Leaving Coombe Mill in the height of the holiday season is never easy, but having children taking GCSE’s and A levels for the next few years we have no option if we are to enjoy a family break. Thankfully we have Amber who has been working with us now for over a year and is more than capable of holding the reins with Farmer Ted while we are away, so with much planning we took a short mid week break to visit Nick’s Mum between changeover dates.
We met up with Nick’s sister and her children who traveled down from London to see us, even with Guy and Jed away on Scout camp we still had 7 children between us which made quite a party. Our children always love a trip to Brighton but we hadn’t visited the Marina in years & headed out with a picnic.
The older boys and Nick enjoyed boat spotting while the younger ones had races along the promenade and used up all out loose change in the lifeboat donation slots.
No trip to Brighton is complete without a trip to the pier but as it is quite a trek from the marina some of the children and Yia Yia (Nick’s Mum) took the fun seaside train.
There was just enough time for a little play on the beach for our London cousins who came home with pocket full’s of pebbles which I then showed them how to paint into minibeasts as we do at Coombe Mill.
I took advantage of some wonderful early morning runs over the south downs and felt I gained a bonus hour every day while the rest of the family were still in bed!
We love chilling out at Yia Yia’s house, enjoying her beautiful garden and wondering into Lewes town but it was such a short break I was determined to pack in as much as possible. We had remembered our National Trust membership and although the children were not keen we set off with a picnic on our last day for Knole House. It was an impressive house dating back to the 15th Century, full of history and set in its own deer park. It was colder than forecast and after an early start the first stop was the coffee shop.
Revitalised we headed for the central courtyard to join the house tour which was fascinating in its history, though I found the things I really remembered was the origins of some well known expressions, for example “coming out of the woodwork” comes from the servants who would come out of the secret wooden door at the back of all the main bedrooms to tend the fires etc in the rooms. A ‘dumb bell’ in a gym comes from an old rope hanging over the billiard table which the men would pull whilst waiting their turn at the table to strengthen their sword fighting arm. The rope was constructed like a church bell but without the bell ring, hence the term “dumb bell” and the one at Knole is one of only 2 remaining. The famous Knole sofa design with drop down ends also originates from the house here, we even spotted one in Yia Yia’s shop window on the way home! The greatest disappointment was the kitchens being closed as this is one of my favourite rooms in old National Trust houses.
Culturally complete we headed out to collect our picnic from the car and explore the deer park. There were plenty of families enjoying the acres of park with picnics just like us. We soon found we had company for lunch. There were signs up not to feed the deer, but having deer ourselves we know just what their favourite tipple was and proceeded to pull down a few oak twigs for them. There was one who we decided must have been hand reared, she would eat out of our hands and let us stoke her. There is no way our deer would let anyone do this. All the kids were captivated but Theo the most, this more than made up for having to listen to the history of every painting in the house!
I love this photo of Theo sharing a few photos of our stay with Yia Yia in the garden on our last evening
It may only have been 3 days away, but it was just enough to give us a little family break and yet be back home in time for Activity Hour and changeover at the farm. Guy and Jed were sad to miss out but had their own adventures on their first ever week long scout summer camp.
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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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