Silent Sunday / Project 52

March 22, 2014 at 10:34 PMCoombeMill

Bunnies in March on the Farm



Country Kids from Coombe Mill

March 21, 2014 at 10:35 PMCoombeMill

A Day at the Races

On our recent visit to Yia Yia I was ever so slightly worried how our Country Kids would manage their down time with no wi fi, so no Facebook or i-pod games. I needn't have worried, they became old fashioned kids and revelled in board games and cards together. It was a delight to watch, so much so it made me wonder about the merits of modern day technology! 


wi fi free kids

After a visit to Brighton and fun on the pier they each changed up a pound into two pence pieces. They frittered a few in the slot machines and came back with a plan. Poker was the card game that had gripped them all this holiday. When we weren't outdoors having fun they were gathered in Yia Yia's conservatory gambling away with their two pence pieces. It was all good fun and when someone was out, they would receive a sub from a brother and the odds would soon swing back again; amazing use of a pound.

Family Poker at Yia Yia's House

We decided to indulge their gambling interest just a little further after noticing the local races at Lingfield Park were having a family fun day. It was a beautiful day so we packed a picnic and arranged to meet the kid's cousins there.


Lingfield Racecourse


None of the children had any idea what to expect which made it all the more exciting. We only played with some small bets but the children thought it was great fun dashing around with their cousins amidst the fun of the day. They took delight in the bouncy castles and free face painting whilst waiting for the racing to begin.


Bouncy Castle & Face Painting Fun for Kids

Then Dad helped them study the form in the race book guide.


Lingfield Race Course: Studying the race form


We all pretended to be very knowledgeable as the horses paraded round, eventually choosing on name and the colours we liked!

 Lingfield Races - the parade ring

Going to the tote to place our bets and watching the crowds gather built up excitement for the race ahead.


 Lingfield Races Placing bets at the Tote

Then it was over to the racing line to watch them go with much jostling with each other for a good view of the finish line.


 Lingfield Races watching the action

They were thrilled when on the second race our horse came in first. 


 Lingfield Races Winning Ticket

Sadly our luck didn't last and we were down on the day. However we didn't invest much and it was a good lesson in gambling and a fun day out. I think we might try the Exeter races at home next or point to point at Wadebridge. I was delighted to have this very light hearted go at gambling, and to chat to the older ones about the more serious dangers of gambling and talk about the online sites they have seen. It was a perfect chance to cover an important topic which may not otherwise have come up in conversation not to mention a fun family day out.

Hogwarts we found you!

On the way back we passed Nick's old boarding school. It is a fascinating building and I suggested we went and had a peep. The children were astonished. "Dad went to Hogwarts" was all they could say. I must say I can see exactly what they mean. It is the most impressive building with a distinctly spooky feel that really did look like the setting to the Harry Potter films. Sadly we were not allowed in but it was still fun listening to Nick telling tales of all the funny and naughty things that went on around these grounds.


 Hogwarts School

Joining in with Country Kids

Country Kids is about enjoying the outdoors by grabbing yourselves a little family time out away from sofas, central heating and technology. Rosy cheeks and happy healthy kids put a smile on everyone's face so go out and have some fun, come back, grab the badge and share here on the linky. Anything outdoors goes from crafting to learning, playing to exploring so long as it involves fun and fresh air. Remember to check out the other posts here, it could be your inspiration for a new adventure.

Remember the linky goes up every Saturday through to Thursday and you can also join Country Kids on Pinterest and Google Plus. Hashtag on Twitter & Instagram with #CountryKids

A few of my favourite posts from last week:

Three beach posts I loved which were all so different were dinosaurs from The Princess & the Pickle, exploring wartime bunkers with Madhouse Family Reviews and Fun as a Gran who combines the Park and the beach.

So many of you headed to the park to enjoy the beautiful weather, I loved seeing all the happy laughing faces deep in play. City Girl Gone Coastal is one such post.

Family days out in the sunshine always inspire me. This farm adventure from Laura Side Street and an afternoon at Blenheim Palace from Katie Radomnest look perfect. 

Finally Adventures of homeschooling go off to investigate pond water and enjoy learning so much more besides.


Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall



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GCSE's and Beyond

March 20, 2014 at 7:00 AMCoombeMill

I feel at a crossroads with the eldest teen. Nick and I have come back from an important meeting with school where they have sung the praises of Alistair, told us how proud we should be and how he is obviously going to do so well in his GCSE's.

Ally, a cheerful happy go lucky lad

Nick and I were a little taken aback by this. He has just had a school report home as the basis of this meeting, his last before his exams this summer detailing his mock results and predicted grades. His predictions are mostly A's with a few B's, of course we are delighted about this, however his Mock results were, mainly D's with a few B's and one A.

 School Report

I now sit back at home reflecting on this and wondering why they choose to praise my all too laid back son who clearly has spent far too much time enjoying family life on the farm and not enough time revising for his mocks. Surely they should have taken this opportunity to give him a verbal kick up the ass in front of us and tell him to pull his finger out and do some revision over the next few weeks so he realises his predictive grades. I am cross with myself for being taken in by their lovely comments and not pointing this out. I love him dearly and am delighted he is quite bright and keeps up with his homework and assignments with some excellent results, but praise for doing precious little by way of revision is not what he needs.

School  Mock Exam Results

We tried to understand which subjects he should focus on for 'A' levels, but none of us are any clearer as a result of the meeting. I'm sure the teachers talked themselves in circles. Alistair is a capable all rounder showing no preference between subject areas. Trying to understand for university if an 'A' level in Maths is worth more than one in Geography, or if carrying on four subjects and risking lower grades than pursuing just three subjects is still far from clear. Tomorrow is the deadline for handing in the form to stay on for 6th form and he is still in a dither. He has no idea what he wants to do for a career which doesn't help us either.

At the moment I think he is going to put down for Maths, Physics, Business Studies and Geography but with a possible swap to English and or French. Thankfully the teachers have confirmed that right up to the first few weeks of the new term he can still change his mind. For this I am very grateful as Ally is quite likely to swap depending on his final exam grades.

Selling 6th Form at Parents Evening

We were also told that the AS levels were being dropped at the end of the 1st year of A levels, yet my friend came out of her meeting saying she was told they would definitely be taking them. Is this central Government being indecisive or just local schools unable to work out what is going on? Either way it is not filling me with confidence in the UK education system right now or the school despite the sales pitch they try to give in their bid to keep pupils on into their sixth form.

In some ways having teens is great; they are more responsible, capable and independent and for us really help out with the family business. Socially both Alistair (age 15) and Felix (age 13) are maturing into a new level of sibling friendship and enjoy a good discussion with us as parents.


Teen teamwork & friendship on the farm


However the worry of guiding them in making the best choices for their future life is every bit as onerous as selecting their first preschool. If anyone has been through this stage recently and knows what the Universities are looking for or how to motivate a too laid back teen to revise, I'd be delighted to hear as I think the teachers are far from clear and so in turn are we. 

I'm Joining Mummy Barrow for 'Ranty Friday'; hop over to see what is riling other bloggers.


Capturing Memories of Family Life

March 18, 2014 at 8:15 AMCoombeMill

When the children are young, capturing their development is so important. Back in the day when I had six children, under six, and a business to run, the camera only came out on special occasions, it was not great quality and cumbersome and in the order of milk, wipes and nappy sacks, cameras just dropped off the essentials list. I missed so many of the ordinary moments that at the time I imagined I would never forget, yet somehow now find myself reflecting and struggling to remember huge chunks of everyday life. When did they learn to walk, how did I push three in a pushchair and 2 on boogie boards all at once? If I had my time again I would be capturing those moments on a modern day Camera and recording it all for the future.  From when my youngest, the triplets, reached six I had my blog, there are wonderful reminders for me in here and my blog has always focussed on photos which really can tell a thousand words. Looking back just three years to my early posts I can see just how little I understood about photography. I had a basic instant camera and it did the job. However I have since upgraded my camera twice as technology advances and my desire for better photos moves with it. I now have a phone or a camera on me at all times and have discovered that just a little understanding of the basics of composition and light can make a huge difference to the standard of photos you can take. Add to this the benefits of a good Digital Camera like the range from Sony and professional looking photos are just a click of a button. Sony have a camera that will work for a busy Mum like I was just trying to record those everyday moments, up to cameras that will auto focus quicker than a DSLR, and a lens collection so impressive you can create world class images or even attach one to a smartphone. Photography is not just for the professionals these days; with a good camera you really can capture everything from a first smile to a video of the school play in amazing clarity. Just look at some of the stunning and varied photos making the finals of the Sony World Photography Awards - 25 amazing SWPA 2014 shortlisted photos. The entries are diverse yet all remarkable in their detail and composition.

This is my personal favourite as it reminds me of my daughter in her ballet classes. The black and white adds to the mood and nostalgia of the photo.

Sony World Photography Awards 2014

Anastasia Zhetvina, Russia, Shortlist, Culture, Youth, 2014 Sony World Photography Awards

It would take a fast shutter speed to capture this action photo so clearly

Sony World Photography Awards 2014

Anna Vadász, Hungary, Shortlist, Environment, Youth, 2014 Sony World Photography Awards

This is just the sort of "ordinary moment" I wish I had more of. I wonder what she is thinking as she stares out on the world below?

Sony World Photography Awards 2014

Paulina Metzscher, Germany, Winner, Portraits, Youth, 2014 Sony World Photography Awards

Personally I could really have done with the A Mount 6000 camera yesterday and its super fast auto focus as I attempted to move an eight month donkey from the stable out to the field wearing her first ever head collar whilst simultaneously trying to auto focus and shoot with my DSLR, not an easy manoeuvre and some very average photos! One of the great Sony lenses would allow me to capture our majestic deer hiding in the furthermost corner of their field with quality and definition as though I were standing just feet away. Now I wonder if I can justify another purchase knowing all Sony have to offer? 

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A Race Against Time on the Farm

March 17, 2014 at 6:30 AMCoombeMill

New life waits for no one

Last week I detailed our farm news, how we were looking to rebuild a shelter to move Rolo and the two new donkeys in together, to bring the sheep over the road into the current pony and donkey field and to move the ponies to where the sheep had come from. The plan was a good one apart from the urgency to move the sheep versus the ability to finish the Donkey field shelter in time. By the end of the weekend The field shelter had the base complete, the old blown over main section dragged across and righted but by Tuesday it still needed a row of bricks and lifting before it was finally ready to use. The children and Nick did a wonderful job getting this far.

However by Tuesday morning we decided that with after school parents evenings looming on top of regular school clubs, the shelter wouldn't be finished till next weekend despite the welcome lighter evenings. This was too long to wait for the sheep that were looking perilously close to lambing.

Shhp looking ready to lamb


Nick and I agreed we would have to move the sheep ourselves while the children were at school. The guests helped Nick feed and capture them within a corral on the morning tractor run.


Morning helpers


Then he and I returned with the stock trailer to demonstrate our great shepherding skills; perhaps not a textbook farming manoeuver but we managed it without too much distress for the sheep and over the road they travelled, not into the pony field but a newly created hybrid field next door thanks to Nick's foresight and re-fencing back in January. It now means that every gate needs closing on the farm with all the fields in use.


Farmer Nick sheep herding


Whether it was the bumpy ride along our farm paths or our gut instinct was right we will never know, but that night our first twin lambs were born. Two beautiful baby girls to the delight of our guests.

Coombe Mill Jacobs Lambs just a few hours old


The Wednesday morning feed run was a long one with lambs to deal with. The two little boys we had staying were fascinated and I had a very funny conversation with the eldest worthy of retelling:

"What is Farmer Nick doing?"

"He needs to put some special ear rings on the new lambs"

"My Mummy wears earrings when she goes out in the evening"

"Yes I do that too, I wonder if the lambs will like theirs?"

"They are very big and yellow"

I expect Mummy has prettier ones

"Ouch" Farmer Nick inserts the ear tag

"Does Farmer Nick put your earrings in too?"

Wot So Funee?


Lambs being tagged, dipped & tail bands applied


Our work was still far from finished. The Shetland ponies now needed leading across the road into the sheep field. This did go to plan as they were on best behaviour even crossing the ford.  I was tempted to let our little helpers have a ride they were so good, I think they knew were leaving their muddy winter field for something new.


Skippy & Dinky on the move


There was one final change to make. The pony field really needed a rest and so we led Rolo in with the castrated ram lambs from last season. The lambs were subsequently wormed and moved on again.  

A surprise ahead for Rolo the donkey

Then to see if we could put a head collar on our eight month old newbies Winston and Clementine. We managed to fit them of sorts, though they were really too big, but since they had not yet been trained to a head collar leading them was fun and games, especially as I insisted on trying to take a photo whilst hanging onto the lead reign, thank goodness for auto option, this was no time to be playing with manual modes one handed!

Rolo meets Winston & Clementine


They were so good natured and never kicked out once despite being quite terrified of what might lie beyond Nick's shed door. So long as they were right next to each other we managed to coax them forwards and along the farm path towards an eagerly awaiting Rolo. Seeing them together in the morning sunshine was a total delight. I think they are going to be best of friends.

Rolo. Winston & Clementine our Donkey Trio


Meanwhile Nick was busy flattening and reseeding the old pony field, I wonder who he is planning to have in here next? 


Seeding & Flattening the old pony field


By the weekend our children were keen to help out and show the new guests the baby lambs and new donkeys. We laid the first layer of bricks for the field shelter but it will be next weekend before we are ready to move the donkey trio next door into the field purpose built for them. Life is all go on the farm right now but I couldn't be happier than seeing the animals thriving in the March sunshine, my own children helping out and the guests enjoying all we have to offer here on holiday.


Little helpers on the farm


Please share our family farm holidays, I'd be so proud

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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