Country Kids from Coombe Mill

February 21, 2014 at 10:30 PMCoombeMill

Coombe Mill is Open Again

We have enjoyed a lovely six weeks of family weekends here on the farm. The children have been helping us with the animals in the absence of our little holiday helpers and we have benefited from some great days out with the bonus of two days for the weekend. As we embarked on our first changeover of the season last Saturday it was all hands on deck ensuring the properties and grounds were tip top for our new guests. Thankfully the last of the bad weather had passed though just in time, but not without leaving much work to be done on a busy day. Farmer Nick and Felix were in charge of operation trees with branches in the lane to clear before our guests could drive down the hill and another massive tree through our sheep field fencing.

Operation Fallen Tree Clearance

 

The younger ones cleared the outdoor toddler play area of debris from fallen branches, swept and cleaned the ride on toys and made bundles of kindling for the shop. I turned a blind eye to Clio who had selected herself a pair of new Rockfish Wellies from our borrow collection that were almost waders on her!

 

 Cleaning the toddler ride on play area

It wasn't all work though as I caught them hard at play many times riding the play equipment over to the water hose, zooming down the car park and pretending they were still small enough to fit on the little see saw! 

Play Time at work

 

Eventually it was a good job complete and they were off to play.

 

Farm Fun

They even enjoyed a musical moment together down by the river. I think perhaps they were inspired by the busking in Plymouth a couple of weeks ago; it was adorable to me as a parent, but they have a way to go before they will be playing on the streets!

Meanwhile Ally was left in charge of log burners ensuring each property was lovely and welcoming for our guests. 

 

 Wood burner in Water Mill

 

Arriving to the first dry day for weeks many of our younger guests were quick to stretch their legs after long car journeys and discover our play areas. My own children soon caught them up and joined in too.

 

Play Areas at Coombe Mill

 

Those here by 4pm could hop aboard the Coombe Mill Railway; it is always a pleasure to see the excitement when Guy draws up from the engine shed and invites everyone to board. 

 

 Welcome Train Ride

 

Come Sunday morning I was thrilled to be sharing our farm once again with visitors and in continued glorious sunshine.  Guy and Clio came along to see if there were potential playmates staying and to help the younger children overcome any fear of the animals. Their ability to catch the ducks and chickens is a real advantage as Farmer Nick is never quick enough. 

 

It has been such a delight to see happy faces enjoying Coombe Mill again and playmates around for my own children over the half term holidays. Let's hope we have seen the last of the wild winter weather now.

Joining in with Country Kids

Country Kids is all about enjoying the outdoors. Taking advantage of those days when the weather is kind to take the kids on a family outing, enjoy time in the garden or the park, go for a walk, explore, create and learn about the world around us. Coming back indoors with tingling toes and rosy cheeks is a lovely feeling. Capture those moments on the camera, grab the badge and share here on the linky. If you take a little time to discover some of the other posts linked up I know everyone will appreciate a comment and it is the perfect way to be inspired for your next outdoor adventure.   

A few of my favourite posts from last week:

Stunning photos of Beach fun from Mummy Constant and whipped up storm waves from Zoe Corkhill 

Let's talk Mommy enjoys some sunshine after the rain on a muddy family walk and The Mimi Mes and Me and The _Moiderer go deep into the woods and The Mummy Diary makes the most of a Country Park.

I love all these posts for their simplicity and happiness. They show that fun days out needn't cost a fortune.

Without breaking the bank Chelsea Mamma had a Magical Day at Corfe Castle

For a special birthday treat Mixed Bag of All Sorts took advantage of a family fun day treat from Grandma.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

A bag for all Reasons

February 18, 2014 at 8:33 AMCoombeMill

This is the strapline on the wonderful Mia Tui Bags label that came with with my Amelie Minnie Bag. Don't be fooled by the name, the Amelie Minnie is actually the largest bag I own and yet one of my smallest all in one. This is because one of the many features is a little clutch or shoulder bag within the bag. An ingenious idea if you are travelling and want to leave your large bag from the day and just take a smaller one for the evening.

A bag for all reasons

Style Matters

The colour range is diverse with something for everyone from classic black to subtle shades or for a real statement I simply adore the vibrant teal colour I have chosen. My whole wardrobe is now moving around what I can wear with my bag from nail polish to wellies. I love that it lifts a plain outfit and have discovered I have many scarves and pieces of jewelry in the same colour which makes my bag perfect for so many occasions. It is strong, waterproof, stylish and modern in shape and has a sophisticated matte finish of a very expensive bag.

 

 A wardrobe to match Mai Tui Bags

No More Embarrassing MomentsEmbarrassed face icon

Big bags are great until you go to look for something. I have been caught so many times emptying my bag on the street hunting for my keys which have slipped to the bottom or feeling flustered at the supermarket checkout when a queue had formed behind me and I am delving deep on a fruitless search for my purse only to find I have tipped out tampax, nail polish, and a cuddly toy before I find my purse waving at me from the side. My Mia Tui bag has been thought out so well with perfect attention to detail inside that makes it practical and easy to avoid these frustrating and embarrassing moments.  

 

So Many Uses

I have already mentioned the simple evening bag which sits comfortably inside my Minnie Ameile, but there is more. A clear plastic wallet is perfect for cosmetics, small liquids  or baby wipes and is airport compliant for carrying liquids on board a plane. A pen holder, insulated bottle holder, space for a netbook or tablet, phone holder and best of all your keys on an elastic no loose clip. With everything in it's right place there is still room for your shopping, work items or the jumper you just took off. In my case my lovely big DSLR camera fits in easily along with my netbook, a tape measure and so much more for a shopping trip for Coombe Mill or day out with the children.

Work & Shopping

If I still had a baby I could see myself doubling this up as a baby bag too utilising the bottle areas for food and milk and side areas for nappies.

Off to the gym? No problem fitting your kit inside and with the extra bag it comes with it is perfect to store your trainers & gruby gear after.

A bag for the Gym

For a stylish day at the beach a swim suit, wrap and towel fit nicely in the middle leaving room for your suncream, book, glasses and a snack around the edge.

 

Packed for the beachEverything you need at the beach

 

I am going away with the family for a few days at half term and this will be the only bag I take. I know it will cover every use I could need and fit in with my wardrobe from morning to night. That's a whole load of old bags for the charity shop!

More about Mia Tui Bags

The Minnie Amelie is one of a range of stylish and practical bags in the Mia Tui collection. This range retails for £55 and looks at least this price too. However right now the teal colour I have is in the online sale at just £45 making it a real bargain. It would make a wonderful birthday present, new baby present or just a pick me up gift for you! No wonder it has won awards from Mother and baby and Practical Parenting magazines.

A Special Discount Code for Coombe Mill Blog Readers

Order anything from the Mia Tui Bags Range and add Coombe15 in the discount section to receive 15% off the marked price.

15% discount at Mai Tui with Coombe Mill

 

Win your Amelie Minnie Bag with Coombe Mill

For your chance to win one of these amazing bags that could replace all others just follow the instructions below. Remember to complete all the steps to give yourself more chances at winning. Good luck to everyone taking part. 

 

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Disclosure: I was given my Mia Tui Bag to review for this post. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

 

A Greek Taverna for Farmer Nick

February 17, 2014 at 6:04 AMCoombeMill

Farmer Nick requested a big Greek birthday party to rival the one I laid on last year, I knew I would have a job to come up with Farmer Nick the Birthday Boysomething as fun and yet original under the same theme but I love a challenge. Having said that I am not super woman and as my guest list hit 20, with still more Nick would love to have invited, I had to plan carefully to create an evening that would flow without placing undue pressure on myself. 

Planning for Dinner Party Success

Think about Table Layout. 

Don't let lack of space inhibit you from a party. A little imagination can overcome many space issues. I am lucky enough to have a large open plan kitchen/dining room with a huge table to seat twelve. In the past I have added extra temporary tables to extend the seating to sixteen but with twenty this wasn't going to work. I was left with a buffet option which I have done successfully in the past with a disco too for my birthday, but Nick is not a disco fan and really wanted a sit down. The answer I came up with was to take down our large table and replace it with four small tables each seating five. I took the tables and chairs from garden furniture around our little lodges. This seated everyone perfectly but could have left people not able to socialise widely had I not given plenty of thought to the seating plan.  

Make a Seating Plan 

It is worth taking time to consider the seating plan and not just leave it to chance. Identify your chatty and outgoing friends who you know will keep a conversation flowing and spread them amidst quieter more thoughtful people. Boy girl seating and thinking of common interests also makes it easy with people who don't know each other well. The name place is a chance to be creative; I used Greek Flags round napkins for Nick's party with the names on.

 

 Place Names for a dinner party

Move People Around

For our Greek Party I was conscious that people might be limited to their individual tables and so I constructed, not one but 3 plans which took some thinking through but was simple to administer on the night. By labelling my tables 1 to 4 and writing a number on everyone's name tag my plan was in place. Between courses I asked 1st the men to look at their name tag and move to the table number indicated, then the ladies after the following course. This way everyone had a fresh group to match their new dish. To make it even clearer I had a table plan drawn up which made quite a talking point over drinks before we sat down. Even if I have a large single table I often ask the men to all move two places to the right at some point to liven the evening with fresh conversation.

Table Plan

 

Maximise Your Courses

A number of small courses keeps a party moving. I reckon on four as standard. Normally a starter, main, pudding and cheese, though for my Greek night I broke with this format, though still maintaining four courses plus coffee and chocolates. Food is the focus of a Greek party and with so many unusual dishes I printed some menus; this also ensured everyone knew to pace themselves!

 

Greek Menu

Theme the Evening

I find a theme a great way to coordinate a party. I have done Hollywood (with tips on a disco party), a casino night, Greek parties, Indian evenings, it really doesn't matter but it's a good idea to let people know on the invite. I like an occasion to dress up and usually make this clear too, for Nick's birthday Greek Evening I gave the option to dress smart or Greek or better still combine them both. The menu was all Greek with English translations and we made our small tables in the room look like a Greek Taverna with wine bottles for candles, the laminated menus stood between the salt and pepper pots on each table which were dressed with blue and white checked cloths. The room was surrounded with twinkle lights and dressed with sprigs of ivy while the CD player played Zorbas the Greek. I even went to town on the birthday cake with a three dimensional carrot cake to look like the Acropolis which I kept as a centrepiece until pudding.  The finished effect which had the desired "wow" from our friends as they entered, immediately feeling they had been transported from windy Cornwall in February to a Greek Island taverna in summer.

 

Nikos's Greek Taverna

Keep the Drinks Flowing

A party that rocks never sees an empty glass; people can be shy about refilling a glass so make sure someone is on drinks duty. I usually leave this to Nick and prod him from time to time when he chats for too long and neglects his job! Give your guests at least half an hour to stand and chat over a couple of drinks before seating them. This is a chance for introductions for anyone in the group who hasn't met and a catch up for friends who might not sit together. You will be surprised how quickly this time goes and how relaxed everyone is, just make sure as host you hold back on the drinking or you will forget what is going in and out of the oven!

Pre dinner drinks

 

Don't Rush the Meal

Entertaining is like going to a restaurant, it is a leisurely affair and a break between courses allows your food a chance to digest, your guests an opportunity to move around if needed and as host gives you time to eat and prepare the next course. I always ensure everything is ready in advance so that all I am doing is taking in and out of ovens (yes I'm lucky to have two) and serving on the night giving me plenty of time to enjoy the party too. I also only served the starter to the table placing subsequent courses out on our kitchen island and asking everyone to come and help themselves. This works well when there are choices for the food and some dishes which are not familiar to everyone.

 

 Leisurely Meal

Something Entertaining

Adding something unexpected is always a good idea. The Boys had a wave machine as one of their Christmas presents and I brought this into the corridor for a bit of fun after dinner. The idea came from The Mad Blog Awards last year where a larger version was a huge success. Sure enough after a few drinks the brave tested their balance with great cheers from all watching. A bit of frivolous fun always goes down well, sadly I swapped from camera to phone to instagram the action and the picture quality has suffered but the fun still shows.  

Party entertainment

Accept Help

My final tip is to be outright in asking for help. Along with an invite I asked if my friends would mind bringing a dish. There is so much for a Greek menu, especially if you are really going to go to town on the options.  I handed out many of the side dishes, leaving largely just the main course and pudding for me which helped so much.

I also had the family to help me lift tables and chairs around, friends who arrived in the afternoon to help me create the Taverna, it became a team effort with plenty of time for everyone to return home and change for the evening. During the evening itself I was never short of offers to help between courses and I gladly accepted.

Nick's Greek Birthday Feast

The night itself ran like clockwork thanks to my advance planning. Guests arrived at 7.30pm and we didn't get to pudding until midnight. It was heading to 1.30am before our guest began to leave with everyone quite unaware of the time; even Farmer Nick who always falls asleep early was the life and soul throughout. It was such a happy evening with an amazing combined spread of food. I hate to see anyone leave hungry, the Greek way is clearly rubbing off on me!

A Feast of Four Courses 


Seeing my email fill in the morning with lovely thank you notes like this I know it wasn't just Farmer Nick who enjoyed his birthday. He will be 50 next year, what am I going to do for that one? 

 

Thanks

 

Don't be scared of a party if you have a special occasion coming up, just remember to plan well and the night will look after itself.

Tractor & Trailer  

Talking of the MAD Blog Awards, the 2014 awards are now up. There are so many wonderful blogs I interact with each week chosing just one per category is no easy task but please do to vote for your favourites, whoever gets to go on the night will have such an amazing time, and a few fun party ideas to copy too!

Silent Sunday / Project 52

February 15, 2014 at 9:36 PMCoombeMill

Guy riding through the ford

    

 

Country Kids from Coombe Mill

February 14, 2014 at 10:34 PMCoombeMill

The Cornish Coast Path from Port Quin

A family walk along a stretch of coast path not far from us, but which we haven't visited in years, was the conclusion over a leisurely family brunch. It seemed only I remembered going there before, until we arrived of course and the fragments of memory came back for the children. We parked up in the National Trust car park at Port Quin where they have an honesty box for a £2 parking charge.

It is right next to a couple of old cottages and the slip way to the beach. Guy was understandably taken with the cottage name.

 

 Guy's Cottage

 

The rest piled down the slipway and onto the beach with their football before Nick had even locked the car! Fun and games with a football and the prospect of some very wet shoes before the journey had begun. I had sensibly worn my trusty Rockfish Wellies, ideal for walking and on the beach but Guy and Jed complained they couldn't run in wellies and so were wearing school shoes!

 

 Port Quin Beach

Clio is truly Daddy's girl and found the best way to travel back to firm land.

 

 Daddy's Girl

 

The coast path was accessed from the lane via open rolling hills with a truncated gothic Folly in the distance. This was built in 1827 by Samuel Symans who was a local businessman and used it as a place to entertain, but today is it owned by the National Trust for rent as a holiday cottage. Rolling down the hills, the children raced ahead to explore, chasing the football and sliding over on the wet ground along the way.

 Doyden Folly

Peering through the windows we could see it was currently rented. If you are after a truly different type of holiday this could be it with quirky features and stunning views, but be prepared for every walker to have a good rattle of the door knob and stare through the window. 

 

Truncated Gothic Folly at Doyden

Carrying on our walk it began to rain and I was glad I brought a coat. The teens complained I said it was going to be lovely and on my advice didn't bring theirs. Still they made the most of it, sliding on the muddy path still kicking the football and fooling around with their younger siblings till the sun came back out. 

 Family Fun along the coast path

We came across two old mine shafts. Once they were mined commercially for lead but now just make an interesting land mark with not enough security around them more my liking. Naturally the children all peered down the shaft while Nick and I shouted to them to stand further back. Paying lip service to our concerns they began throwing a few stones and boulders down to gauge the depth. Deep was the answer as we listened to the clank of the stones against the side of the mine as they travelled down. 

Not satisfied with this they lit themselves a fire using the surrounding dead gorse, a tissue and a lighter from their pocket and threw the contents of this down to see if they could see any more; it didn't really help but they were impressed with the puff of smoke they created.

 

Mine Shaft Experiments

 

Our journey was well signed thanks to the National Trust. The path had stunning views to one side and farming fields to the other. All the gates were labelled with closing instructions; my children ignored this and simply hopped over the top. This is not a path for buggies as even if it wasn't slippery and boggy there are styles to cross.

National Trust Coastal sign posts

Rounding the crest of a hill we saw a beautiful bay ahead of us. There were surfers enjoying the clean waves and although the tide was coming in, there was still some beach to be seen. The children all clambered down to play while Nick and I sat at the top admiring the view and listening to their shouting and squeals below as they jumped from rock to rock and explored caves and waterfalls.

 

 Hidden Beach

 

I love this photo of Clio and Daddy on the return leg of the journey and Guy, ever prepared taking a rest on the chair he packed in his rucksack, what a filthy state we all were but it really didn't matter, we had a lovely time.

 

 Homeward Bound Mucky & Happy

I can thoroughly recommend this part of the coast path for anyone staying with us this year. At under half an hour's drive it makes for an interesting walk with plenty for the children to discover and all for £2 in the car park honesty box. Best of all it is open all year round and even with a shower of rain made a great family adventure.

 

 Stunning Coastal Views

Joining in with Country Kids 

Enjoying family time is so important and doing this with an outdoor activity is a great way to stimulate mind and body. Whether it is fun in the garden or a trip to the beach time away from central heating and screens is good for us and needn't be expensive. Please do grab the badge and share your fun here on the linky. Remember to check out the others posts here; there are always some lovely photos, great reads and inspiration for your next activity.   

A few of my favourites from last week

Over here to there has some beautiful snow and ice fun to make me yearn for some of the same 

This Mud and Madness event from The Three Musketeers is right up our street.

With all our fallen Trees I love the idea of making a play trail at Coombe Mill rather like this one from Misplaced Brit

A beach trip always wins me over whatever the weather and Brinabird and son on the sand Maybush Studio by the boats and Chelsea Mamma along the seafront all show a different perspective.

 

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Coombe Mill

"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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