May round Up
May feels like it has been a quiet month, but actually we have travelled to more places than any other month so far. This is because we have been on holiday and have had more family outings instead of walking or hiking adventures.
Sunday 5th May
Finley is mad about raccoons. Why? I’m not sure. But we managed to find a local wildlife centre that housed a small family of them. So, we thought we would try and make his dreams come true!
Gentleshaw Wildlife Centre was unfortunately hit by a fire in March 2019. A family of bats were killed, along with a meerkat and 2 tortoises. We paid for entry but because some of the animals weren’t available we were given a free pass to come back. What a great initiative.
There were still lots of animals to be looked at, so we sourced the main event of the day – the raccoons. Finleys face lit up as soon as he saw them and was overjoyed to be within touching distance of one. He sat and watched them for ages. Oliver strolled to have a look at his favourite animal – the wolf, while Molly was happy looking at everything else. From the parrot, to the singing dog and even the small old monkey that was trying to demolish an orange!
Gentleshaw is a lovely little place that we will be sure to return to later on in the year.
Sunday Part 2
For part 2 of our family outing for the day, we went to the Black Country Living museum. I was given a pass by a friend so we took advantage of a free day out. The museum is a great open air space with all the working remnants of the Black Country from the 1830’s onward.
There is a working fair, plus old trams and buses. The workers walk around dressed up as they would have been back in the day and the fish and chips are known across the land!
We took a trip into the mines with a fantastic walking tour of how workers made their money. It is so called the Black Country because the main trade was coal mining. Everybody ended up black who worked in the mines and pollution was high due to the furnaces burning the coal. We got to tell the kids how lucky they were that they don’t have to be working in the pitch black and freezing cold at 12 years old.
The museum is made up of streets resembling the style at the time. We perused the vintage labels and how everything was measured out. No plastic bottles or individually sealed packs back then. Everything was taken out just for you which you carried away in a basket, wrapped in cloth. Maybe we should take a few notes!
The kids loved playing with the old fashioned street games; a jump rope and rings that you chase along the cobblestones.
We watched the furnace working in all it’s glory and looked along the boats on the canal.
A lovely day exploring local history and how we used to live.
Sunday 12th May
This day was spent at home, getting on top of housework and then meeting up with family for my mom’s birthday meal. It was nice getting all the kids together to play, and to laugh and eat in a local pub for the afternoon.
Saturday 18th May.
Sat 18th to Sat 25th was our family holiday to Cornwall. We booked a train carriage to stay in for the week and took along both of our mothers and Dicky’s sister. The holiday was filled with walks, exploration and adventures.
We arrived at the train after a 4.5 hour drive and got comfortable. We explored the train and it’s grounds and had a small barbecue outside.
I had purchased a map from treasuretrails.co.uk which consists of a leisurely 4 mile walk along the coastal path, from Hayle to St Ives. Altogether we ended up doing 11 miles! We took the moving train back to our ‘non-moving’ train (as the kids called it) after having a bite to eat at The Balcony Bar.
After doing a family shop at Asda, we set off for St Michaels Mount with a picnic. The car park is in Marizion and when the tide is out, you can walk along the causeway. The sun shone brightly and the castle looks amazing from it’s perch up on the hill.
As we are National Trust members, we only had to show our cards and we had free access to the castle and the grounds. The kids grabbed a treasure map and we went off in search of the first clue.
We explored the castle, found all the pieces needed to complete the treasure map and collected the kids medals at the end.
The gardens were beautiful. Such large and unusual plants that we aren’t used to seeing around our parts of the country. In the sunshine, they look magnificent.
After we had seen all we had to, we caught the tide just drifting in as we walked along the causeway back to the car.
We ate our picnic by the cars, then drove out to Lands End. Just a car park payment was needed and we walked along the pier-esque arrangement of shops towards the famous signpost. I am glad we went later on in the day as there were no heavy queues or groups of tourists to worry about. The kids had the park to themselves and we were able to soak in the atmosphere and marvel at the beautiful coastline.
Tuesday was set to be the hottest day of the week so we had already set our sights on the beach. We drove out to Godrevy beach and took advantage of our National trust cards again for free parking. We caught a glimpse of the lighthouse in the distance and explored the rocks for crab and other marine life. The beach and the tides are a bit unpredictable and we ended up being too far away from the cars, so we made our way back to Hayle beach.
There, the kids played to their hearts content in the sand, building sand empires and kicking around a ball. Such simple fun for the kids, and us adults had chance to chill out for a bit too.
The big event! Dicky’s 40th birthday was celebrated in our train accommodation and we had booked a day out at the Eden Project. We drove the hour from Hayle to Bodelva and met up with some more family from Devon. Again, the sun was shining and everybody was in good spirits. The Eden Project is great, we love the rain forest biome with the waterfalls and strange plants. Oliver took a few photos with the ‘big’ camera and the kids loved interacting with some of the pieces located around the domes.
After we got our fill of tropical flowers and plant life we headed to Hangloose adventures. Dicky had an experience booked as a present from his Mom for his birthday. Off he went to travel the longest zip wire in England, straight over the top of the Eden project itself. He absolutely loved the thrill of it (considering he doesn’t like heights!). Oliver also had a go at jumping from at least two stories high onto a beanbag! He wanted to do the zip wire too, but unfortunately he wasn’t heavy enough(!).
A memorable day was had, and Dicky proclaimed it to be the best birthday ever!
After the fun filled first few days (try saying that fast!) we took it easy on Thursday. We hadn’t really had chance to explore Hayle. So we took the kids for a stroll around town to sample some of the local delicacies. We hit Philps Pasties, Sanders Fish and Chips and Mr B’s ice-cream parlour. I’m pleased to say that every ice-cream vendor we went to in Cornwall, had a dairy free option for Finley. We visited the Hayle heritage museum and explored their local history. Dicky and I had a date night at the Minack Theatre and watched a fabulous slapstick comedy show called Dick Barton, The Secret Agent!
A ferry had been booked to travel over the archipelago that is the Isles of Scilly. We got to the Scillonian III for 8.45am and boarded for our 3 hour journey over the Atlantic ocean. Excited at the prospect of seeing dolphins, basking sharks and sea birds, the kids were on an all time high. Sadly, that high was brought down sharply as 2 out of 3 children were affected by sea sickness. To be honest, I don’t think any of us fared very well on the journey over.
Eventually we arrived at St Mary’s Harbour, where we explored the island by Golf cart! We hired a 6 seater cart and drove every single street we could. The main island is only 12 miles in circumference, so it is very easily done. We found a small little cafe and had a cup of tea and some chips with our picnic. We caught some crabs and found some very pretty shells on one of their many beaches! The Island is very quaint with lots of little shops to have a peruse among. The beaches are lovely. I just wish we could have had a bit more time to explore and see some puffins or seals. Our time drew to a close and so we boarded the ferry back to UK mainland. Pro tip: if you suffer with sea sickness, stay on the lowest deck possible!
Our holiday drew to a close. On the way back home, we stopped off at the Lost Gardens of Heligan. This attraction was purchased as part of a saver ticket when we went to the Eden project. I wanted to find the rope bridge and Molly was desperate to see the island lady from Moana. As half term had started for most of the country, the Gardens had put on a wild week of events for kids. The kids had to choose if they were a frog/fox/owl or butterfly and paint themselves accordingly. They then took part in a few activities related to their animal of choice. They entertained themselves with fire starting, bracelet making and marshmallow eating! We found the rope bridge and had a wander across, quite slowly due to Molly leading the way! But, at least it gave us time to savour the moment.
At last, we had seen all we had to see. We had taken in the delights of the Lost Gardens and spent too much money on plants to take home!
Eventually the satnavs were set up and so we began the long journey home.
Our holidays are always jam packed with activities, as we are not the type of people to sit around all day. We love to explore local culture and history and feel we achieved a lot by what we saw in Cornwall.
Hmm.. how do we top that on our next long adventure?! Thank you for reading our May Round Up. To read about what else we have been up to please have a look at our previous months adventures.