A holiday cottage where there’s so much for babies and toddlers to do that you don’t leave for three whole days, must be good in my book.
Because we all know that keeping kids entertained whilst you’re away is basically the holy grail of all things holiday. That age old cliche of happy children, happy parents. But it’s so bloody true!
So to find somewhere that kept an energetic three year old and inquisitive (for inquisitive read pain in the arse) 17 month old twins occupied and entertained for a long (mostly rainy) weekend was a winner.
We need stuff for them to do, stuff to capture their imagination, stuff that’s different to what we do every day at home. And ideally we want somewhere that the Other Half and I are happy to relax in once they’re all flaked out in bed. You know, so we can sit on our phones all evening, even though we are on holiday.
And luckily I found just the place that ticks all these boxes – the multi-award winning Tredethick Farm Cottages in Cornwall.
On the outskirts of Lostwithiel, about an hour’s drive from Plymouth, eco-friendly Tredethick has everything you could possibly want to keep young children happy – it’s the perfect fun-packed holiday for under 5s but older kids would love it too.
The owners have thought of everything you need for babies and toddlers so you don’t have to hire a flippin’ heavy goods vehicle for a three day break, and parents can genuinely have a break themselves – mainly because the kids will be knackered at the end of the day.
So what’s there to do to keep the children entertained?
One of the main attractions of Tredethick is that owner Ashlyn, and manager Jenny offer a real ‘farm experience’. And this starts on your very first morning at 9am in the barn – animal feeding. I took my three year old whilst the Other Half stayed in the cottage sorting out the 17 month old Twins. As many of you will ‘get’ – trying to have all three out the door by 9am is nigh-on impossible, especially on holiday, although we did manage it one of the other days.
Ashlyn straight away focused on the three year old and made sure he was happy to join in, giving him the goat feed bucket to carry, whilst we all ‘herded’ the piglets out of the barn and up to their field. He was enthralled from the word go, with the pigs running around his legs. We then went to see Ashlyn feed the (apparently slightly grumpy) alpacas and helped her give giant pig Crumble her breakfast.
Then it was up to the goats, where the three year old and other children were able to hand-feed them through the fence before being allowed in with them, to feed them more and stroke them. Then through to the neighbouring paddock to give the chickens their breakfast. I couldn’t believe he was so happy to bend down with them and let them peck seed out of his pot. It was so lovely to watch all the children enjoy it so much. To round the feeding off, they then had to look in the hen house to find any eggs which had been laid overnight and were allowed to take one home for their lunch. The feeding was such a fabulous experience for the little ones – and when we did it again with all three the Twins didn’t know how to contain their excitement!
Balance Bike Track
Feeding done, the three year old was buzzing for more, and it wasn’t like he had to look far for something to do. Tredethick has it’s very own purpose-built balance bike track – complete with Strider balance bikes so you don’t have to bring their own on holiday, as well as Mini Micro scooters and John Deere mini ride-on tractors. This is basically heaven for a three year old. The Twins also loved tottering around the track – in different directions obviously! The track’s rural design is fantastic and it even has a drive-through barn, little ford (where the Twins headed straight to) and parking station. And if you’ve got to that holy grail of parenting where you can actually sit and watch them play, there is seating for adults overlooking stunning views of the Fowey Valley. We’re not quite (!) at that stage yet but honestly, I’m thrilled for those of you who are. Honest.
If they’re ready for more outdoor fun, there is an play park within metres of the bike track. There’s a big toy tractor to climb and sit on, bouncy chickens to ride-on, a roundabout, swings, a play tower with ropes to climb, a tunnel to explore and a swirly slide – as well as benches for parents to take a break if they’re lucky. I’d love to tell you how comfy the benches were, but well, you know..
If your holiday weather takes a turn, there’s no need to rush back to your cottage. You could head to the play barn, where kids and parents alike can get stuck in. At one end of the barn is a giant sandpit (I think 10 tonnes of sand justifies it being called giant!) to play in, as well as a Wendy house and slide. The walls are covered in a huge interactive mural and playboards, and there’s also table tennis, table football and a pool table. Luckily we were the only ones in there seeing as my three decided the most fun would be to hide all the pool balls. There’s also a DVD library in the same building, if you fancied borrowing a film or two, as well as an honesty-box farm shop selling all sorts of delicious products. We can vouch for their sausages!
So surely they’d be worn out by now, but no, they wanted more! And luckily Tredethick still has so much more to offer them. Next stop was the farm’s very own soft play.
As you may know, usually I’m not a soft play fan, going only under duress on a rainy day, or nowadays avoiding it as much as I can as I can’t watch the three year old at the same time as splitting in two for the Twins. But Tredethick have got it sussed. Big enough to still have plenty to do – including a ball pool, slide, different levels to climb up on, and large shapes to clamber all over. Small enough for me to see everyone at the same time and nowhere for them to escape. But that’s not all. Not only are there two comfy sofas, a table full of newspapers and magazines, and huge picture windows overlooking the farmland – there’s a coffee machine for you to help yourself to. Is this the best soft play ever? Outside is a giant trampoline just to burn off that last bit of energy, and there’s also a football pitch to kick a ball around. I have now been spoilt and will expect free coffee everywhere I go.
Not that you actually need to, but if you did want to go further afield, there’s a great farm trail from Tredethick which makes a great mini family adventure. You can pick up a scavenger hunt bag (for pre schoolers and primary school aged children) to help them explore (and keep them moving). It starts by the play park and takes you through the farm’s fields and woodlands to the hamlet of St Winnow. If you’ve got babies or toddlers who won’t last the journey (or likely end up in the river if they’re anything like mine!), Tredethick have baby carrier backpacks you can borrow. They also have a Garmin bike GPS if you fancy heading out on one of the local bike routes.
Indoor Swimming Pool
But the highlight of the holiday for us was going swimming in Tredethick’s indoor pool. I know swimming doesn’t sound like much of a treat for some, but when you have two non-swimmers and a three year old who is learning but by no means at Olympic level (yet), and only two pairs of hands – it’s nigh-on impossible to go altogether. So I was chuffed to bits when we managed it. The three year old used armbands for the first time to make sure he was safe, enabling us to concentrate on the Twins in sit-in floats.
Neither were impressed initially but with the sun streaming in the giant windows the water was warm and we all loved it. Getting everyone ready before and after was always going to be a challenge, but luckily we had the place to ourselves so we didn’t bother anyone else with the carnage! The pool is 30 degrees so perfect for babies, there is nappy changing facilities and loads of floats, woggles and toys for them to play with in the water. This was the first time we’d managed to take all three boys by ourselves mainly because of public pool adult to child ratio rules (and the fact it’s a massive pain in the arse) – but we nailed it!
Hot Tub Garden
As I’ve already said, happy children mean happy parents on holiday but if you get some child-free time, head to the farm’s hot tub garden. You could take your kids too, but seriously, why would you when you could indulge by yourself? The garden is filled with tree ferns, banana plants and bamboo, overlooking the incredible views. You can sink into the hot tub or cosy up in the circular glass pod or cocoon-like hanging chair with a good book you’ve probably been trying to read for the last six months. If the weather is nice you can make the most of the sun-loungers in your cottage garden, or even book to have a therapeutic massage. And if you feel like heading out for food ALONE, Ashlyn and Jenny can recommend babysitters who will come to the cottage.
But if you’re anything like us, once the kids are in bed, you will want to cosy up and make the most of your beautiful accommodation. After all, it’s your holiday too.
Tredethick have eight stylish holiday cottages to choose from sleeping from three to six people and all can have a cot (or two in our case) added. The Granary where we stayed had upside down accommodation so from the original granite steps and decked area outside you walked into a fabulously large kitchen/living area with high-beamed ceiling. It had an amazing woodburner and fireplace – and despite there being a fireguard there, this proved easy work for the Twins who swiftly moved it to investigate. Did I mention they were bloody hard work sometimes? Needless to say this meant we didn’t use the fire, but it COULD be so cosy of an evening.
Stairs from the lounge (with stair gates at both top and bottom – hurrah!) take you down to a double bedroom and ensuite, two twin bedrooms, a shower room and bathroom. Downstairs the ceilings are low, so watch out for the big lampshades – I think I walked into them approximately 465 times during our stay!
The cottage was so comfortable – squishy sofas and beds to die for. There are fluffy white bathrobes, ipod docks, TV and DVD player, and free WiFi. The kitchen had everything we needed to make ourselves at home for the three days including a fridge, separate freezer, dishwasher, microwave, and washing machine. But most importantly for us, Tredethick cottages are designed and equipped to be as baby and toddler friendly as possible. The stair gates at the top and bottom of the stairs were perfect, there were two highchairs for the Twins, and two wooden cots – complete with bedding in one of the twin rooms.
To have it all ready to go makes so much difference when you arrive on holiday, doesn’t it? Usually one of the first jobs is for one of us (usually the Other Half to be fair) to wrestle with annoying travel cots and make up beds with sheets I’ve had to bring myself. You don’t have to do this at Tredethick – and what a treat it was!
They had also provided a bed guard for the three year old’s bed which was great. But it didn’t stop there – Ashlyn and Jenny offer pretty much everything you need. They have black-out blinds, plastic bowls and plates, child-friendly cutlery, a booster seat, microwave bottle sterilisers, night lights, non slip bath mats and toddler steps in the bathrooms. There are also frozen toddler-friendly meals in the farm shop to buy. They had literally thought of everything and it made our lives so much easier.
We all know a totally hassle-free holiday with children doesn’t exist. But if that’s what you’re after, Tredethick is the closest you’re ever going to get. And they will love it!
If you liked this post and fancy reading some more family-friendly travel reviews, why not see how I buried my inner snob at a Butlin’s Just for Tots Break or how we were happy to be snowed in at the fabulous Bluestone in Wales. Or if you REALLY want a laugh, read how I survived taking a toddler and baby twins camping! Just about…