Monday, 3 August 2015

John Fowler Tolroy Manor

Recently we went to John Fowler's Tolroy Manor to see how family friendly the park was for approved family friendly. We were told we were staying in a compact gold house and as such the beds should be made on arrival.

The first impression of the park was that it was well maintained. There were flowers in bloom and it was clean with no litter to be seen. There was a play park, crazy golf and cozy coupes cars near reception which were free to use (crazy golf requires a refundable deposit.) Inside was a small soft play area which was visible from the check in desk so was a perfect place to let the boys play whilst we sorted out our key and asked for local recommendations.

The staff were welcoming and happy to answer our questions. We were given the timings of the entertainment and kids club for the weekend and they printed off directions to a kayak rental company which had been recommended to them. There is a small shop selling all essentials and a launderette on site at reasonable prices.

We couldn't park outside our accommodation but it was only a short walk to the car. My first impression of the house was it was dark with a slight musty smell. We opened the windows and went upstairs to dump the bags and quickly unpack the boys things before heading out again. It was disappointing to see the boys beds were unmade. I think this was because there were four beds and we only had two children. We had quilts and pillows for four beds but linen for two beds. This was not welcomed after the 5 hour journey and I think it tainted my whole perspective of the stay. It probably didn't help that dead spiders,wasps and moss fell onto the beds when we opened the skylights. All the bedrooms had skylights.

Beds made we headed out for fish and chips and supplies in Hayle.

The boy was so excited about going to the disco we rushed back to catch the last 15 mins of it rather than stay on the beach. He was left disappointed when we arrived back to find the disco wasn't on and if there weren't enough people to play bingo that wouldn't go ahead either. We headed to the arcade instead, here we found only a couple of machines the boys could use and the 2p machine out of order. 

Back at the accommodation we realised why we had been left a bath mat. A slight touch of the cold tap in the bathroom and you were drenched and so was the floor! The hot tap had a warning sticker above and they weren't joking. Within a few seconds the water was scolding hot so we had to watch the boys when ever they used the sink. The water pressure in the shower was laughable and there was no chance of me being able to wash my mane of hair with it. The bath flow was good and filled up quickly. 

The table and accommodation fits six but in order to be able to reach more than two seats you need to move one of the sofa's so it's blocking the entrance into the house. This was slightly annoying because my boys eat all the time so we could have done with table being accessible at all times. There were no children's crockery or cutlery.

For a full view of the house please see the video below:

The next day we asked if the skylights could be cleaned and for blackout blinds in the bedrooms. A 5 am wake up after a 10 pm bedtime was no fun but there was no chance of the boys sleeping in with the amount of light coming in through the blinds. It surprised me that there were no black out blinds in the bedrooms because all the other curtains were blackout. There were no other blinds available but we were offered a highchair or travel cot. When we returned the skylights had been cleaned

We headed to the swimming pool, there are a couple of small steps you need to go down to access the pool and it's an ok size for the park but it could quickly become full if a few families were using it at the same time. The family swim times are from 11 am except on Sunday when it's 10 am. The pool closes between 1-2 pm and at 7 pm. The last entry is half an hour before close sharp. We were 2 mins late for last entry after getting stuck in traffic only to be denied access. The pool was clean and a pool side attendant was on duty. There was a small shallower pool for babies and toddlers. The changing rooms were clean with nappy disposals, toilets, benches and showers. We used the disabled changing as we had only packed one bag so had to change as a family. I noticed the shower button, sink and hand dryer were fairly high and a wheel chair user would struggle to reach them.   

We decided we would try the disco again and arrive for the start. There were a few more families in the large club house which was nice. The bar had a good choice but is cash only (there is a cash machine in the bar by reception.) We were tempted by the food on offer in chefs corner but were put off by the children's meals. They were your standard fried something with chips. The boy has finally started to eat properly and we didn't want the whole weekend to be sausage or fish and chips. We noticed the food was served on disposal trays with plastic cutlery. The bar snacks (popcorn) tasted stale so went straight in the bin.

The entertainers were great and I noticed how they ensured they engaged with all children, even the shy ones sat on the tables, so they would feel at ease to join in. They played a few games like musical statues and played some jokes before a character appeared for a photo shoot. 

Due to a miscommunication between my husband and I the boys beloved bedtime teddies were left behind. I can not fault the staff who were lovely as ever and rescued lamby and teddy and sent them back on their way home.

All in all it's a mixed review from me and I'm not sure I would return.

If budgets were tight and I took a step ladder to reach the windows so I could attach the go anywhere black out blinds I might return. However, with no view, no atmosphere, tired disappointed children it really lacked something for me. It has the potential to be fantastic but a passing remark from one of the entertainers on how it was nice to have a crowd as they haven't had one for a while sums it up really. The staff are friendly and happy to help but it could be so much more.

Disclosure: We were given accommodation for the purpose of an honest review. All views and opinions are my own. 

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Don't feed that child!

Last week a friend was told she was over feeding her daughter because she was allowing her to eat until she decided she was full and not restricting her portions. This advice came from a health visitor.

Her daughter is a happy, healthy nearly two year old who is very active and eats a balanced diet. Yet my friend was told she was making her obese because her weight wasn't on a lower percentile than her height. We all know everybody is different yet the guilt/ shame that some parents might feel by being told their child is obese and it's because they are over feeding them is ridiculous and needs to be stopped!

Apparently this is the recommended diet for a nearly two year old:

Breakfast: 1 tablespoon of porridge

Lunch: 2 tablespoons of yogurt, 3 dice size pieces of cheese, 1/2 a slice of bread 

Dinner: 1 tablespoon of fish, 1 new potato. 1 tablespoon of peas

Snack: 1 biscuit, 2-3 Strawberries

Strictly no bananas or grapes are allowed because they contain too much sugar. Don't think you can give your child extra vegetables either because that's not allowed either - even if she is crying because she's hungry.  

When my friend challenged the health visitor stating that her child feeds herself until she has had enough she was told she has to slowly reduce the food until it reaches the 'recommended' amount. If she ignored the advice my friend is responsible for keeping her daughter obese which will put her at more risk to the usual associated obesity diseases. 

When did starving children become acceptable? In my eyes not feeding a hungry child is neglect and is a form of child abuse and should never be advocated - ever! Yes some children will only eat the amount recommended and some children will eat less but equally there are some that will require more food.

There will be a point when children naturally choose to eat less but it's their bodies and we need to trust that their body knows the cue of hunger and equally when to stop. So parents if you have been told that you should ignore your child's cries for hunger because you are making them fat please follow your instincts and have the confidence that you know your child better than any textbook and feed your child if they are hungry.

Beautiful happy healthy toddler who is fine as she is - no intervention needed. 

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Play dates

The boy started school last year and since then we have been experiencing the play date where the child is left and collected at a later time. These are different to the usual type of play date where I can enjoy a cuppa and a natter with a friend whilst we occasionally have to play referee. 

I feel like I need to make more of an effort so the visiting child has a good time and is reassured because their parents aren't around. This is how our after school play dates have gone:

1) Snack - very important!

2) Free play whilst I prepare dinner, I admit I try to eavesdrop on some of the conversations because they are funny and I love to hear how my son interacts with his peers.

3) Dinner - something I know all the children will eat and don't forget a pudding. We were sent some petits filous new magic squares to try and these didn't disappoint the brood of 5 waiting boys.

These have two different flavours strawberry or raspberry mixed with vanilla so the child can choose to mix them up or eat them separately. We were all loving the bigger pots which of course means more pudding. the picture of the bone on the lid sparked conversations about how the body works too.

4) Activity with my input - I plan this to be something fun and I stick around to supervise as temperaments fade come the end of the day. 

So far we have had lots of fun with science experiments. These are very visual and the children loved dressing up and getting stuck in!

Quick and easy experiments include bicarbonate of soda mixed with vinegar and food colouring and watching it rain. The children drop blue food colouring over a blob of shaving foam and watch as it makes it way through the clouds.


We have also been having fun with the indoor olympics seeing as other parents may not be so keen on their children playing in a mud pit of garden. 

Our route consists of the child crawling under the table which has a blanket draped over it (tunnel of doom) climbing out to the valley of dinosaurs (sofa) jumping in the swamp (rug) climbing the mountains (beanbags) and shooting the badie (picture) with the nerf gun. The boys absolutely loved this and even helped tidy up so we could room for the assault course.

What do you do when hosting a playdate?

This post is an entry for BritMums #MagicSquaresPlaydates Linky Challenge, sponsored by Petits Filous

Friday, 20 March 2015

We went to Coombe Mill

At the start of the month we headed west to Coombe Mill with a group of friends. I have wanted to visit ever since I started following Fiona's blog back when I started blogging.  I'd looked into staying before but with a limited budget it was off the cards &  I'm embarrassed to say the bad trip advisor review did initially put me off until I read Fiona's response. Then I started to wonder whether the price would be worth it considering we have the new forest on our doorstep (if I was going it had to be one of the cottages.) Then the perfect opportunity to visit came up when having a drunken social night in with friends.

We were discussing going away as a group (6 adults & 6 kids - 5 boys!) in a big house somewhere. I suggested Coombe Mill and it was no contest! It actually worked out to be very good value and very competitive compared to other large houses which didn't have a hot tub. I didn't know this before we booked but out of season you can rent out the properties for short breaks so it was ideal to see if we still remained friends at the end of the trip.

Well what can I say the place is stunning! So beautiful and very welcoming and child friendly, exactly like I thought it would be. We arrived on Friday evening with 4 hyper excited children who wanted to scope out their bedroom. The two cots were all ready for us and were normal wooden cots rather than travel cots. I had high expectations for tree roots and it didn't disappoint exceeding them all. The space is bigger in real life than on the website and the bedrooms - wow massive beds and still plenty of space even with cots in the master bedrooms.

Each family had their own bathroom which really helped us all feel like we had our own space. The kids had a playroom complete with plenty to keep them occupied. There was a separate lounge area with sofa's to seat 6 but the real hub of the home was the huge kitchen diner complete with all the crockery and cutlery needed for us all to eat together with some spare. The kitchen is also stocked with childrens plates, cutlery and cups. Can I live here please!

We made use of the hot tub every day and the kids even got a turn on Sunday after a wet farm run - don't worry they are only drinking water.

One of the the things that makes Coombe Mill magical for the little ones is the farm run. All the children instantly took to farmer Nick and were eager to have a go riding the tractor - well all except the only one who went to sleep! He was worried that he wouldn't know how to drive it so with a bit of coaxing he got his turn on day two. 
The thing that surprised me, and it was a welcome surprise, was how close we were allowed to get to the animals. I had assumed it would be like the local tourist farm all behind fences in fields with the opportunity to hold baby chicks if they were ready. We went in the fields with the deer, geese, chickens, wallabies and goats and were welcome to come back at any point as long as we respected the animals. 

The scenery is stunning and any eggs collected were dished out at the end of the farm run. The boys all had a go at being King Arthur in the chicken field but failed to have the magic touch to free the sword from the stone. 

There were plenty of smiles on board the Coombe Mill railway and a few screams as the grown ups in our party and some of the boys tried to make the rest of us jump when they appeared from behind bushes.

Would I recommend Coombe Mill & Tree roots? You bet! We wanted to head back for the summer, October half term or new year but tree roots is all really booked which isn't a huge surprise given how great it is! Now we are waiting for next years school dates to be released so we can book before you all do.

It may be fuzzy but it's the only group photo we got just as we had packed up our cars to go home - do we still look like friends? 

We visited some stunning beaches during our brief stop in Cornwall but I'll save those for another day.