Our riverside lodges, named after Cornish rivers, have been standing since the late 1960s. They have seen many years of happy holidays but they are nearing the end of their life. Several have been taken down over the past nine years to make way for the new contemporary Scandinavian lodges and earlier this year Ottery became our onsite Gym. Camel has always been popular offering a budget holiday for a family of six in a three bedroom detached property in the heart of Coombe Mill. However the compromise on space, even at a low price, was not one we felt could be sustained into 2014.
A last Look at Camel as a holiday property:
Camel the Transformation
Since we closed on the 15th November we have been hard at work planning, building and revamping Camel into the perfect welcoming reception for guests arriving at Coombe Mill, a shop to borrow and purchase essential items and a linen and cleaning store for our weekly cleaning staff. We have just completed the process in time to welcome our Christmas Guests.
Perhaps the room that has changed the least is the living room. We have kept the dining table for our honesty book to note down purchases and messages, a place to collect the children’s farm certificates and check the local maps. To this we have added shelves on the wall for local information leaflets and a large map of the area making this a useful place to visit and plan your day on holiday here. On display is the old Camel sign, a spot of nostalgia for those who remember and a lovely carved Camel kindly bought by regular guests who will miss the property. Coombe Mill awards are proudly on show along a lovely picture made for me and much treasured by Angie of Cakes, photos life blog following her holiday.
This room is likely to be the first place you enter at Coombe Mill, and unlike our old reception we wanted to make it as welcoming and uncluttered as possible. To this end we have retained the sofas in case you have to wait when you arrive, a toilet, ideal if you are early and planning to explore the grounds ahead of check in time, a TV for when it is pouring with rain on your arrival and you need to occupy the children while I show someone else into their property. I am also thinking of making an information DVD to play on a loop giving you a flavour of Coombe Mill from the moment you arrive.
The old kitchen has been stripped, painted, had a new floor laid and transformed into a shop.
A small space efficiently used. In here you can find grocery essentials from Calpol to tea bags. Useful extras such as animal feed and charcoal along with our chest freezer full of home cooked meals from me for those nights when you fancy self catering made easy. Simply help yourself and leave us a note of what you have taken in the honesty book.
Plenty to Borrow
We have always had plenty of items to borrow, but finding them all in the limited space of the old reception was always an issue. Now the old twin bedroom has been fitted with shelves and pegs to house all those farm holiday essentials you may not have thought to pack.
Whether it is wellies and overalls for the farm, wetsuits and board for the beach, nets for the lake or toys, books and games, we have it covered. Simply wonder in and borrow anything you need, as before we just ask you return items clean for the next guests who follow.
New for this room is a small selection of brand new adult welly boots from a local Cornish company we have teamed up with called Rockfish. These boots are really built to last so give them a go whilst here and you may find yourself buying a pair to take home too. My pair are in daily use.
Behind the Scenes
Clever Farmer Nick has added a door to the back of Camel leading straight into the old double bedroom. He has fitted this out with shelves from the old laundry store enabling me to rehome the entire Coombe Mill linen collection into this room. This is now the staff entrance so our arriving guests are not having to negotiate their way through our cleaners returning with trolleys full or my children counting and bagging last week’s dirty linen, something I was never comfortable with before, however charming they tried to be about it.
Outside the door Nick has added a lean to and concreted a smooth path allowing the trolleys to be loaded and unloaded in the dry. No more dreading a wet changeover day!
The final room is the bunk bed room which was always a double sided room leading to the old double bedroom at one end and the living room at the other. It is now shelved for all the cleaning products and has a large work surface for making up bedding and paperwork and a lap top connection and telephone point. I’ve never felt so organised.
Finding our new Reception
The final stages of moving reception have been to design some new signs in keeping with our branding which I did with help from PicMonkey and passed to Giraffe Banners who made my Welcome signs and car stickers for me. Jason is really first rate and I can’t thank him enough for turning round my signs in just a week at a very fair price to my exact size requirements and they are a huge improvement from the old ones.
The location of Camel at the end of the car park means arriving no longer involves hovering with the car on the narrow lane, but parking up safely in the car park. It is also right next door to our toddler ride on play area and indoor play barn, ideal for little ones who have been cooped up in the car after a long journey and with the new signs it is clear where to go no matter which way you approach Coombe Mill.
As well as the honesty book inside reception when you arrive at Coombe Mill the intercom system has been relocated to the door of Camel. Pressing this will call through to our house which is just a stone’s throw away and allow us to know you have arrived, or require our assistance during your stay. My thanks to Steve of iComm South West for moving this, along with the phone landline, and adding a lap top point for me. After making a wonderful job of upgrading our wi fi last year, we knew iComm South West was the company for the job and perfectly timed before our Christmas guests arrive later this week.
Plans for the Former Reception
The old reception will become part of Two Chimneys cottage, as they already share the same building, but that is a project for another year so watch this space and please don’t worry if you are looking to book Two Chimneys cottage in 2014, your holiday is quite safe, the same should also be said of the remaining riverside lodges on which we now have booking right through 2014.
We may have been closed for the past four weeks but we certainly have kept ourselves busy. I’m sure someone famously proclaimed that “a change is as good as a rest”. It must be true as I can’t wait to welcome our Christmas Guests and see the reaction from our cleaners when they see their new workplace. Bring on those 2014 Saturday Changeovers!
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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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