The Bear, the Piano, the Dog and the Fiddle

Posted on September 17th, 2018 -

You have to love a good story with a real moral behind it. Lincoln Children’s Books, part of the quarto Group, have brought a real tear jerker to market with the Bear, the Piano, the dog and the Fiddle. Written by David Litchfield, this book is a follow up to his award winning book, the Bear and the Piano. If ever there was a case for true friendship lasting the test of time then this story is it. A dear story, a fun plot and a real test of friendship that children and parents will adore.  Read on to discover more and for your chance to win a copy.

The Bear, the Piano, the Dog and the Fiddle

Story Overview

Friendship is put to the test when the old fiddle player feels his moment to make it big time in music has passed him by in favour of a rather famous bear. However his little dog has a trick up his sleeve. The Fiddler is astounded at his little dog but also feels a pang of jealousy and doesn’t always do or say the right thing. However they are best of friends, and in the end friends look out for each other, even if years have passed in between.

Pages from The Bear, the Piano, the Dog and the Fiddle

What we thought.

We loved the storytelling with the special bond between the Fiddler and his dog. The story is backed with beautiful and numerous illustrations throughout to lead you through each scene and is the perfect length for a bedtime story with a happy ending and a morale tale.

Need to Know

Format Hardback, 40 Pages
Size:8.661 in x 11.811 in / 220 mm x 300 mm
PublishedSeptember 6, 2018 by Quarto Knows
Retail price£11.99
StockistsQuarto Online, Amazon, Wordery, Waterstones


Win your copy of The Bear, the Piano, the Dog and the Fiddle

For your chance to win this heart warming tale, simply follow the instructions below. Good luck to all taking part

The Bear, the Piano, the Dog and the Fiddle Book Giveaway


We were sent our copy of the book for the purpose of this review. Out copy can be found in the Coombe Mill games room library for our holiday guests to borrow. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.

Creating Illusion and exploring perspective at the beach

Posted on September 15th, 2018 -

I can’t resist a little beach art when I have time on my hands at our local beach.  Simply stacking rocks and pebbles creates a fun photo and is a great balancing act. Initially I planned to just photograph the rock stack, before it became a shooting target for the kids. However an idea came to me as Jed was hovering in the distance. He is often the one who ends up photo bombing my pictures but this time he gave me a great idea. Perspective was something he had struggled with as a child and I really wish I’d thought to do this with him then. However this was my chance to demonstrate that mystifying concept of perspective again and create a clever illusion at the same time.  

It’s just an illusion

I explained what I was trying to achieve. He began by just reaching out with an arm. I showed him on playback and he chuckled at the illusion of him adding the last rock to the stack. Tickled by the effect he was game for trying a little more. We opted for climbing the stack. While the end result isn’t perfect, it gives the idea.

Jed adding the final touches to my Rock Stack

Jed finishing rock sculpture

The rock stack photo I originally planned

Creating Illusion and exploring perspective at the beach

Creating illusion and exploring perspective as Jed threatened to photo bomb my rock stack photo. 

Illusion of Jed climbing rock sculpture

This little bit of fun photography has inspired me to experiment further in the future with perspective and illusion. I have wound perspective into our activity hour sessions with the children staying here in the past and separately tried rock stacking in the river. I think I will revisit both again next year with a little photo illusion fun added too.

Have you ever tried creating illusion and exploring perspective with photography?   

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Creative Nature Boards in Stick Frames

Posted on September 14th, 2018 -

I had one of those sun and showers afternoons where everyone was on site and looking for something to entertain the children. Suddenly sign up for my Activity Hour soared, but I had predicted this and was ready with a great activity that would work from little ones to teens. Creative nature boards in stick frames gave enough scope for everyone to make them as detailed and bespoke as they chose. The idea was to collect the things that reminded them of the nature around them at Coombe Mill, strung together in DIY frames decorated in their own personal styles and colours.


Creative Nature Boards in Stick Frames


As we all gathered and I explained what we would be making the heavens opened. Undeterred we headed out in search of sticks to form our frames. The Fairy  Gardens was a popular hunting ground as the canopy of trees kept us sheltered from the rain and there were plenty of fallen branches ideal for what we needed.


collecting sticks in the fairy garden

Stick Picture Frames

Back under the veranda of the games room we began to form frames from our sticks overlapped in a criss-cross design and tied up with wool. The older ones could do these themselves while the little ones needed help.

stick frames for nature pictures


If help was needed forming the frames, it certainly didn’t extend to decorating them. From the very youngest there was a clear direction on colours and patterns for decorating the frames. It was a great way for everyone to add their own individuality to their frames.


Decorating stick picture frames

Nature Boards

The nature boards were cut from cereal boxes, with a whole punch on each side through which wool was thread and tied to the stick frames.


Creating Nature boards in frames


Finally there was a break in the rain and everyone dashed off in search of colourful memories of Coombe Mill to decorate their boards.


Collecting nature from the farm


We used double sided tape for the children to fix their nature into position and felt tip pens for any writing.


Nature Pictures in Nature Frames


I was thrilled with the results from all the children. It was a lovely use of a showery afternoon on the farm with some great keepsakes to take home.  


Recreate a Nature Board in Stick Frame at Home

This would be a lovely activity to recreate from a day out in the countryside at any time of year.

What you’ll Need

Nature collected from a walk

4 Sticks

String, tape and hole punch

Cardboard (we used cut up cereal boxes)

Colourful ribbon (optional)

Educational Benefits




The opportunity to discover nature in any one season

Suitable ForAge 4 – 10



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Piglets for September on the farm

Posted on September 8th, 2018 -

We are thrilled that after months of waiting, Sally our sow has finally had her piglets. For the past 3 weeks I have been telling our holiday makers that theirs will be the week it all happens. An eager group have peered into the pig pen each day in anticipation, only to go home having missed them. I was rather hoping they might be born before the end of the summer holidays when we were at our busiest, however nature had the last say and they arrived the morning of back to school. Not ideal timing as we grappled with 2 school runs and farm checks all ahead of the 9am tractor ride with the guests. However there is nothing quite like the prospect of piglets to make me jump out of bed and grab my camera at silly o’clock.

Giving birth alfresco

I was convinced on Tuesday afternoon that Sally was in fact in labour; however we have had so many false starts I didn’t want to get my hopes up. It has been a glorious warm September day and Sally was out in her garden, trampling down a good nest and panting away in the middle of it all.


Lapping up the September sun in early labour.

Sally the Pig in Labour

The night was clear and cold and as I woke to look at the starts shining in the early hours I wondered if Sally was still outside. By morning the answer was clear, she had indeed spent the night under the stars and given birth to 7 bouncing baby piglets that were now all squeaking and snuffling trying to bag themselves a nipple. I didn’t have long to stop and watch as the school runs were calling.


We have been returning to check up on Sally and her brood all week and I’m delighted to say they are growing before our eyes and looking healthy and well protected.


Sally allows us a little piglet cuddle while she eats her breakfast. 

Piglet cuddles


Piglets bring smiles all round.

Piglets on show


Piglets are curious by nature and off to explore whenever Mum isn’t watching! 

Piglets born 6th September 2018


If you fancy an autumn break we now have space and flexible dates. We’d love to see you here enjoying the farm and meeting Sally and her piglets.

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Evening Fun at the Secret Beach

Posted on September 7th, 2018 -

Our closest beach is just 15 minutes from Coombe Mill by car. It is one of my favourite beaches yet we hardly ever visit. The main reason is it is tidal and only accessible for a couple of hours either side of low tide. It is also a 10 minute hike down a steep cliff path once you park so no use at all with surf gear and too much kit. That said if you pack light, wear trainers and judge the tide right you are in for a treat. Our last visit to the secret beach was back in the drizzle of winter and we promised ourselves a return visit in the sun. One glorious summer’s evening we kept that promise.

A Stunning approach

The scenery is nothing short of spectacular as you approach. I can never resist a few photos as we head down the rocky steps.

Tregardock Beach from the cliffs

A dip in the sea

The walk and cliff top scramble means we don’t bother with wetsuits. This usually means I don’t go in, however with the amazing summer we have had the sea was beautiful and even I swam, without being cold, at 8pm!

Evening sea swimming at Tregardock

A sandy beach perfect for sport

The perfect way to warm up after a dip in the sea is to take advantage of the sandy beach space playing football and outdoing each other on acrobatics. Even I managed a few cartwheels and then regretted it as my hips grumbled!

Evening Fun at the Secret Beach

Wine for the Mums

My friend who came with us had packed a bottle of wine, Felix agreed to drive home and so we found ourselves watching the sunset and over a glass or two while the teens explored in and out of the caves.

wine at the beach


A driftwood campfire

We were all chilling down as the sun sank low and built ourselves a great campfire with the matches and firelighters I’d packed and driftwood from the beach.

Beach campfire

We picked mussels straight from the rocks and cooked them on a makeshift hot stone oven we created on the campfire. Naturally seasoned by the salt of the sea they were totally delicious.

Cooking beach mussels on a campfire

Marshmallows on sticks were the sweet treat to end.

Evening Fun at the Secret Beach toasting marshmallows

Beaten by the tide

3 hours raced by in a flash, it was only the tide lapping at our feet and the darkness falling after the sun had set that finally prompted us to leave our toasty fire to the waves and head back up the steep cliff path to the car.

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It was such a wonderful and spontaneous evening. We have managed a couple of visits since to the secret beach, taking advantage of the warm sea temperature before winter sets in.  

So where is the Secret Beach. 

It is a little cove just a mile around the coast path from Trebarwith Strand towards Polzeath called Tregardock.  It is only signed when you are already there and on foot towards the beach, hence the secret bit. The lack of facilities and difficult access make it unsuitable for under 5’s and anyone not safe on their feet, however for an able bodied person it is a beach worth discovering.    

Pin for Later

Evening Fun at the Secret Beach with football

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