As a native of Devon, it pains me somewhat to have to admit that I do quite like Cornwall. Traditional Westcountry rivalry aside, we have visited Fowey for the last two years and I would happily go every year.
We chose Fowey (pronounced Foy) mainly because of the hotel there; Fowey Hall Hotel. Allegedly the inspiration for Toad Hall in the Wind in the Willows, the hotel sits at the top of the hill looking out over the estuary, and is a great place for families to stay. We liked the look of the imposing Victorian mansion, but when it was built the locals were less than impressed and so tall trees were planted around the Hall so that it cannot be seen from the town.
The hotel provides everything that a family with young children might need and we found the staff on both occasions to be warm and polite. There are beautiful gardens to play in and the Cub loved going to feed the chickens each morning. We used the Den childminding service the first time we visited but not the second as Bee was too small to be away from me.
The food at the Hall has always been delicious and there is plenty of choice for the vegetarians amongst us. The husband can vouch for the carnivores. You can have high tea with the children in the early evening or eat in the restaurant later when the kids are asleep; alas, thus far we have not been able to do this. In fact on both visits we have been forced to have our meal in our room at least once due to Cub meltdowns. The joys of children…
Fowey itself is much smaller than I expected but it is a quaint fishing village that is pleasant to spend an afternoon walking around. The houses are mostly picturesque cottages, bottom third stone, top two-thirds rendered and painted white or pastel colours. Some of the newer bungalows have been given the obligatory glass-box makeover that Kevin McCloud would love, and that no doubt augments the views as well as the asking prices. Be warned: some of the streets are very steep!
A boat trip
This year we took a boat trip up the estuary from the main pier which was reasonably successful for us (well, we all made it back, and there were relatively few tears) though I cannot speak for the other people lucky enough to be sharing our boat. Thank you to the sympathetic lady who said to me, “Don’t worry, it’s fine. We’ve all been there.” as I tried to placate the Cub, who had insisted on going on the boat in the first place. At least Bee had the decency to sleep through the whole thing.
The next day, after looking around some of the shops we visited the aquarium, which is small but filled with creatures lurking in Fowey’s estuary and off the Cornish coast. The Cub, a huge Octonauts fan, was possibly a little disconcerted with their less than cuddly real life appearance and refused to join in with the touch-pool, but older kids will love this. The owner of the aquarium was very knowledgable and helpfully opened especially for us.
The rest of our time in Cornwall was spent on day trips to the Lost Gardens of Heligan, St Michael’s Mount and the Eden Project. Considering that it was her first time staying in a hotel that she was aware of, the Cub coped well. She had a great time every day and loved tearing about the hotel, but every so often, she would mournfully ask if we could go home.
Three nights was just long enough for her to adjust as on the journey home she piped up hopefully, “We go back to hotel?” Oh well, we will just have to stay longer next time.