Gales   Beech and Leaves

A windy day last week saw the Deer’s favourite tree come crashing down through the fence, lopping off some Oak branches before coming to rest in the pony field. It was a quick patch up job to bodge the fencing, before really getting to grips with repairing the damage.

Rotten yet beautiful

The old beech tree turned out to be rotten right through with only around 6 inches of strong trunk holding it up all round the edge. The structure itself is full of interest, call me a nerd, but 30 plus centimetre fungus in layers hanging off the sides is really quite fascinating along with the soft light interior. I wish I had a more elaborate camera to demonstrate!

Uprooted in styleFascinating Fungus GrowthBark and Fungus

What about the Deer?

Funnily enough the Deer must be creatures of habit, they still gather in the same far corner of their field during the feed run, even though their best camouflage tree is lying on the ground! As we creep up on them in the mornings they still make a dash down to the bottom of the field.

Deer HuntDeer HidingDeer Running

Goat Heaven!

 Turns out the goats are now in heaven. They currently share the deer field and oak leaves to them are like cake to you and me, the beech a close 2nd place! Just as well goats are deft climbers as the tree is so large and precariously fallen only they can wind their way in amongst the spindly branches for the tastiest leaves. Farmer Nick thinks the tree will keep them going all year, if they can ration themselves, I fear they will gobble up all the best bits and go pop beforehand!

Goats feedingGoat in Beech TreeGoat Feeding

 Kids Play

The children have all been quick to see the attraction of the fallen Beech too. The potential for a natural climbing frame always so much more fun than one purpose built! My children are also planning den building and camps with great enthusiasm!

Kids play in TreeToddler Play in TreeKids playing in Tree

Farmer Nick, Always the Opportunist

Farmer Nick and a chainsaw are never far behind a fallen tree! The branches crashing though the fencing are already being collected for next year’s firewood to fuel our cottage and lodge wood burners.

Tree through Deer FenceFarmer Nick and his ChainsawNext Year's Logs for storage 

3 Cheers to the British Beech

The old beech tree really was a beauty in all its years standing, yet is now still proving it still has much to offer for us at Coombe Mill!

    Beech Tree

Easily Tempted

I am sure we wern’t promised a sunny day, but when it snuck up on me yesterday I had to make the most of it. After a lovely morning feed run, Farmer Nick and our eldest son Alistair drove off with friends to Plymouth to watch the Americas Cup (sailing), leaving me and the younger children behind. I could so easily have lost myself in the office and kitchen for the day but the sun shine was just too tempting! 

Just chilling out

Clio and I wandered out onto the farm on own at first, only to find many of our guests making the most of the various Coombe play areas too. As usual it was minutes before I was happily chatting to the parents and Clio playing with their children.

Toddler out door play areaClio in the play areamaking friends

The Play TractorKids swingsZip wire in Children's Play Area

Sibling Rivalry

Lunch out on the veranda with Clio retelling her morning adventures meant I had a queue of requests from the boys to go out on the farm with them in the afternoon! Why is it that they can jump on the trampoline at any time, but it’s only if I jump on it with them or we climb a tree together that it becomes an adventure?

Over the Foot Bridge to the AnimalsKids favorite TreeGiving our scraps to the Piggies

Stinky Billy and his GirlfriendSwing Ball for 3?Turning the swings into a Balancing beam!

Not so welcome

Our guests were not necessarily delighted to see my boys appear, like a tornado ripping through, shouting, pushing (each other) and general showing off. They meant no harm of cause, but they are bigger than the tots we welcome here in term time and despite my  best efforts to shush at them I think everyone was pleased when the ‘bigger boys’ moved on and peace was restored for toddler play!

Felix with his flips on the trampoline Jed on the Trampoline copying big brotherToddler Swing Ball

Inside the Play HouseToddler in Play AreaFortress Slide and Toddler

The Orchard

Theo and I stopped by the orchard to gather apples, it has only been going 2 years but already we are benefiting!

 Collecting Apples from the OrchardApples galore!

New Land

Nick and Alistair came back with stories of over turned boats and disqualifications and tremendous speeds in the sailing, before heading off to clear some new land we have just purchased near the cottages. This of cause was perfect boy stuff and all the boys disappeared together on the tractor for tools, equipment and a lesson in tree chopping from Dad!

Tractor, Farmer Nick and BoysFarmer Tree ChoppingBoys wood Chopping down

Family Catch up time

The perfect opportunity for me to finish off the gammon in cider casserole I had been trying to get stuck into all day!      With my monseter size cooking pot and 3 large gammon joints there was plenty for my hard working wood choppers and a few meals for the freezer in the shop too. Everyone had a story to tell over dinner from trampoline flips to over turned boats, new friends to aching shoulders.  

Gammon in Cider CasseroleFamily Dinner

And me….

I am just a real mother hen, happy to see them happy and making the most of their childhood here at Coombe Mill. 

What makes the humble picnic so special?

Picnic time

 Picnics remind me of my own childhood, of freedom, fun, friends, happy times and play. I suppose this is why I am such a fan. They are a break from the routine, a chance to chill out without the formality of meals at home or at a restaurant and therefore always popular with small children. The sitting still etiquette can be wavered at a picnic introducing a fun element. My children always end up eating twice as much as they would round the table at home.


All the fun and excitement and you save a fortune compared to eating out too! No stressing over whether they like cafe/restaurant food, whether it is good for them, whether or not to let them have the fizzy drinks, and worrying that they don’t like it after you have paid and waited to be served. All the content of the picnic and the time of when you eat it can be exactly as you choose. Now I think about it that has huge advantages!


When and where to Picnic

We are huge picnic fans and take every opportunity. We have even been known to carry a picnic to the play area or front lawn at Coombe Mill and indeed I have seen many of our guests do the same. The If you are not staying with us then a picnic in the garden with a sun tent or in the local park can be a great half day activity. The beach is another favourite for us, all that running around building sandcastles and paddling and the kids are always ready to eat an hour earlier than usual! A quick hand rinse in a rock pool and they are ready to tuck in! Any day trip is worthy of a picnic, in Cornwall we have so many family attractions which make a great day out and every time the picnic wins for us. Having 8 in our family makes finance a big factor but for all the convenience and fun factors already mentioned I think we would choose a picnic anyway!

Picnic in the GardenPicnic in the Garden

Picnic on the beachPicnics away with friends

What to pack for a picnic

I always vary my picnics to keep it interesting but have a few golden rules:

Never pack chocolate in the summer or anything else you are worried about going off or melting

Make more sandwiches / rolls than you would at home, kids will eat more outdoors!

Pasties, sausage rolls or toasted sandwiches wrapped in foil are good alternatives to sandwiches for a change

Use the picnic as an excuse to have some of the treats you don’t always allow at home (crisps are a winner with mine, they are a real treat food normally and they don’t melt or go off)

Bought little cakes or biscuits are popular with us as I always bake my own at home

Dried fruit like raisins and apricots or carrot batons travel better than fresh fruit

Pack plenty of drinks, water or squash but they will drink more on a picnic too.

On colder days a flask of hot chocolate goes down well


For a real last minute picnic simply drop into your local supermarket and buy everything en route, no hastle at all, all the fun and still much less money than eating out!

A few extra tips from experience

Picnic fun

I first wrote this blog for multiplemummy Kerry. She has 3 lovely youngsters and is keen on the benefits of picnics. You can see her blog and my original post here