Nanny Pat’s reflections on the delights of days out in Cornwall with her pre-school grandchildren

Nanny pat and small child feeding farm animals

My youngest grandchild starts school next week and I feel sad. It marks the end of an era of having each of my four precious grandchildren to myself for one day a week to share what became known as ‘Nanny Pat Adventures’.

I vividly remember the day Wilfred was born 11 years ago and I first took on the mantle ‘grandmother’. I know that I experienced some alarm at the associations with the word – grey hair, spectacles, frumpy clothes and old age – and my son asked what I wanted to be called by the new arrival: Nan (my mum) Gran (paternal mum) Nanny, Granny, Nan? I must admit that the question took me by surprise and it needed some thought as the name would surely stick! I decided on Nanny Pat, mostly to retain my identity amongst the other family grandmothers and because it had a nice ring to it and flowed off the tongue. Little did I know at the time that I was to metamorphose into that character over the next 10 years – and become known to many guests’ children at Bosinver only as Nanny Pat!

Oh how I have loved the past decade since four gorgeous little offspring have invaded my life! My boys were determined that I should be a hands-on granny and at first, when both they lived in Brighton, it involved a 10-hour round trip from Cornwall to make it happen. Wilfred was followed by my second grandchild, Megan, and when my youngest son Mark decided to return to Cornwall a weekly day out with Wilf or Megs or both became the order of the day, thus helping out with childcare and indulging myself!

What fun we’ve had – no stone unturned and no corners of Cornwall left unexplored…. First rule was ‘Play Outside’ unless the rain was lashing down so much that it was no pleasure, then it was a choice between visiting an attraction or baking at home. As time progressed I began writing accounts of our days out as blogs on the Bosinver website so guests could also use them as inspiration for days out with their families whilst on holiday here.

Grandchild number three arrived to my older son Paul in the form of Sam, followed by Jasmine, so the trips to Brighton resumed and between both families and work, a lot of juggling! Luckily, Paul decided to up-sticks and return to Cornwall too, so I now have them all close to home.

Wilf started school and Megs had days out with me, closely followed by the other two. How those years have flown! I realised one day that I had written over 50 blogs so decided to compile them into a book for guests to use. This was a great success and has been since followed by Book 2 of Nanny Pat’s Adventures in Cornwall. I just love the fact that my grandchildren will have these books to treasure long after I’ve gone to remember the happy times we shared together…

What has being a grandmother meant to me? Well the first and unquestionably the most important is Unconditional Love. You are given it as a right of passage. There is NOTHING in my world which fills my heart to bursting more than when one of them catches sight of me and hurls themselves into my arms squealing with joy and shouting ‘Nanny Pat, Nanny Pat, I love you…’

The second is that they come to you as a blank page, a book to be written. You to them are the Fount of Knowledge, not the news, books they have read or tales told by friends – you are their world and you are helping shape the person they will become. I take that responsibility very seriously indeed.

The third is that, like it or not, you are now the tribal elder. As in a tribe, it is your duty to tell the family stories and pass on your wisdom and knowledge to their generation

The fourth is obvious and very important. Your help in sharing the childcare load is priceless. As families become separated following further education, easy world travelling and job seeking, young parents are often a distance away from their own. Most mums seem to need to return to work after maternity leave and leaving your children with paid childminders is cripplingly expensive – and, as lovely can be, they are not family.

Interestingly, I have just read an article comparing our development to that of the apes. It seems that early man was not that great at killing mammoths, and grandmothers played a crucial role in looking after the children and teaching Mums how to forage for plants, roots, nuts and seeds which formed the basis of the family nutrition!

I’ve absolutely adored being a grandmother, no question about it. I also know that as four-year-old Jasmine starts school next week (so young! I think it’s far too young and wish we could adopt the Scandinavian system when they have structured play until seven years old), our relationship will change. She will sit in a classroom and hang on her teacher’s every word, make new friends and soak up knowledge like a little sponge. Other influences will come to bear as she embarks on her own life’s journey. I just know that every single one of my grandchildren not only carries my genes but has shared my love, my zest for life and will thirst for knowledge as I do, carrying on love for nature and the outdoors – and turning the stones over, both real and metaphorical, just to see what’s underneath!

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Have you tried any of Nanny Pat’s child friendly days out in Cornwall? We’d love to hear your thoughts – leave us a message below, tweet @Bosinver or post on our Facebook page and share your memories. 

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Action Nan and the rest of the team are always busy writing posts that we think you’ll like – from top tips on where to take the kids, to what’s likely to be going on in the local area when you stay – we’ve got it all in our blog!