We spent the best couple of hours today on a Rock Pool Ramble organised by Polzeath Marine Conservation Association and led by their volunteers and those of the National Trust in North Cornwall.

Join marine experts, Polzeath volunteers, and National Trust rangers on one of our famous explorations of the shore! With dates throughout the year, you have a chance to discover the wonders of the rockpools, from rare Celtic sea slugs to stalked jellyfish and an abundance of crabs. Lead by National Trust Rangers.

We weren’t really quite sure what to expect but had a wonderful morning examining the rock pools, learning about all sorts of wildlife and having anything we found identified. The format was super casual – we were accompanied by loads of volunteers and rangers, which was particularly welcome as that meant we could concentrate on looking in the pools, knowing someone else was keeping an eye out for the tide. The team brought along a load of white buckets and specimen catchers and we all had a go before gathering round to see what everyone had found and have things identified.

If you are visiting Polzeath any time this is one not to miss – I learnt just as much as Pip and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. That said, you don’t *need* an organised ramble so I’ve shared some of tips below that I thought might be helpful if you’re going yourself. We will certainly be going again, both on the organised version and by ourselves.


What to bring

A beach in August will obviously be hot and sunny so no need to worry about being warm and dry… of course, this week has been anything but warm and dry, so first and foremost I would suggest a waterproof! You also will not want to worry about your feet – I bought some gloriously unstylish waterproof shoes from the local surf shop which were perfect. Pip insisted on wearing her Saltwater sandals which she will barely take off – had the weather been nicer I might have worn mine too, but I like to err on the side of being warm.

You will also need a bucket – we brought along a clear crabbing one that was great, and if you can get hold of a bigger white one that does make looking at some of the larger specimens easier. We were shown at the start how to be careful to not disturb the marine life – if you lift a stone, put it back, etc – and to not use nets but specimen scoopers (most of which had been made from cut off plastic bottles with taped edges and string handles, so super easy to make at home. There were also some clear plastic pots, probably hummus tubs or similar, so again, easy to get even if you’re on holiday.

We also benefitted from the spotters guide which we bought for 50p from the team, and they brought down some guide books to look through as well, which Pip was particularly taken with.

The rangers were all so knowledgeable and so friendly – Pip had loads of questions and they patiently ansered them all. The other benefit to an organised ramble such as this one was that they knew how and where to look for certain things – and were also able to identify without having to look it up which was particularly lovely. We spent some time with one of the volunteers that was on a university placement and she showed Pip a strawberry anenome and a daisy anenome and helped Pip feel the tentacles and explained how it caught its prey.

What did we find?

Well, we did see a Celtic sea cucumber which was super tiny, much more so than I expected.

That is a daisy anenome, but quite hard to spot at the back under the rocks in the middle.

Pip found several baby crabs – and other people found all manner of other different crabs, fish, shrimps, sea weed – and also sadly a few bits of plastic which we scooped out and took back to recycle.

We also saw a cushion starfish, the shell of a spider crab which had been abandoned when its owner needed to upscale to a larger model and the strange brain like roots of seaweed which had been ripped from its mooring in stormy weather.

All in all a fascinating day and one which I’d highly recommend.

Country Kids

It’s been rather wet and gloomy down here in Cornwall this past week and we’re all suffering a little from feeling a bit discombobulated from moving, not really being properly unpacked and so on. We are going to have to work harder to do some more luxurious lounging at home to try and cheer ourselves up.

A couple of days before we left London I went along to a blogging event held by Currys and Sony to launch the new Sony OLED TV. They created for us an amazing #immersivenightin with everything themed around different films and it was an excellent night. I’m proposing to surprise Pip by recreating something similar themed around one of her favourite things to watch.

Whilst the evening had been beautifully executed by JoesBloggers and Currys, in actual fact the main ideas are super simple and easy to recreate. I think it would make an excellent low key hen party or winter birthday party as well as just being a lovely night in at a weekend.

Food and drink

At the event, every part was a clue forming a quiz – you could either adopt that, or just pick one thing as theme to run throughout. The afternoon tea style food was Alice in Wonderland and the cosmo cocktails were of course Sex and the city. I’m a sucker for an old school type tea with little sandwiches and sausage rolls served on vintage cake stands, so this was right up my street. To recreate this at home I would keep the vintage cake stands and finger food idea, but I think I would probably pick something My Little Pony themed which is currently Pip’s favourite and serve up something suitably pony-esque and use themed napkins.

Surroundings

At the event, a lot of trouble had been gone to with the decor, movie clues everywhere (daisies, roses) and even a smell of chocolate wafting through the air at one point. The main takeway was that everything should be cozy and if possible assembled ahead of time, so your mini (or not so mini) guests come in they are transported to somewhere else for the evening.

I’m not quite sure how I’d replicate any of the My Little Pony sets at home but I might well put out the tipi that I made and fill it with blankets and cushions so that it feels decadent and grown up… Our current TV is tiny, so I would probably put it on the floor so they could watch sitting on their cushions but that beautiful thin beveled flatscreen Sony would warrant sitting on the sofa!

Guests

At the event, it was great to catch up with bloggers that I already knew, and also make new friends. If I was doing this event for adults, I’d give some thought to making sure I had a good mix of new and old friends too, much like a dinner party, ensuring there were enough chairs or cushions. In our current house that would mean I could only invite 2 people, as we only have 2 functioning chairs, and no sofa, but I’m sure we will come to a solution soon. For the children, I’d invite a small mix of friends, crucially making sure the theme is something that they’d all enjoy.


Games

I’m not sure that just sitting and eating makes the best evening if you have guests over – I think you want something interactive as well. Something surprising perhaps, or something which gets everyone chatting. Sometimes something as simple as word games does the trick – you have to know your audience. I’ve played some excellent games of consequences, and you could have a movie theme to them (or hen party if you’re adapting the idea) and if you’re doing this with kids then a movie themed version of the body parts game could work well (draw a head, fold, next person does body etc). Or, you could go all out, and do a murder mystery for everyone, which is what happened at the event. One minute we were drinking cocktails and working out quiz questions, then next, we were knee deep in a strange love triangle A Turn for the Nurse played by the excellent Smoke & Mirrors actors. Surreal to say the least, but I haven’t laughed that much in ages!

Other things which I think would work well would be a magician, or everyone dressing up to the same theme. When we do this with Pip, we will probably get out all the ponies, and also play some board games. If I were doing this for a new year’s party though, a pre-organised themed dressing up murder mystery would work very well.

Or, you could go all out and give a massive element of surprise and awe – acrobats! (They performed to movie soundtracks. They were awesome and even more unexpected than the murder mystery…)

 

Thanks to Sony & Currys PC World for inviting me. You can find more ideas here for your own #immersivenightin.

A couple of weeks ago, a fellow blogger was asking for travel tips with children and whether it was ever possible to pack light for a summer holiday. My response was that it was definitely possible – we’ve done it many times. One of my top tips is to get yourself some Turkish/Hammam towels as most places whilst supplying bathroom towels specify that they don’t include beach or pool towels. Traditional beach towels are bulky to pack, slow to dry and not terribly versatile, but Turkish towels can be everything from a towel, wrap, blanket, scarf, sunshade, or even a feeding coverup if you’ve a baby.

Over the years I’ve had a few hammam towels, picked up on my travels and when my sister was in Turkey she bought one back for me but with an imminent move to the seaside on the cards, and seeking to work with local brands, I was delighted to discover Ebb + Flow Cornwall. It is a business I am pleased to champion, from being run by women who also have children, to being based in West Cornwall with ethical working practices, Ebb + Flow Cornwall echoes my endeavour to embrace a “less is more” lifestyle. They say:

Inspired by life in the wilds of the west Cornish peninsula, we source beautiful, handmade Hammam towels direct from the Turkish loom. With an endless number of uses, our 100% cotton towels are quick drying, lightweight and the perfect compliment to our ‘less is more’ attitude to life. Beautiful, functional and incredibly versatile, they are an essential companion for people who live and love a life on the move.

Set up by Anna Cornwall and Alice Thomas, the brand was inspired by days at the beach in Cornwall with their young children – they have 4 between them – particularly those days when you feel like you have to take the kitchen sink to the beach and need a rucksack dedicated just to beach towels! They sourced hand-made hammam towels from Turkey, which have all the properties you want in a beach towel –  lightweight, absorbent, versatile and stylish. From there the brand was born and they are in the process of developing more products which offer a practical and yet stylish solution to outdoor life, inspired by their own experiences on the Cornish coast.

We were down in Cornwall again last weekend, unpacking our first van load at the house. We opted to do the move over several weekends so that we could move gently and also spend time with the children at the beach. On Saturday we followed the blue skies that appeared out of the rain clouds and headed to the north coast, to our old holiday stomping ground at Rock, where we managed an excellent walk and paddle on the beach in sunshine, using the striped towels as somewhere to sit, to dry off the salt water, then keep the kids warm and after the heavens opened and we dashed back to the car, to dry off the deluge of rain water!

Ebb + Flow were kind enough to give me two more towels to give away to you – if you’re headed anywhere near water of any kind this summer, you need one of these. I have one orange and one pink Ebb + Flow Cornwall Chappie Hamman Towel to give away – to enter all you need to do is visit the website and leave me a comment below telling me which you like best. Then use the widget below to leave your details (and there are some other options there for extra entries) and next week I will randomly select 2 winners…

Ebb + Flow Cornwall Turkish Hammam Towel

Walk on Daymer Beach from Rock

If you want to replicate this walk – park at the beach car park at Rock. Drive all the way through the village and past the sailing club until the very end of the road where you’ll find a carpark. You can pay to park using your phone, or bring cash for the ticket machine. Then you can either climb over the sand dunes from the car park following a path by the toilet block, or back out onto the road and walk through the boat park to reach the beach. If the tide is in, you can walk along the coast path, or walk along the beach leaving the sea on your left, and you’ll come out onto Daymer Bay. There are some shops and cafes at Rock – we had a cream tea in the Blue Tomato – or you can get the ferry from the beach across to Padstow.

If anyone is interested, I can do a follow up post on more things to do in North Cornwall?

Thanks to Ebb + Flow for the towels – basket, swimsuit and Saltwaters our own.