We set off for our annual weeks holiday in our MPV and our new rooftop box. How did I become a person that loves a big plastic box on top of my car? The good start was short-lived and we learnt a lot this holiday about travelling with three children.
These are my top tips to avoid holiday meltdown.
1. Have a back up if the car journey entertainment fails
One hour into the journey we handed the older two their portable dvd players. Jack shouted from the boot in a tired and grumpy way,” I don’t want Scooby Doo, I just don’t want it.” Dan and I stood firm, he had chosen it so had to stick with his choice. Ten minutes later he piped up, “my dvd player isn’t working”. The screen was cracked and broken. My heart sank at the thought of the next six hours of his constant chatter mainly asking are we there yet every two minutes (no joke). Another ten minutes passed ‘I smashed it with my Ben Ten watch mummy, I didn’t mean to break it, I just bashed my hand down.” Ten out of ten for honesty here and so we didn’t shout. He simply had no DVD player for the rest of the holiday, which wasn’t a bad thing.
My tip here – listen to your child when they say that they have changed their mind about which dvd they would like to see and are holding a dvd player when you embark on a 7 hour trip. If you value your sanity on a car journey there are better times to teach your child that they can’t get their own way the whole time.
2. Don’t leave your baby in the middle of a double bed.
Thud, then silence, then screaming. I felt very sick. Sam was in the middle of the kingsize bed, like he has been a million times at home. I went to check my tooth in the mirror (more to come on the tooth) and in 60 seconds he had wriggled and jiggled from the centre of the bed to the floor. This child wants to move and follow his brothers. Surely I would have learnt my lesson with the other two boys (who both fell off the bed). I have felt slightly better when relaying the story to my friends who have all done something similar but at the time I felt terrible.
3. Check and double check what kind of room you are booking.
The amazing hotel Bedruthan Steps is set up totally for families. People without kids would most likely not like it due to the number of little ones running around (although there are carefully laid out adult only areas around the hotel). There is a gorgeous sister hotel next door called The Scarlett which is child free and stunning.
We had stayed at Bedruthan two years ago when Cody was about 4 months old and they kindly upgraded us from the cheapest room overlooking the car park to a large villa overlooking the sea. This time we saved up and splashed out on a standard villa with two rooms as we knew that an upgrade in high season was highly unlikely and I needed my sleep. The room did have a door and a wooden divider but then a blind pulled down to separate the wall. My heart sank when I walked in as I knew that this wouldn’t work with Sam waking up in the night because he would wake the other two. We talked to reception and the next room up was over a hundred pounds more per night, this was a no go. Sam was having a slight post immunisation fever and woke every hour for two nights.
Monday morning I was at reception at 6.30am in tears asking for help because I was beyond tired. The two young men at reception looked at the wreck of a woman in front of them and said “you look exhausted”. The wonderful manager, Caroline found a solution for us within an hour. She could see that I was at breaking point and moved us to a three bedroom suite in the main building with a lounge area in our bedroom for a small additional cost. We all slept brilliantly from that night on and the holiday turned around.
4. Go for a dental check up before you go away on holiday
Sunday lunch and we ate in the Wild cafe at the hotel. The food was amazing. The kids ate tons of vegetables which pleased me greatly after a diet of fish and chips and McDonalds on the journey down. The puddings were divine and the sun was shining, then crack. There was something in the crumble which was very hard, I panicked and swallowed it. My back tooth split into two pieces. I couldn’t eat another thing for the next two days that wasn’t mushed up into little pieces.
Tuesday night I managed to get an appointment at Gentle Dental in Newquay. Straight away the dentist said that there was nothing he could do other than pull it out. I was relieved that it would be popped out and I could get on with eating, drinking and having fun. I was sorely wrong. Thirty minutes later after a power cut, several attempts to drill out the roots and my tooth I staggered out of the room with a bleeding mouth and big hole where my tooth had been. Dan and the kids were waiting in reception and within seconds the boys were dragging me into the garden where there was a huge pink castle with a slide. I felt like I was in some kind of horror movie. Gentle Dental claim to “cater for cowards”. I have had a root canal treatment done in Nicaragua without any anaesthetic, I can honestly say that this was a much worse experience. Since having the tooth removed it got infected, I have had mouth ulcers, 6 cold sores and tonsillitis. The dentist in Brighton said that the trauma of the extraction has totally buggered me up. That crumble was not worth it at all.
5. Remember before you get there that a holiday with children needs time out for you both
On arrival looking out to the ocean Dan and I disappeared into our own heads imagining the things that we could do over the coming week. We lived in cornwall for several years before we had children and our lives were very free, spent mainly surfing or in the pub. We have been on self catering breaks since the kids were born and it was similar to being at home and not much break for us with washing up and cleaning everyday. Bedruthan offers two hours free childcare per day which is fantastic and allowed Dan time for surfing and I sat by the outdoor pool reading and swimming each day. When the kids are older we will go back to self catering but for this stage Bedruthan is our go to hotel.
The best things about the holiday :
1. You can order wine and cocktails in the hotel soft play area
I hate soft play at the best of times but the Bedruthan soft play had sofas and a window overlooking the ocean. There is a phone in there to call through to the bar for coffee or booze. Genius. Most people took their kids after breakfast to burn off some energy and also just before bedtime.
2. There is an outdoor poor for children and a huge one for adults
I loved swimming in the pool every morning when the kids were in kids club. It was so peaceful and set in stunning gardens, I felt like I was abroad.
3. Baby listening service in each room
In each room there is a speaker box and once the kids were all asleep we could go to the restaurant or bar with our pager from reception. The second they make a peep your pager goes off and you go and check on them. This saved us having to book a babysitter and meant we could stay in our room and watch tv some nights and others go for a swim or to the spa, very relaxing. NB. You must turn the speaker off when you walk back into the rooms. One night we were handing our pager back to reception and heard one couple having a blazing row.
4. The view of the sunset from the hotel is spectacular
5. The food is amazing
We ate out a couple of times at various cafes and restaurants. The Cornish make the most of the fish so readily available and we ate some delicious meals out and about. My favourite food of the whole holiday (apart from the roast before my tooth split) was the Rich chocolate mousse with a light cappuccino foam and homemade bourbon biscuit, this was on our last night at The Herring in the hotel. I don’t take pictures of food in restaurants very often, so no photo but it was just ridiculous.
6. The hotel wasn’t cheap but we didn’t spend a penny on days out
The hotel had everything that we needed including an adventure playground overlooking the ocean, a five aside football pitch, and indoor pool, a spa, two outdoor pools, entertainment for kids each evening after tea, mini diggers, ride ons, a craft room…. you name it and they have thought of it.
We were blessed with the weather and went to Holywell Bay most days, huge mountainous sand dunes, perfect little waves for surfing and a river running down to the sea which is ideal for bodyboarding with the little ones.
We will be going back to the hotel. Cornwall was at its best. The sun shone, the waves were epic, we saw some dear friends and the sea air helped the kids sleep long and well. Fingers crossed next time my teeth stay were they should be.