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.


We're going on an adventure

Because Customer Service Matters.

December 7, 2014 at 7:50 PMCoombeMill


Before you arrive

At Coombe Mill we take customer service very seriously and actively encourage communication between ourselves and our guests. Before you arrive on holiday there is an email sent double checking everything is just as you require for your visit. This is from the beds to make up down to which room extras like cots or black out blinds should be placed in. The idea is that your holiday begins from the moment you arrive with no annoying niggles to sort out after a long journey.  This said there is always the option to request any forgotten items on arrival.


Pre-Arrival Email

While you stay

We live on site here at Coombe Mill right in the heart of the estate and have a handy intercom to our house through which we welcome calls at any time of day. There is also a note book in reception where you can leave messages for us. Nick, myself or one of the children are available in person every morning on the tractor rides and every afternoon on the train rides and I always encourage you to let me know anything that isn't right as soon as possible in your stay as if we possible can we will sort it for you. We have changed beds, replaced glasses or kettles and blunt knives to name but a few on request. While we personally check every property before each new family arrives, I cannot pretend to spot everything and so it is important to speak up if you find something which we missed.


Family on Holiday in Trevarno Lodge


After you have left 

I understand that not everyone is happy to be seen to complain about something that has tarnished their stay, especially if on the most part they have had a very enjoyable holiday. For this reason we have a handy email we send after your stay asking for any suggestions or things you many have not mentioned whilst staying.

 Follow Up Email

The email often brings up a few interesting ideas and I have found the interactive feedback from our Coombe Mill Facebook Page invaluable in helping  assess whether one person's suggestion is something others would like to see too. Thank you to everyone who expresses an opinion there, it really does make a difference.


Feedback from Facebook for Coombe Mill

Latest Changes from your feedback

Pillow talk and handy leftovers     

Recently I have had feedback emails covering the quality of our pillows and the lack of handy leftovers from previous guests available to new arrivals. These both sparked a healthy debate on our Facebook Page and resulted in a "help yourself" box which we now leave in reception for all non-perishable items and a £1000 delivery of new quality pillows for all our double, king and super king beds.

Farmer Nick shows he is more than just a farmer!


Customer Service Matters at Coombe Mill


Banishing the damp and dated

In our older Water Mill Cottage we have had feedback of the damp smell in the kitchen cupboards. This property is 16th Century granite with no damp proofing underneath or within the thick meter wide granite walls. Compared to our modern cottages and lodges it is cooler which is handy in summer but also susceptible to a certain degree of damp from the walls if it is not well heated and aired. However thanks to modern technology we have just commissioned a damp eliminating company to add a specialist extraction unit. After just 3 weeks we are noticing the difference and have now agreed to move forward with a new kitchen. As the walls are far from straight and the shape unconventional we have spent a day with our carpenter to come up with the perfect redesign which we wasted no time in ordering last week after a day of researching colours and styles. Work is all set to begin now on 6th January. I am hopeful that the modern off white smooth lined cupboards with a wood effect worktop will compliment the original slate floor adding a contemporary and fresh feel to this dated and awkward kitchen. 


Water Mill New Kitchen Proposal


Changes In our largest Cottages

Tree Roots is our largest and most recent cottage only completed this year. However it is only by staying there and feeding back that we can see what is missing. While it has a tumble drier and a handy large coat hanging section in the utility room, we have been asked about an area to hang wet clothes to air. Nick has installed a handy drying line over the sink for drying clothes post river play or costumes after a dip in the hot hub.

Millers House has a supersized range cooker in the old Inglenook fireplace and after feedback that a light and extractor fan was needed here Nick has spent several days up to his armpits in soot redirecting electric, clearing the old chimney flue and installing an extractor fan with lighting in time for our Christmas guests. 


 Working at Coombe Mill whilst closed Nov 14


These are just the changes we have made in the past couple of months, the process is ongoing and there is plenty more we plan to do so please keep the ideas coming to help us prioritise. Finally a thank you to all who have sent happy positive post holiday feedback to us via letter, email, facebook, twitter, Trip Advisor and Mumsnet and here in person. It really is appreciated so much.  

By listening to what you say, changing the things you don't like and improving the things you do, we are creating family holidays with memories to treasure.  


Thank you card to Coombe Mill


  photo 93142f35-6d39-479f-b3de-d94dbca68162_zps58499252.jpg      

Silent Sunday / Project 52

December 6, 2014 at 10:50 PMCoombeMill


Millers House at Coombe Mill in winter sun


 TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky   OneDad3Girls   


Posted in: On the Farm | Weekly Photo


Country Kids from Coombe Mill

December 5, 2014 at 11:50 PMCoombeMill

A day out with steam trains

Here at Coombe Mill we are very proud of our little electric railway run each day by Guy. It is adored by the children who stay who delight not only in riding on it but also manning the signals and watch tower.  


Guy driving the Coombe Mill Train


However Farmer Nick and Guy are always keen to pick up new tips and learn from others. We were invited to a fun steam day at our apprentice Amber's family home as her uncle and nephew are total enthusiasts and build steam trains in their back garden! They also have the bed for the old Launceston to Padstow line running through the garden. This was closed down as part of the famous Beaching cuts of 1967 however when the family bought the house 25 years ago it became the perfect place to indulge their love of steam and convert the old line into a 7 1/4 gauge track for their miniature steam trains.


Kensey Valley Miniature Railway 


Today they are mid way through an exciting project with tunnels through the beautiful wooded landscape, engine sheds where they build new trains and a wonderful hobby to indulge in.

It was a heaven for us to be able to join them for a day, to see one of the steam trains in motion and enjoy a ride.


On the Train

Farmer Nick was quite taken with the line itself and the technicalities of expansion joints after the problems we had back in the summer when high temperatures bent our track.

Farmer Nick in Discussion

I loved the old traction engine chuffing away in the middle of the garden which I found enchanting as it moved up and down gears, knobs and whistles firing away.


Ruston Traction Engine

The kids had fun testing the turntables while Nick examined the mechanics to see if we could build one.

I was taking notes of everything from the fencing to the old Great Western benches and authentic signs and branded adverts.


GWR and Vintage Accessories


The children loved all the space in this vast garden and followed the train track, they played dare on the bridge sections and generally enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere of the day.


Dares on the Bridges

After being banned from jumping into the pool which was looking less than inviting once the pumps had been turned off for winter they gravitated to the swings for some good old fashioned play.


Jumping off the Swings


Jed and Theo spent hours throwing sticks for the dogs before we all enjoyed a big cooked farmhouse lunch. 


Muddy boys and a farm dog at play


We headed home with full tummies and discussing all the things we could add to the Coombe Mill Railway with the boys pestering us about having a farm dog.

Our thanks to Amber's family for a wonderful welcome into their magical garden and home.  


Joining in with Country Kids

Country Kids is all about embracing the outdoors with our children and taking time away from sofas and screens to enjoy some fresh air and freedom. I welcome all posts from days out to crafts and learning so long as the activity is outside. Daylight is limited at this time of year and staying in can feel the easy option, but just read some of the lovely posts linked up here to see how much dressing up warm and venturing out in the winter air can make you and the children feel refreshed.  Please grab the badge code or link back here if you join in and please support others here too.  

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:

Dear Mummy and Redpeffer enjoyed a muddy adventure at National Trust properties this week.

Some great learning opportunities were had by Mummy From the Heart exploring the Jersey War Tunnels.

A lovely relaxing Saturday morning stroll from Mummy of Boy Girl Twins.

Mummy of Two had great fun teaching her son to ride a bike.  


Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall



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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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