were going to eat etc.

The hotel was Makarios Beach Hotel, Kamari. It was just south of the airport and about 20 minutes from our apartment. We booked a quadruple room via Expedia, but when we got there, we were informed that they didn’t have any quadruples remaining so they gave us a double and a triple. We ended up just using the triple as Caitlin is quite happy being literally glued to me in bed so we shared a single.

Poolside

The hotel was clean and tidy, the corridors felt a little sterile (in a kind of school/hospital like manner) but it wasn’t unwelcoming, and definitely couldn’t be called unclean. And the pool area was definitely stocked well enough to ensure a table or sun lounger for all. And it was the perfect temperature to contend with the heat. What the children found really cool was the fact that, being so close to the airport, they got to watch several planes lowering to land, whilst they were chilling in the pool. That was apparently the most amazing thing ever, being able to see planes from a swimming pool.

We had arrived just in time to unpack, have a wander and then grab lunch. The buffet was fairly basic, but had all the main bases covered. It wasn’t a gourmet meal by any means, but that’s not how buffets work, so if that’s what you go in expecting you’re gonna be disappointed. With that in mind, I was quite satisfied by the food. And later in the afternoon we had access to self-serve scooped ice cream and at the bar they served cheese and ham toasties. The evening meal was also buffet, with similar structure to the lunch setup only with a few additional “mains” added. All the while beer, wine, soft drinks, water and hot drinks were available, and there was a fridge in the room, and a jug for getting water for your room.

pool

The staff were all friendly enough, and the stay was pleasant, but we were also using this break to gauge whether the all-inclusive concept works for us… If I speak with complete honesty: Did I enjoy not having to cook? Yes, without a doubt. Did I like that we could just get ice cream and drinks and stuff easily, without having to worry about having cash etc. Yes, of course I was, I don’t think anyone in their right minds would hate that idea. Was I sold. Hell no. The problem is, the concept is so attractive that families who have regard only for how close to the bar they can sit, becoming more and more vulgar with every glass of beer they intake and caring less each second about the children they dragged along to pretend it was a family holiday instead of a glorified drinking session. Call me anti-social, call me a grump, call me what you will, I just don’t see the appeal of spending my leisure time with them and would much rather a secluded villa, near a beach with our own private pool.

Review: A semi private bus tour of Santorini

We booked an island tour (semi private – which means that potentially up to 10 other people could book to come with us 4) to cover most of the major sights of the island. We paid and gave our information over. And were told they would meet us at the hotel at midday. As it turns out, for us, no one else did book so it was completely private.

We were picked up at the hotel, and promptly taken to the Prophet Elias Monastery, the highest point of the island. This had some quite panoramic views including a view over the runway which excited the children as they watched a plane moving down to the runway and eventually taking off. Unfortunately, as it was a Sunday, the Monastery itself was closed, but we could still take in the views from where we were.

Prophet Elias Monestary

After making our way back to our private carriage taken to Perissa beach (filled with black volcanic sands). It’s quite a long beach at the area we were on was filled with cabanas in sections, with each section being maintained by an individual establishment. I did not catch the name of the café looking after the section we chose, but we managed to get a front row cabana for 13euros, for as long as we stayed. We purchased some beer and some water, and when Logan and Caitlin were cold from the sea, they had – wait for it – chocolate ice cream.

Beach Feet

Perissa beach

The water was really clear, and the cool (not cold) temperature was very welcome in the early afternoon heat. It does go from very shallow to fairly deep quite quickly though. So, in the case of children, or at least younger ones, you need to be a bit “aware”. But it was a nice clean beach and if going to the island and you enjoy a good swim in the sea, I’d definitely recommend it.

Chapel at Red Beach

Chapel at Red Beach 2

Red Beach

We were then driven across to the Red Beach, but it was a sun trap with no shade, and it was quite a trek down, so we stayed there for pictures only. We didn’t really fancy too much walking in the heat, with Caitlin’s legs. So instead we asked to go to the pre-historic excavations of Akrotiri, which are situated just out of the car park for the Red Beach. They tried to sell us a tour guide for 99euros, by telling us there was no information inside – lies, there are boards with information everywhere. It was a mix of interesting, eerie and awe-inspiring. To think how forward in civilisation, they were all those centuries ago, in comparison to how civilisation was for us not all that long ago.

Akrotiri_excavations

Akrotiri_excavations_2

Afterwards we headed up to Santo wines. We had a wine tasting there and took in the view for a while. We, stupidly (or ambitiously, I haven’t decided yet) decided to go for a 12-wine-flight, knowing we’d have less than an hour… but it was definitely worth doing. Just to have some shade and chill time for a while. It was fun. And eye opening. I REALLY cannot drink dessert wine. And though I don’t really enjoy red wine, I apparently can truly sink it back if it has port-like undertones and I’m in a hot place.

Santo_wines

Santo_wines_2

However, it also showed us, that Logan is still having some issues around alcohol; alcohol features in his past, and so we knew he’d had some issues with it. He has seen me drink in the past – I just don’t drink very often so it must’ve been long ago enough to be out of his head. But he sees Bruce have a bottle of ale, or a glass of whisky regularly enough to know it’s ok when he drinks – nothing bad happens. However, he flipped out at the sight of the wine in front of me (it was quite an overwhelming sight in all honesty), but the freak out was only directed at me. So, we explained “Mumma has paid to try these wines. I will not drink all of them all up, but I will just have a taste of each one”. That didn’t entirely pacify him, but did go somewhat into the compromise where he could handle the situation.

Afterwards, as we were heading up to Oia, for the sunset, we decided to find somewhere to eat (word of warning – book somewhere in advance, it’s difficult). We found a nice little restaurant called Oia Gefsis. The food was really good, the server was awesome and they have a sunset terrace you can eat on (we ate down on the patio as we hadn’t booked) but Bruce was allowed to pop up to the bar to take a photo of the sunset. It was a friendly and welcoming place to go, with an almost Italian feel to the menu.

Oia

Afterwards, we made our way through the crush of people towards the car park and met our driver to take us back to our accommodation. It was a good experience, but, as others have said, you can enjoy the sunset from anywhere that has a view over the Caldera, Oia is a nice place to go, but I’d be more inclined to visit during the day and get the hell outta there before nightfall – but that’s just cause I don’t like having to deal with the kids being so squashed and panicky.

Review: Hot Springs and Volcano

We met up with the 3 bridesmaids on the one day for a boat trip, it departed from the old port in Fira, so we met up in Fira and took the many steps down to the port. It was an experience. Not one I would like to repeat ever… but an experience none the less. The steps were cobbled which made for a very uneven, downhill walking experience, which is always fun when you are trying to dodge donkey poop. But worst of all were the donkeys. No shade. No water. No respite. No space. And despite all standing there looking dehydrated and exhausted, people were actually riding them back up! I was horrified.

Fira Port

Needless to say, we took the cable car back up the cliff on the way back up, as someone who’s exceedlingly fearful of these things, I can honetsly say, it wasn’t that bad. It was over very quickly, and it wasn’t too unpleasant. Well not until Bruce stood up to take a photo and I completely flipped out. heheh

Cable Car

kids on the boat

Anyhow, we got down to the port, the boat turned up, we got on and sat inside… some relief from the sunshine. We got taken straight to Palea Kameni so we could use the hot springs. I didn’t go in, I had done my research – you aren’t there for long, the water is about 28 degrees Celsius, which is cooler than the ideal temperature for a baby’s bath, it smells of sulphur and it stains. Bruce, however, went in and enjoyed himself. But it really was a short trip.

Hot Springs

Hot Springs 2

Then we sailed to Nea Kameni, which is the active volcano, visible from the caldera side of the island. We went up, there is a fee of 2 euros per person to go up the volcano. You must take water with you, it gets very hot as it’s an active volcano, plus there’s no shade and you are walking on black volcanic stone and sand.

moored boat

We didn’t make it all the way to the top, but we’d gone far enough that we could see the kids were struggling (but even they wanted to continue up). We headed down and stopped under a cabana almost at the bottom to rehydrate, re-motivate ourselves and take 5. Here we saw a few lizards and got some tranquillity.

looking back towards Fira

walking down the volcano

Once back on the boat, we had decided it was a given that we weren’t walking back up the steps, and we sure as hell weren’t paying to ride a dying, dehydrated donkey. So it was settled. I had to face a fear and ride in a cable car. And I have to admit, fear aside. It was a reasonably priced, fast and suitable alternative to getting back to the top (the only other option really was to charter a boat to take us to a more accessible are of the island away from Fira – but that felt a little extreme).

view_from_boat

view from boat

Though we enjoyed getting to see the sights and say we walked up a volcano, I am not sure we’d pay to do that excursion again, when we could do a sunset cruise or a day long cruise with snorkelling and swimming. But it was definitely one of those things you have to say you did, at least once.

Review: Lefteris Houses

We had looked into loads of different options, but realistically needed a 2-bedroom accommodation, with the facility to wash clothes. We came across Lefteris Houses, the price seemed too good to be true. It was distinctly lacking in a pool, but it had everything else, was in a quiet location and was really cheap. So I spent ages trawling the internet for “the catch”. But I couldn’t find it. Everywhere I looked. Good reviews. A trustworthy, family run business.

And honestly, I couldn’t agree more. We booked a 2-bedroom apartment, and once the flights were released, realised we would be out Wednesday to Wednesday as opposed to the Saturday to Saturday we had previously envisaged. This was no trouble, they were more than accommodating. They arranged our transfer as well, who was waiting for us at the airport with our name on paper.

Living Area

bathroom

When we arrived to our accommodation, Lefteris himself was waiting to greet us. He personally helped take our bags in and gave us a tour of the apartment. He also explained that they had provided us with some food and refreshments to see us through, and check everything was to our liking. And explaining they would be around a lot, but providing us with information of how to get in contact with them and how to connect to the Wifi.

Master

Twin

It really was. The apartment was spacious and had more than ample facilities: fully equipped kitchen, more storage than we could possibly need, washing up supplies, toiletries in the bathroom, towels, even decorative stuff like candle displays etc. But the best touch we weren’t expecting was the snacks they had provided: water in the fridge chilling, portions of butter, tea, coffee, UHT milk, cereal bars, melba toast and jam.

food

After refuelling on some water and a cereal bar, we sought out the nearest mini market (literally 2 minutes away) and stocked up on some basics and stuff for our breakfast.

It really was located in a convenient place. Karterados is a quiet village only 10 minutes south of Fira, so most of the buses to the centre/south of the island run through the village to the bus stop only a 3-minute walk away. Within 5-minutes of walking radius there were several different types of eatery, shop and establishment.

As an additional bonus, the apartment was refreshed (including the linens) every day. The family would come in each day and sweep, clean and replace the linens. It may sound obvious to some that I would say that, but I would like to reiterate, we were staying in an apartment. Not a hotel. Not an aparthotel. Just a bog standard, we own this building of apartments, and we are leasing them to tourists. It was a level of hospitality I wasn’t expecting.

The family were so lovely, they really could not have done more for us. We wouldn’t hesitate to stay here again if we ended up back in Santorini at any point.

Review: The BA Experience

On the morning of our big trip to Santorini we headed over to Heathrow (Terinal 5), our flight was with BA (British Airways). We had booked assistance as the children both have different things they struggle with. I did try to talk over the phone to see what assistance we could get, but they wouldn’t discuss, just told me to speak to staff at the assistance desk on arrival. So that’s what I did. They completely denied that assistance exists. But eventually stamped our tickets for fast track through security, though did mention the soft play directly to the kids – worst idea ever. They can’t deal with that stuff when they are anxious, but now they had been told about it, so as it was still quite early, we headed straight over in the hopes they could have a quiet 10 minutes in there. They did. I was already quite miffed going into it, because BA had changed their on-board food policy – we booked with them due to the complimentary food and drink service, so we would be comfortable in the knowledge the kids would have ample snacks/drinks. No notification, no compensation. Just a change – totally ethical, right? Nope.

But there was a lady at the boarding gate, who’s name I now forget, who I spoke to about the children’s difficulties. She invited us to come on through and board first, and offered apologies about how we’d been treated. Feeling slightly better we boarded, to have the rebuilt confidence taken away – the on-board snack service which could only accept electronic payment, was unable to take card payments as it wasn’t working, so tried to get the system working. 90 minutes into the flight, they gave up and processed all payments manually, on paper. It took ages, so many people got nothing until quite close to the end of our 4-hour flight.

Overall though, the flight wasn’t too bad, a bit of turbulence, and for a small airport, Arrivals was quite efficient. We got through passport control, baggage collection and exited the building rather swiftly, where our transfer was waiting.

Then there was the return journey. Santorini airport is way too small to deal with the demands that are being placed upon it. It needs expansion and an organisation shake up. In the interim, I honestly advise that it’d be far less hassle and far more enjoyable to get the ferry to Athens and fly back from there. They weren’t very organised and put people through security before they were ready to take passport control, sent everyone to the boarding gate and then made everyone clear out of the boarding gate so they could then do passport control, meaning we had to all leave at once in a mad rush and linger in a crowd where people were coming through security.

When I mentioned to the passport control officer that the way they had done it was completely inappropriate (Logan by this time was in full swing panic attack mode) – pointed to Logan and said “it’s upsetting children” She started shouting at me. I said I was just giving feedback, she continued shouting… I walked into the boarding area, she followed me, still screaming in my face in front of all the other passengers. I told her “you are shouting at an adult in front of a child and making the situation worse. I was just feeding the situation back to you. You are still shouting.”

Again, the boarding team were great – having witnessed the ordeal (and seen other passengers offering up seats/offering biscuits) they put us through boarding first. But then there was an issue with the plan (on landing an electrical fault had flashed up so they had to reboot the plane). It meant we were stuck on the bus on the runway in afternoon heat for about 30 minutes. But eventually we got on the plane and our journey home commenced. This was a much more enjoyable service, with the on-board facilities working as they should have been.

Overall, I have had far better experiences flying with easyJet, but I am in no hurry to get back on a plane in all honesty.

Review: Sheraton Skyline Heathrow

We struggled to get into the car park (it’s a fast road and it was busy, and the entrance kinda sneaks up). But once we’d worked out where it was, managed to turn around and come back again it was all good. Check in was fairly easy, and comprehensive, and our room was ready and waiting.

Sheraton_room

The room was surprisingly spacious, very clean and very comfortable. And despite being in a room which was road and runway facing, we heard little to no outside noise. The bathroom was well stocked with all that we’d need, there was a mini bar which was more expensive than the actual bar itself and a reasonable amount of tea/coffee waiting for us, as well as 2 complimentary bottles of water. The room information also showed a list of available conveniences that would make the stay more comfortable, which were complimentary and request only. Things such as a toothbrush, razor or even a nappy.

Sheraton Bathroom

We had dinner in the sports bar and grill. The staff were friendly and prompt with service, well dressed and accommodating to the children. The food took long enough that you knew it’d been sat waiting for someone to order it, but without making you wonder what the hold up was. And it was worth that little wait because it really was delicious.

We then went into the Skyline bar (by the pool) where we had a night cap (and the children were treated to a mocktail each). It was a nice experience. And I could see how, staying there not as bed pre-flight, it could be an enjoyable pool to be in with the children with its nooks and crannies.

Sheraton Skyline

Happy Moving In Day

Last year, we started a tradition that each May we would take a holiday in Cornwall to celebrate the children moving in with us. With the holiday (actual living somewhere else for a week) symbolising the move, but also to reiterate to the children that it’s a positive thing. We have various things we do through the year to celebrate certain milestones with them, to show them their past is an open topic, not something we are ashamed of, and just ‘cause well, we like to make a fuss and celebrate. So, this is our thing to show that we acknowledge they didn’t always live with us, that although there are some sad parts, the goodbyes etc. There are many happy points like family time, adventure and so forth.

So, we looked at camping, but we were surprised to find a deal that worked out cheaper on a small holiday park, where we could stay in a house (7 of us were going, and so camping we’d need two tent pitches but we could share an 8-person house, and split the cost). As we only needed a base camp to sleep, and it was in the correct area we were looking for (Perranporth), central to the places we were hoping to visit.

Anyhow, we went away for the week. It was a great holiday. We really enjoyed ourselves. We got down there quite early, armed with a gazebo, camping chairs, picnic, camping cooker and kettle. We were ready for it. Including the rain and grey skies. We pulled up to Perranporth beach and unloaded our “mobile kitchen” and got cracking with enjoying ourselves. We weren’t even done setting up before the kids were soaked, covered in sand and giggling (fully clothed I may add).

As it was quite chilly, we called the park Perran View Holiday Park, only 10 minutes from Perranporth in the outskirts of St Agnes. It was fine for us to go, park up and sit in the warm until our accommodation was ready. They didn’t have anywhere to get meals from but there was a shop we could get snacks from and a bar/clubroom we could hang around in, and eat said snacks. So that’s what we did until check in time.

We had all these plans to visit places, but on that first night there was an important football match for Grandad’s football team, so we stuck close to the bar, to the side of the entertainment. Much to our surprise, the children got comfortable enough with the noise levels (they didn’t amp up the music to deafening volumes) and with how busy it was (as in not really very busy at all, max of 30 kids). So, they actually distanced from us and joined in with the fun and games. This was very surprising and pleasing to us all at the same time. Therefore, we re-assessed the situation, “Logan and Caitlin are actually socialising, in a situation that would normally overwhelm them. They are taking part, playing to the rules and having fun. This needs to be a high priority activity this week”. We absolutely hate those entertainment things, but… hey, if it’s working…

Consequently, we cooled down our calendar off site, and set about ensuring that we were taking part in some of the onsite activities, which included (at varying points) a fun day, some water activities and a character breakfast alongside all of the evening entertainment.

Of site, we visited St Agnes for the day. We did half of one of our Treasure Trails maps, only half as we were having a Sunday lunch at the St Agnes Hotel, and when we finished we were all feeling way too fat to walk back to the car, let alone finish the circuit – we had intended to go back and finish it but ran out of time. We also visited Land’s End and the Minnack Theatre on one of our days. And also took a walk around Newquay as well as spending a day back on Perranporth beach. With bits of lazy time in between that was plenty sufficient for us.

The children appreciated their quality time with us, Bruce and Logan shared a twin room whilst Caitlin and I shared a double – hell yes, I kept the double bed! We had meals out, we had fun. It was great fun and a welcomed tradition. And we will definitely continue on next year. And by the end of the week the children were very happy to be coming home to their familiar beds and toys and normality.

Reviews from our Cornish Break 2017

Perranporth Beach

Perranporth Beach
I have so much time for this beach, having visited it several times over the years.

We like it because there is good access to the beach from the car park on the promenade, town centre. Which was reasonably priced (I think the most we paid was about £5 for 6 hours). Within the car park itself is a toilet block, which was always very busy, and quite sandy. But for a beach, wasn’t in too bad a state.

From the car park facing the beach there is a drop down, so you can go along to the left and down an access ramp, or across to the right, on a little bridge over a stream and down onto the beach. There are a few shops and facilities (like surfboard lessons) but we didn’t go for any of that.

We literally setup close to the stream, but on the main beach, in easy reach of the car park. We pitched our gazebo up and the kids could come and go between us and the stream as they pleased; the stream runs through the town, down the beach and into the sea.

The water is clear, the sand is golden and clean and the beach is well taken care of (the usual stray bits of litter from the people who are “entitled” to be cleaned up behind of, but generally very clean.

The beach is life guarded in the summer season and is dog friendly. And there are cliff walks. We have only ever walked towards Newquay on the south west coastal path as far as the Haven caravan park, but even that short distance allows for some spectacular views over the sea and beach.

Perran View Holiday Park

We booked through Hoseasons, during a special “January Sale” event (low deposit, discounted break). And booked a 3 bed silver house (pet friendly). And they dealt with my initial enquiries about there being a disabled guest etc.
But before arrival I also had questions about our arrival day (mainly about Grandad wanting to ensure there would be somewhere near a bar with a TV where he could park up and watch the important cup-match for his football team). The gentleman that answered the phone call was very happy to assist with my enquiries and very knowledgeable.

On the day of arrival, having been rained off the beach, we called to see if it was ok to arrive on site ahead of check in time. When we got there, they informed us (as we were hungry) we could purchase snacks in the shop, and eat them in the bar area (all they ask is that drinks being consumed are purchased at the bar – not the shop). They then checked whether our accommodation had been cleaned, and told us they were more than happy for us to access it early, but it wasn’t quite ready, however, if we remained close by in the bar, they would get us as soon as it was. Within 45 minutes we were in.

The accommodation was far from 5 star, but that’s not what we paid for, nor did we expect it. The furnishings and décor were tired, but we couldn’t deny that it was clean. There were ample facilities (microwave, fridge with small freezer area, pans, pots and utensils, crockery, cutlery and glasses) in the kitchen. There was an open plan living/dining area with a doorway to a twin bed at the back by the staircase, which lead up to the bathroom, a double and a twin. The furniture was mismatched, but sturdy.

The grounds were immaculate and the staff all very friendly and welcoming. The music wasn’t too in your face at night time as the volume was always kept at a reasonable level, the bar was reasonably priced and the children could stay in the same room for the whole evening (there was no adult only entertainment). Kids bingo was on offer every night as was adults bingo, alongside kid’s club and evening shows.

During the day, the children took part in the character breakfast (a paid even, around £3/4 per child to include a bowl of cereal and a drink, with a bowl they could take home and a meeting with one of the characters). The water session (which was water zorbing/surfing/jet skis/aqua jet) the session was free but, basically, they were not guaranteed to get to go on all activities. Still, I think most children got to try at least 2, if not 3 activities.

The week we stayed also included a “character birthday” Kenny the Badger got even older. So to celebrate this there was a barbeque and fun day – they got out zorb-ball equipment – intended for the children to play football, but it just turned into a bit of a run at each other, crash and roll blood bath. There was also a bouncy castle and music being played out on the green. Although there was a small charge for the barbeque, the rest of the day’s activities were free.

Also on the site was adventure golf (free to play), the swimming pool (free for guests, open at certain times – clearly advertised – with a small pool and a jacuzzi sized baby/toddler pool and changing area), and a “green” with sports area and small park. There was a little arcade and a small food kiosk that would sell hot food in the evening (this was outside catering). The shop was run by the bar/reception staff, and though we didn’t use it, we were aware that there was a launderette marked on the map.

St Agnes Hotel

During our annual trip to Cornwall, it was apparent we needed to go for a Sunday Lunch; Nanny and Grandad lose the plot if they don’t get their roast on a Sunday. We tried to look for one with good reviews close to our accommodation – we all tend to over-indulge with a roast, it’s all just so nice we can’t waste a speck. After a bit of a hunt, I found the St Agnes hotel and booked us in, before we even left home. The person on the phone was very friendly, she was happy to answer all my questions (we have a few awkward intolerances in this house) and it was all great.

On the day parked in the free car park (they take donations for the upkeep, but there’s no minimum charge as such) at the top of the hill on… And we walked down through the village for our little explore. We were doing our Treasure Trail hunt. After a good hour and a half of walking around (there were 2 people with mobility problems) we had done roughly half of the trail. And so, we got thirsty… by this time we were at the church, directly opposite the Hotel and so we were like “meh – there’s 30 minutes until our reservation – let’s just go and have a drink and wait for them to be ready.”

We had our drinks in the little stage area at the back of the pub, where Grandad was excited to see that they had some Chelsea Football stand seating on display – we think this was the highlight of his holiday. The pub itself was decorated in the kind of trendy-rustic look that is all the rage with the more upmarket, popular restaurant-pubs right now, and was clean and welcoming. The staff were very friendly and accommodating, despite being in the tail end of a very busy breakfast. They even offered to bring the drinks to our table instead of us waiting until the hot drinks were ready.

As soon as the lunch setup had been done, we were informed which table was ours and that we could go over as soon as we were ready. They had 2 sizes of adult roast, plus a child’s roast. There was a good selection of meats and the veg was freshly prepped (not frozen). Nut roast was available for the vegetarians amongst us (me – and Caitlin struggles with chewing meat so she opts for vegetarian out and about, quite often). Also, as I am really fussy, and love to have my roast soaked in veggie gravy and mint sauce, the male front of house (who I can only presume was the owner) got the kitchen to find out some mint sauce, despite lamb not being on the menu. Quite literally nothing was too much trouble.

The food was delicious, I couldn’t stop until it was all eaten. And then we were presented with the dessert menu, which was very VERY tempting, based on what we had just eaten. However, despite having only the small adult roast, there was no room for pudding. Thoroughly stuffed doesn’t cover it’ it really was difficult to walk back up to the car.

I wouldn’t hesitate to include a return visit to this establishment if we had plans to visit St Agnes in the future.

Apologies, no photos as I wasn’t thinking that far ahead at the time. I was thinking with my belly!!!

Land’s End and The Minack

Having heard of The Minack Theatre, I had always wanted reason to visit. So ahead of our trip I checked out the details and found that they were having storyteller for a few days, whilst we were there.

So we phoned down, in advance, to check whether we’d be able to sit in a quiet area – assuming it’d be packed, and were reassured we’d be allowed to get entry fairly early and if we sat near the top would have no issues as it’s an interactive performance where most children gather at the front. The issue we have is that Logan can get very anxious and have tantrums when it gets too busy. And Caitlin gets very anxious when noise levels get too loud (even the cinema can be testing at times).

The tickets were reasonably priced (£5 for adults and £0.50 for children), and parking is free. Though the drive down gets narrower and narrower, with few passing places the closer you get. Even without the draw of a performance it is, most definitely, worth a visit to look around. It is breathtakingly beautiful and an experience that cannot be put into words.

Then there was the story itself. We chose the performance of The Two Wizards, by storyteller John Brolly. A story about two grumpy wizards who cause chaos with their feud against one another… causing the survival of the local village to be threatened.

Approached in a very fun, light hearted and interactive way. It was enjoyable to watch at a distance, so I can only imagine that fun being heightened for those that can manage to be “down on the ground” and being more interactive. That said, sitting at a distance didn’t stop the three children we were with from shouting, cheering, clapping and singing along.

Adults, and children alike, left smiling and happy. The theatre has small speakers all the way up to ensure everyone can hear, but at a comfortable (and not overpowering) level. So, we could hear everything, and due to the way the theatre is arranged, see everything clearly, despite being near the very top. All the while, hearing the background noise of the crashy sea, feeling the sea breeze (actually quite gusty that day), smell the salt in the air. It’s a unique and amazing experience.

After a trip to the Minack, on a high, we decided to take the additional 5-minute drive across to Land’s End. We were not prepared for what we were going to see. When you think of Cornwall, you think “such a beautiful place, it doesn’t need any gimmicks to attract people” or, you do if you have my kind of perception. And yet, that’s exactly what Land’s End has become. Not a tourist spot that calls people in for it’s “first and last” of everything… but a place that has turned to mainstream theatre. Quite literally with the introduction of Shaun the Sheep and Arthurs Quest 4D experiences and now you can’t even stand and have your photo taken by the iconic sign without paying them loads of money.

However, the area was clean and tidy and the views were magnificent. And it was definitely worth being able to say that we had visited.

A walk in Newquay

We parked in Atlantic Road Car park, which is a little out of the centre of Newquay, but in a good location to walk along the ridge above Fistral beach, and consequently down on to the beach. After some time walking across the sand and jumping waves we headed up by the Headland Hotel and followed the coastal path around to Towan Beach where we stopped for lunch on the balcony at the Walkabout Bar.

The walk was quite ambitious with 2 people with walking difficulties (Nanny and Caitlin), but we took it at our pace and enjoyed it. I’d say it’s not wheelchair/buggy friendly as in certain places there are some quite steep steps. But the views were truly spectacular. And well worth the effort we put in.