First Jigsaw Puzzle ideal for 2 Year olds

Posted on October 17th, 2016 -

Jigsaws are a great way to to begin to develop a child’s mind from an early age. Finding a first jigsaw puzzle that is manageable from age 2 and also engaging in picture content is not easy. Orchard Toys have done the research for you and come up with a six in one puzzle box that really does appeal to little ones.

Once upon a time……

The once upon a time puzzle box has six mini puzzles inside, each relating to a different classic children’s story like Goldilocks and Little Red Riding Hood. Each puzzle comprises of 3 large pieces which slot together easily for little fingers. To help make things easier each story has its own colour background so that picture and colour can be used to match the stories together.


First Jigsaw Puzzle from Orchard Toys

Putting our First Jigsaw puzzle to the test

The real test is not what I think as a parent, but what our 2 year old holiday customers think. I took the puzzle along to the Coombe Mill evening train ride to see if anyone would like to have a try. The colourful jigsaw pieces soon had a willing tester sitting at my table. With just a little help from Mum to show how the pieces slotted together he was busy at work. The concentration was evident and the jigsaw clearly absorbing despite Clio coming along to start the train up.


Child at Coombe Mill Holidays completing Orchard Toys first jigsaw.jpg


After the train ride I had another taker who also carefully finished every one of the six puzzles and both boys knew about half of the stories.


Enjoying making Orchard Toys First Jigsaw: Once Upon a Time

What we like about the Once upon a time jigsaws:

  • A perfect first jigsaw puzzle
  • Develops Manual dexterity
  • Encourages picture matching and colour recognition
  • An opportunity for creative discussion
  • Wipe clean pieces
  • Sensibly priced at £7.95 to make a great gift for a birthday or Christmas
  • Easy travel box
  • Large jigsaw pieces for little fingers to hold
  • Colourful eye catching imagery
  • 3 alphabet and number ruler / bookmarks make a surprise extra in the box

Win your ‘once up a time’ first jigsaw puzzle with Orchard Toys and Coombe Mill


Win Once Upon a Time First Jigsaw Puzzle


If you know a little one that would enjoy a little learning made fun with these first puzzles then why not enter to win below. Good luck to all taking part and do check out the other lovely products in the Orchard Toys range too.

Once Upon a Time… Puzzle Set


I was sent my Puzzle box for the purpose of this review. However all thoughts and options are my own.


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Piglets born at Coombe Mill in October

Posted on October 16th, 2016 -

Yesterday in my post on ‘autumn is the new spring’ I promised to follow up with more about our newborn October piglets, I’m staying true to my word so I hope you’ll grab a cuppa and enjoy the photos.  

In previous years Sally, our breeding sow, has given birth to piglets at the beginning of September. This has worked well providing babies on the farm in early autumn for our holiday guests just as many of the spring born farm animals are growing towards adulthood. Typically September weather remains warm for the new born piglets making it a perfect time. However nature doesn’t always oblige.

Piglet uncertainty as Pasty goes off the boil

Pasty has been Sally’s Moorland boyfriend for the past 2 years. We drive Sally up to stay with Pasty in early spring and wait for the OK to bring her home. This year we received a rather different phone call, Pasty had fallen out of love with our ‘luscious Sal’, and a new boar was being sought. Now we had to wait for Mr Substitute to build up his love for Sally and for Sally to come back into season. We were reassured from a second phone call that all was well and that we could collect Sally. The only real question was over Sally’s new birth dates. We faced a long summer with fingers crossed that Mr Substitute was up to the job and that Sally was indeed in the family way. By September the signs were there and we watched her tummy swell with each passing week. 

I took this photo the day before she gave birth, she was really struggling to move around with her heavy belly. 

Pregnant sow: Sally the pig the day before giving birth


Finally last week we woke to find ten healthy piglets born overnight. This was the highlight of the morning tractor ride with everyone crowding round for a look. It must have been a long night for Sally as she looks quite exhausted here. She is a great mother but eventually she tires of the demands to feed from her piglets and rolls over to sit on her nipples for a rest.


Watching new born piglets and Sally the sow at Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays, Cornwall

The piglets feed constantly in the first week and are very demanding clambering over one another to reach a teat as soon as Sally makes them available.

Sally and her Piglets

While Sally enjoys her morning breakfast she allows Farmer Nick to bring one of her piglets out at a time for us to admire. 

Piglets in October at Coombe Mill


The children are fascinated yet a little afraid as they are inclined to “squeal like a pig”. I suspect when our older half term children arrive they will be queuing up to see if Farmer Nick will let them hold one by themselves.

First piglet cuddles for the children at Coombe Mill Farm Holidays

Piglets are a great time waster and have the most adorable little faces so full of expression. This little one had momentarily lost Mummy and her siblings, her concern is written all over her face. 

Piglet expression of looking lost

We are grateful for the lovely warm sunny October days for their first week. Already they are putting on weight and growing before our eyes so I am confident when winter arrives they will be strong enough to cope, despite their late arrival. In just a week they have more than doubled in size. Poor Sally on the other hand is loosing weight despite us feeding her extra, but that’s just a natural hazard of good parenting. 

Piglets in October Growing at one week old

We are open all year with some great out of season prices if you fancy an autumn getaway and piglets to cuddle.

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Autumn is the new Spring

Posted on October 15th, 2016 -

I make no secret of the fact that spring is my favourite time on the farm. I adore the longer days, new life on the farm with plants bursting forth and baby animals being born. To me it is the optimum time for a holiday here to take advantage of all this. However something has changed this year and autumn is the new spring.

So what’s changed this autumn?

Autumn has been uncharacteristically mild with dry sunny days and beautiful sunrises.  The spring bulbs are quite confused and showing their hand already while the animal kingdom is also upside down. Our bunnies have a real spring in their step and are finally “breading like rabbits”. All summer our boys failed us and now we have two litters. With a little muddle up from our end we have 10 gorgeous bouncing piglets born last week and Bully, our naughty nanny goat, is expecting.  It is only the chickens who are not fooled, their egg production is governed by daylight hours and they know the days are shortening. There is much searching each morning but only a couple of eggs.

Best of both worlds

Our guests staying this autumn have been having the best of both worlds. Lovely autumn colours combined with spring growth, low season prices, baby animals on the farm and the warmest sea temperatures of the season! I will be sharing more on our piglets on the blog tomorrow but for now here are a few photos highlighting why for us autumn is the new spring and all the beauty it brings:


With a skyline like like waking in the morning has been a joy.

October sunrise on the farm at Coombe Mill Holidays, Cornwall



New born piglets and sunshine keep the morning feed run busy

2016 Piglets in Farmer Nick's Arms

These cuties elicit an “aw” everyday

Twin bunnies in Farmer Nick's safe hands

Spring growth is bursting forth in the warm October sunshine down in our sheltered valley

Sping growth in Autumn in the warm Coombe Mill Valley

Yet autumn colours and crunchy fallen leaves intermingle with the spring shoots. 

Autumn is the new spring

We could be looking at a Halloween baby here and a sibling for Queenie

Pregnant Coombe Mill Nanny goat due at Halloween

Autumn is the new spring for all bar the chickens who are not fooled into increasing their egg production for us.

Hunting for chicken eggs in October on the farm

I wonder if our friendly robin is confused by the gorgeous spring weather too.

Robin redbreast thinking autumn is the new spring

Autumn is the new spring with extra value at Coombe Mill

With the seasons changing we have been adjusting our prices, we now have the same low prices in Spring as we have in Autumn so weather you fancy autumn with our piglets and crunchy falling leaves  or spring with daffodils and lambs you’ll find the same great out of season value at Coombe Mill.


Country Kids 15th October 16

Posted on October 14th, 2016 -

Welcome to Country Kids from Coombe Mill

Country Kids is the original outdoor family fun linky designed to:

“Encourage family fun outdoors, in an age where technology and screens are such a draw to a sedentary indoor life”

Welcome back if you are a regular to Country Kids and if you are new please join in. You will find plenty of inspiration for enjoying outdoor space and please do share your own adventures. We support the National Trust 100 things to do before you are 11¾ along with all other ideas for family fun outside. 

Country Kids 15.10.16

 Farm life has been dominated by the arrival of our piglets this week. The children are a little nervous of their squeals but keen to have a good look and stroke them too. Thankfully for the piglets we have had another glorious week here in Cornwall and they have been basking with Mum in the autumn sun. More about our Piglets from me later this week. For now it’s over to you to link up your outdoor adventures.  

Guidelines for Joining in: 

  • Post must be predominantly outdoors such as in the garden, the park, the woods or the beach with crafting, learning, exploring or playing.
    • Despite the title, both countryside and urban outdoor adventures are welcome.
    • Large unheated covered areas like a barn or tent count as outdoors.
  •  Please comment on my host post and a minimum of 3 others of your choice.
    • If you use #CountryKids when commenting the post owner will know where your found them and hopefully come back to visit your post.
  • Please take my badge, without it you won’t be considered for winning the lovely Rockfish Wellies.
  • Linked posts should be written and made live within the last 2 months.
    • I understand sometimes you need to do catch up posts and write about something from a couple of months ago but the publish date should be within 2 months.
  • By joining in with Country Kids you’re giving me permission to email you weekly as a reminder.
  • There is no restriction on the number of posts that can be linked up, however please be sensible, if you have more than 3 consider linking over a few weeks.

Thank you to my top  commenters from last week:

1st we had a tie with Aly from Bug Bird Bee and Jenni from Odd Socks and Lollipops who both commented on 25 posts.

2nd Louise from Little Hearts Big Love with 23 comments

3rd Heidi from Him, Me, Three with 21 comments.

Fantastic work ladies, thank you so much. Do check out their posts linked above too.

My top commented post(s) will automatically qualify for a chance at the Rockfish wellies below provided other giveaway criteria are met.

 ‘link dump and run’ culprits remained at 3 with 2 regular culprits so please do pop back over and share some blog love. 

Rockfish kindly sponsor Country Kids 

Win a pair of wellies from Rockfish Monthly

You Could Win with Rockfish Wellies 

I am delighted to have Rockfish as the sponsor for Country Kids. Rockfish are a local Cornish company specializing in stylish quality wellingtons for all the family. We have been offering their country wellies in our borrow room here on the farm for over a year and they are always popular for their style, comfort and durability.

Each week my favourite #CountryKids posts, which include my badge or a link back here,  will be considered for a free pair of Rockfish Wellies at the end of the month; the perfect way to enjoy the outdoors whatever the weather throws your way. 

For more more information on the Rockfish Wellies on offer with us and terms and conditions to win see here.  

Posts from last week in with a chance of winning the October Rockfish Wellies:

Aly from bug, bird, Bee and Heidi from Him, Me, Three both go through as the Country Kids top commenters with a fab 25 post comments last week.

Karen from Let kids be kids shares 8 fun ways to enjoy family time by the stream. 

Emma from The Joy of Five prepares for Halloween with a visit to a pumpkin farm


Country Kids Communities 

I’d love you to join me: 

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

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


Join the Country Kids Instagram Community with #CountryKidsFun.

I'll like and comment on all and share my favourites  from the week with a tag on a Friday on Instagram and Twitter

Thank you to those joining in last week again. This community is really flying with 106 posts in just 2 weeks, please keep them coming I love to see them all.

My favourites were  @topknotanddasies @jjhearduk  @baby_chaos11 @are_we_nearly_there_yet_ Do pop over and follow them on Instagram.

My #CountryKidsFun favourite photos of the week with a mention in this weeks #countrykids blog post @topknotanddaisies @jjhearduk @baby_chaos11 @are_we_nearly_there_yet_ #Countryside #countrylife #beach #yellow #fairy #wellies #pink #adventure #family #river #garden #kids #sunshine #outdoors #outdoorkids #autumn

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Grotte de Trabuc Visitor Perspective

Posted on October 14th, 2016 -

Every year on our annual family holiday to France we try to give the children a mix of days out. Adventure trips usually feature high on their wish list and they have their favourites they like to repeat, but Nick and I like to introduce something new each year too and introduce a little learning. Last year we visited Avignon together with its famous bridge for the first time. This year we found the ‘Grotte de  Trabuc’, a series of underground caves, with an excellent write up and despite some reluctance from the triplets, we loaded up with a picnic and hit the road.

 Grotte de Trabuc visitor Perspective.

We had no idea what to expect, although our French cousins spoke very highly of their visit years ago.  For starters, the coolness of the caves gave us a welcome break from the searing mid day heat. We joined a guided tour, although thankfully we had our own English hand held translation, as the guided tour was all in French.

Following our guide into the Grotte de Trabuc

The steps take you down underground into a magical world created by nature and enhanced by man with some helpful lighting. Whether or not you have an interest in Geology and Chemistry, you can’t fail to be impressed by the beauty of the caves.  They were first discovered by smugglers in the 1800s who would hide in there; some basic weapons have been recovered and displayed.

Inside the caves at Trabuc

The original entrance is not accessible to the public, but it must have been a wonderful haven for those entering years ago.

Original entrance to Grottte de Trabuc

Grotte de Trabuc holds a scientific secret

There are some scientific conundrums in the caves. Every calcium deposit dripping from the ceiling forms a stalactite and corresponding stalagmite below, however there is a section in the caves known as ‘the room of 1000 solders’. Here there are stalagmites growing which resemble solders on a battle field but with no corresponding Stalactite above them. No one knows how they were formed, they are the only ones of their type known to exist in the world.  

Room of 1000 soliders at Grotte de Trabuc Caves

Perhaps the most spectacular areas of all are the crystal clear pools of water. They are in various shades of turquoise, depending on the sulphur and mineral content of the rock, and simply breathtaking.

Natural sulpher rockpools at Grotte de Trabuc

One such pool at the deepest point is large enough for a kayak to travel across. A waterfall cascades from the river Gardon, this feeds the water supply through the caves.

Natural cave waterfall #waterfall #cave #france #water #nature #natural #geography #education #holiday #geology

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Back out in daylight we found a quite picnic table overlooking the stunning mountains to enjoy our lunch. Here we ate and chatted over our favourite aspects of the tour. Nick did his degree in Geography was very helpful filling in any follow up questions from the kids.

Picnic outside the Grotte de Trabuc

Even the triplets who were a little reluctant to visit couldn’t help but be mesmerised by all they saw at the Grotte de Trabuc. Hopefully it added to their geography and chemistry knowledge base.


Tips for visiting the Grotte de Trabuc

Most suitable for older children who can appreciate the explanations of the cave formation and features.

Not suitable for buggies or wheelchairs or elderly unsure of their footing.

Wear sensible footwear as it is damp with puddles in the lowest sections.

€10 for adults and 6 for children, but watch out over 12 counts as adult.

If you have an interest in geology this is a must, with just a passing interest I still thoroughly enjoyed the visit.

The cafe is very basic and there are no other restaurants close by so a picnic is a good idea.

Take a jumper, it is much cooler inside the caves even in midsummer.

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