Ten Top Tips For Self-Catering In Cornwall During the Summer Holidays

Summer is a wonderful time to visit Cornwall and self catering gives both privacy and freedom. However, years of holidaying with children, relatives and friends has proved the following tips can make for a happy experience for everyone.

  1. Information is power: check out your venue’s website. This should help with everything from what you pack to planning days out. Our website has descriptions of the bedrooms so you can have the arguments to hand about which is best for you. The chief booker gets a handbook with information on all appliances and how to use them and it’s a good idea if someone in the party reads it before arrival. If there are any concerns, for example asthma and bedding, it is much better to email beforehand so special requests can be dealt with.
  2. Set off very early. Later the motorways are going to be jammed, literally, so shove the kids in their pyjamas in the back of the car at dawn and just go. With luck, they will sleep all the way and you can wake them for a late breakfast in Cornwall. In self catering, check in will be in the afternoon (ours is at 4pm) but this is a chance to explore near your accommodation. We recommend a relaxed wander around Heligan Gardens. You can feel extra smug as friends and relatives send text announcements about delays, engines over-heating and children rowing.
  3. For those who choose to leave later in the day, have some fun games for keeping the kids amused as they will be awake the entire way saying, ‘When are we going to be there?’ We used to play ‘Spot the caravan.’ How we laughed. It’s a good idea too to have bottled water for long delays on hot days and the empties are useful for small boys who are caught short between service stations.
  4. Take a map. Vital for when the SatNav breaks down and there’s a diversion on the motorway, particularly if the driver is male so it’s a point of honour to never, ever to stop and ask for directions. A map is also vital for your stay because there may be no mobile phone signal and SatNav will not show that the shortest route is down a narrow winding lane where your car’s paint work could suffer along with your nerves.
  5. Nothing leads to bad temper faster than hunger and low blood sugar, so have your first meal sorted. We are happy to take supermarket deliveries before guests’ arrival, so you are well stocked up, and welcome guests with a Cornish cream tea. Our Property Manager Amanda Craze does yummy ready to cook meals or there are delicious fish and chip takeaways in Mevagissey. A good supply of alcohol is also vital to sooth frazzled nerves. Do not plan a mega trip the next day for the children as the first night can turn into a party.
  6. While having the basics delivered from a supermarket is sensible, self catering is an opportunity to enjoy local produce. Not only will it be fresher, it will add to the experience of being somewhere different to home. In Cornwall, this can mean anything from bakery Cornish pasties and Kelly’s ice cream, to bbqs with farm shop meat and vegetables or visiting harbour fish stalls to pick your fish of the day. There are also plenty of local drinks to choose from, including Cornish Orchards juices and cider and the famous Camel Valley sparkling wine.
  7. To give the head chef a break, plan some meals out. Cornwall has wonderful restaurants, but if you want to get in at Rick Stein, Nathan Outlaw or Paul Ainsworth, book well ahead. It can also be more relaxed to visit restaurants and pubs you can walk too. No worries about drink driving and if you are in a mixed age group, there’s also the flexibility of splitting if some want to head back to base while others enjoy another coffee or nightcap.
  8. Eating out can be expensive though and self catering is perfect for stepping back in time to the more frugal 1950s and taking a picnic for the beach. Those innocent Enid Blyton escapades can amuse even the most sophisticated teenager because of their novelty. Just be careful you pick a less popular beach so they don’t bump into their cool friends when they are rock pooling and have a total melt down. The less popular beaches do involve driving down narrow lanes or walking from the car park across fields but you’ll feel you deserve your picnic after the effort.

  9. Deciding what attractions you really want to see is good in terms of both finances and time management. A few carefully selected days out can heighten the holiday mood but no one wants to over spend or feel they are on a tread mill. Factor in distance, parking and pre-booking tickets for popular destinations like the Minack Theatre or Eden Project. It’s also a good idea to check their websites to see what’s on. We once set off at dawn to visit the St Ives Tate – four adults and five children – to arrive and find an obscure Japanese artist was being featured rather than Alfred Wallis. Not quite the Cornish experience we’d had in mind.
  10. Take a chill pill. You are meant to be on holiday so this is the time to turn off social media and ignore emails. If you feel you can’t, then select a once a day slot for checking out what’s happening and stick to it. Don’t fret about everyone being ‘together.’ Family time is precious, but it can be a shock to be 24/7 with your nearest and dearest. A little time apart can make it sweeter, whether it’s going for a solitary pint, indulging in a long, hot bath with your favourite author or couples heading off to make use of their National Trust membership. When you gather for meals there will be more news to exchange. And don’t forget to play some board and card games or do a jigsaw – nothing says holiday more than that.

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