The day of the 16th December was cold but sunny, which made driving down to Cornwall easier. I let Neil drive this one - one day was enough for me!
The trip took the best part of a day, including stops, and having to make a detour because of the inevitable pile-up on the motorway. Luckily we had the radio on which alerted us to what was happening, or we would have been sitting in a queue even longer.
At around 6pm we checked in at our timeshare, Carvynick Cottages, in Summercourt, near Newquay. This was a timeshare swap for our unit near Mogo, on the NSW South Coast. Usually we end up with much better units than ours, and this one was no exception. The only drawback was that it had stairs and the main living areas were on the top floor, which made it slow for Richie getting up there. Luckily he can crawl, so once he was up there he didn't go down except to go to the toilet or out in the car. We did not tell them beforehand that we had a wheelchair, as usually the units are accessible enough for us. They would not be for someone on their own, however.
During this week we did a lot of touring around, checking the area out, both with and without the kids. Fortunately TV was entertaining for them - ie reality shows - and they were happy to stay in one place for a few days, so we looked around a couple of times and went to dinner at the on-site restaurant by ourselves. Places we visited were Newquay, Land's End, Penzance, Truro, Redruth and Falmouth, all within an hour of our unit. I loved the village atmosphere and the countryside, and would love to go back one day. Neil enjoyed visiting Pendennis Castle near Falmouth - it belonged to Henry Vlll and was used as a fortress through to World War 2. The kids liked the friendly people and the television! Chelsea and I also went clothes shopping andto The Bear Works near Redruth where she chose and filled three stuffed animals, which was fun.
As far as wheelchair accessibility goes, this area is not particularly good as a lot of the buildings are old, and public transport is minimal. However our rental car solved the transport problem and apart from shopping for books and dvds, Richie was not worried about exploring the area. The resort did have a really nice pool indoors which Richie used without any problems.
As mentioned earlier, there is a restaurant on-site. It is called Viners Bar and Restaurant and it was originally a farmhouse built in the 17th century. It was at this restaurant that I tasted the best oysters ever, and for this reason I shall return!
On the morning of the 21st, after a very relaxing week, we packed up and headed off to Portsmouth, via Andover, where our friends Lynda and Colin live. At this time, Cornwall was the only part of England which did not seem to be covered in fog. Heathrow was closed and chaos reigned, but fortunately we were travelling by boat that evening. I knew I booked it for a reason! The weather did affect us a little, however, as the radiator in our diesel car almost froze, leaving us in limbo at a petrol station while it thawed out. It was only 1 degree outside. At this time Lynda phoned and mentioned that Stonehenge was on the way and we should have a look at it if we could see through the fog. We managed to find the carpark and after looking at the queue of both buses and people as well as the admission price I decided it was too much hassle at this particular time to view a bunch of old stones. However, on returning to the road out, what should we drive straight past, but the old stones themselves! So we got a good look through the fog for free.
After having tea with Lynda and Colin and drying our washing on their radiators (as you do) we set off for the hour or so drive down to the ferry at Portsmouth. I say "hour or so", but it turned out to be rather more than that because we got hopelessly lost trying to find the industrial area where we were to return the rental car. Even the taxi driver who picked us up had trouble. If we have learned nothing else from our travels, it is to pay the extra money to get a hire car with a GPS system attached.
It was with a sigh of relief that we boarded the Mont St Michel at 10.30 pm, ready to sail to Ouistreham/Caen, France at 23.15.