We had big plans for last year’s summer holiday, having decided quite late in the break that we wanted to go abroad, for the first time since our honeymoon some five years and two children earlier. We’d get a last-minute deal, let three-year-old Dora and seven-month-old Arlo experience an aeroplane for the first time, and breathe some air into the humdrum routine of our lives.
But the night before our appointment at the Passport Office to fast-track Dora and Arlo’s first passports and get mine renewed, I discovered that I couldn’t find our marriage certificate. We lost the holiday; our dreams were quashed. This late in the day, we were left with one option: a ‘staycation’ in the UK, along with the hundreds of thousands of other families.
Friends with similar-aged children had offered their advice – book into a hotel, somewhere with a good restaurant and treatments, take the strain off. So what did we do but go camping? But camping safe in the knowledge that the following week we’d be sunning ourselves in a luxury resort with a heated pool, a sauna and a fancy restaurant.
Well, we didn’t quite sun ourselves. As we headed south-east, clouds started to form, then came the rain. We reached Trevose Head, and Mother Ivey’s Bay campsite, early afternoon in a thick fog, though the rain stopped just long enough for us to put up our tent. Set on a headland with sea all around, the site has a private beach and the most stunning views, but in such an exposed position it feels the wind, and the wind was determined that week – one night we were visited by Hurricane Bill, who almost flew off with our tent!
Mother Ivey’s is very popular with surfing families and has a very friendly vibe, with the same families seeming to return every year. Despite the fact that we don’t surf, we loved it. It has a good shop, with fresh bread and croissants (and really tasty donuts) every morning, good clean toilets and washing-up stations, a launderette, and a playground overlooking the sea.
Dora had a wonderful time, although we missed our evenings – the ferocious wind prevented us from having many campfire moments. That said, there was something equally romantic about lying snug in our sleeping bags watching the canvas sides of our tent flapping violently in the wind…
By the time we left and made our way south to The Lamorna Cove apart-hotel, we were looking forward to the shelter of four walls, and hoping for a little more besides. And it seemed that we weren’t to be disappointed: the sun was burning down from a clear sky when we arrived, and on a secluded terrace guests enjoyed a glass of wine and tasty food beside the glistening pool.
We heaved a sigh of relief: who needs Spain? But like all great moments, this one didn’t last – the rest of the week we watched as the stunning view of sky and sea turned the most amazing colours, from yellow through purple to charcoal-grey. However, we were hardened travellers – we’d survived a hurricane in our tents and weren’t going to be deterred by a spot of bad weather.
Indeed, The Lamorna Cove is a great place for families wanting a luxury break, with the privacy of self-catering but the facilities of a hotel. Its large apartments are decked out with everything you need (washing machine, cot, highchair, children’s DVDs…) and the good restaurant has a children’s menu, high teas and an accommodating maître d’ happy to ask the chef to purée anything on the menu for a seven-month-old. Croissants are delivered to your room each morning, the views are stunning, and babysitting can be arranged. The swimming pool is heated, although in such inclement weather it’s more for swimmers than playful toddlers, and there are lovely walks down to Lamorna Cove itself.
Having ended up here in spite our our plans, we concluded that we'd definitely come back to lovely Lamorna and its green winding roads dotted with quirky cottages and eccentric shops, ending at the sea, where you can eat superb ice cream and hire kayaks and speedboats, or go walking and scrambling up the coast.
Read more about Cornwall farmily holidays and breaks, including things to do with kids.