Fossil Hunting on the South Downs

One of the highlights of half term for us was meeting up with family. We spent a few days in Sussex with Nick’s Mum (Yia Yia to the kids) and his sister who came to visit too. That made nine children all in one house and so as soon as the rain cleared we headed out. Where better with a rowdy bunch of boys and Clio than the freedom of the south downs? We packed hammers and coats and set off to discover what had been preserved in the chalk for centuries. The children were glad of the space and as soon as we parked the car ran ahead playing in the open fields heading towards the chalk pit.


Heading towards the Downs

The younger children were quite taken by the animal homes they found, we suspected rabbits lived down here.

 Finding Rabbit holes


There were some seriously boggy sections to negotiate and the children discovered the mud under them was infact clay and began to mould it in there hands as well as trample it underfoot. My Rockfish Wellies had changed colour by the time we reached firm ground again!


Discovering Clay


Then it was hammers to the ready as the children smashed and chiselled at chunks of Rock. A little tuition and they were soon slicing sections and examining them for shell and worm shapes. Nick was wonderful explaining to them all what was and wasn’t a fossil.

 Fossil Hunting & Chalk Writing

An explanation of what they were looking for from Dad

The keen continued to search why the adventurous tested my nerves climbing up the pit and waving, running and playing near the top. It was a delight to see our children helping their younger cousins, or maybe that was leading them astray! Either way they had a wonderful time together with all ages mixing in a way that is so effortless in a family group.


Playing in the chalk pit


On the way back half took the car while a party of us took the scenic walk back over the downs where the views were breathtaking in the late afternoon light.

Scenery on the Downs

We crossed Lewes golf course which Jed found fascinating and insisted on investigating the flags and lying on the greens enjoying the afternoon sun!


Lewes Golf Course


When we reached the other side the town was visible below. We followed a wooded path with a few opportune trees to swing from.

Through the woods


On we marched through the town centre conspicuous in our chalky state next to the last of the shoppers and onto the park where we cleaned our boots in the raging stream.


Chalky in Town


And finally back home to catch up with the others. A wonderful afternoon with children caked in debris from their adventure without a care in the world.

Cousins reunited


Joining in with Country Kids

How have you been enjoying outdoor time with the kids? If you have a story to tell of a day out, some outdoor crafting, learning or playing from the garden to the beach please grab the badge and come and join me here on the linky. Country Kids can be urban or country based so long as it involves the outdoors and a break from central heating, sofas and screens. Please take time to read the other links here, each week there are some great ideas for outdoor fun.

A few of my favourite posts last week: 

Me and the Tiny Three enjoyed a holiday here at Coombe Mill

Misplaced Brit made a farm visit fun with ‘guess the poo’ I love this idea for its kiddie appeal.

Mummy Pink wellies shows how to enjoy forest fun with a winter picnic

For a Fun days out Blenheim Palace looks perfect as visited by Randomnest and Dunham Massey has plenty to offer all the family as Rambling through parenthood shows.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Family Time

Busy lives

Dinner time is catch up time

Encourages debate, good for school work, expanded vocab, public speaking, social skills

Introducing AllyAlly

Alistair, or Ally as he became know the day he moved up to secondary school, is now taking his GCSE’s. As the eldest of my six children he is much loved and respected by all his younger siblings, though of course they would never admit to this.  At school he is a typical boy generally doing just enough to keep the teachers off his case, but so often I wish he would put in a little more effort and pull the top grades his teachers say he is capable of. However on his English Language assessment last term he has shown he can go the extra mile achieving full marks with his short story. He has no idea what he want’s to do for a living or even which A levels to choose, but while he is happy helping his Dad out on the farm, Nick and I both hope to expand his horizons, and I’d love to think he has a writing talent here to build upon one day.


Please have a read of his draft copy here and see what you think. The title was given, the rest is all from Ally age fifteen. He reproduced a version of this in exam conditions to gain his 20 out of 20 towards his GCSE and I am so proud of him.


=================== Trees Logo ====================

The Journey Home – A Short Story by Alistair Cambouropoulos

James Anderson had never been particularly academic. It wasn’t that he was slow at learning or didn’t try, he just seemed to obtain rather average grades; average, in fact he thought, would be the perfect way to describe him. So as he cycled home from results day, pedalling as fast as his legs would take him with three ‘A’s, four ‘B’s and three ‘C”s in his pocket he was beaming with joy.  He couldn’t wait to be home and watch his parents as they peared gingerly into the envelope, their faces illuminating with pride as their eyes scanned down the list and realisation set in. There would be all manner of rewards, he was sure of it, his parents would take him out for a curry and finally buy the new i-pod he had been asking for for months.

He turned right, past the derelict barn and over the stream where he and his younger brother would play for hours as kids; the route he knew so well taking on a new beauty in his excellent mood.  The mid summer sun beat down upon him, doing it’s best to fatigue him and slow his progress, but James would not be deterred as he powered into the long uphill, straining with the effort.

As he neared the top the valley laid out below was a scene most people only dream of, the kind you see in the movies yet one James took for granted almost every day. To the north dense green trees stretched on as far as the eye could see, interrupted only by a single ribbon of tarmac, scything its way through the thick forest, and to his left by acres of moorland centered by a glistening black lake, ringed at points with pine trees and boulders and reflecting the sun like a giant mirror.


Hurteling Down the hillsideJames was cut off from the view as he hurtled down the hillside into the forest, the trees providing welcome shade and the wind in his hair cooling him. Cautiously but with a huge excitable grin plastered on his face, James lifted his hands from the handlebars and spread his arms wide relishing the sense of freedom. The world rushed by on either side as he careered down the country lane before grabbing hold of his bike again to lean into a tight corner. 

By the time James saw the car it was already too late, his eyes grew wide with fear as the menacing black machine came into view and he knew he was powerless to stop himself plummeting into it. In an instant they collided. His bike crumpled against the bonnet of the car and yanked out from underneath him as he flew through the air. He hit the ground face down; hard. And felt the air rush from his stomach. Dazed and in shock, he rolled over not quite sure what was happening. He glimpsed the silhouette of a tall man push his bike out of the way and watched, helplessly as the sparkling Mercedes- Benz Star glided off into the distance. Reality set in and James fought down a wave of panic and tried to think logically. Wincing he sat up and checked his injuries. A searing pain was coming from his bloody hands and knees; the crimson liquid dripped from his palms and streamed down his legs, already turning dark and sticky in the heat. To his relief though everything except his left arm which gave way when he put any pressure on it seemed to be working. Gathering his strength he climbed to his feet, and with a sharp, hot pain came from his ankle immediately toppled over; it was broken. Unless another car came by, which he highly doubted, this was the first time he had ever met a vehicle on this lesser know backroad,  he would have to make the four miles back to his village alone. Not easy with only one leg.

James hobbled over to the wood to find a suitable stick to use as a crutch, frustrated cursing accompanying many falls. The wood stung his raw hands as he picked up his favoured crutch but it was better than the pain of stumbling. Satisfied with his prop James limped back to inspect his bike. The front wheel had warped into an odd shape and the handlebars no longer faced forwards, he would have to abandon it here. Lumbering awkwardly with his temporary crutch James set off down the road.

His phone broken, James wasn’t sure how much time had passed, but it felt like a lot. The sun was sinking low turning the sky a stumblingdark shade of navy blue and the tall forest tress loomed over him threateningly, making it feel even darker. He hadn’t made enough progress and was still a good two miles from home; several hours at this infuriatingly slow pace. He had long since abandoned his crutch, the endless supply of blood making it too slippery to grip properly and as a result walking was an extremely painful affair. He fell almost every couple of metres and, unwilling to get any more grit embedded into his burning hands he was left with nothing to cushion the brutal impact. He let out a furious grunt of frustration as he lost his footing once again and lay helpless and shaking at the edge of the road, too exhausted to get up.

A loud piercing bark cut through the air and James’s head shot up, returning to the land of the sane. He heard it again and swivelled his head searching for it’s origin to see a bright beam of light shooting through the inky black night. For a moment he thought he might be hallucinating, but the pain told him otherwise. Hope surged through his body giving him new  energy and he scrambled to his feet. yelling as loud as possible. “James?” came the reply. James could have fainted with relief; he recognised the high pitched, welcoming voice. He stumbled towards the light, tripping but managing to clamber back up as old Mrs Pratt and her dog rounded the corner, a senile hero in beige armour. “Good God” she exclaimed upon seeing the bloody bedraggled boy in front of her. “Your parents have been looking all over for you!” James keeled and started to cry.


Clio & Duck on the Coombe Mill Tractor Run



Coombe Mill is Open Again

We have enjoyed a lovely six weeks of family weekends here on the farm. The children have been helping us with the animals in the absence of our little holiday helpers and we have benefited from some great days out with the bonus of two days for the weekend. As we embarked on our first changeover of the season last Saturday it was all hands on deck ensuring the properties and grounds were tip top for our new guests. Thankfully the last of the bad weather had passed though just in time, but not without leaving much work to be done on a busy day. Farmer Nick and Felix were in charge of operation trees with branches in the lane to clear before our guests could drive down the hill and another massive tree through our sheep field fencing.

Operation Fallen Tree Clearance


The younger ones cleared the outdoor toddler play area of debris from fallen branches, swept and cleaned the ride on toys and made bundles of kindling for the shop. I turned a blind eye to Clio who had selected herself a pair of new Rockfish Wellies from our borrow collection that were almost waders on her!


 Cleaning the toddler ride on play area

It wasn’t all work though as I caught them hard at play many times riding the play equipment over to the water hose, zooming down the car park and pretending they were still small enough to fit on the little see saw! 

Play Time at work


Eventually it was a good job complete and they were off to play.


Farm Fun

They even enjoyed a musical moment together down by the river. I think perhaps they were inspired by the busking in Plymouth a couple of weeks ago; it was adorable to me as a parent, but they have a way to go before they will be playing on the streets!

Meanwhile Ally was left in charge of log burners ensuring each property was lovely and welcoming for our guests. 


 Wood burner in Water Mill


Arriving to the first dry day for weeks many of our younger guests were quick to stretch their legs after long car journeys and discover our play areas. My own children soon caught them up and joined in too.


Play Areas at Coombe Mill


Those here by 4pm could hop aboard the Coombe Mill Railway; it is always a pleasure to see the excitement when Guy draws up from the engine shed and invites everyone to board. 


 Welcome Train Ride


Come Sunday morning I was thrilled to be sharing our farm once again with visitors and in continued glorious sunshine.  Guy and Clio came along to see if there were potential playmates staying and to help the younger children overcome any fear of the animals. Their ability to catch the ducks and chickens is a real advantage as Farmer Nick is never quick enough. 


It has been such a delight to see happy faces enjoying Coombe Mill again and playmates around for my own children over the half term holidays. Let’s hope we have seen the last of the wild winter weather now.

Joining in with Country Kids

Country Kids is all about enjoying the outdoors. Taking advantage of those days when the weather is kind to take the kids on a family outing, enjoy time in the garden or the park, go for a walk, explore, create and learn about the world around us. Coming back indoors with tingling toes and rosy cheeks is a lovely feeling. Capture those moments on the camera, grab the badge and share here on the linky. If you take a little time to discover some of the other posts linked up I know everyone will appreciate a comment and it is the perfect way to be inspired for your next outdoor adventure.   

A few of my favourite posts from last week:

Stunning photos of Beach fun from Mummy Constant and whipped up storm waves from Zoe Corkhill 

Let’s talk Mommy enjoys some sunshine after the rain on a muddy family walk and The Mimi Mes and Me and The _Moiderer go deep into the woods and The Mummy Diary makes the most of a Country Park.

I love all these posts for their simplicity and happiness. They show that fun days out needn’t cost a fortune.

Without breaking the bank Chelsea Mamma had a Magical Day at Corfe Castle

For a special birthday treat Mixed Bag of All Sorts took advantage of a family fun day treat from Grandma.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall