Tag Archives: Berry Head



“A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2016.”

We had a fantastic expedition up to Berry Head today. Having ventured out as little as possible yesterday, battening down the hatches whilst the wind and rain howled around the house, we were invigorated by the sight of blue sky over breakfast.

Of course by the time we had got ourselves together to leave the sunshine had turned to drizzle, and by the time we were heading up into the woods Arthur was in the middle of his first hail storm.

Undeterred, we squelched up the steps to flat(ish) ground, and he sped off on his balance bike in search of puddles. And boy did he find some.

By the time I took this photo, his wellies were full of muddy water, his trousers were soaked through to the skin, and his little hands were like ice blocks.

He, of course, was utterly delighted with himself.

Linking up with Jodi at Practising Simplicity for The 52 Project. 

The way through the woods

We went for a walk in the woods this week. Arthur had been asking for a while – unusually, as he tends to prefer the sea. And so once the rain had cleared and the colds we have both been laid low by had begun to recede we headed up towards the trees.


It’s a walk we’ve done many times before. We’re so lucky to have Berry Head on our doorstep: as well as the spectacular views from the top it offers a winding woodland on the way. I had thought, once we’d wandered through our usual patch of green, that we might make our way to the cafe on the headland. As he is increasingly wont to do, though, Arthur had other ideas.


There is a gate just off the main path which I’ve noticed several times before, but which we’ve never actually been through. Not for any particular reason – it’s just not the way we go. This time though Arthur was intent on seeing what was on the other side. He actually managed, as I hung back dreaming of a latte, to get the gate open himself. And once he had? Well, it would have been churlish not to follow.

I let him lead the way from that point, and I think the images capture the adventure that followed better than I can in words. He was so fascinated by everything he discovered – things to look at and smell and touch and hear. Occasionally he threw a glance in my direction to check I wasn’t too far away, but essentially he was lost in his own little world.











The finale to Arthur’s explorations was suitably spectacular: at the end of this little avenue he discovered what he could only imagine was a spaceship. Not long after this last pic he made a dash for my shoulders – there had been plenty of exploring for one day.


This particular adventure clearly left quite an impression on him. He has talked about the ‘big and strong’ spaceship in the woods as he’s drifted off to sleep the last couple of nights. I can only imagine the wonders he has been seeing in his dreams.


Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Home Sweet Home

This time last week, I was feeling a little sad to be home. We’d had a wonderful holiday with some much-needed quality family time, and I had once again been infected with the wanderlust that makes me want to see all of the corners of the world that I can.

This week, though, we have accidentally had the most wonderful time in our little town, and it has left me wondering why we need to travel at all when we have such a glorious place to call home.


There is Berry Head, where we went last Sunday with my parents, my brother and his fiancee. Arthur was thrilled to see everyone after our trip away, and he had great fun flying his kite, doing impromptu yoga with Uncle Ash, and just enjoying the view.

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Then there is Breakwater beach. Our local beach. I honestly never thought I’d be able to say that! With the spectacular weather we’ve had this week it’s felt a little like a corner of the Caribbean at times. Arthur has continued on his mission to get every single stone from the beach into the sea, and we’ve enjoyed a picnic with friends as well as a sneaky takeaway, just the two of us.

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I’ve really become aware this week how many lovely people we’ve met in this town. It’s taken a while for us to really feel like we belong here: the first 18 months when both Leigh and I were working in Plymouth didn’t help, and even once Arthur had arrived and I began to spend a lot more time in Brixham settling in to a new town wasn’t easy. But this week both Arthur and I have had social calendars almost full to bursting, and I have realised that we both have genuine friends here now. Which is nice.


Of course my latest venture – standing for election to Brixham Town Council – has made me feel even more as though I belong. It’s been brilliant getting out and about seeing people and places that are new to me, and so far the reception to my election campaign has been really positive. Mostly anyway – but that’s a topic for another post.


For this one suffice to say that I have had a week which has left me loving Brixham even more than usual. Ten days post-holiday when I still lived in London I would have been yearning for escape, but right now nothing would pull me away from the place I am proud to call home.




My word of the week this week is home.

The Reading Residence

Also linking up with this week’s prompt of ‘travel’.


Searching for sticks

We’ve had one of those gorgeous December days today – cold and crisp and bright and way too lovely to stay indoors for. So putting the to-do list to one side we wrapped out warm and headed out to see what we could see.

Specifically, we were hunting for sticks. I thought it might be nice to have a mission, and one that we might be able to turn into something crafty when we got home. And Arthur has a bit of a thing for sticks at the moment. Mainly, I think, because of Room on the Broom – he keeps trying them out just in case one might actually fly.

He was delighted to be out of the house, and once we’d got past the little bit of road we had to navigate he was off ahead, taking the steps up to the woodland in his stride.


He was quick to find some good sticks, too – pausing of course for a bit of drumming before we continued on our way.



He wasn’t terribly keen on sticking to the path, almost getting stuck in some brambles at one point but making it through to assess whether he could manage to scavenge the sticks attached to this (still living) tree. We decided against it.



His attention got waylaid after a while though, pretty much at the point when he realised the ground beneath his feet was covered in leaves! He announced first that he wanted to lie down for a little sleep…


And then giggled as he smooshed his fingers into the muddy leaves before picking up handfuls of them and watching them fly.



He did fortunately decide it wasn’t actually the best place to have a nap, and after a little persuasion was happy to follow me back towards home. There was a moment when I thought he might try to drag this fallen tree home to add to our stash, but it turned out to be a bit too big.


And even without it we ended up with a pretty good selection of sticks. Now we just need to decide what to do with them! I’m thinking maybe combining them with some trimmings from our Christmas tree to make some sort of wreath. We shall see…


Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall



Now that novel number two is temporarily out of my hands once again, my thoughts have been drifting to the next one. Seeds were planted months ago by an inscription on a memorial bench overlooking the sea in Brixham, and in the recesses of my mind a plot has been beginning to form. This week, the voice of my main character has become hard to ignore. And that’s where this scene has come from: a moment in her life that may or may not prove to be significant.


I was fourteen when we first kissed.

We’d gone up to the fort. For a walk, he said, which kept Nan happy. And we did sort of walk, hands in pockets as our feet scuffed the grass. He kept going too close to the edge, sending shingle ricocheting down the cliff as I pleaded with him to move back just a bit.

He laughed at me of course. He never took me seriously, not for a second. It drove me mad! I took everything seriously back then, though I tried my best to pretend I didn’t when I was with him.

It was still warm even though it was after six. A haze hovered on the horizon, blurring the line that separated the air from the sea. The ground beneath our feet was dusty, thick orange dust which coated my toes. Nan kept trying to get me to wear plimsolls but I was happy in my flip flops. I’d have worn nothing at all if I’d thought I could get away with it.

As we walked back towards the car park he broke away, running up the hill and disappearing over the ridge. I ran after him despite my better judgement, ignoring the flailing of my legs. They felt like they’d doubled in length that year. I knew I ought to be pleased, but I didn’t like it. I wanted my old body back, the one I knew.

I stopped when I reached the top, opening the gate and looking out over the field. He was nowhere to be seen. Such a child, hiding from me like that.

Then I heard a whistle. It could’ve belonged to one of the many people that walked their dogs up on the headland but they’d all gone home for their tea leaving us alone in our playground. Besides, I knew it was him.

He was in the ruin, nestled into the corner with his feet flat on the dry mud and his brown knees pointing to the sky. He was rolling a tube of paper between his fingers and grinned at me as I stumbled in.

“You found me then.”

“I’m not a dog, you know.”

I’d spoken to him about the whistling before. It was degrading, I knew that. And it was because I liked it that he had to stop.

“D’you fancy a smoke?”

He put the joint between his lips and pulled a box of matches out of the pocket of his shirt. He squinted as he leaned towards the flame, his nose wrinkling with concentration. I’d never noticed he had so many freckles before. They spilled onto his cheeks, competing for attention against his deepening tan.

“No, thanks. I don’t.”

“Suit yourself.”

He inhaled deeply and rested his head back against the stone before blowing the smoke up towards the gap where the roof used to be. His lips were full and red, and as I watched him I found myself licking mine before looking down and shuffling awkwardly from one foot to another.

“Come here.”

He cocked his head to one side and patted the ground next to him with his free hand whilst he inhaled from the joint again. I did as I was told.

Out of the sun the air had a faint chill to it, and I was glad of his body next to mine. I leant back against the wall and drew my knees up towards my chest, my bare leg brushing against his. He didn’t move away.

“You know that stuff’s really bad for you,” I couldn’t help myself. I had no idea what I was talking about, not really. I’d never had as much as a toke on a cigarette, let alone anything stronger. I just didn’t have those sorts of friends.

“Yeah, it’s good though.”

With his next exhale, he sent little fluffy rings drifting up to meet the clouds. I refused to look impressed.

“You sure I can’t tempt you?”

His eyes were only a few inches away from mine, that spark I’d been trying to ignore all summer cancelling out my good intentions.

“I don’t know. I…”

“Stay there. Open your mouth, just a little.”

I wasn’t sure what he was going to do as he shifted round in front of me, lifting the joint to his mouth again then steadying himself on the wall behind me as he leaned in and pushed his lips against mine.

My lungs constricted as I breathed in sharply and he fell back laughing while coughs shook my core. I couldn’t speak, but I was sure my anger showed in my face. His giggles did begin to subside eventually, and oxygen returned to my blood. With it came a new feeling, a not entirely unpleasant one. My head was lighter, and I began to smile.

Like a mercurial mirror he became serious then, a look I didn’t recognise softening his features. He leant in again and kissed me full on the mouth. I kissed him back.

And then he pulled away and leapt to his feet. I wanted him to do it again but I didn’t know how to ask. So instead I followed him down the hill and we said nothing until we were back at the house where tea was already on the table, getting cold.

He didn’t kiss me for a long time after that. Looking back I almost wish he never had.


Thank you to Sara at Mum Turned Mom for inspiring this post with her prompt: smoke.


A halloween trail and a pumpkin parade

With the weather being so unseasonably warm recently, we’ve had a brilliantly outdoorsy halloween.


It began on Thursday with a visit to Occombe Farm’s Bewitched Trail. It was aimed at 4-12 year olds, so Arthur and his friend were a little young to really make the most of it – but they still had a great time running around in the woods whilst us mums chatted and ‘helped’ them fill in the quiz sheet!


Arthur had his Gruffalo outfit on (I suspect he’d wear it permanently given half the chance) so the woodland setting was just perfect. He loved exploring around all the trees – I only noticed when I looked at the pictures that this one had a particularly spooky face on it…


There were some conveniently placed tree stumps too so he could take a rest from all the running around.


The trail was perfectly integrated into the natural environment, and whilst the toddlers couldn’t manage all of the challenges they were delighted to come across a little mouse hiding in a fallen trunk!

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Arthur managed to hold onto his own mouse for almost all of his adventure, though there were points where the excitement got the better of him and poor mouse was left lying in the leaves…


Even the Gruffalo ran out of steam eventually, snuggling up in the sling for the rest of the trail.


On halloween itself we went exploring a little bit closer to home, heading up to the Guardhouse Cafe on Berry Head. They had all sorts of family friendly activities on offer, including a ghost hunt in the Napoleonic fort which I wish we’d managed to take part in. We ended up though focusing on the pumpkin parade – Arthur wasn’t really aware of halloween pumpkins last year, but this year he was fascinated by them – and just a little bit scared.

By the time we wandered up it was already beginning to get dark. Our local woods were feeling very creepy, but it was still incredibly warm and clear giving us some stunning views when we reached the headland.


We headed straight for the cafe, where parents and children were hard at work carving a spectacular array of pumpkins. Leigh and I settled down with a very welcome glass of wine and with only half an hour before the parade – and despite Arthur’s interventions – Leigh managed a very respectable effort of his own.



As soon as he was done it was torches at the ready to head out into the night. There was something very magical about walking out towards Berry Head itself in the dark, a weaving line of glowing lights with the hushed chatter blending with the wind and the lapping of the waves far below. These sounds were punctuated with Arthur’s little voice calling out ‘what is this? What is this?’ as he took in the latest bizarre experience we were exposing him to!



We formed a circle when we got to the end – not too close to the cliffs – and our guide regaled us with a ghost story before we turned and made our way back in the dark towards the cafe.

There it was time for the judging of the fancy dress and pumpkin competition. Arthur was again dressed as a little Gruffalo, backed up by our own efforts as the fox, snake and owl to complete the story (more on that in another post). The other children were wearing some really amazing costumes – there was a general spirit of gothic spookiness going on – but I think Arthur’s cuteness factor gave him the cutting edge because he was judged the winner.



It was a lovely end to a brilliant couple of hours of halloween fun. The party was continuing with a suitably spooky dinner but we thought we’d better get our little Gruffalo home. It was a good thing we left when we did because the woods really were pitch dark by the time we made our way back though them… But you’ll be glad to hear we all made it back in one piece!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

October sun

As I watch the world through rain-battered windows, white horses galloping across the bay to the invisible shores beyond and the wind, still eerie in the daylight, ricocheting off my neighbours’ walls, it’s worth remembering that not every day is like this.

Just the other side of the weekend we woke to blue skies, the sea calm and the sunlight glinting off cliffs as far away as Dorset. The air was crisp but still warm in the sun. It didn’t feel much like autumn then at all.



I followed Arthur up through the woods and along the path to the fort. His excitement was palpable: as with all of our little adventures, even the well-trodden ones, there was a sense that anything might happen.


When we got there, it wasn’t clear whether he had shrunk or the world had grown. Whichever it was, he looked so tiny as he ran around being chased by his shadow that it almost took my breath away.






Once his efforts had exhausted him he came back to me again, both bigger and smaller now and ready for  sleep: peaceful and contented in the October sun.



Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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