Day 4 – Shipwrecks, Cider & Seals………..

So where do you take 3 teenage boys and 1 almost teenage girl on a rainy day in Cornwall that costs next to nowt?  I scoured the tourist info brochures concentrating purely on the price, not looking at what the actual attraction was, which is why we nearly ended up at Billy Bears Fun House and Ball Pool! Sadly indoor play area days are long gone but I was attracted to the Shipwreck museum in Charlestown, surely that would capture a little interest in a teenage soul?  With the rain still beating down we arrived at the Museum, it cost a little over £20 for all 6 of us using a combination of discount vouchers, student union card and a small white lie.  Ollie and Bets posed on a lifeboat with as much enthusiasm as they could muster and we walked through the underground tunnels to the main museum.  Bruce and I found it fascinating and could have wandered round looking at the displays for a good few hours but the teenage mutant lot whizzed round and hung out by the exit, although I couldn’t see them I knew they were there, I could feel their “I’m bored” hormones permeating the thick stone walls between us and them.  I blame myself, I’d promised them a visit to a Cider Farm and the prospect of an illicit drink of Cornwalls best scrumpy was a far more attractive proposition to them.

On to Healey’s Cornish Cyder Farm for a taste of their finest.  To be honest there isn’t a lot to see here unless you take the distillery tour which is about £5.00 per adult but it does have a nice cafe, shop and some big shire horses.  Despite it being free admission we spent a small fortune having a pasty in the cafe (8/10 better than yesterday was the verdict) and buying scrumpy.  George bought some mustard (don’t ask) with his spending money and declared he’d very much enjoyed the cyder farm.  Just being in an alcoholic environment was enough to lift the spirits of even the most disinterested teen but they could only stand and watch as Bruce and I sampled the delights of Healey’s finest at the tasting table (I had to stop after 3 tasters as I was driving and I’m a lightweight when it comes to drinking).  We hiccupped our way back to Fugly The Car and set off for Newquay.

I have never been to Newquay before so when we stumbled upon the Harbour pictured above, with the sun now shining and blue sky starting to dominate the sky, I knew I had found a favourite place.  We entered the harbour a slightly unconventional way by steep stone steps and across rocks, whereupon the kids found a cave and we suggested they go and explore it whilst we explored the prospects of a coffee overlooking the harbour.  We found The Boathouse, a restaurant right on the harbour beach, and with the vain hope that it may be a couple of hours before we needed to call Cave Rescue we settled down to a peaceful, relaxing cup of coffee at a reasonable price in the sunshine watching the boats a bobbing.  It wasn’t long before the peace was shattered, cave explored, the teen tribe had decided to dig holes in the sand (fast becoming a favourite past-time on this holiday) right below where we were drinking coffee, they had a whole beach but no, they needed an audience for their hole digging and we were the chosen two.  We tried to ignore them, refused to “look after” jumpers, cameras, phones, mustard and a pair of socks but eventually we were surrounded by a jumble sale of belongings.  I tried not to look or engage with them but I was soon laughing at their exploits and clicking away with the camera.  They are a totally bizarre bunch but I do love em all. And as for the seal referred to in the title, we met him on our wander around the harbour walls following a boat in hoping for a fish.

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Day 4 – Lac De Saint Cassien

Canoe time!!!!! In an effort to escape the masses and try out the canoe I looked on the map and found a large inland lake – Lac De St Cassien.  With directions from George we took the “scenic” route through pine forests and up twisting roads with dramatic views and death trap corners.  Oh how we all laughed at the lack of health and safety as we rounded another corner with a sheer drop and either no or a pathetic attempt at a barrier.  We arrived at the lake and found a lay-by to park in and set off for the beach, after inflating the canoe, this time with the aid of 12v electricity from the car.

From the picture you can see that it is a beautiful lake, the sun was shining and the kids were immediately in the water with the canoe.  My first attempt at getting into the canoe without getting wet ended in disaster as I tipped the boat and fell in but with a few instructions from Oliver and stern words from Beta who simply did not want to end up in the water, I managed to clamber aboard.  After a little paddle around I asked Oliver what was the best way to get out, big mistake, he said “like this” and tipped me out!!! Although their were’nt many people dotted around the small beaches I was conscious that a fat 43-year-old could on no account look elegant or graceful whilst boarding an inflatable canoe so he probably did me a favour by tipping me out.

Bruce enjoying a coffee by the lake

Time for a coffee!  Fortunately for us there was a small shack just along the beach where Bruce enjoyed an espresso and I enjoyed an ice-cold can of beer overlooking the lake.

After our little coffee break and a picnic including the usual baguette, fromage, meat, cous cous and drinks, we decided it was time to leave and head for Cannes.  So we waved goodbye to the tranquility of the lake, the pedaloes, the beach shack and the pine clad slopes and headed for the city – idiots!

Cannes is as busy as it gets in the South of France, it’s a nightmare to get into and even more of a nightmare to get out of, especially with Fugly, hills, traffic jams and a smell of burned clutch.  Once there we headed away from the harbour with its big boats and yachts and found a small bar to enjoy a drink which they served with olives, radishes, tomatoes and peanuts.  18 euros for 6 soft drinks is a fair price in Cannes but it hurts me so much!  In fact the whole budget has completely evaporated, despite my best intentions, as the prices down here are the same or more than they are in the UK, luckily we’ve found the Lidyll in Frejus.

Pre-Holiday Budget

A recent newspaper reported that the average Brit exceeds their holiday budget by an average of around £300 – is that all?   We apparently underestimate the costs before we even go on holiday with women more often than not blowing their cash on clothes and beauty products (you don’t say!).  So out of interest I thought I’d add up the costs of our holiday so far:-

Clothes for 6:    (Ebay, Primark, New Look, Peacocks, Tesco)  =  £350.00

Ferry:      Car plus trailer    (P & O Ferries)    =   £145.00

Campsite Deposit: Camping La Barque  =     £100.00

Gas bottle re-fill:     (Kibworth garden centre)    =    £ 21.00

New number plate, defectors, GB stickers etc :   (K Tee Motors)  =    £ 38.00

Annual UK &European Car Break Down Recovery: (JS Insurance)   =  £ 85.00

                                                                                                                    Total:            £739.00

These costs don’t include the food I will buy on Thursday (£100 approx) or filling up with fuel (a staggering £85 to fill up our car at the moment).  I make savings wherever I can, for example I will be shopping at Lidl and will mainly buy lots of drinks for the journey, this will save up to 70p per drink compared to buying at a roadside services or cafe, so each round of soft drinks for 6 of us will save around £6.20 x 4 per day travelling = £24.80 per day!!  I will fill up with fuel using Tescos current offer of 5p off per litre when you buy tuna and multipacks of coca-cola , I will then combine these to give 10p off per litre and head to Tesco South Wigston where diesel is currently £135.9 per litre.

I made savings on clothes by shopping at the cheaper stores, for example I bought my eldest son an excellent Tee-shirt with a camper van motif from Primark for £3.00, he loves it.  I treated myself to a fabulous Maxi dress from Tesco for £20.00 but I have to confess to buying more than just a maxi dress for my holiday.

Other savings I have made include the Ferry booking with P & O Ferries; the trick is to keep searching on their website until you find the cheapest crossing.  You do this by entering your details including when you would prefer to sail,  then on the next screen it will list the outward crossing you have selected but not any others.  If you keep hitting the ‘earlier’ or ‘later’ buttons it will list the times and prices for each crossing.  For example the outward crossing is on the busiest day of the year and most of the morning crossings were between £200 – £300, I kept hitting the buttons until I came to the 12.40 crossing at £75.00 – a saving of at least £125.00.  I think £145 return crossing for a car and trailer in peak season is a great price but it takes just a little bit of time and searching to find these prices.

European Car Breakdown is another great saving – mine is an annual insurance covering homestart in the UK and I simply used comparethemarket.com to find the best deal.  At £85.00 with JS Insurance for the year it compares favourably with the RAC who want £134.00 just for single trip European breakdown.

With only 5 days to go I have loads to do, mostly things I forgot to put on the to-do list like collecting prescriptions, de-fleaing the cat and dog, washing the dogs bed ready to go for his Spa break at my parents etc.  The most important thing I have to do is to find the camera and charger and prepare it so that I can post our photos on this blog.  Ciao for now.

To Do List……..

There are people in this world who are so organised they do next years Christmas shopping in the January sales, they are the sort of people who thrive on lists and who can work 12 hour days, cook dinner, shop, socialize and still have time for their family!  I’m not one of them.  Instead I leave things to the very last-minute before I swing into action, Christmas shopping is a dash around Fosse Park 2 days before Christmas.  Every time I leave things to the last-minute I swear I’ll do  better next time, so with that in mind and only 1 week to go, I am being organised and making a list that I can’t lose or throw away – here goes:

  • Find Fugly log book and obtain new number plate for trailer.
  • Stick trailer back together again –  that’s got to be a mans job, I choose which bits of feminism I support and I don’t support the bit about women having anything to do with the fixing of cars or trailers.
  • Fix lights on trailer – man job.
  • Obtain new bulbs for Fuglies headlight and tail light – I think I can manage that.
  • Put new bulbs in – man job.
  • Screw Fuglies undercarriage back together – 2 man job.
  • Re-gas Air Con – take to a man who can.
  • Clean and wash Fugly – womans work – only joking,  I’ll bribe the kids to do that one.
  • Print Breakdown Recovery Policy and Ferry booking.
  • Swear at printer ink running out.
  • Finish all work paperwork and file.
  • Order Euros.
  • Hide Euros.
  • Remember to find Euros upon departure.
  • Remind boys to bring their passports back from their Dads house.
  • Remind them again.
  • Remind their Dad.
  • Steal  passports.
  • Get all of the clothes washing done – oh how I’m laughing to myself.
  • Write a shopping list.
  • Go shopping.
  • Buy lots of things we don’t need and nothing we do need because the list is lost.
  • Fill car up with Diesel after buying copious amounts of Tuna from Tesco in order to get 5p off per litre.
  • Clean the house.
  • Pack whatever clothes are clean.
  • Trim, shave and wax all unsuspecting hairs, wherever they be.
  • Pack car.
  • Leave.
  • Go back for the customary forgotten child.

One thing that my 43 years life experience has taught me is that it  all gets done in the end so I’m not going to stress too much, besides I’ve got a whole week to do it all in.

Making the Euro’s go a little bit further

In my first post I stated that we are hoping to stick to a budget of 100 Euro per day (not including fuel and tolls).  This may seem a lot but for 6 of us it would be easy to get through double that amount; French campsites tend to charge for a pitch and 2 people with each extra person being charged between 3 and 10 euros each plus all 6 of us, including 11-year-old step daughter, eat adult portions so no getting away with an odd child meal here and there.  The whole holiday should cost no more than £2000 inclusive, to be totally honest its money we don’t have but Tescos’ Credit Card at 0% for 15 months with no commission and no cash advance fee for ordering currency will be our flexible friend for the duration.  I’ll worry about it when I get back, as well as the prospect of losing my job, Bruces business not working out and the general day-to-day domestic dramas that seem to blight our lives – which is why we all need a holiday!

Here’s my top ten tips for making those Euro’s stretch a bit further whilst camping in France:

  1. Switch off the data thingy and voice mail on your mobile phone.  These can run up excessive charges although my service provider caps it at £50.  Additionally, if you are likely to make and receive calls check with your service provider for bundles.
  2. If eating out find out where the locals eat and avoid the tourist traps.  Even in St Tropez you can shave a few Euro’s off your bill if you head away from the Harbour and into the back streets.
  3. Another one for those who eat out – Plat Du Jour, the dish of the day often represents excellent value for money and might tempt you to try the local cuisine.
  4. Shop where the locals shop or find Lidl’s or similar.
  5. Try to avoid toll roads and use the N roads that often run parallel with the motorway.  It will take you longer but you get to see a bit more of France and they cost nowt.
  6. Ice-creams and drinks – we buy in bulk – 6 ice-creams can cost less than 2 Euro in a supermarket but more than 2 Euro’s each at a beachside kiosk.  The same with drinks.  Drinks out are a real treat for our family.
  7. Wine – it’s cheap – buy from the supermarket and drink lots.
  8. Fill up with fuel at the supermarket and avoid motorway services.
  9. Use Municipal Campsites where possible.  These are campsites provided by the town to encourage tourists and are therefore often very much cheaper than privately owned sites,  Camping A La Ferme is almost always another cheaper alternative.
  10. Look up free things to do and create adventures such as camping by a lake with your inflatable dingy, days on the beach, museums, exhibitions and art galleries, going to towns during their festivals, water gun fights, walking, cycling, making kebabs for the campfire or barbie or just chilling out with a good book and bottle of cheap wine (my favourite adventure!!)