Away in a Manger

December 14, 2014 at 10:20 PMCoombeMill



New Residents at Coombe Mill


We haven't had much luck with donkeys this year. After losing Maisie in the horrid weather of last January and Nick driving all the way to Wales to buy the charming Winston and Clementine as company for a pining Rollo, disaster has struck again.  Rollo has thrived since his play mates came along, but Winston and more so Clementine have been a worry all year. They have been wonderfully friendly with the guests and let Rollo be king of their kingdom but never looked as strong as they should.  Clementine had sun cream applied each day to her eczema ridden nose and all the donkeys were seen by the farrier for their hooves and wormed regularly by Farmer Nick and Gill. Despite this Winston and Clementine shed their coats too late in the season as autumn was setting in and while Winston looked to be gaining in strength Clementine was losing weight. We asked the vet and I asked on facebook for suggestions, thank you to those suggesting sugar beet. We separated Clementine into the adjacent field with her own shelter and high protein food and hay net yet close enough for her to nuzzle with her buddies when she wanted to. The weather turned and Clementine grew weaker, there was nothing obvious but it was clear she wasn't going to make it through the winter. I fought the vet's advice to have her put down but eventually agreed it was the fairest thing as she continued to decline.


Care for Clementine


Fast forward a week and it was going to be another long road trip for Farmer Nick who had spotted Delilah and her foal Pixie for sale up in Wiltshire. Setting off in the dark at 6am and leaving me with the two hours of school run and animal feeding he braved the wet and headed north.



Early start for Farmer Nick


By midday I had heard nothing and was bursting to know if he had bought the donkeys and rang the mobile. All was well, donkey's on board he was heading home.  It was going to be touch and go if he would make it back in daylight with a 50mph max donkey towing speed so I agreed to have everything set up and ready for their return. The children helped me straight after school to move the ponies to a higher field and give our new arrivals the lovely sheltered big field down by the river with the new field shelter that boys built after the storms blew the old one right over last year. 


Kitting out the Stable


With straw on the floor and hay in their nets we were ready to welcome them in.


Donkeys arriving

After their long journey, Delilah and Pixie were all at sixes and sevens and just wanted to explore their new home with a pond for water, plenty of foliage to hide in and the deer and goats for neighbours but there was no stopping the children trying to fuss over them. Jed and Clio decided to climb the tree in their paddock to gain a view of where they were heading whilst Guy followed them with handfuls of straw to attract their attention, all to no avail.

Tree climbing and Donkey catching

Later we returned with apples in a last attempt to coax them inside. After a good explore they were happy to oblige led by Delilah while Pixie was intrigued by my camera flash in the fading light. I think they are going to be perfect Christmas Donkeys sitting in their manger.  


Away in a Manger


Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall      photo 93142f35-6d39-479f-b3de-d94dbca68162_zps58499252.jpg


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Silent Sunday / Project 52

December 13, 2014 at 11:50 PMCoombeMill


Coombe Mill Log Store at Christmas

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Posted in: On the Farm | Weekly Photo


Country Kids from Coombe Mill

December 12, 2014 at 11:50 PMCoombeMill

Pencarrow Christmas Fair

Being closed transforms weekends for us, suddenly there is no changeover and feeding the animals becomes a family affair, though we had local friends to join us this week too and took our time not worrying if we were a few minutes late starting.


feed run with family and friends


After the feeding the animals we had a whole day ahead of us for family time. I have had a ban on Christmassy things till December but now it felt time to indulge my gang in a little Christmas magic. Seeing the Pencarrow Christmas Fair was on I thought I'd take the children.


Pencarrow Christmas Fair

In the end it was only Guy and Clio who chose to accompany me as the other boys had gone for a round of golf with Dad. It was mid afternoon and we assumed it would be quiet by now but no such luck; in fact we had to queue to park. We know the owners as his children were best friends with mine at playgroup and he found us a sneaky space. I decided we would explore the gardens first while it was still light and a beautiful afternoon.  The kids were happy with this and ran off in search of favourite haunts from past visits such as the special cave grotto and the water fountain.


Pencarrow Gardens enjoying the Kids favorite haunts


With plenty of free space, a waterfall and a play area they had a wonderful time until Clio became stuck in the baby swing on a challenge with her brother. I took this as the time to head indoors.


Pencarrow Gardens, plenty to explore for kids

At only £2 for adults and children going free I suddenly wished more of the family had come with me and understood why it was so busy. There were craft and food halls across the beautiful downstairs rooms and out into the marquee. The children as always wanted to buy everything but settled on a glass of non alcoholic mulled apple juice and a delicious brownie. Clio was very temped by the fun food jewellery and I couldn't resist some wonderful smelling Christmas coffee.


 Pencarrow Christmas Fair in the house and marquee


However the highlight was the lady weaving from Willow. Along with her beautiful items she showed my two how to make Willow Christmas stars. Peter Hodges , who was photographing for the Cornish Guardian, came over to watch and took a photo of Clio at work, I was quick to ask for a copy after leaving my DSLR at home and making do with my I phone which was running dangerously low on battery by now.


 Clio weaving willow at the Pencarrow Christmas Fair


We were one of the last to leave and the children still had their stars in hand. Back at Coombe Mill they used gold paint to spray their stars up ready for our Christmas tree. I am hoping we may do the same with some of our Christmas guests now for activity hour. If you are staying for Christmas this could be the crown to your tree too.


Christmas Star makes it home to Coombe Mill

Buying the local paper in the week I was thrilled to see the photo of Clio from the event had made it inside too.


Cornish Guardian feature for Clio Cambouropoulos




Joining in with Country Kids

If you have been outdoors on a Christmas adventure, enjoying the countryside or playing in the garden please come and join me here on the linky. It can be hard to make the effort in the short winter days but leaving screens and central heating is good for the kids and good for us parents too. Please grab the badge or link back here and do check out some of the other posts too, there are always some inspirational ideas to make you want to get up and go out. 

I always comment on every post that links up with me but doing this has led to some commenting systems seeing me as spam. If you don't see a comment from me please check your spam, I am probably lurking there!  

Country Kids is around in these communities, I'd love you to join me there:

Pin on the Pinterest Board Just ask for an invite to pin and include Country Kids on your pins for me to stop by on your boards too (no need for a hash tag in Pinterest)

Follow Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays's board Country Kids  from Coombe Mill on Pinterest.

Join the Google Plus community page  for Country Kids and add #CountryKids to your tag elsewhere for a +1 from me

Share your posts on  Instagram and Twitter with #CountryKids for a like or a re-tweet

A few of my favourites from last week:

Some lovely christmas light displays coming though as a way to enjoy a chilly December evening. Over there to here and Stopping at Two really caught my eye.

Lattes and Little Ones and Sophie Is prove that outdoor walks in nature can be fun for kids with simple things they find along the way.

For those less keen to explore, the Pocket Explorers App used by Melted Blueberries looks a perfect way to turn any reluctant walker into an adventurer. 

Finally My Travel Monkey enjoyed one of my favourite days out from Coombe Mill, cycling to Padstow along the Camel Trail to enjoy fish and chips.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall



Christmas Fudge for our Teachers

December 9, 2014 at 7:00 AMCoombeMill


Each year I like to do something for the teachers at the end of Christmas term and summer term. Having just been to a local Christmas fair (coming up for Country Kids this Saturday)  was inspired by the pretty homemade gifts from candles to chocolate brownies but less than taken with the price tickets! It gave me enough to ponder on and inspiration hit whilst rummaging in our top store with all the Coombe Mill business spare items. Amongst the odd glasses and bowls I found a set of little prawn cocktail dishes. They must have been lurking for years and were never going to be the latest must have on our property inventory list but would make the perfect start for my Christmas presents to the teachers this year. I dug out a simple fudge recipe, amended it to my liking and with the help of cling film and floristry ribbon my very own Christmas gift came to life.


Homemade Fudge


The test batch of fudge didn't stay around long and the children were very excited to make the real ones ready to give their teachers. It is wonderfully simple and quick to do so I thought I'd share it here for my "How to Make" series.

To Make the Fudge

You will need:

  • 350g Granulated sugar
  • 100g Soft brown sugar
  • 100g butter
  • 1/4 pint of full fat milk
  • 397g tin of Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1 tablespoon brandy (optional)

 Fudge Ingredients


  1. Place all the ingredients except the brandy in a non stick pan.
  2. Heat until the sugar dissolves, stirring gently.
  3. Increase the heat till the mixture starts to boil and boil gently for about 15 minutes stirring continuously till the colour turns darker and the mix thickens. You can test a little blob on a spoon so set if if sets.
  4. Remove from the heat and beat in the saucepan for a few minutes to ensure the mix is smooth and slightly cooled.
  5. Stir in the brandy and pour into a 7 - 8 inch tin and place in the fridge to set overnight.
  6. Cut the fudge into squares.


 Fudge Method


If you like the way I have presented the fudge for the teachers, here's how I did it. It's nice and simple and uses things you'll probably have lying around the house. 


Finished Fudge


To do the Presentation

What you'll need:

  • Sturdy glass dishes or glasses 
  • Ribbon
  • Good quality cling film


 Fudge Presentation


  1. Arrange the fudge squares in the dish.
  2. Place the dish on a large square of cling film.
  3. Draw up the edges.
  4. Secure in a knot with coloured strands of ribbon.
  5. Use the edge of some scissors to curl the strips to give the finished effect.

Gift Wrapping Fudge

A few fun alternatives to try.

  • Try hunting round a charity shop for the set of dishes or even using china tea cups.
  • You can flavour the fudge anyway you choose. Try adding melted chocolate in place of brandy, or using baileys or vanilla essence instead.
  • Coconut ice, peppermint creams  or marzipan cubes in chocolate  would work well too.


Tasty Tuesdays on

ET Speaks From Home

Gift Wrapping - A Chore or a Pleasure.

December 8, 2014 at 7:10 PMCoombeMill

If I'm honest I do quite enjoy present wrapping, but only when I feel I am organised, have time to enjoy the process and space to spread out and be creative. I love to make homemade gift tags from last year's Christmas cards and write stylish messages. A good reel of tape in a dispenser, a variety of colours of paper to change between and Christmas music with a large cup of coffee in the morning or a glass of wine in the evening and it all becomes part of the magic of the season. This is very much my ideal present wrapping conditions. Pre children or even with just one or two this was a reality.


The 'Perfect' Present


Fast forward to today with six children, extended family, parents and our very own Santa Grotto and suddenly my ideals of present wrapping become a frantic blur of how to find, buy and wrap all that needs doing. I find that keeping things from prying eyes and convincing the kids that the Grotto presents are not to be touched and too young for them anyway is no easy task. I even considered inviting a few friends round for wine one evening to give me a hand and make chore the fun it used to be.


Wrapping the Grotto Presents

However when taking a step back and reflecting on a weekend when all the family have pulled together raking the last of the autumn leaves, putting up Christmas decorations at Coombe Mill and helping to tidy the Fairy Garden and finish the Den Building Zone, I can't help but feel their excitement for the festive season, opening again for our Christmas holiday guests and sense my woes of present wrapping fade.


Christmas Preparations

This week I received the most awesome wrapping paper in the post. It is the most colourful looking paper I've seen in ages. Looking closely I can see it is made of the latest pictures from my Instagram feed.  Now I see just how much I love colour and am drawn to photographing the most vibrant colourful scenes in and around Coombe Mill.  The paper is the work of a new online company that does as the name suggests but with a difference. Here you can create your own bespoke wrapping paper from photos on your computer, your facebook or Instagram feed just at the click of a button.


Coombe Mill Wrapping Paper


My sample sheets are so lovely I was tempted to frame them instead of wrapping with them!


Framed personalised wrapping paper


The paper quality is like writing paper with a matt finish and reminds me of the quality wrapping paper I remember my parents using as a child. You can make and create your own, pay online and have it delivered 1st class in the post for as little as £4.99. Well worthwhile for a special family gift at any time of year and any occasion. 


Final Present 


I was sent to sheets of paper to use myself. I chose to write the review as I love the idea and quality of this paper.


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"Tales from the farmers wife" shares the funny and interesting happenings on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Nick and our 6 children. A behind the scenes look on balancing family, farming, the holiday business and cooking for all. 

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