It has become a tradition for those staying with us over Christmas to have a big bonfire party after Christmas day. With all the wrapping paper overflowing the recycling points it is the only way and makes a great afternoon of entertainment for the older (school age) children here too. All supervised by Farmer Nick, the times are communicated on the morning feed run and all interested children gather in the car park for a spot of camp fire building.
It is never conventional here! All the Christmas paper had been collected in the stock trailer and Farmer Nick just closing the back when the children asked to travel in the back with the paper! The excitement at this prospect was quite unbelievable, so pile in they did. The short journey down our woodland path was accompanies by much laughing, shouting and pretend animal noises as little smiling facing peeped out at the top. It never ceases to amaze me how the simple things in life are so special to children.
Once there everyone was inspired, piling up the bonfire pit with all the old paper. The children stayed playing on the farm and revisiting the fire for hours challenging one another to poke a new lease of life into the cinders with sticks and twigs. The boys especially were in their element, mine showing off their scouting skills for fire lighting to anyone who would listen!
From the commotion on the video you can sense the children’s excitement
I think all these children will have some tails to tell when they go back to school!
Here on the farm as we say good bye to 2011 I can honestly say it has been as busy as ever. For the Properties Old Mill underwent upgrades and transformed into Water Mill with a wonderful fusion of 16th Century Mill and modern decor and new lighting, heating and internal layout. https://www.coombemill.com/cottages/water-mill Towards the end of the year we have begun work on Trevarno lodge which I am very excited about as with each build we add that something extra to help make staying with us special.
Our web site re-design, and the launch of this blog have been something I have enjoyed immensely, even though Farmer Nick now calls me “Tweetface” whenever I sit at the PC!
On the farm we saw the introduction of the Alpaca, Peacocks and Wallabies all of whom have added intrigue to our morning Feed Runs, not to mention the regular delights of the spring piglets, and lambs. The Orphan lamb Domino, being raised by hand, became a huge hit with all the children who took it in turns to feed her bottle each day.
Any year is a success to me if I still have 6 healthy children at the end of it. The farm is such a lovely place for them to grow up, but living here they have so much freedom and try out one or two daft ideas (playing Dare with the Ram just one I recall) that I am always grateful to see them happily into a new year! This year I have noticed their help too, not just as play mates for our guests but in really helping out. If you’ve stayed with us then you may have noticed them stripping beds on a changeover, helping Dad on the farm or bringing round a requested highchair. All to be encouraged! https://www.coombemill.com/family-team
Next year will be all go once again. The builders are back on site from January 3rd to continue with Trevarno, the new land we purchased needs transforming from mud soup to lawn and new play area. Who knows what is up farmer Nick’s sleeve with the animals, but I bet there will be a new arrival on the farm before the year is out! I know Farmer Nick is working towards a very special addition for Coombe Mill that the children will adore; as always it’s not plain sailing so keep following our news and all will be revealed.
The party to end all parties awaits us. All day I have cooked and baked as the children dart in and out from the farm asking “Is it time yet?” They have made great friends with all our guests, many of whom return year after year to share in the magic of Christmas at Coombe Mill. Camp fires, bikes, mud and more, as they play games together and pile into each other’s houses for the days leading upto Christmas. Finally at 4.30pm we all go to the local Church for a wonderful family Christingle service. Seeing the active participation of the children in a packed out old village Church with their Christingle oranges and glow sticks makes me want to cry with joy. After, it’s mince pies, mulled wine and Father Christmas in the street. We say our Merry Christmas wishes, the children collect presents from Santa and we all head back to Coombe Mill for Farmer Nick’s amazing firework display.
The children take advantage of the usually restricted fizzy drinks and pile out together to the play barn leaving the adults to enjoy a drink and chat in the house. The atmosphere was buzzing, the children full of anticipation for the evening and their parents enjoyed a relaxed night off. I think I had cooked enough to feed the five thousand!
We even had a little Santa lucky dip before the children left
When the last of our friends left, the milk, mince pie and carrot were assembled for our secret visitor, stockings set out and children fell exhausted but happily into bed. I then set about the party clear up and stocking filling! Satisfied with the result I fell into bed myself without so much as a ‘tweet’!
Never enough sleep, but my weary self is still excited at the sight and sound of our children racing into the bedroom to declare that Father Christmas has cast his magic
“Mummy, Daddy, hurry, we need to open our presents; he has been, come and see…..”
Grabbing my dressing gown and insisting on a cup of tea first, we all gather in the kitchen to watch the minutes of pleasure as they rip through from one parcel to the next.
As if this wasn’t enough, while everyone dressed, Daddy prepared their main present from us. Oh the excitement as everyone wanted a turn.
All this before the 10am Christmas Feed Run! Daddy turns into Farmer Nick in Santa costume and it’s all aboard for a festive farm ride to greet the animals. Look out for Felix in just a T-shirt.
As we ate our Christmas brunch marveling at the mild weather a plan emerged. Why not go to the beach for a surf? It was all hands on deck with dinner preparations, turkey on low in the oven, wet suits, boards, children, Uncle Mark and Grandma (or Yia Yia as she is known to our kids) all in the car with Christmas music along the way! I can honestly say it was one of my hightlights of the day. I love the beach, and to make it in the sea on Christmas day was such a thrill.
Arriving home to pop on the vegetables, have a hot shower followed by Christmas drinks, Christmas Roast and yes more presents just felt like a the perfect end to an amazing action packed day.
OK so I may have left out a few bits and pieces along the way……..
Anyone who claims the perfect day, I am afraid I just don’t believe it! Here are our little mishaps which I omitted from my fairy-tail Christmas:
I love entertaining and really enjoyed our Christmas party, however I was tired by the time it came to clearing up and putting out stockings. One o’clock and the realization that Alistair’s Ski wear was definitely in Guy’s Christmas pile made me question everything. It actually took me till 3am to open and rewrap everything to ensure the correct presents were in the correct places, somehow lots had become muddled (note to self to use different Santa paper per child next year!)
7.30am as my weary body staggers downstairs for the grand present opening, we have Theo in tears. His presents have been replaced by a bag of coal thanks to his thoughtful older brother! Being parents it didn’t take us long to unravel the culprit and have the presents returned but…..
In the great present steeling fiasco Guy’s main present ended up in Theo’s pile! In years gone by we could have fudged things over, but at 9 years old and already sceptical, that was the end of believing in Father Christmas for Theo. To relay the conversation:
Me “Theo, sorry sweetheart, that’s Guy’s present you are opening” as I see the camera emerging
Theo “It’s in my pile!”
Me “Sorry Theo that one IS for Guy, they must have become muddled when Felix took yours as a joke; a simple mistake”
Theo ” How do YOU know?”
Theo storms off upstairs leaving the rest of his stocking unopened!
Yia Yia and I make a start on Christmas dinner preparations while Daddy has a quiet word with Theo and we all agree that we can patch over things by Theo helping Daddy bring out the Quad surprise. The idea being that he would see it first, tests it out before the others and the disappointment of earlier be diminished. The plan works, an excited Theo rushes into the house to call his siblings and they all dash out for a turn. 9.50am and the electric blows in the house. No fridge, freezer, cooker etc, etc. I try the fuse box but it all instantly trips out again. Reluctant to admit defeat, but aware the feed run is only 10 minutes away I call Nick in to help. Finally we identify the overfilled kettle as the problem and restore power to the rest of the kitchen just as …..
There is an almighty thud from outside. We all dash out only to discover Guy and Jed in a heap on the lawn and the quad bike a right off! So relieved it was the bike not the boys written off, I really couldn’t be cross! We were all a little shocked and stunned, those who still hadn’t had a turn were angry with those who wrote it off and all this as the guests assembled happily for the feed run admiring the wreckage. There was nothing else for it but to put it all down to experience, thank our stars we were not on our way to A and E, and carry on with the day as Daddy turned into Farmer Nick!
I am pleased to say that was the end of the mishaps, and the rest of the day really was magical, but it did require a degree in keeping cool, calm and collected to manage the first few hours. It is a Christmas we will dine out on for years to come with some real high and low moments. The quad bike goes to the garage tomorrow; if it is recoverable there will be some strict usage rules imposed!
If you are thinking of a Christmas at Coombe Mill, don’t worry, there will be plenty of tractor rides and Christmas fun but absolutely NO quad biking for your children!
I hope you will be able to join me and link up some of your festive outdoor moments with the kids this week. I am holding this linky open until Saturday 7th January so no excuse not to blow away the cobwebs over the break with some outdoor fun and be in with a chance of winning the Kids Coombe Mill Cap for January!
If you have been following this blog you will know that cannons are rather popular with Farmer Nick and the boys. https://www.coombemill.com/blog/post/2011/11/15/Daddy-Bought-a-Cannon.aspx When they all sat laughing at James May on TV firing Christmas decorations onto his tree from a DIY cannon they were inspired. Daddy was sent shopping for parts then it was down to the shed to convert the leaf blower into a tinsel firing cannon!
Drain pipe sections and Leaf blower were assembled in the shed for a dummy run, the light was fading outside so the ‘real’ operation had to wait till the morning.
Day 2 and the children were all ready with tinsel and cannon from the shed. Playmates were enrolled to join in the challenge adding to the level of shouting, bossing, ordering and playing around but at the end of the morning they did manage to work together and blast tinsel into the tree. A triumphant gang, sadly no petrol left for leaf blowing!
Please link up any snaps you have of your children playing outside over the Christmas and New Year break, whether with new toys, imaginative role play or just enjoying the frsh air, twit pic them or blog them and add to the linky below.
Country Kids from Coombe Mill
It is December 21st & just 3 more sleeps away from a visit from the scary man with the white beard! I am delighted to join in with the Christmas themed Meme TheBoyandMe tagged me with, as created by Carolin from Mummy Alarm.
So here are my answers:
1. The Christmas song I can even listen to in June is…
Bob Geldolf’s Do they know it’s Christmas. It kind of annoys me to listen to, but it did so much to raise awareness and money for a desperate situation and was put together in such good spirit that it never fails to make me appreciate all I have at any time of the year.
2. Hot chocolate, egg nog or mulled wine?
Hot chocolate all the way. I love hot drinks and options are my favourite. I have tried all the flavours as I have a really sweet tooth and these just hit the spot. My favourite is without doubt the white chocolate. To all you fresh bread and crisp fans it must sound quite sickly but to me this is heaven, even in June! I have been known to stock pile them in the cupboard as they only sell this flavour as special twice a year *addict*
3. When do you put your decorations up?
16th December. Our Christmas guests arrive on the 17th and so the outside lights go up and the real Christmas trees are ordered for the 16th. This way Farmer Nick and I can make sure they are all installed with working lights and a box of decorations ready for guests to decorate as a family on their arrival. Meanwhile our children set about the task of uncovering all their favourite treasures from years gone by and turning our tree in to a masterpiece.
Breast, Leg and Stuffing our Turkeys are currently being fattened up in Jurassic park here at Coombe Mill. The children are not at all sure about eating them but personally I would far rather one of our own than one from elsewhere where I know nothing of its upbringing! With our own bacon and sausages from our farm piglets it will be a real old fashioned farmhouse feast again for us.
5. What’s your favourite Christmas tradition?
I think this has to be the mince pie, milk and carrot left for Father Christmas and the reindeer. The look on the children’s faces on Christmas morning when they see the half finished milk, mince pie crumbs and bitten carrot dropped around outside just makes me want to cry with joy.
This is followed by stocking opening and the famous Coombe Mill feed run delayed from 9am to 10am for all our kids and the guests. The animals have their special Christmas treats and everyone is so happy and excited on Christmas morning.
6. Have you ever gone carol singing?
Never, after being thrown out of the school choir age 10 I took the hint! Still enjoy a good sing at the Christmas Christingle Service when my voice is drowned out by others and I can pretend I am in tune!
7. When did you discover the truth about Santa?
Age 12, I guess I had figured it out but was still going along with things when my Dad cornered me in the kitchen one December to say, “you know I am Father Christmas and he isn’t coming this year!” I was so disappointed; Christmas lost a little sparkle after that, so I think I will keep the magic going for mine for as long as they keep it going with me!
8. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
That is all up to the children. I supervise the lights and the rest is up to them. It is a little more tasteful each year as the children grow up and the decorations make it to the top of the tree!
10. All I want for Christmas is…..
A healthy family! With 8 of us before we start on any visiting family there is always someone who is poorly on Christmas day. Last year it was Farmer Nick who left me with the whole thing from our Christmas eve party to presents, the feed run at -10degrees and Christms Dinner. After that I can cope with anything this year – bring it on!!
Now I tag
Hope you can squeeze yours in before the 25th!