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Children’s books based in Cornwall

November 14, 2014 No Comments

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As adults we all know the joys of getting stuck into a good novel when we’re on holiday. One of our fondest holiday memories here at Cornish Holiday Cottages is getting lost in The Kite Runner whilst sitting on the floor of a cramped train in Italy. We also know how a story linked to the place you are staying can add to the atmosphere of a place. It can help you see your surroundings through the imagination of someone else, especially as a child. It is so easy to get lost in a story as a child and to be able to live parts of that story in real life can give you both a reason for reading and a reason visiting.

 

Another thing we know is how hard it can be to get children to read sometimes, so we’ve done our research, delved into our own childhoods and most importantly, asked our own children what their favourite Cornwall set books are. Here’s the list we’ve come up with.

 

The Mousehole Cat – Antonia Barber.

 

Reading The Mousehole Cat has almost become a rite of passage for Cornish children. One of my fondest memories of primary school involves being read this book by my teacher. Beautifully illustrated by Nicola Bayley, The Mousehole Cat tells the story of one brave – and in reality, very foolish – fisherman taking to the stormy seas with his loyal black and white cat, Mowzer to catch some fish. The sea is drawn as a ginormous storm-cat toying with the tiny mouse of a fishing boat. Mowzer purrs the ocean into submission and everyone celebrates their return by gobbling down Star-Gazey pie.

This book is most suited to joint reading with younger children and will set up a trip to Mousehole and Newlyn quite nicely.

 

Why the Whales Came – Michael Morpurgo

 

Most of Morpurgo’s novels are set in the South West to some degree. The former Children’s Laureate and War Horse writer has a knack for marrying the global effects of war to personal, small town stories and Why The Whales Came brings the first world war to Cornwall.

Gracie and her friend Daniel have always been warned to stay away from the Birdman and his side of the island. But then they find a message in the sand and discover the Birdman is not who they thought. They build up a lovely friendship with him, but when the children get stranded on Samson Island they don’t know whether to believe the birdman’s story that the island is cursed.

 

Dead Man’s Cove – Lauren St John

 

Given five stars by one eight-year-old reviewer on Amazon, Dead Man’s Cove has a twisty plot, quirky characters and a strong, young detective heroine in 11-year-old Laura Marlin.

This St Ives based story is fantastic for the 7-11 age group and is a great introduction to the mystery genre for children.

 

Ingo – Helen Dunmore

 

Ingo builds on the myth of the Mermaid of Zennor. Sapphy’s dad disappeared into the seas years ago and when her brother is missing after a quick swim, she discovers him talking to a mysterious girl in the water at a nearby cove. Does the same fate await him? Sapphy and her brother are drawn in to the world of the ingo (or mermaids).

Ingo is the first novel in a series and brings new life to old legends. It is unusual enough to interest fans of Harry Potter and will add an extra depth to your child’s trips to the beach.

 

Winter Damage – Natasha Carthew

 

Set in a near future suffering the effects of climate change, Carthew’s young adult novel is a dystopian antidote to the sometimes twee and romantic novels set in Cornwall. Living with her dad and brother on a frozen Cornish moor, Ennor knows things are taking a turn for the worse. In a bid to save her family, she packs blankets, a saucepan and a gun and sets off to find her mum and bring her home.

The book I’d most compare this to is Meg Rosoff’s How I live Now with its strong and robust central character. Winter Damage is a compelling and exciting read packed with suspense, humour and heartache.

 

Stormbreaker – Anthony Horowitz

 

Finally, here’s one just for the boys. Stormbreaker is the first book in the Alex Rider series and most of the action takes place here in Cornwall. Stormbreaker tells the story of a teenage spy whose first mission takes him into the the depths of Cornwall to take out multimillionaire Herod Sayle’s super ‘stormbreaker’ computers. Alex soon finds himself in mortal danger. Will his first mission also be his last?

In the mould of a James Bond thriller, Stormbreaker should interest even the most boyish of children on holiday.

Soggy Family Suggestions

November 8, 2014 No Comments

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As we look towards the Christmas holidays with glee and merriment, we can’t always guarantee perfect weather. In fact, we’d be foolish to pretend that Cornwall offers a break from the rain and wind that the rest of the country endures at this time of year. After all, we stick out into the Atlantic like a sore thumb round these parts.

 

Don’t get me wrong; I’m a lover of braving the outdoors in my hiking boots and wet weather gear with the dog and children in tow. There’s nothing like throwing stones into the roaring ocean or listening to the pitter-patter of rain reverberating through the trees, watching the children jump in puddles. But sometimes we just want to stay warm and dry, and that’s where today’s recommendations come in.

 

Children often have other ideas about staying dry and can end up bouncing off the walls going from shop to coffee shop to shop again. So here are some fun alternatives to keep everyone entertained.

 

Raze The Roof – Penryn

Raze the Roof is your classic indoor play area. This one is guaranteed to help younger children burn off plenty of energy with their mega-structure of slides, ball pools, trampolines, ball cannons, rope walks and no end of soft surfaces to bounce off of. Raze the Roof houses a laser tag arena, which is open to all ages throughout the day and in the evening you can use the whole building for laser tag, allowing us adults to relive our more agile years. There’s also a café with wi-fi for those of you looking for respite from the limitless energy of children.

 

Granite Planet Climbing Centre – Penryn

For those of you who fancy a literal climb up the walls there is this indoor climbing centre. The centre caters to complete beginners and they are great with children too. There are taster sessions for families or groups of friends and induction courses if you’ve never climbed before. Through Granite Planet you can also book outdoor climbing sessions if you are an experienced climber. There are loads of routes up the walls and a bouldering cave to test your strength on. All safety equipment is provided.

 

Blue Reef Aquarium – Newquay

Meet sea cucumbers and spider crabs, watch the giant octopus at feeding time and see baby turtles. As well as informative talks about some of the sea creatures, the highlight is the underwater tunnel, where you can come face to face with stingrays, reef sharks and all sorts of colourful fish.

 

Heartlands – Pool

Born out of a former mining complex, the area surrounding Heartlands is now a World Heritage Site and supports other mining attractions in the area such as Geevor and Poldark. As well as an outdoor adventure playground, café and Cornwall Visitors Centre there are a series of ‘mould-breaking’ exhibitions including geology experiment tables, soundscapes, an engine house and electric and steam winders and boilers which are epic in size. Entry to the site is free, but you do have to pay for parking.

 

Helston Museum – Helston

A hidden gem, Helston’s Folk Musem is Tardis like: a lot bigger on the inside than it first appears and housing a range of curiosities, from 19th century children’s toys to mangles, kitchens and school rooms. There are exhibits covering different aspects of life in Helston, including Flora Day as well as the World Wars. You should definitely keep an eye out for a macabre two-headed pig in a jar. Outside the building is a cannon salvaged from the wreck of the frigate HMS Anson, which foundered off Loe Bar in 1807.

 

Maritime Museum – Falmouth

More than just a museum about boats, you can explore the stories of the people who used these vessels and the adventures they had in them.  Ascend the 100ft Look Out tower and see Falmouth’s famous harbour from the skies, then descend into the Tidal Zone to one of only three underwater galleries in the world. You can also climb aboard a Sea King helicopter, meet the crew and discover what it takes to bring people home safely. There is a lot of interactivity for the children at the Maritime Museum and you can also enjoy some great food in the great cafe overlooking the harbour. On the way out you are sure to be tempted by the array of goods in the gift shop.

 

The Eden Project – St Austell

The Eden Project is the family Mecca for days out in the rain. I’m sure you know about the biomes but there are some great events for children too. In The Core there are lots of interactive displays and mechanical wonders. Storytelling sessions happen at 12pm and 2pm everyday with each session lasts between 15 and 30 minutes. Over the winter period there’s also an ice-rink for getting your skates on. Just remember to book in advance for the ice-skating. Look out for discount vouchers online to make the entry fees more palatable.

 

Ships and Castles Leisure Pool – Falmouth

Ships and Castles’ pool is not designed for doing lengths in. With a wave machine and a river rapids it’s a pool designed for fun. There’s a 70-metre flume and a shallow beach area for younger children to paddle in. There are also geysers periodically bursting from the pool and jacuzzis for those looking for a slightly slower pace.