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Cornwall holiday 2023: Preparation


We have just come back from a wonderful holiday in the lovely village of Porthcurno at the very tip of Cornwall just a couple of miles from Lands End the most westerly point of England.

This is a picture of my youngest checking out the waterfall on Porthcurno beach. The sheer size of it is awesome and the caves all around kept the kids happy for hours

We had a fantastic time and in the same spirit as my series on our Weymouth holiday I want to share some of the joys of getting away and the value holidays add to your life and your health.

I also want to talk about:

  • how I prepared for this holiday,
  • the health benefits holidays provide,
  • the challenges that cropped up,
  • how we overcame the challenges,
  • how I will adapt my life to prepare better for the next holiday.

I also want to hear from you about what you do to prepare for holidays and recovery from them, particularly on hilly terrain or scrambling over rockpools as that is not something I get to practice much in Milton Keynes.

So please add feedback and questions in the comments section below.

Why share?

Why would I want to share all this information is a question you are probably asking and one I often ask myself. The answer is that:

  1. Firstly I have learnt so much from others taking the time to share what they have learnt from life, particularly the challenges they have faced and how they have overcome them,
  2. Secondly, it occurred to me that the injury I got from this holiday is a great way to discuss the habits that lead up to the injury, what I can learn from it and how my habits may change as a result to heal the injury and prevent it happening again.

Preparation throughout the year

Preparing for the holiday is often a long process spread throughout the year from agreeing where to go to booking travel and accommodation and then the lead-up to the big day when you finally set off on holiday.

This is the view from the beach between Pedn Vounder and Porthcurno. When I took this there was a waterfall right behind me and cliffs all around so there was so much going on. By getting out and about regularly, often just on foot or for a short drive I experience views like this all the time. Through regular practice I have got better at recording the memories.

The preparation I want to talk about is how I prepare my family for the challenges they might face on the holiday. This sounds ominous but it is really about the practicalities of travel, weather and days out in general.

For example, for us, the sun could be a real factor during the holiday because it is so early in the year that our skin may not have developed much resistance to the sun’s rays to provide enough protection and we may not be in a good routine of putting on lotion.

In a temperate country like the UK that does not have year-round sun these adjustments to the requirements of the given season cannot be predicted as easily as in other countries because the strong sun can come on suddenly for a couple of days and disappear again just as quickly.

Meaning that each year we must build up the relevant protection and adopt the right habits. As a result, our habits are continually adapting to the current season but also the relevant situation, weather and environment we will be in which in the UK is particularly hard to predict.

Walking and Urban hiking

I walk a fair bit throughout the year as it has become a real passion of mine since I was young. I don’t quite consider myself a real hiker because that seems to require compasses and walking poles and equipment like that. I just generally pop out for half an hour to an hour and sometimes more just to stretch my legs and enjoy my surroundings.

You never know what you will find when you walk around your local area. I spotted this awesome sign “Gullz R Loud” (https://goo.gl/maps/Smc1KuffJFNRSd2v8) whilst wandering past Harbour sand beach in St Ives on the way back to meet the family after rock pooling at Clodgy Point. It still makes me chuckle.

Walking so regularly has meant that I have built up a lot of stamina and wear the right gear like waterproof hiking boots so that whenever I feel like a wander I can which means that my body is well adapted for walking a fair distance day after day when necessary.

This exercise is generally plenty of preparation for any holiday because I can often walk 10 – 20 miles on a good day which is rare on a holiday though leading up to the holiday I went on a few trips of this kind of distance and they may have taken their toll and pre tired me but generally the walking leaves me well prepared for the challenges I face.

I have discovered over the years that not every area is nice to walk around which is why I love my home town of Milton Keynes so much because it is a walkers paradise. A regular walking habit is a real benefit to me on days out and holidays because I get to see so much more than the rest of the family.

This is a view from the Minack Theatre which is a must see if ever you get the chance. I have to go back and watch a show there it must be amazing with the sea and cliffs in the background.

I walk throughout the year but the rest of the family are more home bunnies so it helps to get them used to being out and about too so they are ready for the walking and other activities that make a holiday special. Physically as a family, we’ve been getting out more during spring and this preparation should be enough for them.

Cornwall is full of amazing beaches and our eldest is a strong swimmer but our youngest is still learning. Last year she threw a fit before putting her head under the water but in the last year she has passed both stage one and stage 2 and has become confident in the water.

This pretty little plant is one of the many I found on the coastal walks around Porthcurno. I love the sea in the background because it reminds me of where this picture was taken and the sights and smells I enjoyed there.

So on the one hand it is exciting that she likes water now and wants to explore it and on the other hand it is more scary because she can get in more danger because she will go further out to see and as parents, we have to teach her more about the safety of the sea and what that entails. Plus, mummy bought a kayak and I can’t wait to see them use it!!!

So there are many activities that we do through the year that prepare us for this holiday, sometimes we are doing it specifically for the holiday but normally it is just normal daily life that helps prepare us.

A love of biology and nature

Mummy also booked Cornwall because I love exploring rock pools and there are many there so I needed to make sure I was prepared. It turned out that this was where I lacked preparation because I have so few opportunities to go rock pooling and very little experience so I did not really know what to plan for other than to make sure I had the necessary kit.

I found this anemone at Clodgy point all because I decided to have a wander and take the long route from the car park in St Ives back to the family on the beach below. That decision led to my favourite rock pooling experience so far this year

We have been planning this trip for months and ever since I knew we would be exploring rockpools I have been thinking back to the amazing trip I went on to Anglesey for A level biology.

Funnily enough, I remember it as a relatively cold and wet trip which is a very British experience but what I really loved was learning about all the wildlife on the island. Learning how many ways that life adapts to its environment has always been a fascination of mine and the opportunity to see and experience this for myself is really special.

This picture shows some of the groups of mussels I saw all over clodgy point. It is a small example of the fascinating things I found while rockpooling

So I was looking forward to days seeing all the different flora and fauna Cornwall has to offer.

Better vision

This past year I have been working on my vision and I am slowly working towards getting rid of my glasses for good!!! This is so exciting for me because I have worn glasses for over 35 years and they have limited me in so many ways.

I have heard for years that some lucky people have managed to fix their eyes but it always felt like a distant dream until last year when I discovered an amazing site and community called EndMyopia run by Jake Steiner.

This is the view from Pedn Vounder beach looking back to Porthcurno beach. I have spent the year essentially sightseeing and paying as much attention to the view in front of me as possible. I stood there enjoying this view with glasses half as strong as the year before in wonder at both the view and the ability the body has to adapt to hallenge

I recently wrote an article introducing EndMyopia and the short sighted podcast which goes into more detail on the theory and practice that Jake teaches. To confirm how much improvement I have made I have been getting an eye test every few months and to this point my prescription shows that I have removed almost all astigmatism from my glasses and my shortsightedness has also been reduced by about half.

Planning ahead

You may be wondering what this has to do with health so the logic is that basics like planning when and where to do things are as important as the activities themselves. Do the planning right and your day will be more enjoyable and you can match the relevant activity with the relevant opportunity. Do it wrong and you get stressed, you have to rush and push yourself too hard or you can’t eat properly or something else is not right.

We learnt from our previous holidays that we can’t go full tilt all holiday, we need to plan some rest days in and have alternative activities in mind if our plans have to change. The point is to make the best of each situation instead of trying to stick to unrealistic plans. When we have done this right we have had the best holidays. So planning our trips well is a skill we practice throughout the year which comes into its own on holidays when you need it the most.

Plans change and you have to adjust. This dinner is the result of last-minute changes to the initial plan made in the morning because on the way to our initial choice, we found the road we wanted to use was closed so we had to find somewhere at the last minute,

We packed the car the night before which reflects much of our approach to holidays which is about energy management. We focus a lot on packing the right amount of activity into each day of a holiday so that we do enough but not too much.

That is what we have learnt over the years works for us and this holiday we have two children aged 6 and 11 when in Weymouth we just had one 3 year old so as every parent knows this is just a different challenge and managing energy has been the key for us throughout our parenting journey to ensure that overall we have a great time.

The journey there: Managing energy

I am explaining the journey more on this holiday because it was longer and the kids are too old to sleep so it needed more planning and resources because as you well know happy entertained kids don’t argue so anything to entertain the kids makes for a pleasant trip for the parents.

Packing the car the night before made for a more relaxed morning where we could leave with plenty of time to get to Portchurno with time to spare. Once we woke up we turned our thoughts to the journey ahead and agreed that if we were to share the driving that naturally meant we would stop on the way which implied we could build a break into the journey to make it more pleasant for us all. Probably around lunchtime.

I have no pictures of the journey to Porthcurno but I do have pictures of my kids driving the boat we sailed on while looking for dolphins which was an epic journey in its own right and to be honest more interesting than a long car journey.

Mummy is awesome at sorting travel comfort for a family so she had a playlist for the trip planned and some travel games and activities for the kids just like we all did when we were young and before ipads and smartphones were around.

All these things added up to ensure we set off early in good spirits and well-rested.


Mifi means mobile wifi which is a bit of tech I have bought this year for specifically this type of situation. Both kids have ipads and we planned to let them use them in the second half of the trip. The mifi device is basically a small 4g device that gives mobile wifi to anyone within range.

What this means is that we can all use the web throughout the trip as this device can get a signal and has battery left. It works just like your phone with its own sim card but saves your phones data and battery leaving my phone to deal with the map without having to provide 4g signal too.

I could put a picture of the MIFI device here but frankly, that is boring so if you are interested just get in touch and I will give your the details or ask in the comments down below. Instead, the mifi device gives access to information and this is a picture of one of the information plaques at Lands End highlighting all the sea life that can be seen from there over the year from orcas to dolphins to basking sharks

The long and the short of it is that I have been using it for a few months and it has been a game changer. I often just turn it on and leave it in my bag and the kids and I suddenly all get wifi. The performance is good enough and the convenience is what really makes the difference plus the fact that I get gigabytes of data without touching my own data so it frees me up to get on with life and not have to think about it.

So the purpose of this bit of tech is to make our journeys during the holiday a bit more comfortable while being relatively cheap which is why I mention it.

Further references

Like everyone else, we did a ton of research leading up to the holiday so I have added some of the information we found below:

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