Posted on January 14th, 2017 - Fiona
So my Instagram feed was filled with puffy powdery snow photos while I looked out at dark clouds and rain. There had been a glimmer of hope. We had a weather warning for snow since the start of the week and I truly believed this was the year the children’s sledge, a Christmas present 6 years ago, might finally find its first use. Alas as Thursday afternoon approached our hopes were dashed, the weather warning was withdrawn and instead of snow it looked more like we might face floods! It bucketed down all day; stupidly I went for a run through it all and came back with even my trainers needing to go in the wash. I didn’t mind though as I can’t stay indoors all day even when it is vile outside.
The greatest relief was that we only had one family we know well staying. Any more and the farm might have been churned to soup. We were so lucky all through the Christmas holidays with some glorious winter weather; if we have to have some grotty days too this is a good month to get it out of the way. Still my disappointment at missing out on the snow was such that I’m sharing a frosty photo instead, it is as close as I’m going to get to snow again this year I fear.
The weather warning may have been wrong, but I can’t resist a photo even on a drizzly run. The street light poking out as the light faded whilst I was running though the village felt strangely warming.
And yes we did see the sun too, which always shows the farm off to its best, and entices the animals out to play. These cuties were sharing their last tuft of grass reminding me of the old Rolo advert!
Did you have a weather warning for snow?
Were you let down by the snow forecast like us or did you have beautiful drifts to play in? Worse was news of the real flood rick along the east coast. I hope where ever you are you and your families are safe.
Posted on January 13th, 2017 - Fiona
Last week I promised to share the second part of Christmas Eve here at Coombe Mill. It feels a little odd in January to be reliving Christmas but I was so busy making events happen and enjoying the moment writing about it has been put back till now. The Santa Express has become a feature of Christmas Eve on the farm and something those returning to us for a second or third Christmas were really looking forward to. I know I had a lot to live up to after last year but I had an Ace up my sleeve.
The Santa Express with Poppy the Steam Engine
Poppy the steam train made a guest appearance. Watching Poppy be fired up was great fun for the children out the front of the tunnel while Father Christmas snuck into the back entrance!
I was a little worried some of our youngest guests may have been scared by the steam engine so we elected to keep Guy with a carriage on our electric Train with Poppy’s owner in charge of the other. They took it is in turn to draw up at the station, take the children round the line and into Santa’s Grotto.
Once inside some friendly elves were on hand to dish out Santa’s presents before the Santa Express chuffed onward returning to the station for its next passengers.
My biggest thanks to Amber’s family for the loan of Poppy and of course to Father Christmas for stopping by on such a busy evening!
A Christingle Service for Children
We didn’t have long after the excitement of the Santa Express before strapping into cars for a Christingle Convoy to the local village. It is a lovely service aimed at the children which finishes up in the street with guess who….. Father Christmas, who had miraculously hot footed it from our Santa Express to be ready and waiting outside Church to greet the children with more presents. A glass of warm mulled wine was on hand for the adults.
A Christmas Eve Party
Meanwhile back at Coombe Mill I had left Farmer Nick and my eldest heating food and popping corks in the games room ready for the Coombe Mill Party to begin on our return. It was the perfect way to round off a very busy day before little ones headed for home ready to put out the Santa and Reindeer treats we made earlier in the day.
I don’t think I left anyone with enough energy to keep their eyes open for long on Christmas Eve, myself included!
If you fancy joining us this Christmas, we are now taking bookings and running the popular 10 nights for the price of 7 again ( 17th to the 27th December).
Posted on January 8th, 2017 - Fiona
I’ve been catching upon reading blog posts this past week and feel I may be bringing up the rear in finally managing to gather my thoughts on the year passed and my goals ahead. I’m not big on New Year Resolutions, but setting out a few objectives with Farmer Nick is essential in planning for success in business.
2016, how did we measure up?
Looking at my post from a year ago, either we were soft on our goals, or we were super successful! The answer is probably a bit of both as I like the ‘feel good’ factor of achieving targets.
Refit the under 5’s Play Barn
There was drama and expense as Nick bought a super new soft play system for our shed, then insulated and raised the floor of the barn so the equipment didn’t fit! A rise in the walls and a new roof later and we had a new play barn we were proud of.
Install Cattle Grids
Watch out now on your drive to the lodges, there are two sets of bespoke cattle grids to cross with sheep grazing in between. These cattle grids have opened up our top fields for animals without the need for holiday guests to jump in and out of cars to open and shut gates.
New wood burners for Honeysuckle and Willow Cottages
Another project that sounded simple but in fact turned out to be anything but. We had damp on the outer wall of Willow cottage and thought the chimney was to blame, this was re-pointed and funky new woodburners added. However the damp turned out to be from the outside wall where the pointing had failed. A long month of hard work with a trowel and a bucket of concrete and Farmer Nick had everything sorted.
Begin building Polzeath Lodge
This was our big autumn project. If we raised enough money from 2016 summer bookings, the plan was to start building a new holiday lodge. We raised the funds and began work after October half term. By the Christmas holidays we met our objective of having the shell up and the building watertight.
A Few Extras
On top of these stated objectives we achieved a whole lot more that makes me wonder now how on earth we fitted it all in to one year:
|With every property now having it’s own washing machine and tumble drier, we turned the old laundry room into a boot room with wetsuits, wellies and farm overalls to borrow.
||A games room was created out of two former rental lodges. This has been really popular with older children and provided a great base for wet weather craft days for me as well as a perfect party room for our seasonal events.
|We introduced new deer to our herd from a city farm in Crystal Palace. ‘The Londoners’ as they have become known are very friendly and have been a joy on the morning feed run as they come so close for their cornflakes.
||Behind the scenes Nick has refurbished the Feed Run trailer and re-painted the ever popular train. Speaking of trains, thanks to Amber, our duty manager, we borrowed her family steam train “Poppy” for Christmas Eve giving our famous Santa Express ride real authenticity.
|The website moved from blog Engine to WordPress midyear. This involved a tremendous effort behind the scene, but as it largely went unnoticed to our users, I count this as a successful step. My main incentive to change was to increase the scope of the ever growing Coombe Mill Blog.
The Coombe Mill Blog
An Award Win
My highlight this year was winning Reader’s Choice in the BIBs awards. I had a wonderful time at Brit Mums Live catching up with blogging friends; to win an award too was just the best feeling. Planning for success certainly didn’t include this but it has been the best confidence boost for me.
A High Rank
Finishing the year ranked 12 in TOTS was another milestone for me. I dropped right out of the top 100 when I switched blogging platforms midyear and never imagined I could shoot back up. I would dearly love to be a helpful blogger and share how I did this, but the honest truth is I have no idea. I just do my thing and wait and see what number rolls round on my side bar each month.
I entered into the Odeon UK Blog Awards in December and have just found out I am a finalist in the Parenting category. Now I have a dilemma, do I go to the awards in London, on my triplets 13th birthday, or demonstrate good parenting and stay in Cornwall?
|My children are growing up too fast and I couldn’t be more proud of them. Alistair started Cardiff University this year studying Economics. Felix did well in his GCSE’s and has moved to ‘A level’ college. Theo is into his GCSE courses and has taken a shine to drama and the Triplets all brought home good reports in their first year at Secondary school. Family photos still elude me, but I do like this one from Christmas day on the beach. Excuse Guy and I in a separate photo, we were in the sea while the others walked to the headland.
Planning for success in 2017
As last year, I am not going to set myself targets that are too stretching and my only measured planning for success goals are business ones. That said, working at full tilt is my style and I’m sure there will be more achieved than I’ve set out here. For My Blog, if I manage anything close to what I achieved in 2016 I will be delighted. As for the children, if they try their best at school, respect one another and enjoy life that is all I ask.
Business Goals for 2017
The bird flu scare has had us bring all our birds into two old aviaries. These really aren’t ideal for long periods indoors so Nick has begun work on some serious animal shelters on the side of his work barn, ‘The Aircraft Hanger’ as I call it. They will have concrete floors that could be used for any animals that need to be brought indoors in time.
Planning for success is no walk in the park, but I hope to make our family business a little stronger again by the end of the year, keep my blog thriving and above all support my family at all times. I hope you can follow our journey and see a path to fulfilling your own dreams for the year ahead.
Posted on January 7th, 2017 - Fiona
We have enjoyed a wonderful Christmas on the farm. The atmosphere has been buzzing with excited children. I’ve so much to share of our adventures over the coming weeks. So far I’ve just covered our Christmas activity crafts and games but Two Tiny Hands has written a lovely overview of Christmas with us. We raced from Christmas into a busy New Year with more celebrations and some of the best winter weather you could hope for. Yet all too quickly the 3rd January arrived, the last holiday guests made an early getaway and I grabbed my camera after the school run to capture a little of the eerie quiet of a stunning frosty January morning as it unfolded around me.
Sun peeping over the valley beyond our now quiet holiday lodges.
With the temperature reading -6 this is the coldest morning of the winter so far. Even after the school run on this frosty January morning, the sun was only just climbing over the tree tops leaving the valley floor at Coombe Mill with a crystal clear blue haze of cold.
The Peahen merges into her frosty surroundings, one of the few birds not yet indoors from the bird flu scare, but she is too wise to fall for our catching tricks.
Down by one of the frozen lakes the first sunlight casts an orange glow across the ice.
However I opted not to sit and watch the patch of orange spread as the old lakeside bench was thick with frost in the shadows.
The goats were hanging around their hay feeder bleating for Farmer Nick to call.
Gloating the in distance were the donkeys chomping happily on their fresh supplies.
Returning home the third floor of our home was basking in sunlight, yet looks can be deceiving, warmth and the coffee machine were calling.
Have you enjoyed a Frosty January Morning this week?
Posted on December 31st, 2016 - Fiona
Where did 2016 go? I feel this year has flown by so fast and my feet have hardly touched the ground. I’m planning to touch down and share some of my highlights from the year in the coming weeks when all the festivities are behind us and I have time to gather myself and think. For today I’d just like to share a few festive photos from the past week and wish everyone a Happy New Year.
The Coombe Mill Santa Express on Christmas Eve
Christmas has been a whirlwind as ever here. We have been full with holiday guests which has been wonderful. We’ve had a magical time with our famous Santa train, Christmas farm activities and a whole host of fun entertainments, not to mention our own family Christmas.
Christmas Day Feed Run
Family Beach trip on Christmas Day
We waved our Christmas guests off; cars loaded with happy memories and presents, and welcomed our New Year holiday makers. With plenty of farm fun to enjoy and quality time to spend outdoors exploring the local beaches, Christmas excess is soon worn off here.
Jed at the end of another glorious day on the beach
The wise put aside the diets for another week as we have plenty of opportunity to indulge again with our New Year’s Eve party here on the farm and some of the best local village pubs and seaside restaurants around.
New Year’s Eve Party for all staying at Coombe Mill
Fireworks to end the Coombe Mill New Year’s Eve Party
On a personal level I have been in my element with all my family around me for the festive period. Having my great nieces and nephews and my Mum has brought 4 generations here to the farm. I never could have imagined when we bought the farm back in 2002 what a great investment it would be, not only for the delight of seeing our own children grow up enjoying an idyllic lifestyle, but also as a draw for future family generations too.
A reflective moment heading back from the local pub to Coombe Mill
Happy New Year
Wherever you are I hope you have loved ones around to toast the New Year and plenty to look forward to in 2017.
Remember we are open all year round and hope to be part of your holiday plans.
Fiona, Nick and the Children
Page 1 of 9512345...102030...»Last »