The problem with family holidays is that children and adults don’t always see eye-to-eye on what constitutes a fun day out. Anyone who has spent an afternoon in a soft play barn can vouch for this. If you haven’t had that pleasure, just think ears ringing as the screaming echoes off every surface, terrible coffee in one hand (soon to be knocked over your lap by a small person), piece of loo roll in the other with which you desperately try to blow a small snotty nose before it gets rubbed on your leg.
It’s not just toddlers who have such endearing ideas on how to spend their time: Some lovely guests staying with us recently asked their teenagers to choose the destination for a family day out. They ended up at a shopping centre in Plymouth; very similar to a shopping centre right by their home in London, but just a bit worse.
The thing is, we do want our kids to have a wonderful time: there’s no point dragging them to that exhibition of 19th-century ceramics that you’ve been meaning to see, or parking them outside the sauna at a spa weekend. Where’s the middle ground?
Thankfully, this conundrum has occurred to several smart people in Cornwall, and there are actually lots of fantastic places to go that will make everybody happy. Here's what we'd do if we were guests at Treworgey this February half term:
Our favourite National Trust property in Cornwall, and just half an hour away. The house and gardens are beautiful, but for families, the best bit is the new(ish) biking centre. They have built a range of bike tracks through their beautiful woodlands and hire bikes out of all sizes. Their ‘skills’ track has jumps and burns etc for kids (and adventurous adults), and there are tracks of various lengths and difficulty to suit everyone. Afterwards, you can get a really good simple lunch, or decent coffee and cake in the new café, however muddy you are.
Lunch in an old lifeboat station
Make the 40 min journey to Polkerris Beach for a thoroughly delicious but family-friendly lunch (great seafood and woodfired pizzas) in an old lifeboat station with views out to sea. Afterwards, play on the sandy beach, or even get your wetsuits out!
Travel the world at Eden
Now I know Eden is in every Cornish list of ‘What’s On’, but it really is brilliant at appealing to kids and parents. This half term they are sending visitors on a tour of the world – kids can learn how to shoot a blowpipe, meet a didgeridoo player, stare down a polar bear and cross the wobbly rainforest bridge. Perhaps it’s just me, but I always learn a lot on an Eden trip, so not just for kids. It's not cheap, but tickets can be used again in the same year if you fancy another break at Treworgey, and it’s a bit less if you book in advance.
The Monkey Sanctuary, just a few miles from Treworgey near No-man’s-land (yes that is actually a place), is home to various monkey types (perhaps not the official jargon), including rare Woolly Monkeys and the unbearably cute Capuchins. Kids can monkey around in the play area and do various other hands on activities. Meanwhile you can admire the stunning coastal views and enjoy handmade food and cakes in the tea room.
Just stay at Treworgey!
Dear Reader, if you aren’t staying at Treworgey this Feb half term, you might want to reconsider your choices next year! For those of you who are, rest in the knowledge that any day you don’t fancy going out, the kids will have clubs (Forest School, Own a Pony Afternoon and Pony Club), play ground, playroom and riding lessons to keep them occupied. You, on the other hand, can enjoy the views, book treatments in our lovely new spa room, chill out in the sauna or spa pool or head out on our farm walks to work up an appetite for our home-cooked food, delivered to your cottage. Enjoy!