Saturday, July 23, 2011

Kids take on Cornwall

This is a video about what the kids thought of our holiday. I apologize in advance because the wind was really bad in all the clips. I tried to edit it out, but I can only do so much without fancy software. Enjoy!

Misc. Cornwall

As promised, on our way home we visited Stonehenge and got some good pictures.



Here is a video I took of our accommodations. Its a bit messy because it was the end of the week.


Cornwall Trip: Day 7


Angie:

The morning started off rainy, so we decided to go to an indoor/outdoor activity farm. There was animals the kids could interact with. Lexi held a cute fluffy bunny who just cuddled up with her. Then Neil and Lexi go to bottle feed some lambs. After we were done playing with animals we went into a barn that was converted into a giant ball pit. It was so deep the balls went up to Ray's chest. It only took about 5 minutes before we were exhausted from swimming in the balls. We then headed to the main activity area which was multiple barns joined together creating multiple rooms of play areas. The first room/barn was and area for toddlers to ride on pedal tractors complete with trailers they could load up with blocks. The next room had two large inflatables. One was a running lane where you tie a bungee around your wait and see how far you can stretch it. Then when you lose your footing the bungee sends you flying backwards into the inflatable wall. The other inflatable was for a pillow fight where you had to knock your opponent off the pole the two of you were balancing on. Also in this room was swirly seats with a race track, a sandpit, giant checkers, and a HUGE playground that was designed to shot balls at each other with the help of multiple air canons stationed throughout the playground.

The next room had two giant slides. One was a 5 lane wavy slide. The other was called a Drop Slide where you literally go down a 90 degree slide that eventually curves down. Lexi went down the drop slide and we all thought she was nuts. There was also 3 trampolines, a rock wall treadmill, and a 3 level obstacle course playground that ended with a slide into a ball pit. There was another room for toddlers/preschooler that was a soft playground and ball pit. Eventually it stopped raining so we went outside. There was another playground and lots of random playthings throughout like slides, swings, and a zip-line. There was a small pond with paddle boats which Neil and Misty enjoyed a lot. They had a putt-putt course, but there wasn't any interest in it. They had some chickens in coops around the perimeter which me and Misty enjoyed looking at The day ended with a round of bumper cars, but here in the UK they are called Dodgems because you aren't suppose to bump. You just go in an anti-clockwise loop. After that it was late so we had to head back and pack. We stopped at the local grocer on the way home to pick up some ice cream. Luckily they had Kelly's ice cream. Hopefully we can find some at our local grocer.

Ray:

Friday morning the typical British weather showed itself. Until Friday we had rather exceptional atypical British sunshine and warmth. Friday we had a more standard drizzle and chill. So we opted to follow our rainy day idea and went to an old farm which had partially converted to a leisure park. They had pony rides, chickens, lambs, a petting zoo, and most importantly an inside play zone. There was inflatable bungie cord running lanes, inflatable pillow fight boxes, trampolines, a rock climbing treadmill, ropes and balls assault course, and a bumper car area. Fun was had by all.

Sadly, we had to leave all this and pack to go home.


Note from Angie: I apologize for the lack of pictures here, but we were all so busy keeping up with the kids that it was hard to get any shots. 

Cornwall Trip: Day 6 St Michaels Mount and Glendurgan Gardens

St Michaels Mount

Glendurgan Gardens

Angie:

We went to St Michaels Mount and Glendurgan Gardens today. These are both part of a National Trust which takes over and maintains old historic homes and gardens that would otherwise have turned to ruins, and they open up these sites for public viewing. We happen to have a National Trust membership, so this was the first time we got to use our passes. St. Michaels Mount was an island castle. The causeway (path) to get there floods as the tide comes in, so we had to plan our visit accordingly. Luckily I was smart enough to note the tide times for everyday of our holiday. Near the parking lot there was a playground we stopped and had lunch.

After lunch we drove to Glendurgan Gardens. There was a couple of cool things there like a giant multi-person swing and a picturesque fishing village, which apparently the National Trust rents out some of the homes to tourists. The main attraction was a hedge maze. My kids LOVE mazes. Ray and I were so proud that we beat the kids out of the maze this time!! Neil got very frustrated because he never completed the maze. He kept going in circles, but after 45 minutes of him trying we had to start moving on because Misty was getting bored. We enjoyed some more ice cream after we made our way back to the entrance.



Ray:

In our previous adventures to Normandy, France we went to a place called Mont du St Michel. This time we visited a place called Saint  Michael's Mount. The french island Mont was a monastery. The English island Mount was someone's castle. Both were remarkable and very similar. Though, the mount did not have as many stairs as the monastery or Tintagel; it did have a great view of the ocean and surrounding lands.


After the great views of the castle on an island, we went to get lost in another hedge maze (another of our favorite family pastimes). This one was one of the largest we've been too and was in the center of a large family botanical garden. Near the maze was a children's rope swing set (built in the late 1800's). It was a pole with six ropes with handles hung on a bearing set wheel. If an overgrown child such as yours truly was so inclined (and I was), that overgrown child could easily run fast enough to get swung around the pole while hanging on the handles of these ropes. So I did. It was great enough that I even convinced Angie to try. As a set of bragging rights, for the first time Angie and I were able to beat Neil through the maze.










Cornwall Trip: Day 5 Extreme Fun

Angie:

We started by taking Neil and Ray to a go-kart race track. They got to dress up in racing suits and go around the track for 20 minutes. After the boys were done having fun it was Lexi's turn for some crazy fun.  Next door to KartWorld was an Extreme zip-line. Ray was brave enough to go down once with Lexi. Lexi went down once more on her own. It took over 45 minutes for them to get to the bottom. Lexi was so happy.


After the aderlian rush, we headed onto someplace more calm but definitely just as fun. The place was called Hidden Valley Discovery Park, but it was really a big farm that was converted to a family scavenger hunt. It is meant to duplicate a British game show called the Crystal Maze where you have to complete random tasks and challenges to get crystals. The number of crystals you get allows you more time in "The Valut." We arrived late afternoon so we only had time to find one crystal. That gave us 5 1/2 minutes in the valut which had 5 challenges we had to complete. We actually finished the challenges with 1:08 left, which the guy said was the best time of the day. There was other things there as well such as a mini coal train ride, various gardens, a maze, a little hobbits house, and a good size playground which Misty enjoyed. After our fun we had some ice cream and discovered honey comb flavor.





Ray:

This was an....ahem...adrenaline packed day. We started by going to "Adrenaline World" for some major zip-line riding and go-cart racing. They have the longest zip-line (tandem) in the UK with 490 meters long (that's roughly 1500 feet) zip line over the old rock quarry. I raced Lexi down.

Then I raced Neil around the go-cart track for 10 minutes. I was in one of those monster 220cc engine karts and was bouncing wheels and sliding in and out of drifts while Neil passed me.

After 3 jam packed hours there, we left and went to a place very much like the TV show "Crystal Maze." We ran around trying to find clues to the next clue until we finished. There was a coal burning kids ride train and a recreated Hobbit house and at the end - Ice Cream!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cornwall Trip: Day 4 Eden Project


Angie:

The Eden Project was on the schedule for the day. This is the UKs version of the Biodome. The whole place was crowded which really took away from the coolness factor. When we were going through the gardens outside it wasn't so bad, but inside the Biomes it was pretty crowded. You had to go through at a shuffle pace and you saw more of the crowd than of the plants. That combined with the excessive admission charge made this one of our least favorite attractions. Don't get me wrong, it was cool, but there just was a feeling of "This was it" when we finished. When we got back to the resort the kids played on the playground until dark. 
Ray:
Tuesday was to be our Eden project day. Our online research led us to believe this would be much like a Bio-dome and research facility. It was quite a drive from anywhere, so we were hoping for a good time. We got there to a largely built up area for tourist awareness. There were only two domes - one for Mediterranean and one for rainforest. The entire rest of the park is designed to be a social engineering project to transform the way people think about being ecologically educated.



Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cornwall Trip: Day 3 Surf Lessons/Tintagel Castle

Tintagel Castle wall

Angie:

Tintagel Castle
This is the day of my surf lessons. After our cold adventure at the beach, I was very worried about these lessons. I have always wanted to learn to surf, but with Ray's busy boat schedule it never happened when we lived in Georgia. I had been working out for 3 months before these lessons in hopes of being in good enough shape. Of course after 4 hours in the water I felt like it was not nearly enough. While I gradually improved all day, I did not succeed in standing up on the board. I could get both feet on the board, but I didn't have the balance to let go of the board. I think with more practise I'd be able to stand on the surf board. It didn't help that the waves were terrible. I probably would not have even tried to boogie board on them. I'm not sure if that helped or hurt my chances, but the instructors were very positive and said I did great for my first day of lessons. I later learned most people take multiple half day lessons throughout the week. I was so exhausted at the end of the day. We ate out at a nice family friendly pub that had an indoor playground for the kids. Ray and the kids were quite tired after their day at Tintagel Castle seeing all the King Arthur stuff. The one downside of the day is I really did a number on my bad ear which ended up giving me problems the rest of the week. I had a blast though!!!

Ray:

Tintagel Castle


A few years before our youngest was born I promised my wonderful wife that she would get surf lessons. I decided this would be a great time to make good on that promise, so I set up lessons for Angie while we were in Cornwall (the best surfing south of Scotland's Northern coast). This was the day that she was to take her all day lessons.

I took the kids to Tintagel castle. Its ruins now, but it is thought to be the most likely place for Trystand and Isilde, the famous lovers who are thought to have inspired King Arthur myth.

The castle was a neat place to visit, and a bit of a workout. There was a lot of stairs to climb, and I did that with a baby strapped to my chest, so it was a bit of a workout.

 
Merlin's Castle

Merlin's cave was underneath the castle ruins, but the ocean was only a few hours from high tide, so it was closed to the public. We went onto the beach near the cave and found other caves and the area it was believed the first king would have landed upon nearly 1700 years ago.

random caves near Merlin's cave









Lexi:
There was 1,726 stairs we climbed at Tintagel castle.

Lexi at Tintagel

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cornwall Trip: Day 2 Geevor Tin Mine

Ray and me at Lands End
Angie:

Today was the first day of exploring all the fun Cornwall has to offer. We started with a tour of a tin mine. The kids got to pan for some gems, which is a favorite family activity. The mine had a lot of fun interactive exhibits for the kids. They even had some things for Misty. We finished the mine quicker than I thought, so we ventured down the coast to Lands End where they used to think the world dropped off the face of the earth. It was so beautiful. We walked quite a ways on the Coastal Trail which goes all along the Cornish coast line. The kids each got souvenirs at the gift shop and we got some Cornish ice cream at the end of our hike. Throughout the week we tried various brands of Cornish ice cream, but the Kelly's Ice Cream we had on our first day out at Lands End was the best. For those of you wondering, Cornish ice cream uses clotted cream. Its been the best ice cream we've found in the UK. We also fell in love with clotted cream, but more on that later.


Once we got back to the resort we bought some wetsuits and boogie boards, since ours are in long term storage, and we hit the beach. Ray and Neil lasted about an hour boogie boarding but the girls stayed on the sand and went back up to our apartment before the boys were done. Despite the cold temperature at the beach we all had fun; however, we never returned to the beach.




Ray:

We left Sunday to go to a local mine. Followers of this blog may remember how much our family likes to pan for minerals and metals. It was known as the Geevor Tin Mine and it had several shafts open for tourism. The shaft our guide chose was known as Wheal Mexico. Wheal is celtic for “working”, as this was a working mine. It had only been opened by the miners, our guide included, 10 weeks prior. They had mined out all the tin and only just finished setting up the safety precautions necessary for tourists when we arrived. Our guide was one of the last of the miners who had worked on this mine and he showed us the mine and the conditions they worked under. Then he showed us the wood wall which this shaft from where a cave in had happened. The miners were waiting for the company to raise enough money to clear the rock slide area before they began re-working the mine. So Wheal Mexico shaft is still an in progress mine for tin. In the museum, we found out that all the work these miners did was to produce an ingot brick of tin, the same size as a gold block like what used to be kept in Ft Knox. These ingots are only worth about fifty pounds.

After the mine we went to see the town of Land’s End. This is the furthest western point in the UK. We thought it would just be a cool tourist area. Turns out it had the prettiest portion of the Coastal Trail. The coastal trail is a trail that runs around the Cornish coast. It has some views to be envied, so Angie wanted to walk a large part of it as our holiday. We got maybe three miles down this trail before we all got cold and tired, so we turned back. At the beginning/end of the trail was a cute little tourist shop which Neil wanted to buy one of his pencil sharpener collection from. Turns out the shop was better than a tourist trap - it had Cornish Clotted Cream Ice Cream. For those who, like me, have never heard of this amazing concoction let me elucidate for you. Clotted Cream is one of man kinds best inventions... EVER!!! In my studies of history and the reasons why man kills man I have found numerous stupid reasons for war. I am quite surprised this isn’t one of them. Clotted Cream would be a more valuable thing to have at a county fair than your great aunt Rosy’s secret apple pie recipe. For those who don’t take my subtle clues easily, let me just say Cornish Clotted Cream is now one of my all time favorite foods. For the still uninitiated, clotted cream is some sort of mixture of home churned butter and whip cream. It very nicely compliments the taste of any bread based or fruit based food. It makes ice cream into OH MY GOD.... ICE CREAM!!!!!

Neil:


At Lands End Neil found this rock which he named the Chuck Norris rock. According to Neil this is 
what happens when you mess with Chuck Norris. 


Chuck Norris Rock

Cornwall Trip: Day 1 The Journey Begins

Sunset on sand dune at resort
Angie:

Driving by Stonehenge unexpectedly
Our drive to Cornwall was long and full of traffic. We lost nearly 3 hours in traffic. The journey got infinitely better when we unexpectedly drove by Stonehenge. Apparently it is just off the freeway. Unfortunately we could not stop because the traffic was so terrible, but we decided to see it on the way home when we had more time. A few other random events happened that made the trip nicer after that. One of which was a roadside farm stand selling fresh strawberries and cherries. They were so good, and it helped add to the excitement of the trip.

Ray and I with sunset in background
We finally arrived to our resort and checked in. The space was very spacious and it had a nice floor plan. From the entry way you have a small kitchen and living room/dining room. From there you go into a patio/courtyard which gave access to the bathroom and two bedrooms. This is designed for parents to stay up after the kids go to bed without disturbing them with the noise of the TV.  The courtyard was covered so it could be used when it rained. Misty loved the courtyard because it gave her a lot of space to play. The sides of the courtyard had small rectangular sandpits. These were designed to allow you to dry your towels and clothes on the line above. Also it gave us a place to sweep the sand from the beach, but most importantly it gave Misty something interesting to play in. Our sand toys got more use in the courtyard than on the beach.

Once we unloaded the car we went grocery shopping at Tesco to buy supplies for our meals and snacks. At the end of the day we were all tired and hungry so we crashed at the chalet for the rest of the night and rested for a week of FUN!!!!

Ray:

The trip to Cornwall started off with a few surprises. About halfway through our short drive we rain into unexplained traffic. After a half hour of waiting we realized the traffic was due to everyone trying to turn off the highway and into the carpark for Stonehenge. After all of Angie's careful planning neither of us had realized Stonehenge was on our path.
Kids running to the beach for the first time this week

After clearing the traffic for Stonehenge, we ran into a battalion air wing of the helicopter arm of the Royal Air Force putting on an air show for the local populace. It was interesting to drive around a curve in the road to see an entire air wing of attack choppers hovering above the roadway and others in various locations around town. It was, of course, just another Saturday drive for the Goodwin family.

We followed this normal drive with a normal grocery store run. We bought the food needed for our week in a beachside cabin resort. Then we hit the beach!
Me and Misty making our way to the beach

The beach resort was on a bluff overlooking the ocean to the west. To get to it, though, we had to slide down a 150 feet of sand dune. There was a near constant updraft over these dunes which proved useful to para-sailors all week. It was kind of weird to watch someone in a parachute hanging out just 10 to 15 feet above our heads.











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