Tenting but not Camping

Here at Coombe Mill all our properties are stone cottages or Scandinavian style lodges. I am often asked about camping, but seriously when you see the slope of many of our fields and the steep lane to approach us it isn’t hard to see that we have the perfect fields for mountain goats but that tenting isn’t really an option. However I did spot a wonderful marquee style tent at Trago back in the winter and persuaded Farmer Nick it was just what we needed; not as accommodation but as a base for my Activity Hour which has been growing in popularity and threatening to overwhelm my kitchen on rainy afternoons!

Activity Hour in the House


Locating & Constructing our Tent


We agreed that the cottage car park was the perfect place being flat and on tarmac and right next to the train which runs immediately after. Even with the tent marked out we agreed there was still space for 2 cars per cottage. Putting up the tent took a few weeks as the pegs securing the frame down were concreted into the tarmac to ensure it would withstand any winter storms. The children helped Nick with the project as step by step it began to take shape.


Setting up the Tent

Multi functional

Nick had a genius idea for the tent to ensure it was put to good use all week. After all Activity hour was only at the end of the week and half the time we were out and about on the farm for this anyway if the weather permitted. Table Tennis was the idea and we purchased an outdoor game which fitted perfectly inside with plenty of space to move around too. It soon proved an instant hit with children and adults all enjoying a match.


Playing Ping Pong

There is even the option to turn half the table up to play solo.

Guy Playing Solo Ping Pong

At the end of the week we simply remove the net, cover the table with old curtains and draw up Nick’s specially designed benches to make the perfect base for our Activity hour crafts.

Ping Pong Table Read for Activity Hour


We left the tent completely open on one side so it is always light and airy yet provides the protection we need against the wind and rain on our crafts not to mention preventing a gust ruining a crucial ping pong point and I’m sure the tent sides have saved the nearby bushes from being littered with lost balls!


A Tent for All Seasons


Thanks to a YouTube tutorial from the wonderfully creative Maggie of Red Ted Art I managed to combine ping pong and crafting in the tent during half term. Like so many parents we are left with a huge bag of loom bands since the craze fizzled out. Maggie had a simple yet effective idea to turn them into colourful bouncy balls; it was a short step from there to use them as ping pong balls. We had a lovely craft hour making our bouncy balls and testing them out on a ping pong challenge.

Loom Band Ping Pong Balls


If you are coming to Coombe Mill this summer I hope you will join us for Activity hour in the tent and enjoy a family ping pong game at  your leisure too.


Trerice National Trust

Now that the football season has come to an end and our Sundays are no longer consumed with football matches across the country for Guy and Jed we are free between the morning animal feed run and the afternoon train ride to make the most of some family time.  Keen to make the most of our new National Trust membership we checked out options for the day. Trerice at 40 minutes drive and close to Newquay felt perfect. We hadn’t been before and had no idea what to expect.  We left the teens behind, Ally revising for AS levels, Felix for GCSE’s and Theo who is boycotting family days out as “uncool” at 13!

Family Fun at Trerice

I have learned over time that my children only operate on full tummies so the first stop was MacDonald’s for lunch. Refuelled we drove into the car park at Trerice surprised how busy it was since it was still school term time. Despite this as we entered it actually felt really quiet and the children immediately set up a game of chase along the pathways in the formal gardens. 


Tag in the Formal Gardens at Trerice


Our last National Trust visit was Cotehele just before the season started and the house was still closed. This time there was no problem going inside and guy and Jed were delighted to be greeted by a room of medieval armour in the first room. Thanks to some helpful staff they were allowed to try the chain suits, this really made their day, though made of metal they did question how anyone managed to run from their enemy or even see them clearly decked out in the full kit!


Trying on the Medieval Armour


Clio soon lost interest in the boys and busied herself with a giant jigsaw of the house that Jed had abandoned on seeing the armour.

Upstairs the children couldn’t have been more delighted than to see a vast empty banqueting room with an old woven mat, a chance to practice their gymnastics, check out the view from the window and try a little weaving for themselves.


Exploring the Great Hall


As we expected the rest of the house received a cursory glance and they turned down the chance to follow the house trail eager instead to explore further outdoors. A mini maze caught their attention.


Exploring the mini maze


Of cause they ignored the steps preferring to leap over the flower bank to reach the maze!

Jumping over the Flowers

In the outbuilding they found a huge empty guilt frame next to a box of dressing up clothes. Without the interference of the teens they rummaged in the box and found an outfit each in which to pose, and repose within the frame.


Silly Dress Up at Trerice


At the head of the hayloft a table of brass rubbings caught their attention.  A reminder for me that we need to try out bark rubbing here at Coombe Mill, I couldn’t believe the children hadn’t heard of brass rubbings before.


Brass Rubbing at Trerice



What I loved about Trerice was the informality, it was quiet and peaceful and we were free to explore. Down onto another terrace and the children found a game of quoits casually placed in the centre of the garden.  I can’t tell you how much fun this provided as family challenges took on a serious dimension. The triumphant garden lap by Jed when he won akin to a crucial premier league football goal! 


Family Game of Quiots

For me the beauty of the National trust is the gardens in bloom at this time of year, I hung back to capture a little of the beauty.


Trerice Macro Flowers


While the kids disappeared up a tree! Even the journey back to the car involved scaling a wall and exploring down the lane.


Climbing trees and walls at Trerice


Back home the triplets regaled their brothers on all they had missed.  I can thoroughly recommend Trerice for a visit if you are staying with us. It is also just minutes from Newquay with its famous beaches and seaside town centre if you fancy combining both on a day out. We popped in for an hour to enjoy ice creams and a mooch around the shops.



Joining in with Country Kids  

Country Kids is all about getting up and getting out, whether it is to play in the garden, enjoy an outdoor craft or a day out exploring please come and share with me on the linky. The only restriction is it MUST be mainly outdoors and an enjoyable way to take in some fresh air away from screens. Please grab the badge code below or link back here and remember to check out the other posts too, it might just be the inspiration for your next adventure.  


Country Kids is around in these communities, I’d love you to join me: 

Pin on the Pinterest Board Just ask for an invite to pin and include Country Kids on your pins for me to stop by on your boards too (no need for a hash tag in Pinterest)

               Follow Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays’s board Country Kids  from Coombe Mill on Pinterest.


Join the Google Plus community page  for Country Kids and add #CountryKids to your tag elsewhere for a +1 from me 

Share your posts on  Instagram and Twitter with #CountryKids for a like or a re-tweet


A few of my favourites from last week:

 Wakefield Place has so much for young adventurers as Wild about Here shows 

Just 30 minutes from home and Little Hearts Big Love found themselves a great day out 

It's festival time and the Joy of Five shares her first one ever, I'm eyeing up the giant rope swings for Coombe Mill

A pirate park on the Isle of Sheppey is the latest island discovery for Hannah and the minibeasts

I love a little resourcefulness and You Me and Magoo showed this in making their own garden swing 

Let kids be kids hired a real farm to their home for their children's birthday. This could be Nick and I in retirement! 

Mum to a Monster enjoyed Bank Holiday on the cheap with plenty of fun and a great recommendation. 


Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall



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When you have a baby dashing out the house on holiday, to go to the shops or even to pop round to a friend takes so much more time than in those unappreciated care free pre kids’ days. Suddenly there is a plethora of items to remember not least how to carry baby. Do you take the bulky pushchair, the carrier or a mixture of everything?


mummy and baby animal


When my own children were younger I found myself needing a range of carry aids depending on the trip I was making. For the shops I favoured the pushchair as it gave me space for shopping bags too, but then on country walks or around the farm here they were hopeless for climbing styles or crossing our ford. My own back carrier for older children and a front carrier for younger children are now in our reception for our holiday guests to borrow. These come in so handy when families arrive not realising it really is a working farm here and the buggy just won’t do for our morning animal feeding.

Since my own were small the industry has moved on and there are all sorts of clever inventions now around. One of these is The Baba Sling from wemademe.com . This clever carrier folds up smaller and neater than anything I’ve ever used yet unwraps into a practical and safe sling for babies from birth up to 2 years.  They are versatile with 6 clever carrying positions depending on the age of baby and the needs of your journey, I love the idea of the sleeping position and discreet breastfeeding one that no one need know about. The sling comes in its own draw string bag and a choice of colours.


Baba Sling Features


We have two brand new Classic Baba Slings here at Coombe Mill to borrow as well as my hand me down carriers, these slings are ideal for exploring the farm following our wildlife trail into the depths of the estate, for easy travel on the farm feed run and during our activity hour crafts. On all these occasions  there are moments when you need to be hands free to help an older child or grab a ‘must have’ holiday photo moment.


Handsfree with the Baba Sling


I handed one of our slings out to a mother of two to see how she managed and I had some really helpful feedback.  She loved the simplicity and storage of the sling, found the quality and design of the fabric excellent with padding in all the right places for baby and for her and concluded they were ideal for holidays like ours and suggested that if she had one she would also use it to tuck under the pushchair when out shopping for those “melt down moments” when she ended up trying to carry baby and push the pushchair all at once. I have so been in that situation myself and couldn’t agree more with this idea. At just £44.99 they are much cheaper than many other carriers and well worth considering with so much versatility.


Baby in the Sling


It is worth noting that they do take some practice to start with and to take full advantage of all the positions and be able to use them with ease the manufacturer recommends practicing with a doll first, our test Mum concurred with this and said she knows friends who swear by them after investing a little time in becoming familiar with the positions and tightening the straps to fit just so. This is also important to feel balanced as the sling rests across one shoulder.  


Win your baby Sling Classic or Lite 

win theBabaSling


If you like the sound of these slings, would find them useful yourself or know someone who would benefit from one just follow the instructions below for your chance to win with we made me and Coombe Mill.    

a Rafflecopter giveaway


I was sent two of the BabaSling Classic range for our guests to use here at Coombe Mill, all thoughts and opinions are my own and those of our guests. 

Is there still room for an old timer in blogging? 

We all start blogging for different reasons but our blog then grows with us, perhaps following a predefined path or simply reflecting and responding to changes in our lives. I found myself in a twitter discussion with friends musing on our old timer status in blogging and insecurities as the blogging scene expands each year with fresh new talent. Mari from Maris World started this with a reflective post on her blog titled does my blog have a sell by date?; I mean seriously when your blog is rank 3 on TOTS 100 and you write for Brit Mums how can you possibly feel any worries about your blog future? Anyway if Mari felt she had reason to question the direction and longevity of her blog, I certainly needed to do a little blog navel gazing myself.

Dear Great Grandblog, assessing my blog age and direction


As Claire from Ninja Killer Cat and Hayley from Down side up both shared their thoughts, they moved me to write too.

It began with a cuppa and a play date

I began blogging in March 2011 with a toe in the water in Blogger. The blog is still there it just moved by the autumn as I realised I wanted to take it more seriously and link it to the new website I was designing at the time, a forerunner to what I have today. I began purely as desperation was setting in with the recession and the failure of parenting magazine adverts to deliver a return in terms of holiday bookings.  A good friend of mine popped round after school one day while our girls played.  I confessed our bookings were slower than usual for the first time ever and that advertising wasn’t working as it used to and she suggested I looked at social media and a blog. That friend was Mandy of Gift wrapped and gorgeous who was starting her online business supported on twitter. I only had the facebook page for Coombe Mill back then with a few hundred likes. Mandy helped me set up a twitter account, gave me some pointers on my dated website, and suggested I try a blog. She pointed me to Red Ted Art as a good example of a blog and suggested I put a pitch in to win SBS with Theo Paphitis and left me to it.

 Mandy I will never forget that cuppa and play date, you were my introduction to blogging and a whole new way of marketing and I was off on my own journey.


blog journey for Coombe Mill

Exceeding expectations

In no time I felt I had parenting contacts all over the web, Coombe Mill was reaching the audiences I once paid magazines to do for me and our bookings were on the rise again.  I was thrilled to be recognised in the big blogging awards and the buzz from these spurred me on to greater heights each year. I know I can’t sustain this level of success going forward but at least I know my blog is out there, well known and achieving what I set out for it and more. It is now one of the most visited pages on my whole website and generates the fresh content that helps people discover our farm when searching for Family Holidays.

Coombe Mill Holidays number 1 search on Google

The unexpected

That was my planned blogging path, what I hadn’t expected was to be sucked into real friendships along the way. From bloggers who return to Coombe Mill year after year like The Boy and Me, Redpeffer and One Dad 3 Girls, to name just a few, to twitter friends I thought I’d never meet  being there at conferences for a good natter.  Blogging has given me a wider circle of friends, taken me away from TV in the evenings and even improved my appalling spelling and made me realize I can actually write, take a half way decent photo and finally beat my husband at scrabble!  

I never dreamt when I began that I would want to meet people in real life, that my virtual and real life would in anyway merge, yet as I prepare for my first Blog Camp next month and my third Brit Mums Live I am like a child going to a birthday party, full of excitement to meet everyone again, to exchange news, to learn new things, to come away exhausted but reinvigorated with new ideas for my blog. 

The faces behind some of the blogs I love

My insecurities 

Despite the highlights I’ve enjoyed in blogging I read a post like Mari’s that I mentioned at the start and it really strikes a cord of self doubt, the blogging world is growing so fast with some amazing new people whose blogs I enjoy and I wonder if I am the old timer hanging in there when I should move on, search for a new way to promote my business and stop hassling my now reluctant teenagers for a photo. Instead I should perhaps focus on mucking out pigs, checking cleaning rotas and managing not to leave a child behind on the school run, yes I have done that!

What next?

My rational mind says it is good to be challenged by new trends, to welcome new blogging friends and consolidate old friendships.  An element of insecurity is a good thing and not something to shy away from; it pushes me out of my comfort zone and keeps me scanning the horizons for ways to improve. While I have more posts in draft than time to write them and permanently carry a camera round my neck, I will continue to blog. I have however conceded that it isn’t all for Coombe Mill, it is me indulging in my own passion too and for this reason I feel it is important  to find time for my blog alongside the more menial chores of the day, regardless of whether or not I have reached my blog sell by date.  


Bank Holiday in Padstow

As locals we should really know better than to visit Padstow on a May bank holiday weekend, but my Brother was down and they really wanted to visit. My own kids never miss an opportunity to enjoy Rick Stein’s fish & Chips so against our better judgement we loaded the cars and set off in beautiful sunshine.


Family Fun In Padstow


It was already lunch time when we arrived having had the morning feed run to sort first and the boys had to help Nick with surgery on a sheep’s horn that was growing into her eye. Not a pretty sight as there is a blood supply to the horn, I stayed well away but apparently it was a success and she is saved from going blind.

We know the best places to park to avoid all the congestion of the town centre and enjoyed the short stroll along the end of the Camel Trail following which we headed straight for the queues forming outside the famous fish n chip shop.


Walk to the Chippy


By the time our lunch was ready the heavens began to open. So typical of a bank holiday, we scurried into one of the harbour side bus shelters with our chip boxes and sat munching while the rain lashed down feeling like true British tourists!


Rick stein's fish 'n'chips in the rain


The rain eased off and with full tummies we ventured out. Guy had brought his portable fishing rod and set up on the far harbour wall. It was blowing a gale and freezing there but my river jumping adventurer never seems to notice. He was happy as could be with his fishing rod, apart from the passing boats which had him reeling in quick to save his line from on more than one occasion!


Fishing on Padstow Harbour

We left Guy with his fishing and wandered into town.  I love that my kids are so uncomplaining, the adults were freezing dressed for summer when we left but the children just made the most of their time fooling around in the harbour, playing with a ball for sale outside a shop, climbing walls and venturing out onto the beach despite me warning them the sandy mud would claim their shoes!

Padstow shops and Fun on the beach


Back at the car Nick took out my bike, everyone thought I was mad to cycle with it so cold and no rain coat if the heavens opened again but it is a lovely 20 mile ride I haven’t done in ages so I waved them off and began pedalling.


Taking the Bike out of the Van


If you ever get the chance it is a lovely family friendly trail that runs from Padstow to within a mile of Coombe Mill. Picnic benches are dotted along the route, the river Camel runs along one side and the old railway line the other. It even passes the Camel Valley Vineyard where the gates were open inviting me in for a glass of their own bubbly and a tour, I was tempted!


Cycling from Padstow to Coombe Mill


As I cycled towards the Bodmin section the old stream train was just drawing into the last of the in use stations. What a treat to see the enthusiasts at work and smell the old coal boilers.


Cycling past Bodmin and Wenford Railway


When I arrived home Guy had run our little train for the guests and retired to the lake with my brother and his friend to continue his fishing while Clio and Theo were gardening on the farm with Nick.


Fishing and Gardening after a day out in Padstow


We enjoyed our day being tourists with my brother. If you are staying with us and plan on visiting Padstow do ask me about parking, bike hire or bring your own bikes and take advantage of our bike shed here at Coombe Mill. There are also crabbing nets and reals to borrow from reception. 



Joining in with Country Kids

Country Kids is simply about family fun outdoors. Anything goes from days out to crafting in the garden. All that matters it that it involves leaving sofas, screens and the comforts of indoors for some good old fashioned fresh air fun. Please do grab the badge or link back here and please check out some of the other posts linked up, everyone appreciates a comment and it might just inspire your next adventure. 

Country Kids is around in these communities, I’d love you to join me: 

Pin on the Pinterest Board Just ask for an invite to pin and include Country Kids on your pins for me to stop by on your boards too (no need for a hash tag in Pinterest)


Follow Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays’s board Country Kids  from Coombe Mill on Pinterest. 



Join the Google Plus community page  for Country Kids and add #CountryKids to your tag elsewhere for a +1 from me 

Share your posts on  Instagram and Twitter with #CountryKids for a like or a re-tweet


A few of my favourites from last week:

Redpeffer is making the most of National Trust membership, I loved this post from Coughton Court.    

A Family day out explores dungeons and more at Dover Castle. 

The gorgeous photos from this farm had me captivated from One tiny Leap .

I was rather taken with this little family after dinner treat from Mummy 3+ 1 dog's Memories.

A full football day for active fun for That Lancashire lass

A great post from Mum in a Nutshell with her surfing teen that reminds me of my own kids. 




Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall



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