Finding an email in my inbox from a Russian TV company I nearly hit delete assuming it was spam, thankfully I was curious enough to email back just in case it was for real. As the email exchange continued I realised this wasn’t a hoax but in fact Russia’s number one TV station and they really did want to come and film with us. We will form part of a documentary on cats. Ironic given the only cat here on the farm is our lovable moggy Penguin!
They were especially interested in our farm as we are on the edge of Bodmin Moor, home to the first ever Cornish Rex cat. The breed dates back to 1950 and the first Rex born to a domestic tortoiseshell mother. The kitten named Kallibunker had a tight curly red and white coat, the only one of the litter. He was so unusual he was bred back with his mother and thanks to spontaneous genetic mutation the species grew. Nothing is known of Killibunker’s father but he must have carried the mutated gene. Today the Cornish Rex can be found worldwide but are linked to Cornwall and regarded as the cream of the domestic cats with their stunning sleek looks, mischievous nature and intelligence.
My thanks to Sian To for the photos of Aggy and Cheryl above and in the top photo; her two stunning Cornish Rex cats who have become much loved family pets full of personality.
I am intrigued to see how the film crew will fit feeding the animals on a wet November morning with Farmer Nick in with the history of the Cornish Rex! The crew consisted of the cameraman, script writer, director and action man (David Attenborough of the show) who was chatting to Farmer Nick in Russian. Nick just had to reply “yes” to everything and was assured it was basic questions on feeding the animals, let’s hope so!
The rabbits were the highlight for the film crew and they took four shots of the same scene in there. The script writer had never handled a rabbit before but seemed quite taken with our Snowy.
My thanks to the film crew who allowed me to shadow them filming us and share the day. We had feared they might have wanted to rearrange the farm to take just the shot they wanted but they were very accommodating and happy to film everything just as it is for real here at Coombe Mill. It certainly made a different morning for us and as our first morning closed to the public for four weeks we were able to take our time and visit the animals in the order that suited for filming. Thank goodness for a reception full of welly boots too, they didn’t seem to think filming on a farm might be a muddy affair, clearly a culture shock from the centre of Moscow where they are based.
We waved them off to a “cat hotel”, apparently a cat massage, shampoo and set is all the rage! From there they are filming the Cornish coast before returning home. I am assured we will receive a copy of the documentary when it goes on air later this winter and will share Farmer Nick in his starring role looking knowledgeable in understanding Russian.
Until then here are a few clips from the morning.
A frosty morning with the sun shining over the front lawns at Coombe Mill towards Willow and Honeysuckle Cottages.
For Activity Hour at Coombe Mill we have been focusing on Monsters with our little ones. It felt too early to begin on Christmas crafts before December so after all the fun and games of Halloween and bonfire night we thought we could further explore a monster theme making sure they were friendly monsters so as not to scare our younger visitors.
It was the most beautiful sunny day right up until half an hour before our crafting was due to begin. Instead of setting up in my garden as usual we were forced indoors for the first part of our activity as the gales and rain began to lash down against the window.
We began with a Monster story designed for little ones that included repeating lines and plenty of pictures to get everyone in the right mood and fully understanding the monster theme for the afternoon.
Then we set about converting the boxes from the lovely mugs in our properties from our friends at twinkl resources into Monster Money boxes. I had been storing the boxes ever since we distributed the mugs around the cottages and lodges certain that I would think of a creative use for them and bingo, finally a light bulb moment!
We handed the children the flat pack box to decorate in their own monster style with plenty of stickers and pens to help.
The grownups cut a money hole in the top with scissors and carefully stuck them back together inside out to make perfect bespoke monster money boxes.
While everyone finished we handed out some twinkl education sheets from our newly launched education pages to follow the monster theme. The 2 and 3 year olds practiced pen control tracing the M shape for Monster while our 6 year old coloured the letters for monster from the alphabet sheet.
It was still raining and blowing a gale outside so our monster game organised by Clio and Guy in the garden had to be by passed, however we couldn’t let the weather stop us altogether so bravely we donned our wellies and coats and headed out to the fairy garden with our money boxes. I was assured that my helpful little elves Guy, Jed and Clio had hidden some coppers in the garden ready for the children to start their money collection. They took great delight in spotting the money.
And popping it into their boxes
We were glad of the secluded location of the gardens and overhanging branches with their remaining leaves for giving us a little shelter in there.
The children were captivated with the challenge of finding their treasure and really didn’t mind the rain at all; we concluded that the fairies left the money out to ward off the evil spirits and monsters from their special magical gardens.
If you have been out enjoying the countryside, park, beach or even seeing your town christmas lights be switched on please come and join me here for Country Kids. The linky is all about encouraging children to enjoy a little outdoor time all year round and to leave screens and sofas for a while to embrace the freedom of outdoors. There are always some inspirational adventures here so do please grab the badge and check out what others have been up to, it might just inspire your next outing.
I always comment on every post that links up with me but doing this has led to some commenting systems seeing me as spam. If you don’t see a comment from me please check your spam, I am probably lurking there!
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A few of my favourites from last week:
This was one proud chicken catcher from Me and the tiny three
A country walk that looks idyllic right down to the warming hot chocolate at the end from 76 Sunflowers
I love the "can do" spirit of Would like to be and the Princess and the Pickle as the family embark on countryside adventures in less than perfect weather and still have some gorgeous photos of a fun time.
One Tiny Leap finds a beautiful city park in Warsaw, just what two little boys needed.
I have known Rachael Lucas the talented author of Sealed with a Kiss for years via the parent blogging world, however I really became friends when she came on holiday with her family to coombe Mill. It was here I found our parenting ideals and ideas so similar. I knew Rachael was a writer and she came to us close to the completion of her first novel. I don’t think I have ever had a friend who seriously writes published books before and naturally I was keen to secure my copy and have a read of what this lovely grounded Mum of 4 would come up with.
This book has all the magic of a page turning easy to read romance. The characters are well thought through and brought vividly to life. There is a hero and heroine and you read willing there to be a happily ever after ending, though I’m not going to spoil it by revealing that. Knowing Rachael a little I can see many of her passions and emotions in life coming out in the book, from the clothes the characters wear to the warming drinks by the fire. Rachael has a love of beautiful scenery, remote places and warmth of character and all this is encapsulated in the stark Scottish Island and its inhabitants who make the story so believable. This is every woman’s Prince Charming in a beautiful setting set to sweep the vulnerable relationship bereft beauty off her feet, but of course there is plenty of obstacles in their path, misunderstanding and the nasty Fiona, not based on me I’m assured!
Reading for me is my daily relaxation before I drop off to sleep, this book was perfect, not too complex, plenty to keep me wanting to read just one more page before turning off the light and a true sense of joy and escapism guaranteed to send me off into happy dreams. If you want a book to challenge you and make you think, this isn’t it, but if you are after an easy holiday read or a little late at night relaxation like me then this book comes highly recommended. Rachael has a real talent and already has a Christmas special sequel available as a ebook which you can download for just 59p and Coming up Roses is her next book due for release in May and pre orderable now. I feel very privileged to know Rachael and her family and see her romantic love of life translated into her writing.
Perhaps most wonderful for me was not only reading a great book but finding Rachael’s love of Cornwall and especially holidaying at Coombe Mill having it’s own special mention in the book too. My signed copy is now in our reception for our guests to read for their holiday relaxation.
A signed copy of this book would make a perfect Christmas present. At just £9.95 with your chosen message it would be a lovely touch for anyone you want to send a personal gift to.
To win your signed copy with a message of your choice follow the rafflecopter instructions below. Good luck to all taking part, someone is in for a good read.
Disclosure: I was not asked to write this review or run this competition but chose to do so for a friend who has a talent I admire
This is what every business wants to achieve and I am proud and delighted beyond belief that Coombe Mill is currently Number 1 on Google for “Kids Farm Holidays”.
I don’t check any of my website or blog statistics very often as I think I could become obsessive about them. However every now and then I do like to ensure that I am on track.
The key statistic for me is where our holidays rank in Google or our Search Engine Optimisation level (SEO ranking). I try typing in specific wording and pull back to more and more generic searches to see how we do.
So for example if I were to type “Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays in Cornwall”, “Coombe Mill Holidays Cornwall” or even just “Coombe Mill” I would expect to come up first. However, let’s face it, anyone typing those searches in already knows about us and it just looking up our details to make a booking or follow up a recommendation to us; great in its own right but not a way for new potential holiday makers to find us.
If I now I broaden the search out to “Cornwall farm holidays with kids and animals” then it is much harder to come at the top as Google has many websites to choose from all using some or all of these key words on their websites. Featuring top here is where I get really excited, especially when Google says it searched 6.7m sites to bring Coombe Mill up first. Anyone searching this term is looking for a holiday that really matches what we offer; they probably haven’t heard of Coombe Mill and are just seeing what is out there. Being first on the list I am more likely to be clicked on and once on my website it is then up to me to sell the Coombe Mill dream in the first five seconds of glancing at my homepage. If the homepage isn’t attractive to my target market in an instant then I’ve wasted all my efforts in being at the top of Google and the discerning shopper will be back to Google and clicking on number two. This is a huge subject in it’s own right, for now I’m going to concentrate on Goggle Searches and assume my website does the job once there.
I try broadening the criteria again and hurrah I’m still number one for “Cornwall farm holidays with kids”.
And again for “Farm holidays with kids” on a search of a whopping 156 million sites. This is a great result for me.
First and foremost, make sure your website illustrates and says the most important things in the fewest words. Less is more. Set the tone visually on the homepage. From here make sure posts are relevant, interesting and engaging. Know what your website or blog is for and write and illustrate to this.
For Coombe Mill the website tells the holidays facts while my blog within this takes a behind the scenes look at our family life running the business including the “oops” moments and success stories as they unfold.
Your posts can be genius but they need to reach out to an audience and be read, work out who your market is and connect with them, talk with them on forums or social media read and interact with their site and they will be sure to visit you too, oh and watch out you don’t just get sucked in for hours here, it is easy to be sociable and chat too long, I’m guilty!
When I began my blog my target market for Coombe Mill was Mums and Dads with young children. Four years later I consider myself a fully fledged parent blogger myself with good friends I’ve met online and at blogging events, many of whom now holiday at Coombe Mill and have been kind enough to write about their visits. I now have a Pinterest Page just for Coombe Mill blog reviews.
As for which social media sites to use, I'd recommend doing whichever you are most comfortable with, in essence they all work if you put in and don't just take out. By that I mean give feedback and support to others there, build friendships and they will most likely visit your site to find out who is behind the friendly words. My personal favourite is Twitter, I hang out here every day but also use Instagram, Google Plus, Facebook and Pinterest to a lesser extent most days.
Use keywords you want to be found for on Google in all web and blog site tags from the organic photo label on your pc or lap top right through to the content within a blog post. Focus on Key words in your headings where possible. For example every photo I save to my Website or Blog has a description for the photo and ends with "at Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays, Cornwall". If I or anyone else then pins this photo on Pinterest this phrase will appear on it.
Link within your site to past articles where relevant and to outside sources. There is much debate over the use of "follow" and "no follow" links. As a rough guide use a follow link in your own site and anywhere where the content of the linked site is directly relevant to your post. so for example I will always use a follow link to reference an article about Coombe Mill on another website or blog. Google likes links when they are genuine so use them and encourage them to your site too.
I would be delighted to hold my position but you have to keep moving to stand still and if I am honest with myself standing still isn't really what I want. I need three of the following keywords to appear at the top or near the top on a goggle search.
Holidays, Cornwall, Farm or one from Kids, children, toddlers and Family,
By reducing to just two of these and searching my presence falls off a cliff, I now want to work on some secondary keywords that might be used instead of these such as UK, England, Cottages, Lodges and Self Catering. I currently rank much lower searching by these alone. There is no magic, I will carry on doing what I do but perhaps tag, UK on the end of Cornwall in posts descriptions, and drop cottage or lodge into my posts and picture tags more often. January is the big booking month for me so I really want to hold my own and increase the odd search for then.
Know what you want your site to be ranked on and use these words carefully, by this I mean strategically without spamming your own site, Google can penalize you for over use of a key word.
SEO is great to be aware of but never let it govern your writing, relevant interesting content is key, SEO must fit around this and not drive it or posts can become contrived and dull. For me it is a once a month reality check at most to see what is working and on a day to day basis slots in rather like a spell check when I edit a post. If I can use a word I want to improve my search I will but I never force it.
I am just sharing what has worked for me, if you are interested in what I've said here and would like to know more based on my own experience please let me know in the comments as I could happily expand on any of the areas I've touched on in this post.
Enjoy your website and or blog, have passion in your writing, be mindful of SEO but don't let it rule your work. If all this seems like too much effort there are companies out that only to keen to do it for you at a price, but watch who you choose, I am inundated with emails each day like the one below and would be very wary of dealing with them (click on the image to enlarge if you want to read the detail here):
I enjoy blogging and my daily social media interaction, it is part of my everyday life and the SEO benefits are a very handy spin off allowing me to invest the money I've saved elsewhere in Coombe Mill. To be successful it needs to be a passion you enjoy otherwise you may resent the time and energy it takes.