Posted on January 15th, 2017 - Fiona
Welcome to the first in a series of posts I have coming out on Greece. Farmer Nick is half Greek, which explains our crazy surname (Cambouropoulos), and he has been retracing his roots to near Athens. I’ll be sharing our journey with some lovely sunny photos to brighten up the winter months. Right now is peak summer booking time, I hope you’ll enjoy our adventure. If flying abroad isn’t for you, then why not join us in Cornwall, I think we will be staying here this year and enjoying some family day trips out from Coombe Mill.
Athens: A treat for our boys
It was 2.5 years ago now when Alistair, our eldest, finished his GCSE’s. We rewarded his effort by taking him and his choice of friend away to our favourite Honeymoon hotel in Devon, he chose to take his brother Felix and we all had a wonderful 2 nights away. Roll on 2 years and we had them both finishing A levels and GCSE’s. Upping the stakes somewhat we agreed it would be wonderful to go Athens and visit some of Nick’s relatives the boys had never met and make a little holiday of it. We booked 3 nights in Athens followed by 4 nights in the Peloponnese making the most of Nick’s Mum for her knowledge and connections there and her command of the Greek language. This was almost a year ago back in February 2016 and excitement was riding high as the exams finished and the holiday arrived.
Kifisia on the Outskirts of Athens
I have to confess I was rather worried about the economic situation in Greece and the impact on Athens with their desperate government debt, terrible unemployment (60% for under 25s) and refugee crises from Syria. We had treated ourselves to a lovely hotel in Kifisia with air conditioning and a pool that Nick’s Mum had stayed at many times before. It proved a great base at the end of the underground line allowing us to easily travel into the city centre but perfect to relax in the leafy suburbs at the end of the day.
Kifisia is a well to do area of Athens, rather like the Fulham of London. Here we encountered many boutique shops, bars and restaurants with a very continental and cosmopolitan feel and some huge houses with high walls and beautiful flowered gardens. I felt quite safe walking the streets during the day or night, though I always had Nick or one of the boys with me, largely because I have a hopeless sense of direction and found myself clueless on direction on more than one occasion! It felt much more prosperous than I had feared and the dust and dirt I remember from the Athens of 20 years ago was pleasantly absent.
For our days out it was about a 15 minute stroll to the underground station from our hotel followed by a 40 minute tube journey into central Athens. This cost just a couple of Euros for us all, was impressively clean, spacious, new and most importantly air conditioned! We made just one line change to take us right to the base of the Acropolis. There are only two lines so it is very easy after London. One terminates at Piraeus port and the other at the city beaches.
We spent both days in the centre covering the acropolis museum and the acropolis, meeting up with family and soaking up the buzz of the city. I have a separate post to follow on the Acropolis of Athens as this deserves more than a passing comment.
The Greeks are famous for their warm welcome and sense of family and belonging. Whether visiting relatives a couple of miles further out in Narathriar, where Nick’s Grandma once lived, or old friends and family in the city centre we were made to feel so welcome by all and treated to more food than we could eat. I had to say to the boys after a while to stop finishing everything on their plate as they would at home as it was taken as a sign they were still hungry and more plates being ordered. The city trip was completed for the boys when their cousins, who they had never met before the holiday, took them out clubbing on our last night. It is certainly a holiday they won’t forget and not everyone gets to go to a night club in Athens before they do in the UK! Safe to say after rolling in at 4am we had very tired boys on our drive south to the Peloponnese for the next leg of our holiday.
Tips for visiting Athens
- We stayed in the Theoxania Palace at Kafisia. The hotel was perfect and a little bit of luxury. It is expensive but if you just book bed and breakfast and eat out in the local restaurants it is not so bad.
- Having a pool was a real bonus after a few hour of sightseeing in the city.
- We booked directly with the hotel by calling over the phone to secure the best price, but if you go online www.booking.com is the most common site used across Greece. English is widely spoken as a second language so calling to book directly is easy.
- Reaching the centre of Athens by foot and tube takes an hour, but it is clean, cheap and air conditioned.
- The local restaurants are reasonably priced and good and start from within a short stroll of the hotel.
- We found Athens to feel safe and encountered no problems, however we met with others staying in a cheaper central region who had witnessed some scary night time scenes involving drugs and alcohol.
- If we can afford it I would love to return when our younger children reach the same age and would choose the same hotel again.
- This is not a trip I would recommend with young children in summer as it is very hot in the city: typically 34 degrees when we were there in early July.
Posted on January 14th, 2017 - Fiona
So my Instagram feed was filled with puffy powdery snow photos while I looked out at dark clouds and rain. There had been a glimmer of hope. We had a weather warning for snow since the start of the week and I truly believed this was the year the children’s sledge, a Christmas present 6 years ago, might finally find its first use. Alas as Thursday afternoon approached our hopes were dashed, the weather warning was withdrawn and instead of snow it looked more like we might face floods! It bucketed down all day; stupidly I went for a run through it all and came back with even my trainers needing to go in the wash. I didn’t mind though as I can’t stay indoors all day even when it is vile outside.
The greatest relief was that we only had one family we know well staying. Any more and the farm might have been churned to soup. We were so lucky all through the Christmas holidays with some glorious winter weather; if we have to have some grotty days too this is a good month to get it out of the way. Still my disappointment at missing out on the snow was such that I’m sharing a frosty photo instead, it is as close as I’m going to get to snow again this year I fear.
The weather warning may have been wrong, but I can’t resist a photo even on a drizzly run. The street light poking out as the light faded whilst I was running though the village felt strangely warming.
And yes we did see the sun too, which always shows the farm off to its best, and entices the animals out to play. These cuties were sharing their last tuft of grass reminding me of the old Rolo advert!
Did you have a weather warning for snow?
Were you let down by the snow forecast like us or did you have beautiful drifts to play in? Worse was news of the real flood rick along the east coast. I hope where ever you are you and your families are safe.
Posted on January 13th, 2017 - Fiona
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.
A bleak January week when outdoor time becomes ever more important.
Lets face it, mid January isn’t the most exciting time for outdoor fun, however our bodies and more importantly our kids bodies still need some fresh air and to run off some energy. It releases happy hormones and makes the January blues fade – I promise! I was hoping for some snow fun but that has eluded us as usual, however the kids have still got filthy in rugby matches, jumped on the trampoline and helped around the farm. Whether you have Christmas holiday posts to share or managed a few hours out this week, I hope you will join me on the link up below.
Guidelines for Joining in:
- Post must be predominantly outdoors such as in the garden, the park, the woods or the beach with crafting, learning, exploring or playing.
- Despite the title, both countryside and urban outdoor adventures are welcome.
- Unheated covered areas like a barn or tent count as outdoors.
- Please comment on my host post and a minimum of 3 others of your choice.
- If you use #CountryKids when commenting the post owner will know where your found them and hopefully come back to visit your post.
- Please take my badge, without it you won’t be considered for winning the lovely Rockfish Wellies.
- Linked posts should be written and made live within the last 2 months.
- I understand sometimes you need to do catch up posts and write about something from a couple of months ago but the publish date should be within 2 months.
- By joining in with Country Kids you’re giving me permission to email you weekly as a reminder.
- There is no restriction on the number of posts that can be linked up, however please be sensible, if you have more than 3 consider linking over a few weeks.
My top commenters from 7th January:
1st Karen from Two Tiny Hands with 25 comments
2nd Rachel from Coffee, Cake, Kids with 22 comments
3rd Louise from Little Hearts, Big Love with 20 comments
We have 3 guilty bloggers linking up again and not commenting on any posts (as of Thursday pm when counted). Come on you know who you are please go back to be fair to others.
Rockfish kindly sponsor Country Kids
Win a pair of wellies from Rockfish Monthly
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 January Rockfish Wellies:
Top Commenter : Karen from Two Tiny Hands
Keitha’s Chaos wrote about their annual trip to visit family in Canada which was filled with snow, friendly birds and wonderful memories.
Two Tiny Hands joined us here on the farm for the Christmas break, I really enjoyed reliving our Christmas experience from Karen’s perspective.
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 1000 posts this community is flourishing with outdoors photos.
My favourite photos from the week came from @jos_pictures @sophiedowler @lateforrealityblog @mrs.chellebelle Please do check out these lovely folk on Instagram if you are not already following.
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Posted on January 13th, 2017 - Fiona
Last week I promised to share the second part of Christmas Eve here at Coombe Mill. It feels a little odd in January to be reliving Christmas but I was so busy making events happen and enjoying the moment writing about it has been put back till now. The Santa Express has become a feature of Christmas Eve on the farm and something those returning to us for a second or third Christmas were really looking forward to. I know I had a lot to live up to after last year but I had an Ace up my sleeve.
The Santa Express with Poppy the Steam Engine
Poppy the steam train made a guest appearance. Watching Poppy be fired up was great fun for the children out the front of the tunnel while Father Christmas snuck into the back entrance!
I was a little worried some of our youngest guests may have been scared by the steam engine so we elected to keep Guy with a carriage on our electric Train with Poppy’s owner in charge of the other. They took it is in turn to draw up at the station, take the children round the line and into Santa’s Grotto.
Once inside some friendly elves were on hand to dish out Santa’s presents before the Santa Express chuffed onward returning to the station for its next passengers.
My biggest thanks to Amber’s family for the loan of Poppy and of course to Father Christmas for stopping by on such a busy evening!
A Christingle Service for Children
We didn’t have long after the excitement of the Santa Express before strapping into cars for a Christingle Convoy to the local village. It is a lovely service aimed at the children which finishes up in the street with guess who….. Father Christmas, who had miraculously hot footed it from our Santa Express to be ready and waiting outside Church to greet the children with more presents. A glass of warm mulled wine was on hand for the adults.
A Christmas Eve Party
Meanwhile back at Coombe Mill I had left Farmer Nick and my eldest heating food and popping corks in the games room ready for the Coombe Mill Party to begin on our return. It was the perfect way to round off a very busy day before little ones headed for home ready to put out the Santa and Reindeer treats we made earlier in the day.
I don’t think I left anyone with enough energy to keep their eyes open for long on Christmas Eve, myself included!
If you fancy joining us this Christmas, we are now taking bookings and running the popular 10 nights for the price of 7 again ( 17th to the 27th December).
Posted on January 9th, 2017 - Fiona
Here at Coombe Mill we a little fairy mad. Our extensive fairy gardens are full of trinkets, magic and wonder and provide a holiday fairyland of make believe that has visitors captivated. Things have a life of their own through the fairy door. Each day items move as if by magic, new fairy houses appear from twigs and nature while gnomes and mystical creatures find themselves discarded at the end of play; or was it the work of the fairies?
Stepping through the fairy door into our gardens is a great way to develop imaginative play, meeting others makes it a social space too and in no time team work is developing and creating a mystical adventure in there. I am always on the lookout for new things to add to the gardens and many of these come from things we make at activity hour here on the farm. We have even decorated our own fairy door tree.
I was only too pleased to further our farm crafts by trying out the’ paint your own fairy door’ from The Irish Fairy Door Company via Prezzybox. The fairy door comes beautifully packed and complete with all the crafting materials you need from stepping stones to paints and trinkets. However that’s not all, there is also a cute Fairy Lease Agreement, welcome guide packed with creative tips and even a little key to the door.
Take your time designing and decorating your door then decide where it should go. Perhaps it will be in a bedroom or playroom, may be fairies scamper along the hall in your house or even live in the garden as at Coombe Mill?
The fairies living with you may like to move house and chose a different location for their home each day? The possibilities are only limited by your child’s imagination.
We love the way this craft set inspires imagination and makes fairy craft a serious business. You can even register your resident fairy online and receive exclusive stories and ideas from fairy valley.
If you buy from Prezzybox before 31st of January you’ll benefit from their special 50% off rate of just £12.49 which we feel is excellent value.
Win your Paint your own Fairy door from Coombe Mill & Prezzybox
If you like the sound of bringing a little fairy to live behind your door, why not enter to win. Simply follow the instructions below.
Good luck to all taking part.
Paint Your Own Fairy Door
I was sent my paint your own Fairy Door for the purpose of this review, however all thoughts and opinions are my own.