It’s 8.25am on Monday. I’m sitting at a wooden table outside a tent, enjoying tea and toast with the warmth of the early morning sun on my face, writes Warren Chrismas.
The only noise is from seagulls some way off in the distance, and the occasional sound of a zip being pulled, as relatively late-rising campers stumble from their tents and into a new day.
Sitting, utterly relaxed in a field of tranquillity, it occurs to me that looking across lush Cornish countryside is a significantly more pleasant way to start the week than facing commuters squeezed on a rush-hour train crawling into London.
Then my two eldest boys burst out of the tent behind me squabbling about, I don’t know, something, and the peace is shattered for the day.
Still, you can’t expect to take a young family away on holiday and sit around relaxing all day, can you?
The last safari tent I stayed in was with my then new wife in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. Seven years – and three children – later we’re in Trevella Park, a picturesque campsite in Crantock, near Newquay.
Instead of hunting ‘big game’, we’re looking for a week of fun and games with the kids, Oscar, five, two-year-old Dylan and baby Alex, who’s barely eight months old.
Neither my wife nor I have been to Cornwall, or indeed ‘glamping’, before, so it’s an adventure for us too.
The safari tents here are split into separate living and sleeping areas, accommodating all five of us. Pleasingly, they have wooden floors, proper beds, a futon, a microwave, a toaster, a fridge and even a TV.
There’s no running water though, so we have to make frequent trips to the (thankfully clean, well-maintained) communal blocks, where I notice some ‘proper’ campers have set up their own sophisticated drying racks.
My vision of campsites requiring Bear Grylls-style survival skills is quickly shattered.
In fact, I even spy one tent with a satellite TV dish and another with a full desktop computer on a makeshift desk. Clearly glamping is all about being close to your creature comforts.
At Trevella, it’s also about being close to some of Cornwall’s top family attractions. Of course, there’s a beach just a few minutes’ drive away.
Crantock is a beautiful bay with a huge expanse of sand and a river that’s great for paddling. Annoyingly, the only access from the car parks to the beach is over or around a huge sand dune, which is quite inconvenient when you have three kids, a double buggy and a host of beach and baby paraphernalia to transport.
Nevertheless, we visit several times, mainly late in the day when parking is a little easier and the sun isn’t too harsh. On one occasion, while rockpooling, my son Oscar catches his first fish. At least I think it’s a fish. I don’t have a microscope and marine encyclopaedia to hand. Either way, we release the 5mm-long creature back into the water.
Our first proper excursion is to Dairyland Farm World, a working farm with various attractions predominately aimed at young kids. Despite its Disney-esque name, it isn’t too commercialised.
We arrive just in time for a ‘pat-a-pet’ session with a rabbit, but throughout the day, young visitors are also able to try milking and bottle-feeding cows.
Small bags of food for goats and birds are available for 70p each. Just as my wife remarks that two of the goats look totally disinterested, a third one sticks its head through the fence and snatches the food from her hands.
It gobbles up the lot – including the paper bag – leaving us to wonder if we’ve been the victims of a well-rehearsed routine!
The following day, we head to Cornwall’s Crealy Great Adventure Park, where lots of activities (most of which are included in the admission price) are suitable for young children.
We spend nearly two hours in Swampy and Dina Land, where Oscar loves the collection of mini fair rides, especially the spinning teacups.
Of the water rides, he prefers coming down a huge slide in a dingy with his mum, to the log flume with his dad, but the entire family enjoys seeing me get soaked.
Being so unusual, we feel the Eden Project is a must-visit while in Cornwall, even if our kids are too young to appreciate the biological aspects of the biomes.
In fact, predictably, our youngest two boys fall asleep as we tour the humid Rainforest biome. Oscar, meanwhile, asks if there are water slides. “Er, no, son...”
Nevertheless, there’s still fun to be had here for youngsters, with natural play areas scattered around the grounds, an educational centre and extra attractions during summer holidays. Oscar loves the rampaging Tyrannosaurs Rex (now set to be a regular summer visitor). And at the explorer’s camp during the evening, we all sit around a fire, eating freshly-cooked popcorn.
But we have to leave, to put the kids to bed in preparation for an early morning start the following day, at the Crantock Bay Surf School. Sadly, my own boys are too young to try it, but I see kids as young as eight surfing confidentially, with huge smiles on their faces, after just one or two lessons.
This middle-aged lump of a man isn’t quite as accomplished, although I do manage to stand on the board for a split second, just enough, I think, to legitimately say, “I’ve been surfing in Cornwall”.
On our final day, we discover Lappa Valley Steam Railway by accident, after Oscar spots a road sign and begs to be taken there. It’s a small adventure park that’s ideal for toddlers and young children.
The top draw is the woodland railway circuit with its miniature petrol-driven locomotive (just overlook the fact it looks a bit like it’s been built with the spare parts from a Mini Metro and fitted with chairs from the local village hall.)
Oscar goes on it at least 10 times, sometimes without us parents, while Dylan explores the toddler-friendly playground and tries the pedal cars and diggers. We all get together to play a round of crazy golf.
A safari in Cornwall may be a world apart from the Maasai Mara, but as far as our kids are concerned, it’s every bit as thrilling.
> Warren Chrismas form the Press Association was a guest of Trevella Park, where a seven-night glamping holiday from July 31 starts from £692, for a family of up to six staying in a safari tent. Ranger Adventures are provided free of charge during school holiday periods. Visit www.trevella.co.uk or call 01637 830 308 for more information.
> For ideas and activities of what to see in Cornwall, download the free AppForCornwall.com
> At Crantock Bay Surf School, a 2.5hr lesson cost £30 (crantockbaysurfschool.com).
> A ticket for a family of four at Cornwall’s Crealy Great Adventure Park costs £57.44 when booked online and in advance (www.crealy.co.uk/Cornwall). A family ticket to the Eden Project is £58 when booked online (www.edenproject.com) and Dairyland Farmworld costs £10.50 per adult and £8 per child (www.dairylandfarmworld.com).
Ramblers walks in Barcelona and Hispaniola
Ramblers Worldwide Holidays is offering a one week holiday in Costa Barcelona with its national parks, extensive vineyards where the area celebrates with the Cavatast wine festival in October and over 60 miles of spectacular coastline, culture, tradition, gastronomy and of course vino, are essential ingredients in this part of Catalonia.
Experts in guided walking adventures across the globe, the highlights of this holiday include the village of Sant Sadurni d’Anoia – the capital of the Penedès and famed for its Cava, the rugged limestone landscape of El Garraf Natural Park – home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, the beautiful coastal town of Sitges with a great beach, promenade, iconic church, cafes and restaurants and optional visits to historic Tarragona and Barcelona.
Price from £760 per person includes return flights, transfers, half board accommodation and the services of a dedicated tour leader. Departures from October 1, 2015. For more details see www.ramblersholidays.co.uk
Ramblers are also offering a new holiday to Hispaniola – which combines Haiti and the Dominican Republic – a land which was first sighted by Columbus in 1492 and smacks of piratical intrigue and the Spanish Main.
Haiti experienced the world’s only successful slave rebellion which resulted in the setting up of the world’s first independent Afro-Caribbean republic.
The adventure begins in Punta Cana, where one is introduced to beautiful coastlines and cenotes (natural wells) which dot the landscape and make for perfect swimming holes.
Next is Santo Domingo, the capital which offers a feast of colonial architecture and stunning beaches and onto Barahona with its magnificent coast.
Next port of call on this divided island, crossing the border from the Dominican Republic to French speaking Haiti, with a mysterious and magical personality of its own. Haitians have a saying ‘dèyè mon gen mon’ – ‘beyond the mountains there are more mountains’.
Highlights in Haiti include the bustling capital, Port au Prince; the quieter hills of Petionville; the superb beach at Cote des Arcadins and the Citadelle on a hill above Milot – reckoned to be one of the Caribbean’s most inspiring examples of historical architecture.
The overnight summary is: Punta Cana (1); Santo Domingo (2); Barahona (1); Port au Prince (3); Cote des Arcadins (2); Cap Haitian (2); Jarabacoa (3); return flight (1).
Price are from £3,199 per person for 16 days includes return flights, transfers, half board accommodation and the services of a dedicated tour leader. The departure date is March 1, 2016 but full details on www.ramblersholidays.co.uk
Tauck lowers prices for 2016
If you’ve been dreaming about exploring inviting places in North America and Europe with award-winning travel experts who make every moment count with insider experiences, now’s the time to make your 2016 travel dreams come true with Tauck!
You’ll find all the details, from new lower pricing in Europe and dates to special on-tour experiences crafted exclusively for Tauck guests.
The company is excited to invite you to travel with them in North America and Europe in this special year where we celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th birthday and our 25th anniversary along the Yellow Roads of Europe. Don’t just dream about your next Tauck trip, do it in 2016.
Call your preferred travel agent or call Tauck at 0800 810 8020 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your space.