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Rock Pooling

June 8, 2015 No Comments

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Rock pooling is part of a quintessential Cornish beach holiday. It’s one step away from the stereotype of knotted hankies and rolled up trousers. In fact, as I get older I find myself going for the rolled up trouser look more and more on the beach. I’m also fascinated with the life that’s found in the crags and hollows that are left by the retreating tides along the Cornish coastlines.

When the tide is low it’s possible to peer into the small pools of water along the rocky shore line and find a whole manner of things lurking beneath the seaweeds. Each pool is a microcosm of marine life, teeming with shrimp, crabs, molluscs and other sea-life.

The living conditions in rock pools are ever changing, so the creatures that live there have to be pretty hardy: the water temperature is constantly fluctuating as the sun heats it through the day and high tide washes in the cold; the oxygen level of the water depletes; and then there’s the incoming tide coming in to shake the whole thing up.

All you really need to rock pool is a bucket, net, wellies and a little bit of patience. When peering into the (not so) murky (and not so deep) depths, they may at first appear empty. But I assure you star fish are clinging to the rocks, crabs are slaloming through the seaweed and transparent prawns are bobbing around the kelp forests.

There are loads of great places to go rock pooling in Cornwall. Godrevy Has an abundance of shallow waters, as does Kennack Sands down The Lizard, but one of our favourites, and one very close to a lot of our Cornish Holiday Cottages, is the wide expanse from Castle Beach, around Gyllyngvase and through to Swanpool Beach. When the tide is out there’s close to a mile of gullies, pools and puddles to explore.

Here are a few of the things to look out for as you explore:

 

Starfish

Starfish, Sea Urchins and Brittlestars – these striking creatures are symmetrical with arms radiating out from a central body

 

Sea Squirts

These creatures are characterised by their soft bodies and can be seen attached to rocks on lower shores.

 

Sea Anenomes

Another soft bodied creature which can be found attached to rocks.

 

Crustaceans

There are 4 main types of crab you may see – Shore, Hermit, Velvet Swimming and Edible crab. Also look out for shrimps and barnacles.

 

Molluscs

These include sea slugs, mussels and limpets whose shell resembles a Chinese hat!

 

Shore fish

Keep an eye out for blenny and goby, often seen darting around rockpools. You’ll have to be quick to catch one!

 

 

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.

Pumpkin Carving

October 22, 2014 No Comments

I only carved my first pumpkin last year. So through my childhood the toothy grins that stared out from drive ways and windows had a sort of distance to them, bathing their surroundings in a warm orange glow. They are the first things I think of when I think about Halloween as a child thanks to TV and spooky Halloween films, but I don’t remember really seeing one up close.

 

As it turns out carving a pumpkin is easy. There’s nothing to it, and they’re now readily available in supermarkets around this time of year. Making a Jack-O-Lantern is a great little family activity too. A quick Google image search will present you with some crazy and intricate designs if you’re looking for inspiration: there are Spiderman pumpkins, Star Wars pumpkins, you-should-really-see-the-dentist pumpkins and even a pumpkin with the poster from Les Miserables intricately etched into it if you scroll down a little way.

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This year we bought our pumpkins from the local supermarket for £2 each. Two days later and they have been reduced to £1.50! According to extremepumpkins.com the best pumpkins are taller rather than wider, so you can make a better face. You should also check for any bruises and marks that might mean the pumpkin is damaged and reduce the lifespan of your design.

 

The tools needed for job are all available in the kitchen: a sharp knife, a spoon and a pen to map out your pumpkin design. This time round I was feeling a little ambitious and wanted to peel off some of the skin from my pumpkin so used a craft knife to peel the skin off: definitely a job for an adult.

 

1. To cut off your lid, the knife needs to be pointing inwards, towards the pumpkin’s middle at a 45-degree angle. This is so the lid has something to rest on and doesn’t slip down.

 

2. Now is the time to scoop out the insides. Keeping a bowl by your side, pull out the seeds and the stringy part of the pumpkin before using a spoon or ice cream scoop to get rid of some of the flesh – particularly from the side you are going to carve.

 

3. Next, simply mark on your design with the pen. If you’re going for a jagged, jack-o-lantern face then it can be done with all straight lines, which make cutting out the holes a lot easier and potentially child friendly. Sometimes the more crooked the face the scarier the lantern.

 

4. I definitely recommend supervising younger children for the carving out part of the process, but once you’ve cut round your designs let the children push the flesh out from the middle to reveal your complete lantern.

 

5. Finally, add a tea light or two, pop the lid back on and bask in the orange glow of your ghastly creation.

 

The whole process can be done in as little as half an hour but gives you a whole week of Halloween themed fun. Now you just have to be wary of the trick or treaters attracted like moths to your macabre creation.