Before I started this blog I used to write a blog about travelling, namely our travels in Cambodia and Vietnam. I am by no means suggestions that we were seasoned travellers but we were very enthusiastic holiday makers. Sadly, we haven’t travelled much since having Zara which is something I really want to change. We went to Majorca when she was about 7 months old but other than a few visits to friends and family around the UK we haven’t really strayed too far from home. I don’t really know what has stopped us. I think I have two main worries.
- She will scream on the plane.
- She won’t sleep…especially if we have to share a hotel room with her.
So with these concerns in mind we decided to book a UK break this Easter instead if going abroad. We booked an Air B and B in Cornwall with the idea that Zara could have her own room and we could enjoy our evenings (and the hot tub). Despite hours of deliberation weighing up the least stressful options even a simple UK holiday made me worry. How would she cope with the 4+ hour drive? Would she sleep? How would she nap in the day? What I really need to start learning is that Zara always surprises me. She adapts so brilliantly and always finds fun in whatever she is doing. She didn’t cry on the journey. She slept amazingly (she didn’t wake up till between 8-9am every day). She LOVED having new places to explore and people to meet. I’ve come back determined to chill out and book some more exotic travels and I’m writing this to remind myself that I need to give Zara the benefit of the doubt and just go! (Although the toddler on the plane thing still terrifies me…any tips are welcome).
Here are a few highlights of our little break in Cornwall. (Partly just to remind myself that we had fun and going away is OK.)
The Eden Project
I went to the Eden Project when it first opened years ago so don’t really remember it well. I didn’t quite know what to expect but just felt like it was something we should do whilst we were in Cornwall. Zara absolutely loved it and it is so geared up for families. Watching Zara charge around the biomes full of excitement was so magical. She loved all the colours, smells and seats! She’s currently obsessed with sitting on chairs/benches/walls/tree stumps…anything she can possibly find to sit on.
She got really excited when we found banana trees in the Rainforest Biome, shrieking ‘nana’ and pointing whenever we spotted them. If you are in Cornwall with a toddler I’d really recommend taking them. It is pricey but your ticket is an annual pass so you can return as much as you like within the year. This was brilliant for us as we left after lunch (Zara didn’t want to nap in her buggy…too much going on) and we could go back the next day.
A couple of friends recommended Watergate Bay. It was a really accessible beach which was perfect as Zara likes to walk everywhere and some beaches in Cornwall are such a trek from the car park. We went to one that was about a 10 minute walk down to the beach from the car park. I realise that doesn’t sound far but when you have a toddler who wants to walk but in her own direction, always wants to sit on anything you pass that she can possibly sit on and stops whenever she sees a dog 10 minutes is a long walk. The beach at Watergate Bay had lots of little streams of water where Zara could splash and rock pools that I’m sure she will enjoy more when she is older. We bought Zara a bucket and spade and made sandcastles. Well, I made sand castles and Zara destroyed them! We had our dinner out at The Beach Hut which is right on the beach. Eating out with Zara isn’t always a very relaxing experience. She isn’t really used to having to wait for food and despite her enjoyment of sitting on things, she doesn’t enjoy sitting anywhere for a prolonged period of time. However, she was really good and mostly sat really nicely.
Cornish Seal Sanctuary
The Cornish Seal Sanctuary in Gweek is really lovely and was made even lovelier because we met a friend and her family who we don’t see much of. I definitely feel like one of the best things about parenting is being able to go to places that secretly you probably enjoy more than your child but maybe wouldn’t go to without the child. I’ve decided I really like seals. Zara wasn’t particularly excited by them. She liked them at first and then just wanted to run around, refusing to stand and look at anything for more than a few moments. That was until we got to the sheep (yes they had sheep at a seal sanctuary). Zara adores sheep. She sat on the grass and chatted to the sheep for a very long time. She does a very convincing baa.
I think my top toddler parenting tip whilst away is to get the right balance of forward thinking and going with the flow. For example, we arrived in Cornwall with no food and no plan of where to eat at 4.30pm. We then spent ages unpacking and exploring our Air B and B. The house was in the middle of no where. The owner of the house recommended a local family friendly pub (still a 10 minute drive away) but we called them and they didn’t do food on a Monday. Welcome to Cornwall! We ended up driving to the nearest supermarket (15 minute drive) at about 6.00 with a very hungry little lady and two hungry adults. On this occasion we stumbled upon a random ‘Table Table’ restaurant who were so helpful and brought us veg sticks to keep poor hungry Zara happy whilst we waited for proper food. More forward thinking was definitely needed. On the flip side, we kept our days quite flexible and free. We visited the Eden Project but by lunchtime Zara was really tired. When she’s tired she wants to be picked up and then wriggles to get down about 3 seconds later…and repeats this over and over again. We put her in the buggy (much to her disgust) and attempted a lovely walk around in the hope that she would sleep. She didn’t so we decided to just leave and come back the following day so we could all enjoy it.
So watch this space. I am feeling very inspired by friends who travel with their little ones and feeling like I need to just get on with it! There isn’t much that can beat the feeling of seeing Zara exploring new places and experiencing new things.