Tag Archives: family fun

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A couple of weeks ago I told you our first impressions of our recent holiday to Hengar Manor. Today, I shall give a more detailed review.

Hengar Manor is a well maintained country park near Bodmin and the village of St Tudy in Cornwall. We visited during the first week of September, so it while it was fairly quiet as most of the schools had returned, there was still a full programme of activities and entertainment running.

We travelled by train to Bodmin Parkway and got a taxi from there to Hengar Manor. If you do this, I would recommend calling the park to ask for the number of a local taxi driver; the fare on our return journey home was £10 less than our outward taxi.

As I said in my first post, check in was quick and easy. We were given all the information we would need about the park itself as well as a thick envelope of leaflets for attractions in the locality and indeed, further afield.

There are a few activities for children of Harry's age (four years old) but most of them are for slightly older children, five or even seven years plus. This was not an issue for us because we simply just wanted to relax together before Harry started school the following week but a family geared more towards activities may wish to check with the park prior to booking. We did take Harry along to Balanceability. An instructor led activity would usually be a good chance for parents to grab a peaceful cup of tea and slice of cake in the café. However, Harry had been (and still is!) going through a rather clingy stage so I remained with him, hoping to give him a little more encouragement to take part. Balanceability, as the name suggests, is about giving children confidence on balance bikes. Harry has one and has never particularly taken to it, largely using either his Microscooter or regular bike with stablisers, largely because they give him the speed he desires to keep up with his peers. We found the instructor very encouraging and I felt she really did try her best to get Harry involved from the outset. The activity has given him a little more confidence to practise with his balance bike more.

Balance bike confidence.
Balance bike confidence.

The main attraction for Harry and something we used every day was the swimming pool. Access to the 25 meter swimming pool is free and with a Jacuzzi, slide and separate baby pool, it is perfectly suitable for a week's break. We (somehow!) forgot Harry's arm bands but our worry was short-lived as they were sold at reception. There is also a small shop on site from which we bought an inflatable for Harry to play with in the pool. As Hengar Manor is a decent base from which to explore many attractions of Cornwall, I cannot imagine the pool gets overly busy even during peak season. There is also a crazy golf course and a nine-hole pitch and putt course.

As we do not have a car, we could not go to a local supermarket to stock up on food and so we ate on site each night, except for one. One night we picked up some frozen breaded chicken and chips from the shop and ate at our accommodation. Other nights we used the on-site restaurant or pub. It wasn't until we arrived at Hengar Manor that we realised we could have, in fact, submitted an on-line supermarket delivery which reception would have received for us. Well worth noting for any future visits. The pub menu was varied with something to please most tastes and the food was as expected from an average pub. That said, I did think that the vegetarian options were somewhat lacking with just two options of either a veggie burger or vegetable curry. There was also an Italian restaurant called Morellos on-site. This had a very limited menu but what they did have was very nice and excellent value for money. I would recommend pre-booking as the restaurant is small and both times we ate there we saw people turned away as they were fully booked. One of those nights the husband went to book a table and was told he didn't need to as they were quiet; I am glad he insisted!

There was entertainment each evening. Every evening started with a couple of games for the children followed by family entertainment for a couple of hours. From around 9 pm the evenings would finish off with a family disco.

A selection of evening entertainment
A selection of evening entertainment

We were sad to leave for home. All through our stay we were made to feel incredibly welcome, it felt like the staff right across the board genuinely enjoy their jobs.

We will definitely return and next time, with a car so that we can explore Cornwall further!

Disclosure: We paid in full for our holiday. However, we did receive an upgrade in exchange for a review. All opinions are honest and our own.

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Well, the summer holiday seems have flown by. It only feels like it was Harry's last day at nursery yesterday and we had a long seven weeks stretching ahead, with no real plan of how on earth we could keep an energetic four-year-old boy entertained (or at least occupied) all day, every day. Somehow, we are on the last day of the break before he starts in Reception. Quite where the weeks have gone I don't know.

A couple of weeks into the break we decided to investigate the possibility of a holiday. We needed somewhere that wasn't too far from a train station and had activities on site due to not having our own car. The husband and I also wanted somewhere that would be relaxing and we didn't want to be surrounded by crowds of people. We had a budget in mind (including our travel costs) that we couldn't go over.

Whilst musing on Twitter, someone suggested I take a look at the Hoseasons website. I had heard of the company before but assumed that they either wouldn't be able to offer what we wanted or, if they could, it would be over our budget much like other holiday companies I had looked at. I am so pleased I did look despite my initial misgivings and found Hengar Manor.

For less than £300, I found self-catering accommodation for a full week. I was worried that the company considered the first week of September as off-peak, as many schools weren't returning until the second week, and that therefore there would be no entertainment or activities. So, prior to booking I tweeted with Hoseasons and was reassured that an activities programme would still be running and that yes, there would be evening entertainment. I was emailed a copy of the activities programme and advised that evening entertainment is changed on a weekly basis. Even before booking, I very much got the impression that nothing was too much trouble.

Hengar Manor

That vibe continued through our holiday. We got a train to Bodmin Parkway and then a taxi from there to Hengar Manor. There was a long, sweeping drive from the main road to the reception which certainly added to the sense of feeling secluded and truly getting away from it all.

Phil at reception was warm and friendly (something we soon found out was common with all the staff at the site) and check in was a quick and easy process. As we didn't have our own car, Phil offered to help us with our luggage to our accommodation, which the husband refused and said we could manage with the map. Once leaving the reception area, another member of staff (whose name I didn't manage to get) offered to help us despite going in the opposite direction. This offer of assistance we did take!

We were really impressed with our accommodation. It was light and airy, spacious and super-clean. The husband thoroughly inspected all the rooms as he always does (a bit of a clean freak is my husband) and couldn't find a single fault,. I am afraid you will just have to trust me when I say that is a rare thing indeed, although the fact that he is a chef should give some indication! We were also provided with a welcome pack; soft drink, a bottle of wine, chocolates, pasta and a few other bits, although I got the impression that is something the owners of that villa provided rather than being standard with the accommodation.

Hengar Manor

After a thorough inspection and unpacking our cases, we sat outside the villa for a cuppa to absorb our surroundings and a sense of calm descended, all we could hear were the birds tweeting and the ducks quacking. Any misgivings that had remained with us disappeared; Hengar Manor had made an excellent first impression!

We paid in full for our holiday and any associated costs for activities. However, we were given upgraded accommodation in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions remain our own.

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It has been a week (and then some) of feeling caught in a vicious cycle. A cycle of physical pain being so high that I am unable to leave the flat, even to trudge the 1/3 mile to my GP surgery, swiftly followed by anxiety thereby ensuring my enforced captivity. It is a battle that I felt I was fast losing and made for a mostly miserable half term, the weather once again reflecting my mood.

Then hope. Sunday saw a glimpse of summer as the clouds vanished, the sun shone with birdsong and laughter filling the air. For the second time in as many days Harry and the husband packed up a picnic to head to a local park, this time with me in tow, making the 3/4 of a mile a 40 minute walk that they usually do in 15 minutes although not before a stand-off between Harry and me over tidying up; it was 1.15 pm before we even managed to leave the flat.

Blaise Castle

Having dosed myself up (thank you Tramadol) I found the walk there OK; thankfully the husband and Harry seemed to just be happy that I had decided to join them and did not seem to notice my rather slow pace.

By the time we arrived and found where we wanted to picnic, it was approaching 2 pm and definitely time to eat before we let Harry loose to play.

We went to a lovely estate called Blaise Castle, which Harry adores and has a couple of playgrounds, lots of open space, beautiful walking and cycling trails and, over the half term, a giant inflatable slide and bouncy castle. Of course, being just four years old, Harry wanted to spend his time on the inflatable things (that one of the girls from his nursery was there had absolutely no bearing on his choice to just spend most of the afternoon in the bouncy castle and not the slide, none whatsoever... *whistles*).

Blaise Castle

As we had secured our spot by the entrance to the inflatables, there was little for the husband and I to do other than relax together. We didn't have anything in particular to talk about but it was nice to chat and just be in each other's company with only the occasional interruption from Harry when he came back for a drink or yet another strawberry and no demands on us.

When the inflatable slide had been there on previous visits, Harry spent most of his time on that. On Sunday, most of his time was spent on the bouncy castle with his friend from nursery who was unwilling to try the slide (and to be fair, it must look rather daunting to most small children!). Much to his delight, he did manage to persuade her to have a go and we could clearly see his face of glee when he followed.

Aaaaand woosh!
Aaaaand woosh!

Of course no trip to the park in the sun is complete without an ice-cream and naturally Harry had to have the same as his friend from nursery.

Blaise Castle

After well and truly making use of the wristband for the inflatable slide and bouncy castle (£5 all day or £3 for ten minutes) Harry finally decided it was time to play in the playgrounds.

Blaise Castle

Blaise Castle

It was an afternoon of fun and it was lovely seeing Harry play with a couple of friends. Every day after nursery he insists he does not play with any one so it is reassuring to know that simply is not true, to see for my own eyes how well he interacts with other children. Whether that need for reassurance is my own insecurities, that I have no friends here myself (still!) or a normal parent worry is anyone's guess!

It was almost 6 pm before we got home and I was shattered. I was still tired and sore the following day but it was most definitely worth it to spend some quality time as a family, enjoying the sun. A perfect way to end a half term that I'd had little input on.

What did you get up to over half term? And was the weather any nicer with you?

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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This isn't the post I had planned for today; I had planned a letter of sorts to Harry as it was his birthday today. Sadly I didn't get round to finishing it, partly due to my procrastination, partly due to not being able to find the words and partly due to being busy! It is now 11 pm  and this is the first chance I have had to blog today so, to meet my target for #BEDM, I am determined to get one out so you have a few snaps from today; a full post will of course follow once I have some energy back!

I spent the evening before wrapping his presents and setting the scene. My Auntie had bought some balloons and various party bits from a local shop for us before coming to drop his presents off. Usually we would see the family around Harry's birthday but with it falling on the bank holiday weekend, they were away.

The first gift Harry opened, was the Kidizoom camera from my Auntie and Uncle. I had actually left it on his bed the night before to open when he woke up, hoping to bide a little extra sleep in the morning. Sadly he still came bounding in at 5.15 am, the present still wrapped. He wanted to wait until the husband and I were awake, which I thought both very restraint for a four-year-old and sweet.

He was a bit confused with the balance bike (although so were we!) and rather unsure of what to do but, needless to say. he still insisted on bringing it to the park!

A very brief and much needed late morning rest at the park.

Finally for now, the cake picture, minus the cake which you shall see in my main post. I think it's safe to say he was rather pleased with it!

 

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During this week we went for a short, easy stroll to get some fresh air and as ever, ended up in our local playground. I had my camera, which seems to be becoming a more regular fixture in my handbag, with me and began to snap away.

It was only when uploading the pictures to the laptop, deciding which ones to discard, that I came across this.

saturday caption

I was going to delete this one but I decided to see if my wonderful readers could come up with a  Saturday caption for it instead!

If you want to take a look at some others, pop over to Mammasaurus. I am also linking this up to Helen from Actually Mummy's new linky "Expressions", so please do stop by and see what expressions other fabulous bloggers have to share.

Mammasaurus

Expressions photos

 

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I have always admitted how I find Mother's Day to be the hardest special event in the annual calender, how it has got worse rather than better since Harry arrived.

It makes me acutely aware of just how much I miss my mum, more aware of my mortality, more aware of what she missed, what Harry missed and selfishly what I have missed.

I think of how proud she would be of Harry, of my sisters, my brother and maybe even me. I chastise myself for not realising how special she was, for not telling her how much she meant to me enough, for not apologising for the anxiety and anguish I caused her. I hate that I will never be able to make amends.

Of course, these thoughts and feelings go through me often but Mother's Day always seems to bring them to the surface much more strongly.

I've spoken before about how I naïvely thought this day of the year would be easier once I had Harry and yet it's got harder.

This year though? This year came with an acceptance. Almost like an understanding that no amount of tears, anger or regrets would change things; ultimately, I would still have to get through the day and to try to do so without upsetting Harry or the husband (whose own mum also away 7 years ago). Of course I have known this for the last 10 years so it wasn't new knowledge, I'm not really sure what it was.

This Mother's Day we were blessed with a bright and warm day, so we packed up a picnic and headed to a local attraction called Blaise Castle Estate, which has a couple of lovely and well maintained playgrounds for children of all ages, is a beautiful place for a picnic and has some lovely walks as well. As expected on such a beautiful day, it was busy. And true to form, Harry wanted to go into the playground that is more suitable for older children! Both the husband and I tend to analyse risks so how we managed to produce such a dare-devil is beyond us!

Family selfie!
Family selfie!
Climbing up to the top with a scared Mummy looking on...
Climbing up to the top with a scared Mummy looking on...
And he made it in one piece!
And he made it in one piece!
Managed to convince Daddy to go up too!
Managed to convince Daddy to go up too!
Check out Daddy's socks...!
Check out Daddy's socks...!
My flowers.
My flowers.

It was a lovely day, exactly the sort of day my Mum would have enjoyed with us had she been alive. It was lovely to enjoy the day and whilst there was always the thought at the back of my mind, expecting the tears or sadness to come, they never did. Yet she was, as always, in my thoughts.

The difference this year compared to previous years was beyond what I could have wished for and I can only put that down to the husband and I both giving up alcohol completely in recent weeks. We drank excessively and having stopped, we have truly realised what a detrimental effect it was having on us and more importantly on Harry.

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Last Saturday morning we woke to brilliant sunshine. Sunshine always puts me in a good mood and that morning, more than ever I was raring to go, with lots of energy.

We had planned a trip to Bristol Zoo, where we are members but first we had to wait in for our food shop to be delivered so we could take a picnic. After a slow start to the day, largely on account of a huge food shop arriving right at the end of the slot (seriously, despite meal planning, we seem to have enough food to feed a large family for two weeks), then the husband deciding he just had to go to the Barber's today, I finally managed to gather up a basic picnic, persuading Harry that actually he couldn't help me because it would take forever and the Zoo would close.

Picnic made, husband's hair cut, all washed and dressed and we set off for the bus stop.

I hate buses.

The bus we needed to get usually runs every 15 minutes. We were waiting for almost one hour! (50 minutes but close enough right?) Honestly, we were about to give up and go to the park instead, frantically working out how to avoid an almost 4-year-old meltdown since this almost 4-year-old had asked to go to the zoo since stupid o'clock  in the morning. Typically, when one turned up, three arrived, no joke. Eventually, hungry and agitated, we arrived at the Zoo just before 2 pm, had a quick look for the lions before lunch. We only managed to see this one.

zoo

Lunch devoured and it was time to head around the zoo. As luck would have it, it was typically a lot cooler and windier than we had anticipated so we decided to just visit a few of our favourite animals.

First stop, much to my disappointment, had to be the reptile house. (I am not a fan of reptiles it has to be said) And yes, sorry, we did scamper past the snakes.

zoo

zoo

zoo

zoo

Next up we just had to visit the fish. Here I must confess that the husband was far more interested than Harry. As was I to be honest; I just love all the colours and seeing them always reminds me of the husband when we first met, he spent months with a fish tank in his room, determined to get some tropical fish and teasing my youngest sister that he had invisible fish. He never did get any in the end.

zoo
Apologies for the reflection!

After the aquarium, was time to visit the monkeys!

Harry insists these are Meerkats. Every time.
Harry insists these are Meerkats. Every time.

Next up, a visit to the penguins and sea lions.

As there was a talk on, none of the penguins or sea lions wanted to dive in the water this time!

After visiting them, we had to go and see the Meerkats. I am not sure what it is about these animals but they are just so adorable. And so much smaller than I thought; something that surprises me every time we visit the zoo for some reason!

A quick visit to the Lions, who had grown a LOT since our last visit...

Before stopping off at the adventure park, where Harry could actually spend most of his time despite his love of animals. He is such an explorer and has an enormous amount of confidence on climbing equipment.

Harry had been shouting "Daddy I CAN do it myself!"
Harry had been shouting "Daddy I CAN do it myself!"

Whilst it was only a relatively short visit of just a few hours, we had a huge amount of fun as a family. The re-appearance of nicer weather (even if slightly deceiving at times) has made it all that more easier. Even those few hours of fresh air saw Harry fall asleep on the bus on the way home, a whole two hours before his usual bed time!

I cannot wait until the Spring weather makes a more consistent appearance and I know Harry can't either.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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So, once more it has been a while since I joined in with this!

This was taken last Sunday when we spent the afternoon with my sister, her boyfriend and his two daughters; Harry simply adores spending time with them and they him. I really love seeing the bond they have built over the last two years since we moved up to Bristol.

But this is SatCap. So, what is Harry up to here? Or thinking? Can you caption it?

#satcap

Once you've had a go here, why not head over to the delightful Mammasaurus and see what some other people have lined up for you to caption.

Mammasaurus

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I don't know about you but here in Bristol we had another sunny weekend.

On the Saturday I wasn't feeling well, barely able to move so I had to spend the day indoors. Thankfully by Sunday I was feeling better so we were able to make the most of the beautiful sunshine and once again head out to our local park.

St Andrew's park has fast become a favourite place to escape to, particularly in the nice weather and Sunday didn't disappoint.  The park was packed with lots of families enjoying the warm weather and taking advantage the cool water in the paddling pool.  We have been pretty busy and so Sunday was the first time that Harry got to experience the paddling pool.  As always, it was the first place he ran to but unlike previous occasions we were able to promise he could go in for a paddle, just as soon as he had got changed.

PicMonkey Collage Pool

Whilst these aren't the best pictures I have taken of Harry, they are the only usable ones of him in the paddling as, for the most part, it was packed.  The above were shot rather haphazardly in the odd few seconds that no other child was around him!

As is typical Harry behaviour, we could not get him to sit down to eat his picnic with us.  He would take a bite, then run off for a paddle then come back for another bite and so on.  This continued for most of the afternoon before Harry suddenly decided he needed wanted to go into the playground, rather coincidently when we had said that it was nearly time to go home.  Still, we were having such fun that we decided to let Harry have a play until he got fed up.

PicMonkey Collage Playground

One of my favourite things about being a parent is just watching Harry have fun, watching him carefully consider each challenge.  As he is getting older, he needs a lot less help with various equipment and challenges (not that he has ever been particularly accepting of help) which means both the husband and I have been able to take a step back and just be absorbed in watching his sheer delight.   And that is just magical.

I am linking up to Jaime from The Oliver's Madhouse Magic Moments linky for the first time because Sunday really was just a magical afternoon for me.

I am also linking up to Fiona's Country Kids linky as so often I forget to take pictures of our fun and I keep promising to join in again!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall