While the sunshine has been coming and going, and everyone continues to moan about the British weather, there’s still been no shortage of days on the beach and in the garden. Whether they’re clad in wetsuits, wet weather gear or the Emperor’s new clothes, my toddlers are made for the outdoors. Come rain or shine, we simply don’t ‘do’ confined spaces.
So with beaches and gardens being the top of the list of places to be wild things (and determined to use my National Trust membership for more than free parking this year), we set off to Glendurgan Garden, a sub-tropical paradise that cascades down the valley to a beauty of a beach. In the shelter of the valley the drizzle subsided and summer was burning through the treetops. And some trees they were too, their tall, knotted trunks towering skyward.
First stop, after tree gawping (some tree hugging) and tadpole spotting, was the cherry laurel maze. It looked simple enough to let a couple of three year-olds loose, but alas, they outwitted us and disappeared through a toddler-sized hole in the hedge. Smug and noisy, they cheated their way to the middle while myself and a friend panicked our way into every dead-end, babes on our shoulders, until we eventually re-located the little rascals (us sweating, them laughing) at the centre.
If the rain did make a re-appearance (it didn’t) at least if we’d been too far away from the café, we could’ve taken shelter under the giant Gunnera plants, its leaves the size of boat sails. Instead we made for the bamboo grove, where Oli swung like a monkey and hunted for pandas while Leo sharpened his teeth on the bamboo bridge.
Eventually we made it to the bottom of the valley garden, where there awaits an idyllic beach on the banks of the Helford River. With the onshore breeze kicking in we weren’t tempted to swim, but watched the boats from our picnic blanket and tucked into our sandwiches. It wasn’t long before the boys were in a full-scale sand fight and their clothes soaked through from playing in the stream. Happy, wild and exhausted, I piled them back into the buggy for the long slog back up the hill to the café for a cup of tea (me) and ice cream (them).
If there was a low-point to the day it was only that we had to leave the dog in the van, as it turned out this isn’t a NT property that lets hounds in. However, that just turned out to be the perfect excuse to stop at the lovely Gunwalloe beach (on the northern edge of the Lizard) for some rock climbing, rock-pooling and wave-watching on the way home.
All you need to know:
Glendurgan Garden, 01326 252020
Mawnan Smith, near Falmouth, TR11 5JZ
NT members free, adults £6.80, child £3.50, family £10.30