Tag Archives: Tate Gallery

Cornish treasure

Of course, despite rumours suggesting otherwise, our week in Cornwall did not purely revolve around places to eat and we had an amazing time exploring many of the beautiful nooks and crannies the county has to offer. This wasn’t a week for sitting on a beach relaxing as instead we crammed as many day trips in as we possibly could and spent a lot of time making some marvellous, magical memories. Just as I gave you a quick taster of the many restaurants we were lucky enough to enjoy, here is my overview of some of the best places we visited and the adventures we had during our stay:

Fowey River Trips – having arrived in Fowey in time for lunch and enjoying a great meal at the Galleon Inn overlooking the river, 20150822_144741M begged for us to take a boat trip from Fowey harbour, which sailed us past such treasures as Daphne DuMaurier’s house before heading back towards the mouth of the estuary. It was a wonderful way to see a little of the area we were visiting before our week really started and we were able to enjoy the last races of the Fowey Royal Regatta from the water too. Both M and G enjoyed the trip, which was an amazing first as M usually needs coaxing onto anything smaller than a transatlantic cruise liner! They were quick and eager to ask questions of the skipper and we were lucky enough to share the boat with some locals, who were happy and keen to explain more about what we were seeing as well as pointing out many of the birds to be spotted along the river’s edge.

Eden Project – this was M’s choice for a day out and despite our disappointment at the food offerings available and the inevitable rainy start, all in all we had a wonderful day. This wasn’t our first trip to the Project and it was fascinating to see how the environment had developed since the last time 5 years ago. The children loved spotting the different plants they knew in the biomes and M took particular pleasure in b20150824_171621eing photographed next to the rice. This summer, the Eden Project was also home to the Dinosaur Uproar, which meant there was lots for G and M to do whilst we were there. They enjoyed the puppetry displays, though both were a little nervous of the giant dragonflies when they first took flight nearby! Sadly, the wait to climb up to the Nest platform for a bird’s-eye view of the Rainforest biome was just too long for us to endure, but we did enjoy the Rainforest canopy walkway, which gave us a taste of what you could see from the very top and at least it leaves us with a good reason to go back and visit another time.

St Ives – G’s pick for the holiday was to visit an art gallery and what better place to go than the Tate St Ives? Thanks to a top tip from my ever-trusty hairdresser, I was also keen to take a peek at the fascinating sculptures at the Barbara Hepworth Museum and thought it might provoke some interest in both G and M too. We parked at the fantastic Lelant Saltings park and ride to travel into St Ives via train and not bus as we’re more used to doing in our home town. The Tate St Ives had organised a children’s art trail between the Barbara Hepworth house and the Tate itself, which asked them to identify 12 pieces of art from the partial images given and note down the artist, the name of the artwork and where they had spotted it. Two pieces were taken from the route between the two sites and provided a great opportunity to explore the art on display at each. Having found 11 of the 12 works, we stopped for G and M to take part in the creative workshop, which asked them to create sea-themed art of their own in clay.

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We must have spent a good hour there as their creative juices flowed and they created stories behind what they had made to share with the volunteers running the workshop. G recreated her pinch-pot “werefish” she had first made during the first week of the summer holidays and M gave his interpretation of a sea serpent – “…but it’s not Nessie Mummy…” I’m still not convinced I’m a fan of modern art – give me the National Gallery any day – but it was a great way for the kids to access it and start to develop their own opinions.

St Michael’s Mount – in what now feels like a lifetime ago, I sang with my cathedral choir at the awe-inspiring St Michael’s Mount and have fond, though somewhat vague memories of that whole trip. It is a place that none of the rest of the family had been to and so was the perfect place to go back and visit whilst in the area, so to speak. 20150828_113744M was fascinated by the nature of the local tides, which means that the Mount is accessible by foot for part of the day and by boat for the rest of it and was desperate to experience both – a wish that was easy to fulfil. We arrived at the Marazion car-park fairly early and were thrilled to be able to walk across the sands and then the causeway to the Mount. The children were curious about how the tides would cause the walkway to disappear later in the day and keen to see it happen.

We started our visit at the Castle, having spotted the Giant’s heart stone on our way up the steep and rocky path. The views from the top were amazing and we discussed how difficult it would have been for anyone to successfully scale the rocks to attack. Inside the castle itself, G and M decided to attempt the quiz and were interested in talking to the numerous guides dotted around the rooms to find out more about what we could see on display. M was particularly taken by the story of the 7-foot man banished from the mainland, who took refuge with the monks and is now convinced that 20150828_131826he is the “truth” behind the story of the giant, which we later heard told by the storyteller in the grounds. Before we headed back down to the beautiful gardens, we watched from the top as the waters began to cover the walkway and commented on those brave few who were still venturing across by foot. G and M could easily have spent hours exploring the gardens surrounding the castle as they clambered up and down the winding, narrow pathways and stairs that led to nowhere. The WWII pill boxes that surrounded the coastline also captured their attention and our day there turned into an unexpectedly educational trip! We returned back to the mainland by boat at the end of the day, tired out, but delighted by our decision to visit.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan – our final day in Cornwall was spent exploring the Lost Gardens of Heligan, uncharted territory for us all and Mike’s fine choice for our adventures. I found the history and story behind the Heligan gardens really interesting and you can read more about it here. Yet again, we were thrilled to find a whole host of children’s activities available and started with the sculpture trail that led us past the stunning20150829_124054 Giant’s Head, the sleeping Mud Maiden and the ghostly Grey Lady. Pausing briefly for lunch, G and M then enjoyed time in the hammocks that had been strung between the trees before coaxing Mike and I into helping them build a den in the woods from the vast supplies available to use. They were understandably proud of the den they designed and worked on together and were disappointed to have to take it apart before we headed on to the next section.

Having dismantled and returned the building equipment, and having even enjoyed a toasted marshmallow or two courtesy of M, we wound our way through the “jungle” towards the Burma rope bridge. I wasn’t quite brave enough to stop halfway across to take photos of my intrepid duo who were following close in my footsteps as I was too worried about dropping my faithful tablet into the depths below, but was impressed that neither child was phased about crossing the jungle floor which was a 100 feet beneath them! We finished our day by the Steward’s house, enjoying the rope swing and traditional garden games that were on offer.

As you can tell, we had the most amazing week away from home, experiencing just some of the Cornish treasures that are on offer. In M’s words, “…it was almost as good as Portugal…” and he’s already clamouring for a return visit next year.

Cornwall restaurants – The good, the bad and the “could try harders”

The Trewithen restaurant in Lostwithiel set such a high standard on our very first night in Cornwall that I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that the rest of the week would naturally fade into a desultory second place when it came to our meals out. However, given the extensive food restrictions that need catering for within our family, we ate extremely well and were more than pleasantly surprised by the mix of menu options that were available for us. I thought I’d give you a quick overview of the other great restaurants we visited during our holiday and what allergy-friendly options they were able to give:

The Galleon Inn, Fowey – this harbourside pub in Fowey gives generous servings of delicious pub grub and features fish and seafood on20150822_130543 both their a la carte menu and their specials board. They were able to serve safe chicken, cucumber and peas (his food challenge for the week) for M and, whilst it wasn’t clear what their other free from offerings were, we were able to order gammon, chips and peas for G, which she loved. Although the staff were friendly and helpful, we couldn’t clarify that the chips were 100% GF, so for anyone who struggles with cross-contamination issues, I would suggest ordering a different side.

Pizza Express, Falmouth – we visited the brilliant National Maritime Museum in Falmouth with G’s lovely Godmama and her family and were able to eat lunch at the Pizza Express situated across the square. We were able to order our usual allergy-friendly fare here and although the service was disappointingly slow and the food not quite as good as 20150823_163118at our local Pizza Express, we were still happy with the meal we had. A definite go-to in terms of national chain restaurants when looking for somewhere safe to eat.

Eden Project, Bodelva – following my perusal of their website and an email exchange with a very helpful customer liaison co-ordinator, we had gone well prepared with a packed lunch and range of suitable snacks for both G and M and I’m definitely glad we did. The queues in the main cafe area in the biomes were horrendously long and their staff disappointingly uninterested in speeding things up to try to reduce the waiting time. Mike and I enjoyed our tortillas and the server 20150824_171621I spoke to advised that it was possible to adapt some menu items to be both gluten- and dairy-free and I struggled to find any snacks that were readily available and obviously allergy-friendly. Given how long we did wait (close to 25 minutes for a mid-morning coffee and snack!), I’m glad we weren’t dependent on that to feed G. We loved our visit, but were disappointed by the food on offer and would take food for us all the next time.

Tate St Ives – this was the surprise success story of the week for G and we even managed an unexpected treat for M too. They had comprehensive allergen information readily available and were able to offer all of their sandwiches on GF bread. G was so thrilled, she ordered an egg mayonnaise sandwich with a helping of GF chips on the side and enjoyed every mouthful. I spotted cucumber sorbet on their dessert menu as part of a Pimms jelly extravaganza and asked if they knew what it contained.20150825_150249 The answer quickly came back from the chef that it was safe and so we were all able to enjoy a pudding. G had an orange and polenta cake that barely touched the sides as it went down and M had a couple of inquisitive mouthfuls of cucumber sorbet, although his final conclusion was that he’s not keen to try it *ever* again!

Sams, Fowey – part of a popular Cornish “chain”, perhaps best known for Sam’s on the Beach, we visited their Fowey restaurant, which I can best describe as a Cornish version of the Hard Rock Cafe! Once again, they were able to cook M-friendly chicken and cucumber, whilst G enjoyed fish and chips. Their system of no booking ahead meant we had almost an hour wait 20150825_203618for our food, but we spent it upstairs in the bar area and the time just flew by. I am not 100% certain of just how safe G’s food was, but am reliably informed that their Polkerris location can cook a mean gluten- and dairy-free pizza, an adventure for another time for us.

The Godolphin Arms, Marazion – our day out to visit St Michael’s Mount ended with a table overlooking the Mount as the sun set and we enjoyed our dinner. I knew that this restaurant could provide GF offerings, thanks to this great blog and the opportunity to give it a go and enjoy the spectacular view was too good to miss. M enjoyed a more complete dinner here as they were able to prepare rice, chicken and cucumber for him and G picked the GF burger and chips. We received great service even though the 20150828_194849restaurant was busy, but had a disappointing cross-contamination risk during dessert. Our request for lemon sorbet for M was met, but unfortunately, once he was half-way through his bowl, we discovered traces of a red sorbet mixed in with the lemon. It was immediately obvious that the kitchen staff had used the same scoop to serve his lemon sorbet, even though the serving staff had made every effort to ensure that the sorbet was safe for him. Our waiter was extremely apologetic, was very concerned about the cross-contamination risk to M, who fortunately hadn’t eaten any of the other flavour when he spotted it and spoke to the manager to ensure that the kitchen staff were reminded to be vigilant with the allergy-friendly meals.

The Malt House Harvester restaurant, Exeter – I’d been wanting to give the Harvester restaurants a try for a while and our return home gave us such an opportunity. I love the salad cart that’s available and knowing that both rice and chicken are almost staples to the menu, I felt confident that it could work. On announcing our allergy requirements on arrival, I was handed a massive and somewhat unwieldy ring binder containing their allergen information, which took me a good 10 minutes to navigate. I eventually was reassured that the chargrilled chicken breast would be fine for M and he was able to have basmati rice and cucumber to accompany it. G picked the baby back ribs with chips which appeared to be both GF and DF and enjoyed selecting her salad from the cart. The ordering process may have taken a little long due to the complexity of their allergen information, but the meals at the end made it all worthwhile.