Family farm holidays in Cornwall magical for children, toddlers and babies.
Coombe Mill Blog
"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.
I had a real mixed age range for half term on the farm and wanted to come up with a craft that would appeal to them all, especially the 9 and 10 year old boys who I suspected wouldn’t join in if the activity wasn’t spot on. I’ve not run a session of bow and arrow making in years, however I had inkling it would be right up these boys street from youngest to oldest. I was right, despite being the nicest day of the week I had quite a gathering return from the beach in time to join in.
I had enlisted the help of Guy who, reliving his own childhood had made a template for us to follow. He and his brothers then proceeded to fire it around the garden and I was worried it wouldn’t survive till activity hour! Turns out it was well made and only a lost bow into the trees needed recreating.
Sticks from the Fairy garden
Guy had been pruning some trees for Farmer Nick and saved the best bow style twigs to scatter in the fairy Gardens for the children to find. They also each chose a length of bamboo for a lightweight arrow.
Back at the craft tables Guy whittles notches in the end of the bows and arrows. He also explains a little knife safety.
Making a Bow and Arrow
Now we were ready to turn twigs into bows and arrows. We used strong string in the groves cut by Guy to create the bow. A length about 20 cm over the length of the stick is ideal for tying and tensioning. A slight bend in the stick will occur, just like a real bow.
Bow and arrow decoration
We used a mix of colourful floristry ribbon and wool to decorate our bow and arrows. Some of the boys just wanted to go straight into play, but when I reminded them we needed to identify whose arrow went furthest they relented and began to choose their colours and materials. By the end even the most reluctant was embellishing their design with a wrap around hand grip.
Making a Target board
To make things more fun I laid a white sheet down on the slope of a hill and the children helped me paint around a dustbin lid to make a target. This is perfect for giving them a direction to fire in and something safe to aim for.
Target practice fun
Needless to say they had a great time firing at their DIY target. To make things fair the younger children were helped by parents and stood closer. The older ones relished the challenge of standing further and further back.
Tips if you try this at home
Tension good quality the string well.
Use a stick with a slight bend for the bow but not too flexible or it may snap.
Keep the stick to a maximum of ground to chin height, otherwise it may become unwieldy to use.
Arrow needs to be long enough to pull back without going beyond the string.
Ensure arrow is straight to control direction.
Having a target keeps a focal point to the firing.
Make sure children are supervised with using the knife.
Why not make a nature crown or headdress to go with your bow and arrow.
Travelling with kids can be tiresome unless you are well prepared. No parent wants to hear, “Are we nearly there yet” or “I’m bored” when you’ve hardly left the house. Technology can be a huge help with DVD players and tablets, however as a great alternative Lonely Planet Kids have come up with “Games on the Go”. These comprise of a compact boxed set of 40 reusable wipe clean cards and an erasable pen. The whole lot is smaller than a tablet or portable DVD and perfect to pop in your handbag ready for those moments where you need to entertain those in the back seats.
To find out more about these great value wipe clean card games and for a chance to win yourself a set read on.
What are Games on the Go?
Each of the 40 wipe clean reusable cards contains a drawing exercise, brainteaser or puzzle. They are perfect to keep young minds working and keep them busy on just about any form of travel. Whether you are in the car, aeroplane or train, they are easy to bring out and use. The cards are designed for a mix of ages so you may need to shuffle through to find the ones most suitable for your child. From counting to creating, word search to country identification, there is enough variety and complexity to span the age groups.
What we love
Something for all ages
Easy to use
Develops creativity and logical thinking
Answer card included separate to question cards.
Can be used anywhere
Video demonstration using Games To Go
Need to know
Age 5 upwards
Contents: Box with 40 wipe clean cards, 1 erasable pen
Paper from responsible sources and certified by Forest Stewardship Council
We were given a set of the Game to Go for the purpose of this review however all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. The Coombe Mill set can be borrowed from the games room for travelling on fun days out in Cornwall.
So we are in the height of summer and loving it here on the farm. Some of the rain in early June followed by the heatwave at the end has brought out the best in the hedgerows and flower boarders. The farm, lakes and gardens are all looking lush.
We’d love you to take a minute and check out what we’ve been up to in June, opportunities for your next holiday here and things out and about to inspire you with our Cornish events July 2019 family guide.
Short Breaks from 31st August.
We have opened up the end of August into September for short breaks. I know many of you are tied to school holidays and find the mix of higher summer pricing and difficulty of taking a full week away from work a problem. A short break from 31st August could be the answer. From just over £500 you can enjoy a short break and recharge the batteries as a family ahead of the new school term.
The Royal Cornwall Show
This is always a highlight in the farming calendar. Not a week to try and reach anywhere the other side of Wadebridge as a holiday maker, but a great day out if you enjoy county shows. It is chance for Nick and I to be inspired by new ideas and we enjoyed a lovely day out there.
Foot Bridge over the Camel under repair.
Farmer Nick spotted the wood starting to rot on our foot bridge and quickly declared it out of bounds. Instead of doing the easy option of just replacing the wood, he deployed a more complicated but superior system of replacing the wood with non slip plastic decking similar to that used successfully on Heligan’s deck last year. With the help of our eldest two sons they had it all completed in a week. Not only does it look smart, but the non slip surface is much better than the old system of wood with wire mesh over the top.
We have been making bow and arrows and having fun hitting homemade targets in half term. It is always a popular activity although it does get quite competitive! If you are joining us in July I’m looking at mindfulness and the kindness trail and nature photo frames.
On the Farm June 2019
Friendly the deer gave birth to a gorgeous little fawn to set things rolling. The little one was up and running with Mum within a week delighting all who spotted her. We now know there is at least another two and are hoping there are more we haven’t yet discovered.
Turkeys on the Move
After the disaster of losing both of our Turkey chicks last month the Turkeys have begun to lay again, however it seemed the crows were the beneficiary of their efforts. Farmer Nick and the guests moved them from Jurassic Park into the old aviaries where they have plenty of space, a wilderness to chomp through and a totally enclosed home open to the elements but not the crows! Fingers crossed for good news to follow.
With the stop start rain in early to mid June, keeping the sheep dry ahead of shearing was quite challenging. We managed it with a quick team effort to lead the flock indoors ahead of another downpour. Thankfully they only had to spend one night indoors before our shearer was on hand to relieve them of their winter coats. Timing crossed perfectly with the morning feed run giving a wonderful chance for the children to stop on their rounds and watch an expert at work.
If you are feeling inspired to visit us in July, here are a few of the local activities you might want to plan your visit around.
Cornish Events July 2019 local to Coombe Mill
Cornish Events July 2019
Find out more
Distance from Coombe Mill
Classic car show with family entertainment, food stalls, bouncy castle etc
For anyone who has a desire to be at one with nature, to embrace their wild side and free their inner spirit, The Lost book of Adventure is a must have. Packed with nearly 200 illustrated pictures, this book is the ultimate survival guide for living on the wild side as far as you dare. It is written from experience and will appeal from children to adults. A lifetimes work uncovered and painstakingly re created as the bible for the adventurous. It has been heralded as “A love letter to the Wild” by The Bookseller and “Fact book of the month” by National Geographic Kids. No wonder Quarto Kids publishing are keen to share this Gem.
If you have an adventurous child in your family who enjoys campfires and den building, this is the perfect book to inspire their wild side. Read on to discover more and for your chance to win a copy.
More about the extraordinary Lost Book of Adventure
The origins of this book are quite extraordinary. I am always keen to see who the author is on a book, this one simply states “from the notebooks of the Unknown Adventurer” which had me curious. It turns out the contents of the book originate from a chest discovered in the Amazon by Teddy Keen. Notes, journals and sketchbooks have been carefully pieced together by Teddy on behalf of the unknown author to create this comprehensive resource.
The book is packed with highly illustrative tips on every aspect of outdoor survival. Whether you are wild camping, raft building, exploring off the beaten track or simply making a fire pit in the garden there is guidance here to help you. It is well laid out as a reference book for the activities you want to research and one to return to time and time again. It takes the reader right from basics like what type of knife to carry and how to hold and use it safely, to how to build a wild camp.
What we love
Sheer scale of topics covered
Written from experience
Inspires children to embrace adventure
Helpful safety tips for wild explorers
Beautiful illustrations on every page
Easy to take inspiration and apply to your own adventure
Taking inspiration from The lost Book of Adventure
It was flicking through my copy of the Lost Book of Adventure that prompted my Den building and Campfire Activity Hour session here on the farm. It was easily one of the most enjoyed sessions here and showed me just how much kids love the chance to embrace their wild side.
Need to Know
Hardback, 192 Pages, Size: 8.268 in x 10.63 in / 210 mm x 270 mm
I have posted many a times about fun family beach days; however as the childhood years slip away, the excitement of a beach trip with mum wanes. That’s OK; it is a natural part of growing up. I have two, soon to be three kids independent and driving, can I even call them kids now? Behind them are three, full of attitude, fifteen year old’s. Expecting them all to say “yes please Mum” when I suggest going to the beach is a big ask and I respect this. That said if just one teen fancies joining me then I’m thrilled. I’ve learnt to take this as a positive and not to dwell on the ones who, for whatever reason, would rather do something else without me.
When I was faced with three of my kids and one girlfriend joining me on a sunny Sunday afternoon I thought I’d just won Mum of the year!
The beach brings out the child in us all
We rocked up in a mix of the eldest’s car and my soft top. The sun was shining, spirits were high and spotting the advance party the kids all bonded over a game of beach rugby.
Ice cream treats
They were soon hot and bothered and asking if I’d brought a drink. It was a spontaneous thing and I hadn’t brought anything so I treated them to money to spend at the ice cream van. This was something I never allowed when they were young. With 6 children to pay for I always brought a picnic and the highlight was stopping for a multipack of ice creams at Tesco on the way home. In fact we fondly reminisced about the excitement this brought.
Water sports you never grow out of
Revived the kids headed for the sea, one in my wetsuit having refused to bring his own claiming he wouldn’t go in the water anyway!
While the kids swam I sunbathed in the sheltered rocks and enjoyed a spot of people watching. Usually I’d be in the water with them, but I had just given my wetsuit away and in any case I was rather enjoying just sitting in the sun and watching them, something I never do.
Two cars gave us flexibility on the way back, most headed off with the eldest, but Jed accompanied me on a coastal hike round to the headland. It is such a pretty stretch of coastpath. The chance for some one on one time is a big bonus.
Everyone enjoyed the few hours off and we rounded the day off with a garden BBQ with the rest of the family. I am thrilled that teen time out with Mum still has its place.
Tips for coaxing teens to join in a beach trip.
Have siblings, friends or partners too
Give them independence, not everything has to be together when you are there. We often travel in 2 cars for added flexibility.
Don’t expect them to be too grown up, mine still arrive and complain they are thirsty or hungry expecting me to have packed something
Do treat them, nothing big, just a sign you are pleased they came along. An ice cream on the beach was all it took with mine.
Don’t expect to be introduced to friends they see there. Mine only told me afterwards about others from school they saw and teachers, and that’s fine. I know my place as an embarrassing parent!
Remind them about sun cream and hats but don’t nag them, eventually they will learn the hard way.
Do have a laugh and a joke with them. This is usually this is at my expense, but I don’t mind that at all. This time I had my shorts borrowed, my wetsuit borrowed and my changing robe borrowed. I had just my bikini left to call my own to great amusement by them all!
Do keep it casual and don’t appear to watch over them, which of course you will do, after all you will always be Mum however old they get!
Try an evening beach trip with a campfire and swim as an alternative. We love to do this on warm summer evenings.
Appreciate the time together and tell them so after.
If you don’t have a local beach, there are plenty of other casual family days out that you may have loved when the kids were younger which would actually work well with a little adjustment as they get older. Woodland walks and Wetland centers spring to mind but I’m sure there are lots more places too.
“Tales from the farmers wife” shares life on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Emma and our children. Step into our beautiful 30 acres and experience nature close up with farming and educational crafts in stunning North Cornwall. Family, fun and adventure start here.