There is something quite endearing about an old fashioned Christmas. Traditional stories of magic and cheer have gripped imaginations for decades. Quarto Kids have a delightful range of books bringing classical music together with classical stories. The latest is perfectly timed for Christmas and will have little ones dreaming of sugar plums and fairies. This is where the ballet festive favourite, The Nutcracker, dances into life with Tchaikovsky’s famous orchestral music.  If you have a little one excited for all that is festive and fun this season, why not take a step back from the modern images and sounds and indulge in a little traditional fantasy with this beautiful fusion of story and music.


The Story Orchestra Book The Nutcracker

What we love about The Story Orchestra: The Nutcracker.

Each double page spread is a new scene from the ballet, supported by the original music. Not surprisingly the music fits a treat and brings the pages to life. It is the kind of story children will want to listen to over and over, imaginations developing with each repetition.  The illustrations by Jessica Courtney – Tickle are packed with detail so there is always something new to focus on with each read yet the pictures perfectly follow the story line of Clara with her magical present of the Nutcracker.


Double Page from the Nutcracker Book The Story Orchestra


With a bibliography of Tchaikovsky at the back and a glossary to help you understand the music there is real educational value in the book. It even invites you to listen to the clips alone and direct your own scenes to go with them.


The Story Orchestra The Nutcracker book with music from Tchaikovsky

Need to Know Facts

Retail Price: £14.99.
Illustrated by: Jessica Courtney – Tickle.
Produced by: Frances Lincoln for Quarto Kids.
Suitable for: Age 4/5 plus.
Available from: Quarto Kids online.
Format: Hardback, 24 pages, 10 music clips to press.
Batteries included:  3*AG – 13 button cell batteries.


Check out our little excerpt from the Nutcracker to see if The Story Orchestra book is for you.


Win your copy of The Nutcracker from The Story Orchestra Series 

For your chance to win this delightful story book set to music simply follow the instructions below:


The Story Orchestra: The Nutcracker


We were sent our copy of the Nutcracker which we have enjoyed reading and left in the Coombe Mill Games Room for our holiday guests to enjoy this Christmas Season. All thoughts and opinions expressed on the book here are my own.

Here at Coombe Mill we have a tradition of holding our Halloween fun day on the last day of October Half Term. Years ago Halloween actually fell within half term, but for the last few years it has been the week following. Our regular guests were so disappointed at the prospect of missing our fun day that I have just moved Halloween from its official date to the last day of the mainstream half term week, whenever that falls. Our activities stretch from a fancy dress feed run at 9am to trick or treating at 6pm. The whole day is packed with events, games and crafts and I’ll be sharing it all over on my Country Kids link up next Saturday, but for today I’m featuring the culmination of an exciting day, the trick or treat session.

Trick or Treat the Coombe Mill Way

In many ways I feel like all my activities during the day are a build up to this major event. The activity trail, the craft and the famous ghost train are all but a prelude to the Trick or Treating. Even my own kids suddenly appear in fancy dress to join the parade from house to house. The rule here at Coombe Mill is that a Pumpkin lights the way. Each participating holiday cottage has a lit pumpkin to signify we are welcome. We walk as a group from one end of Coombe Mill to the other calling only on the cottages and lodges with a pumpkin and a friendly face to welcome us in.  All the parents are well briefed at the start of the week and I am always blown away by the effort everyone makes. From pumpkin carvings to tea lights, sweets and treats to homemade goodies it fills the children and their goodie bags, with festive cheer.  

A pumpkin signifies the Coombe Mill Trick or Treat Procession is welcome to call

Pumpkin lit for Treat or Treating

We made Lanterns as part of our crafts which lit the way alongside the pumpkins

Homemade Halloween Lantern to light the way for Trick or Treat

Patiently each queued for their turn from youngest to oldest 

Queueing for a turn at Trick or Treat

And were rewarded at every house

Trick or Treating at Coombe Mill Holidays in Half Term

With tubs of sweets, chocolates and homemade treats too

Trick or Treat sweet collection at Coombe Mill Holidays


A big thank you to all the parents who took part and helped to make trick or treating a wonderful  end to a spooky action packed fun day. If you fancy joining us for half term and our fun day next year bookings are now open

Country Kids

Welcome to Country Kids from Coombe Mill 

Country Kids is the original outdoor family fun linky designed to: 

“Encourage family fun outdoors, in an age where technology and screens are such a draw to a sedentary indoor life”

Welcome back if you are a regular to Country Kids and if you are new please join in. You will find plenty of inspiration for enjoying outdoor space and please do share your own adventures. We support the National Trust 100 things to do before you are 11¾ along with all other ideas for family fun outside. 

Country Kids from Coombe Mill 28.10.17

Half Term Has Flown by

Where did that last week go? I was so looking forward to no school runs and a buzzing Coombe Mill full of half term holiday makers, but it feels like it has gone in a flash. This might be because we were so busy. We had friends over at the start, then visited our eldest up in Cardiff for 2 days while Felix and Theo ran the farm and we finished up with hosting our Traditional Half Term Halloween fun day here. Blink and I was back to chasing the kids to wash their uniforms and pack their school bags again. I hope you managed to pack in some adventures over the week and please do share them on the link up below. 

Guidelines for Joining in: 

A massive welcome to Laura from Autumn’s Mummy and Louisa from Inside Out, who joined in for the first time this week!

My top commenters from last week:

  1. Karen from Two Tiny Hands who commented on 22 posts.
  2. Emma from The Joy of Five who commented on 21 posts. 
  3. Laura from Autumn’s Mummy who commented on 18 posts.

We have just one guilty blogger link dumping this week, Please go back if it is you. Do remember I comment count on Thursday after lunch so get your comments in before then if you want them to be counted and please approve your comments by then if they need moderating so I can see others leaving you the blog love. 

Rockfish kindly sponsor Country Kids 

Win a pair of wellies from Rockfish Monthly

You Could Win with Rockfish Wellies and Country Kids from Coombe Mill 

I am delighted to have Rockfish as the sponsor for Country Kids. Rockfish are a local Cornish company specializing in stylish quality wellingtons for all the family. We have been offering their country wellies in our borrow room here on the farm for over a year and they are always popular for their style, comfort and durability.

Each week my favourite #CountryKids posts, which include my badge or a link back here,  will be considered for a free pair of Rockfish Wellies at the end of the month; the perfect way to enjoy the outdoors whatever the weather throws your way. Keep your posts coming, it could be you winning next!

For more more information on the Rockfish Wellies on offer with us and terms and conditions to win see here. 


Favourite posts from last week added to the shortlist for winning the October Rockfish Wellies:

Top Commenter: Karen from Two Tiny Hands.

Louisa from Inside Out Blog shared Apple Day at Calke Abbey which looks both educational and fun full of seasonal goodness.

Keitha from Keithas Chaos shares a wonderful looking cross country ‘mudstackle’ race with plenty of squelchy mud and foam bubbles to loose yourself in.

Country Kids 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.

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


Join the growing Country Kids Instagram Community with #CountryKidsFun.

I'll like and comment on all and share my favourites from the week with a tag on a Friday on Instagram and Twitter. With over 6650 posts this community is flourishing with outdoors photos.

My favourite photos from the week came from @susiehawes @benttwig121  @i_am_carop and @laurindaisla84. Please do check out these lovely folk on Instagram if you are not already following

#CountryKidsFun featured images for the week are from @susiehawes @benttwig121 @i_am_carop @laurindaisla84 thank you for all the lovely tags this week, please keep them coming. Don't forget if you are a blogger to join me for the #CountryKids link up from midnight over on the Coombe Mill Blog. Have a lovely weekend and share those spooky fun photos for Halloween. #countryside #countrylove #pumpkinpatch #autumn? #happydays #outdoorkids #hayplay #outdoorfun #outdoorsandhappy

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Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall 

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Our Halloween Fun Day has become quite legendary taking place on the last day of half term, regardless of when Halloween falls. It takes a huge amount of preparation and I like to practice a few of the crafts the week leading up to half term with the guests here in activity hour. With a group ranging from age 1 to 12 I knew it would be a good test for what worked and how long each craft would take. Needless to say I had far more planned than we managed but it did all make a lovely Halloween display stand for Half Term and a few extras to take home as keepsakes.   

Creating a Halloween Display for Half Term

Lighting the way

We began by making decorative tea light jars.  The children disappeared off in search of pretty autumn coloured leaves while I applied PVA glue to all the jars and placed a tea light inside.

Collecting autumn leaves

By the time they returned I had a jar ready for everyone and a stack of coloured tissue paper to intersperse with the leaves.


Making nature inspired Halloween lanterns in activity hour this week. We do love a little up-cycling. #countrykidsfun #lanterns #kidscraft #coombemill #Halloweencraft #outdoorsandhappy #learningmadefun #creating #homemade #upcycling #craft #holidayfun #creativekids #naturecraft #funseekingkids #homeed #craftinspirarion

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We finished the lights off with a piece of ribbon and added some to the Halloween display and kept others back for the children to take home.

Halloween printed bunting

My Halloween display was taking shape with a while sheet and some Icicle lighting over a delivery pallet but it looked a bit plain. We used large windfall cooking apples to make Ghost, pumpkin and Bat stencils and printed triangles of sheeting to make festive bunting. I stapled each piece onto string to make the bunting but had a really job keeping up with my enthusiastic printers!

Stencil painting Halloween Bunting

Watch out for the ghosts

The younger children then moved on to making spooky hand print ghosts on black card. It sounds so simple but they really had to think about how they were placing their hands on the card to create the ghost effect. We gave them each a little directional smudge to make them look like they were floating through the night. Adding fingerprint faces really brought them to life…..Oooooh!


Painting Hand Print Ghosts for the Coombe Mill Halloween Display

Giant Pumpkin Painting

We wanted a new game for the fun day and came up with throwing spooky items into the pumpkin. Farmer Nick purchased a giant bag of plastic creepy crawlies on his travels which would work a treat and we set a couple of the older girls to work painting the pumpkin we had drawn on a giant reclaimed piece of card packaging. They did a wonderful job and I’m really excited to try the game now.

Painting a giant pumpkin for the Coombe Mill Halloween Fun Day

Pumpkin Carving

Still in full pumpkin flow the girls designed and carved a real pumpkin for me to take centre stage on our Halloween display.

Painting a giant pumpkin for the Coombe Mill Halloween Fun Day

I hadn’t even started on my toilet roll crafts and monster eyes but we had run out of time, the night was drawing in and storm Brian threatening to take hold! I wasn’t going to be short of crafts for our half term fun day, I just had to cross my fingers with the Cornish weather; more on that one next week.


Putting together our Halloween Display for Half Term

Country Kids

Here at Coombe Mill we love books that respect nature, teach kids about the world we live in with a view to protecting our planet and its inhabitants. Lonely Planet Kids does all of this and more with the most engaging books full of facts, clever illustrations and interactive sections. We are lucky enough to have been sent three exciting new releases to check out here on the farm and a set for you to win. ‘How Animals Build’ and the ‘Dinosaur Atlas’ are for younger children with the animal book for growing kids. All are impressive, weighty books we love and think you will too.


Win a Lonely Planet Kids Book Bundle

How Animals Build

I knew I was going to use this right from the start. The lift the flap and see each animal home, packed with information on everything from insects to owls, is enchanting and informative.


How animals Build Book from Lonely Planet Kids


We used our copy with the children here as part of a wild animal home hunt on the farm with animal crafts too. It was the perfect book for an afternoon of fun and I know I shall be referring to this one again.


Reading Where Animals Build at Coombe Mill Activity Hour

Dinosaur Atlas

For eager young dinosaur lovers, this book has it all. From life sized body parts like teeth and skulls to facts about where and how they lived this is a perfect resource with lift and tell flaps. I can’t wait to get our toy dinosaurs out and make the sandpit into an archaeological dig for the children after reading this book.


Dinosaur atlas from Lonely Planet Books

The Animals Book

This book is for the serious animal lover. Older children can discover all about the life and habitat of animals all over the globe and how we can live along side them and help to protect them too. A handy resource beautifully illustrated and designed to last.


The Animal Book by Lonely Planet Kids

Win your Lonely Planet Kids Animals and dinosaur book bundle worth over £40 with Coombe Mill

If you know someone who would love to receive these three stunning books this Christmas why not enter to win. Simply follow the instructions below. Good luck to all taking part.


Win a Bundle of 3 Lonely Planet Kids books.


If you weren’t the lucky winner you can still benefit from 30% off any Lonely Planet Kids books by signing up to their newsletter 


We were sent our copies of these Lonely Planet Kids Animals and dinosaur books for the purpose of this review. They are a great resource we use for our themed educational farm actives and can be borrowed whilst on holiday here from the Coombe Mill games room. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own.