Hanging around in Cornwall; HOT-FOOT IT TO THE TOE OF ENGLAND FOR A HOST OF THRILLS AND SPILLS

Article excerpt

Byline: JON BIRD

TEETERING on a cliff edge, 150ft above crashing waves, our lives were hanging by a thread.

Clipped to finger-thick overhead wires that spanned the 300ft-wide Cornish cove, my 11-year-old son Luke and I were about to take a ride on "Europe's longest, highest and fastest zip line".

Instructor Carl had been full of encouragement - "Think happy thoughts, think Peter Pan" - but my heart was still trying to escape through my chest as I stepped off the platform.

An exhilarating icy blast smacked our faces as we zinged down the wire and up towards the opposite cliff. Moments later we had stopped sliding back and forth and were lowering ourselves 40ft on to Lusty Glaze beach in Newquay.

Now I could think happy thoughts - how I felt like a portly Peter Pan, knowing part of me would never grow f up, and that even on our fourth visit in five years Cornwall was still full of surprises. The Bird family's migration to the rugged, rolling and thrilling toe of England was early this year. We were part of the first big wave of summer visitors to land on its shores.

But first there was trial by car -350 miles in nine hours with traffic jams, rain, fog and four utterly fed-up boys.

The passengers cheered when we eventually arrived at our home for the week, Haven Holiday's Perran Sands park at Perranporth.

In no time we had settled into our spacious, comfy and heated static caravan and Sam, nine, had planned the evening's entertainment. "Dr Who then a spot of clubbing," he suggested.

Clubbing at Haven was a family affair, with trips to the Showbar for bingo, kids' party dances and a chance to meet Rory the Tiger and his muckers.

There was also some quality cabaret from the likes of resident band Hot Property and the Moscow Circus. We would have been regulars there had the days not been so action packed and tiring. You see, the dank fog of Saturday soon lifted and the weather just got better and better.

The next day I strolled through the wind-brushed marram grass of the camp's sand dunes and, from the clifftop, spotted the tiny figures of hardy surfers bobbing around in the sea. I thought they were mad.

But by Monday the lure of the turquoise waters at the spectacularly beautiful Kynance Cove, near Lizard, was irresistible and three of us squeezed into wetsuits and went bodyboarding.

A winding path took us from a barren clifftop car park, over boulders and past towering walls of red and grey granite before depositing us on the silvery sand of the sheltered cove. The waist-deep water in May was bracing but the thrill of riding waves made it worth any discomfort.

The secret of surfing, like comedy, is timing and being naturally over eager doesn't help. Sam and Luke were far more successful.

We also visited the equally beautiful little beach at Trebarwith Strand, near Tintagel, and Lusty Glaze where the surf was excellent.

These small coves were a revelation but staying at Perran Sands you have a majestic, broad sweeping beach and fabulous Atlantic rollers on your doorstep.

But even if you're not blessed with brilliant weather, don't worry. Cornwall, and the holiday park in particular, has plenty to offer.

Perran Sands not only has swimming pools, go-karting and crazy golf but also stacks of activities. My six-year-old, Gabriel, took swimming lessons on three mornings as well as trying his feet at some football training.

Sam and Luke had fencing and archery lessons and I joined them for a session using aqua-jets in the pool under the careful super-vision of the magnificently-named sports manager, Chris P Chicken.

The jets are like giant handheld fans which propel you through the water rather like James

Bond in Thunderball. …