I packed the girls off to school this morning, fresh-faced and jolly after a glorious week in Cornwall. Phew! Another holiday down and a clear run, I hope, until the big one – though I do know that there’s an inset day lurking there somewhere, like an unexploded bomb. I won’t go looking for it just yet though.
Just in case the description of glorious Cornwall sounded far too smug and cheery, fellow parents will be pleased to know that things got off to the obligatory rocky start. First there was a bleak welcome to Cornwall as we crossed the Tamar Bridge. I tried to photograph Brunel’s strange and wonderful Royal Albert Bridge which runs alongside the road bridge, but the sheeting rain was against me. (Brunel’s bridge, with its ‘eyes’, always makes me think of the advertising hoarding for a failed optician in The Great Gatsby. I’m probably miss-remembering Fitzgerald though, as the last time I read Gatsby was over twenty years ago when I was revising for my A levels).
Fortunately the weather improved an hour or so later, though the same could not be said of the children’s behaviour. I find that the first 24 hours of any holiday involve intense whinging and bickering. Whilst the girls are generally pretty imaginative in their play, they prefer the comfort of well-worn themes when it comes to fighting and moaning. I think it’s safe to say that the script they chose for the start of the holiday would be familiar to most parents with more than one child. “It’s soooooo unfair, X has had much more/less/longer/better/bigger … and here you can insert whatever you like… than me!” We endured arguments about who sat where, who looked in which direction, who spotted a thatched roof first, who got to choose which songs were played and in what order etc. But by the time we stepped off the little passenger ferry that took us from Polruan to Fowey on Sunday morning, all their gripes and irritations had blown away.
Over lunch in Fowey we wrote a list of all the things we wanted to do and then diligently worked our way through it, happily crossing stuff off at the end of each day. This had the miraculous effect of short-circuiting any nagging. If a cry of “mum-can-we-have-a…” went up, I’d whip out the list and add it on, and somehow that was enough. By the end of the week we had ticked off a cream tea, crabbing at Polruan, Lanhydrock House and Cotehele, ice cream, Cornish pasties, mussels, a long walk, buying fudge, a day at Readymoney beach, a few board games, some knitting, a bit of reading, shell collecting …. and so on. We also managed to half celebrate a birthday. Matilda was 12 on the last day of our break so she got presents whilst bleary-eyed at breakfast, but had to wait until yesterday for her cake.
Sybil, who’d spent the week at kennels, decided to tick a very doggy thing off her to-do list and ate a huge chunk of cake whilst my back was turned. Luckily it had only just been cut in two, and not layered up with jam, cream and raspberries, so all was not lost.
Or at least not much of it once I’d tidied up the chewed edges and sandwiched it together. I will post more about both Cotehele and Landhydrock later this week, along with the Headland Garden at Polruan. I ticked all three off as a very lazy nod towards the RHS revision I should have been doing, and which starts again in earnest this week.