How Cities Work from the Lonely Planet Kids Series

Posted on January 16th, 2017 - Fiona

I always know when I pick up a book from the Lonely Planet Series they are going to be age appropriate, well thought out and inspirational to young minds. As a country lover I wasn’t sure I was going to get along with a book about how cities work. However with just a peep at this creative book I could see in a flash it would appeal to children everywhere.

How Cities Work Front Cover

From what goes on underground to life behind closed doors all is revealed in this educational interactive book. Clever flaps to lift and tabs to pull are perfect for engaging children from age 5 plus and you’ll be surprised how much there is to learn along the way. The illustrations from James Gulliver Hancock are spot on for making learning fun with pages that fold out to make pictures sometimes four pages wide.

Fold out pages in How Cities Work

Book facts

  • Aimed at age 5 to 12
  • Educational and interactive
  • RSP: £8.99
  • Hardback
  • Dimensions 28.9cm x 26.3cm
  • 24 pages

Giving our ‘How cities work’ book the ultimate test

It takes a good book to draw children staying at Coombe Mill away from the farm. I offered ‘How Cities Work’ to a regular family of four coming in from feeding the animals with Farmer Nick.  The clever illustrations immediately caught their interest and they sat down for a read. To have three siblings crowd round to read, open tabs and pull out folding pages, told me this book is a winner.

Kids Reading How Cities Work

The writing is informative but the language aimed at children making it easy to read.

Enjoying the @lonelyplanet kids book “how cities work “. Educational and interactive we loved it. More on the blog next week. #education #readingforkids #readingisgood #homeeducator #learningmadefun #quiettime #chillingzone #cities

A video posted by Coombe Mill (@coombemill) on

Win your copy of Lonely Planet Kids How Cities Work

Win a copy of How Cities Work

For your chance to win a copy of this lovely children’s book simply follow the instructions below. Good luck to all taking part.

Lonely Planet Kids: How Cities Work


I was sent my copy of the book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts are my own and those of the family who reviewed the book with me here on holiday. Those staying on holiday with us will find our copy to borrow in the book library here at Coombe Mill.  

SuperLucky Blog Giveaway Linky  Family Fever

A Fairy Door to Paint Yourself

Posted on January 9th, 2017 - Fiona

Here at Coombe Mill we a little fairy mad. Our extensive fairy gardens are full of trinkets, magic and wonder and provide a holiday fairyland of make believe that has visitors captivated.  Things have a life of their own through the fairy door. Each day items move as if by magic, new fairy houses appear from twigs and nature while gnomes and mystical creatures find themselves discarded at the end of play; or was it the work of the fairies?  

The Coombe Mill Fairy Garden

Stepping through the fairy door into our gardens is a great way to develop imaginative play, meeting others makes it a social space too and in no time team work is developing and creating a mystical adventure in there. I am always on the lookout for new things to add to the gardens and many of these come from things we make at activity hour here on the farm. We have even decorated our own fairy door tree.

Magic Faraway Tree

I was only too pleased to further our farm crafts by trying out the’ paint your own fairy door’ from The Irish Fairy Door Company via Prezzybox.   The fairy door comes beautifully packed and complete with all the crafting materials you need from stepping stones to paints and trinkets. However that’s not all, there is also a cute Fairy Lease Agreement, welcome guide packed with creative tips and even a little key to the door.

What's in the box, Fairy Door

 Take your time designing and decorating your door then decide where it should go. Perhaps it will be in a bedroom or playroom, may be fairies scamper along the hall in your house or even live in the garden as at Coombe Mill?

Decorating the Fairy Door

The fairies living with you may like to move house and chose a different location for their home each day? The possibilities are only limited by your child’s imagination.

Fairy Door inside and out

We love the way this craft set inspires imagination and makes fairy craft a serious business. You can even register your resident fairy online and receive exclusive stories and ideas from fairy valley.


Making a fairy door and colouring the activity book. A chance to win yours on the blog tomorrow with @prezzybox

A video posted by Coombe Mill (@coombemill) on


If you buy from Prezzybox before 31st of January you’ll benefit from their special 50% off rate of just £12.49 which we feel is excellent value.  

Win your Paint your own Fairy door from Coombe Mill & Prezzybox

Win a Fairy Door

If you like the sound of bringing a little fairy to live behind your door, why not enter to win. Simply follow the instructions below.

Good luck to all taking part.


Paint Your Own Fairy Door



I was sent my paint your own Fairy Door for the purpose of this review, however all thoughts and opinions are my own.




SuperLucky Blog Giveaway Linky  Family Fever

Town and Country Turnaround Book

Posted on January 2nd, 2017 - Fiona

When little ones come to visit us on holiday at the farm, country life can be a new experience for them. The difference between town and country can be the very reason parents chose a farm holiday. Children may be familiar with bus rides in the towns and cities but riding on a tractor is a quite different. Dogs and cats may be a common site in our towns as pets but being up close with deer and pigs on the farm requires a different skill set. Conversely when our own country bumpkins go to a town they are fascinated with moving escalators and double-decker busses. There are some similarities between town and country but also some big differences. The new book from Ivy Kids by Craig Shuttlewood explores these differences for young children in a visual and engaging manner.

town and country turnaround book

Aimed at Age 3 upwards the book is perfect for reading together. Pick an item from the mini glossary on each page and find it on the picture. Use the simple narration to help explain the picture in its totality, them simply turn the book around and look at the corresponding town or country image. Spot the differences and similarities.

inside the book

What we liked

We took our copy of the book out to the train ride at Coombe Mill to see what our young visitor thought of it. Even after a long day he was immediately able to pick out the farm animals in the book matching the farm animals here. All credit goes to the beautiful illustrations which draw little ones into the page. I loved the unusual landscape shape of the book and substantial feel to the hard back cover and pages. At £8.99 I feel it is good value for money with a whole lot of learning for younger children. It would make a perfect gift for any preschooler.

reading the book

As the train retired for the night, so our Town and Country turnaround book found a new best friend and disappeared for a little bedtime reading.

taking the book home

 Win your copy of Town and Country Turnaround Book from Ivy Kids and Coombe Mill

win a town and country

If you know someone who would enjoy learning from this delightful book, why not enter to win a copy. Simply follow the instructions below.

Good luck to all taking part.

Town and Country Turnaround Book


We were sent our copy of Town and Country turnaround book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and options are my own. Our copy can be found in the Games room here at Coombe Mill for our holiday guests to enjoy.  


SuperLucky Blog Giveaway Linky  Family Fever

James and the Amazing Gift

Posted on December 19th, 2016 - Fiona

I do love a new children’s book to chew over. Even though I no longer have little ones of my own, I have a weekly intake of holiday children who like nothing better than a little time with Mummy and Daddy and a good book at the end of a busy day here on the farm.  Keeping my borrow books up to date and including the latest must reads is a passion of mine. I am a firm believer in starting a love of reading books from a young age.

When it comes to books for younger children, in my mind they have to meet a few key objectives:

  1. An easy to follow memorable story line
  2. A captivating story
  3. Have a morale or teaching element or be funny   
  4. Be supported by eye catching relevant illustrations
  5. Represent Value for Money

With my key criteria in mind I gladly accepted an offer to review the new Book, James and the Amazing Gift, by Nicola J. Rowley from Troubador Publishing.

front cover of James and the amazing gift

James and the Amazing Gift: The Story

This book really ticks the educational morale tale. The story is suitably simple to follow and uplifting. It tells of a boy called James and his propensity to be happy and smile. This smile is infectious and influences all the people James comes into contact with; hence it becomes regarded as his gift. Then one day he comes across a lonely old lady. He has to work really hard for his charm to work, however his persistence pays off and she is so very grateful to the young boy. It is a lesson for us all in kindness to others told in a captivating story which is well illustrated.  


fun pictures in james and the amazing gift

What we thought of James and the Amazing gift

When I read the book to the children staying with us they all enjoyed the story and loved the photos which they through looked rather like themselves.

Reading James and the Amazing Gift

In my mind the new Nicola J Rowley book is an excellent choice for anyone looking for an original book for age 3 – 6. My only hesitation would be the price. At £7.99 I feel it is expensive for a 20 cm square paperback book of 23 pages. The story and content might be better displayed at A4 size which would look in keeping with its price tag. That said the content is all there and it is worth noting that for every copy sold £1 goes to the charity Contact the Elderly which is totally in keeping with the book’s teaching and a great charity worth supporting.   

Win your copy of James and the Amazing Gift

win James and the amazing gift

If this book sounds like something you would enjoy reading with your child why not enter to win one of 3 books here on the Coombe Mill Blog. Just follow the instructions below.

Remember you can always order the book through Amazon and know that £1 of your order will go to Contact the elderly.

James and the Amazing Gift


I was sent my copy of James and the Amazing gift to review. All words and thoughts are my own. You can pick up our copy to read here on holiday at Coombe Mill from our book shelf in the Games Room.

Lonely Planet Kids Explores The Greatest Cities

Posted on December 12th, 2016 - Fiona

Every so often there comes a long a series of books you think are really on to something. When I opened up my copy of ‘The Cities Book’ from lonely planet Kids this is just what I felt. From the cover alone the book feel substantial, interesting and compelling. The clever use of colour and imagery suggest an educational nonfiction book, almost encyclopaedia like in style for growing kids with a curious mind about the world around them. Immediately I felt positive for what would be inside.

Front of The Cities Book

The cities Book from Lonely Planet Kids

Do you know where in the world you can buy drinkable gold; why an ‘elephant’s foot’ is one of the most dangerous objects in the world; or where you might have to swim to school? Discover the answers to these questions and loads more mind-blowing facts in The Cities Book, where children are taken on an amazing tour through 86 of the world’s greatest cities. 

Mecca and Amsterdam in The Cities Book

Covering a host of incredible cities, from Auckland, Běijīng and Copenhagen all the way through to Zanzibar Town, every page is packed with a little insight into the culture and way of life in each city visited. Interesting facts on city living and short descriptions give children a taste of what it’s like to grow up in each place. From food and festivals, to awesome architecture and amazing history, there’s something that will appeal to every child. Find out where you might come across a poisonous boomslang; which city hosts a famous goat derby and which metropolis has such a transport system so hectic that ‘train stuffers’ have to help passengers aboard.

More exciting places in The Cities Book

Where Lonely planet Kids do so well is in bringing these fun facts to life with a mix of eye catching photography, beautiful illustrations and hand drawn maps that make you want to read each page to find out more.

What my kids said

The cities book is aimed at age 8 plus, I would say this is about right for assisted reading; however the content is so good that I gave it to my 12 year olds to read. The mix of content and my country bumpkin kids, who have hardly seen city life in the UK never mind abroad, meant they had plenty to learn from looking through and discussing the book together.

Guy Jed and Clio reading The Cities Book

I’d like to bump into some film stars in Los Angeles

 – Clio

How can Jerusalem be the Capital of 2 Countries?

 – Guy

Death Road in Bolivia would make a great location for fliming Top Gear

 – Jed


The book has broadened their horizons brought up some thought provoking questions and given them a desire to travel themselves one day. At just £14.99 we feel it is good value for money and a perfect way to make education fun.

Win your copy of Lonely Planet Kids: The cities Book

Win your own copy of The Cities Book

If you would like to win a copy of the cities Book from Lonely Planet Kids just follow the instructions below. Good luck to all taking part.

Lonely Planet Kids: The Cities Book


We were given our copy for the purpose of this review, however all thoughts and opinions are my own. Our copy of the book can be found on our bookshelves in the Coombe Mill Games room for guests to borrow here on holiday.


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