It’s Half Term! For most, this means trying to avoid any place that might be overrun with families, especially in Cornwall when the weather takes a turn for the worst and a week on the beach doesn’t seem all that fun. However, for us with littlies I think it is brilliant! Not only are you up at the crack of dawn, which means that you can beat the queues at most ‘touristy’ days out. But, most places put on a host of activities for kids, and if like Geoffers your baby loves older children, it means hours of entertainment for very little effort.
On recommendation from Geoff’s God Father Josh, we headed to The Lost Gardens of Heligan, near Saint Austell on Saturday. The 200 acre site boasts beautifully manicured walled gardens, a mysterious jungle full of plants that thrive so well in our balmy Cornish climate, and farmland full of rare breed animals and birds. It is also completely dog friendly which means we can take Norman along too.
This week is Wild Week at Heligan, and the Lost Gardens team have worked hard to create a packed schedule of outdoor events and activities for children. Taking place on the East Lawn it doesn’t detract from the rest of the gardens, or infringe on any visitor who, quiet frankly, might not be ‘into’ adventurous outdoor play as we are.
We arrived at about 11am, and with no waiting at the ticket office we thought we would explore the ‘jungle’ first. With Geoff in the Little Life backpack we were able to tackle the harder routes (most parts are buggy and wheelchair friendly) and the rope bridge. We were all seriously impressed with the incredible array of exotic plants, tropical pools and giant tree ferns, and could have spent more time here easily.
However, as we (Geoffrey!!) are creatures of habit we couldn’t really manage a late lunch, so headed to the cafe for a delicious selection of quiches, pies and salads. Stupidly, I thought I would forego making Geoffrey a sandwich that morning and just buy one at the gardens, however I soon regretted this at £2.90 for a simple cheese roll. Nevertheless, Geoffrey was delighted with the offering and devoured it, along with the rest of our salad selection and carrot cake, which was all delicious and very good value.
After lunch we collected the buggy from the car and spent a while exploring the walled, and kitchen gardens whilst Geoff took a snooze. Sam and I have grand ideas about cultivating our own kitchen garden when we move, and quite frankly I went weak at the knees over Heligan’s Asparagus patch. Dreamy.
New this year, The Barn makes a very cute addition to the Farm at Heligan, and at this time of year it is lambing season, a couple of pigs have just had some very cute, and very friendly piglets and staff are on hand to show you the hatchery. Geoff has inherited our love for animals and on site there are many chickens, sheep, geese, ducks, cows, pigs and even emus to get excited about.
As no family day out would be complete without ice-cream we treated ourselves to a couple of scoops of the Rhubarb and Salted Caramel, which is specially made for Heligan by ice-cream makers Callestick Farm and headed to the East Lawn to have a look at the activities on offer. Geoff, although still a bit too small to enjoy the offering, loves older children, and crawled around watching in awe. A friend of mine Lucy (I met her through Instagram no less), took her three boys to The Lost Garden’s of Heligan on Tuesday. When I caught up with them on the beach the following day the reports from the boys was that Wild Week was a huge hit and I can easily see why. With a tribal theme, children can have their faces painted, make themselves a tribal headdress in the Wild Tribe Yurt then try their hand at archery, play on the nature playground, have a go at the assault course or take part in one of the musical workshops. My hat goes off to the organisers, for creating a truly unique experience, that looked immersive and educational as well as amazing fun. I can’t wait for Geoff to be old enough next year so he (and we) can get involved.
On leaving the gardens who have to navigate your way through the wonderfully curated gift shop, trying (and failing) to keep your hands in your pockets. With Cornish brands such as Seasalt, Frugi, Cornishware and many others on offer its not hard to see why. If that wasn’t exciting enough, Lobbs Farm Shop is situated in the carpark and we fully stocked up on some delicious morsels for a BBQ we were hosting on the Sunday.
Myself, Sam, Geoffrey and Norman were all so well catered for on our trip to The Lost Gardens of Heligan that we would return in a flash. They have struck a balance that a lot of attractions fail to do. The gardens are breathtaking, its family (and dog) friendly, has a delicious array of good food on offer, its well organised and even on a busy day in the height of summer I can’t see how you would ever need to queue or struggle to find something to do. If you have little ones, and fancy breaking from the routine of groups, softplay, parks and playgroups then this is a brilliant day out. I cannot wait to return.