Saturday, 3 September 2011

The Cornwall Tour, Summer 2011 By Kate

Holidays with babies and small toddlers can often be anything but relaxing. Even the most angelic sleeper/eater/socialiser still has to be monitored to stop them getting themselves into some kind of perilous situation, which tends to rule out sunbathing/chilling out with a book/leisurely afternoon drinking sessions and other methods of de-stressing favoured by adults. So Theo and I, although looking forward to catching up with my family and the beauties of the Cornish coastline, weren't exactly optimistic about the prospect of laid-back break in our routine.

Our "holiday" was actually a social whirl of re-connecting with relatives, so although it meant food and accommodation costs were low-to-non-existent (in the latter case), it did mean a fair amount of leg-work when it came to fitting everyone in. And I've got quite a lot of family to fit in.

We started in North Devon, staying with sister Am and her family (husband and five children) at their cottage which has been extended once to accommodate their burgeoning offspring and is now in the throes of a loft-conversion to continue the space-creating theme.

It soon became plain that five young children also meant ten extra pairs of eyes and hands when it came to keeping track of Rosie. Eight year-old Hester in particular was hugely taken with her younger cousin and was more than content to spend every waking second as self-appointed child-minder and companion. Her willingness to push Rosie around in a toy buggy for hours was hugely appreciated by myself and Theo, if not Rosie herself. Apart from Hester's desire to carry Rosie everywhere - rather against Rosie's own inclination - Rosie rather enjoyed having a personal slave to do her every bidding and lapped up the attention. She even submitted to Hester's - and the rest of the children's - appalled curiosity concerning her nappy changes with admirable forbearance.After a most enjoyable sojourn (including a night where Rosie effortlessly slept through in her travel cot), we timed our trip to south Cornwall to coincide with Rosie's nap and thus had an uneventful journey to Falmouth, Rosie choosing to wake up just as we were approaching the beaches. Not surprisingly, she approved whole-heartedly of our decision to treat ourselves to a couple of cornets with scoops of delicious Roskilly's ice-cream as we strolled onto Gyllingvase. Both Theo's strawberry and my hokey-pokey varieties were met with vocal appreciation ("Mas!! Mas!!" = "More" in Spanish) and loud complaints when they had been eaten.Rosie was deeply unimpressed with the sea, giving it little more than a suspicious, cursory glance before making it clear she wanted to go back up the beach, thank you very much, Daddy. On the other hand she was delighted by the giant sandpit surrounding her and happily put spade-fulls of the stuff in her bucket, before tipping it out again and repeating the process until it was time to go.
Nanny Joyce and my dad were both suitably charmed by Rosie as she darted about Nan's lounge before we collected the keys to Dad's flat - he'd kindly acquiesced to my request to spend a couple of nights there and had decamped to Nan's for the duration. My dad's flat being a matter of a few hundred yards further up the street from Nanny's cottage made the arrangement reasonably straightforward for all concerned.

As it happened, I wasn't the only one of my dad's progeny on the blag for some accommodation - my younger brother was also temporarily ensconced in his old room, which saved us the trouble of making an extra appointment to meet up with him. He had also assisted Dad in giving the flat a bit of a Spring clean in honour of our arrival, which was no bad thing.

Despite Theo's misgivings about the two sets of stairs in my dad's flat and Dad's own concerns about one of the plug-sockets, Rosie negotiated both hazards successfully and enabled us to scale down from Def Con 1 and enjoy the fantastic view from the front window. We had an overnight sleep negotiation with her, but that ended after about an hour with Rosie settling back in her travel cot and all three of us getting back to sleep until morning.

The next day was spent enjoying a Cornish cream tea with Nanny Joyce in the morning and another beach visit in the afternoon plus a reunion with Kim, a lovely friend of mine I hadn't seen in years.After a thankfully quiet night, Theo, Rosie and I quit my dad's pad in favour of a cuppa and catch up with Nanny Dot and Granddad Alf, followed by valiant efforts to keep Rosie awake during the trip down to Chez Rainbow near Penzance. This time we wanted her to eat lunch en route, then obligingly have her lunchtime nap once we had arrived at my sister's place. It was easier said than done. Although it was over an hour before her nap was due, the motion and warmth of the car proved very soporific to Rosie, who started to nod off even as she clutched a sandwich in her hand. Cue much loud singing, opening of windows and general activity to stave it off. Why worry, you might ask? Well, an early, shorter-than-ideal nap would probably lead to an overtired tricky toddler later on with likely ramifications for overnight sleep.

As it was, we probably needn't have bothered. When we arrived at the Rainbow's cottage, Rosie enjoyed herself so much running around in their expanse of garden, she was impossibly overhyped and took much longer than usual to get off to sleep. She was then wide awake after a pathetic forty minutes (having been in the general habit of snoozing for a minimum of an hour and a half or more). The best-laid plans etc....Anyway, once more the presence of other children, their toys and lots of space to run around meant Rosie had more than enough to keep her occupied while I caught up with my sister and Theo did the laundry. I think he did other things too, but that's my main memory.

The last two nights of our holiday were also successful in terms of Rosie's sleep and we managed to include another beach visit (Praa Sands) as well as an hour with Aunty Annette and her husband Alan, a visit from brother Jez and various yummy meals with Becky, my brother-in-law Dan and lots of diversion with the lovely Rainbow children.All too soon, it was time to head back home and we managed to squeeze in a quick stop at a friend's house in Exeter on the way, after which Rosie obligingly snoozed until we pulled up in Clifton Down station car park to do some shopping and make preparation for our return home.

Looking back, we lucked in. Rosie proved herself to be generally tolerant to the various changes in her surroundings and personnel and we actually felt reasonably refreshed when we got back from our travels. Not only that, but the trip away has led to Rosie eating a few foods she previously shunned and the discovery of the word "the" (see previous post). So a plus for child development too. Splendid.

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