Dinoscape crafted from nature, a log and a dinosaur

Posted on October 19th, 2018 -

I have really been enjoying using nature with the children staying here this autumn. There are so many windfalls hitting the farm giving countless possibilities for learning made fun in our outdoor classroom. With a very young team signed up to join me I knew I had to make things fun and easy this week. Two year olds are very discerning and will vote with their feet if the learning goes over their heads. I remembered how popular dinosaur world creation was last winter but was concerned it would be too fiddly for this group. A little adaption based on my pile of leaves craft and I had a simple dinoscape ready to impress with a dinosaur hunt to finish it off.


Dinoscape crafted from nature, a log and a dinosaur

Atlas of dinosaur adventures

We began with a little look at the lovely ‘Atlas of Dinosaur Adventures‘ book from Quarto Kids. It is huge with beautiful visuals for each continent. We focused on the Europe page which perfectly depicts all the children could see around them at Coombe Mill from trees and nature to rivers and rocks. Meandering through the landscape were the dinosaurs. Two of the boys were wearing a dinosaur top which was a great start. We talked about the landscape and how it must have looked rather like Coombe Mill back when the dinosaurs were alive.

Atlas of Dinosaur Adventures

Collecting Nature for a dinoscape

I didn’t want to keep the children sat still for too long so we headed straight on out in search of fallen leaves, acorns, petals and more to create their own dinoscapes. When the tubs were filled we ventured into the log store to choose a log each as the base to their dinosaur landscape.

collecting nature to make dinoscapes

Creating a dinoscape

Back at my craft table the children began to spread my flower and water paste on to their log and arrange all their collected nature on top. The dinoscapes came together perfectly as the paste is very forgiving allowing the children to pull things off and re-paste until they were happy.


Making dinoscapes

Dinosaur hunt

They were so engrossed in creating their dinosaur landscape they almost forgot it needed a dinosaur on it. They all knew dinosaurs were extinct do I explained we would have to go digging for a buried dinosaur. After a couple of clues they raced off to the sand diggers in the sand pit and began to dig. Oh the excitement as a dinosaur came to life!


Sand diggers

A little free play

The temptation to stay and play was too much, and we had no real time limit so we were all happy to let them run around and chase up and down the slide for a few minutes to wear themselves out.

slide and play fort

Dinosaurs complete the dinoscape

Finally we reminded them of their dinosaurs and the dinoscapes waiting for them. They ran back to the craft table with dinosaurs in hand and with a little more paste fixed them into their chosen place.

I was so pleased; the activity suited these little ones perfectly with just the right amount of learning and fun.

Recreate a Dinoscape at home

This would be such a simple activity to recreate from a walk in the woods or the park.

What you’ll Need

Nature collected from a walk

A small toy dinosaur to hide (ours came in a pack of 6 for £1.99)

A small log

Flower mixed with water to form a stiff paste.

Educational Benefits




The opportunity to explore animal diets and habitats

Suitable ForAge 2 – 4

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Confidence comes from trying new things.

Posted on October 12th, 2018 -

It was the first day out on the farm for this young lad. He had the feed run to himself as our other guests had made an early get away for a day out in Cornwall in the sunshine. Everything was new and it showed in his 2 year old face, his emotions and reactions to the farm. That said Farmer Nick is very used to this and took the morning duties at this little man’s pace.  You can see fear, wonder and then a growing confidence just in one morning.

Tailored to you

It is easy for us to forget how much there is to learn on a first day, from how to handle the eggs, to which animals are safe to feed from your hand. However the feed run is tailored to the visitors we have. In the school holidays the children and animals are highly interactive and for the safety of everyone we have to hold back the over brave. On mornings like this everything is much more gentle. Animal feeding is largely through the fence and very carefully supervised.  This way confidence grows and with it the quest to do more. There is something for every child to take away from a farm holiday.

Looking unsure entering the farm

Unsure face first morning on the farm

Finding a real chicken egg with a feather still on it

Finding an egg

Oops, discovering what happens to eggs dropped into the bucket! 

Child dropping egg into straw bucket

Excitement over the goats

Growing confidence with farm animals

Feeling confident to feed the goats through the fence

Confident with the goats


Give your kids farm confidence with us

With the beautiful autumn scenery, quieter feed runs with younger children, autumn is a lovely time to visit us. Check out our availability if you are temped for a family break. We are open all year and the animals love to see the children over the quieter months, I promise they will grow in confidence with just a few days here.  

Any Sharp Pro Knife Sharpener

Posted on October 8th, 2018 -

Owning a holiday business with self catering cottages and lodges, the kitchens need to be well equipped. There are two common issues we experience, one is bowls being broken and the other is knives going blunt. Every year we go round sharpening all the knives in all our properties and leaving a sharpener in the draw for use in between. When the chance came to review a new knife sharpener claiming to be “the world’s best” I was curious. Read on to find out what we thought about the Any Sharp Pro knife sharpener and how to win one yourself.


Any Sharp Pro Knife Sharpener

Any Sharp Pro – How it works

Any Sharp is a nifty little gadget that looks like it couldn’t possibly be up to the job; however there is some truth in the saying “good things come in small packages”. The suction pad sticks to a clean surface therefore leaving your hands free to safely sharpen. A 20 degree sharpening angle is designed especially to ensure just a few strong strokes will have your old knife razor sharp in seconds. Given the number of knives we have to sharpen this is a real positive.

There is a choice of colours in a shiny metallic finish so you never need be embarrassed about leaving your stylish sharpener out on display; on the contrary it feels a shame to have an Any Sharp Pro hiding in a kitchen draw! It comes with simple picture instructions inside the outer sleeve showing you exactly how to use your knife sharpener.


Instructions to use Any sharp Knife Sharpener

What we thought

We followed the instructions and found the Any Sharp Pro knife sharpener does indeed live up to its claims. It is so quick and simple as our little video demonstrates.

Now to go through 12 kitchens sharpening knives!

Need to Know

Created by anysharp.com
RSP £19.99
Use on Most steel knifes, straight or wide serrated like a bread knife
StockistsAmazon, Argos, Tesco direct, Asda, Robert Dyas
Colour RangeBrushed steel, brushed copper, brushed brass, sandblasted gun metal, polished wolfram, painted red and painted cream
MaterialsAll metal alloy body, rubber suction pad
Warrenty10 years


Win your Any Sharp Pro Knife Sharpener with Coombe Mill

If you fancy making light and safe work of knife sharpening with this stylish little sharpener, simply follow the instructions below. Good luck to all taking part.

Any Sharp Knife Sharpener


We were sent our Any Sharp Pro knife sharpener for the purpose of this review, however all thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.

Weaving a spider’s web of autumn wonder

Posted on October 6th, 2018 -

Autumn is a time of plenty in nature. Harvest Festival teaches us of all the wonders of the land bearing gifts in autumn. From berries to mushrooms, windfall apples to acorns, autumn is traditionally a time to stock up from the land in case of a harsh winter ahead. This may all be ancient history for us in the modern era of shops and online deliveries, however in nature the tradition continues.  Have you seen the spiders retreating into your house, weaving their webs, or casting them outside in the bushes and corners of your shed? As I ventured out in the week with my camera, it was an intricate spider’s web that caught my attention. Having seen one, I noticed them at every turn, especially since the deer I was hoping to capture were too busy gorging on nature’s bounty in the undergrowth to come and say hello!

A Spider’s Web at every turn

Whether it was the railings to the old bridge or a heather bush round the lake, everywhere I looked a spider’s web shone back at me. They were definitely out to capture the last of the season’s insects buzzing about their daily life. I was soon distracted from trying to spot deer to capturing a few of these intricate webs. Not the best photos I’ve ever taken, but definitely eye catching with the autumn sun glistening through.  

An intricate spider’s Web over the river

Weaving a spider's web of autumn wonder

Trick or Treat

Hoping to lure a victim in with these berries no doubt. 

berries and webs

Encased in web

This thistle is a popular place for web building 

autumn spider's web

Drawn into a delicate tunnel

The owner of this beautiful web will be hoping for more than just my eye to be drawn inside.

web detail in nature


Have you noticed all the spider’s webs this season? May be it is no coincidence spiders feature in our Halloween activities. I may have to do an spider’s web counting competition as part of our activities here on the farm. 

A pile of leaves sculpture and painting

Posted on October 5th, 2018 -

Sometimes a book comes my way that inspires a whole range of activities for me here on the farm. A pile of Leaves from Phaidon.com is one such book. The concept is very simple, but then the best ones always are. Each page builds on the one before to form a pile of leaves. With the arrival of autumn this felt like the perfect time to be searching for fallen leaves and creating fun crafts with them too.

A pile of leaves sculpture and painting

Reading a pile of Leaves

We began our activity session reading the lovely “A Pile of Leaves” book. It is all pictures apart from the leaf identification at the back so left me plenty of scope to talk with the children about autumn and the falling leaves.

Enjoying a Pile of Leaves book

A little preview of the book:

Under the old Oak Tree

Coombe Mill has an abundance of lovely old oak trees which are scattering their acorns all around. We took some collecting tubs and began searching for fallen acorns, shells and leaves to create our own autumn stone sculptures. The children found plenty on the floor of the car park and inside the fairy garden.


Collecting nature around Coombe Mill

Leaf and Acorn Autumn Sculptures

Once back at the craft table I mixed a stiff flour and water paste for the children to use to stick their acorns and leaves into their chosen designs on beach pebbles. The beach pebbles I collected the previous week down at the secret beach with my own kids knowing I’d find a good use for them. It was sticky messy fun that inspired creativity without being complex. With a range of 1 – 3 year old’s, this was just what I needed.

Creating nature sculptures with a pile of leaves and acorns

Painting a pile of leaves

The children were thrilled with the results and despite their young age keen to do more. I broke out the paints and we painted leaves and printed them with overlapping edges to make a pile of leaves effect just like the book.

Painting a pile of leaves


It was a beautiful September afternoon and the children had coped so well with all the crafts considering their age. It felt only right to practice a little rolling down the hill, tumbling a falling just like leaves from the trees being blown in the wind.


hill rolling


Meanwhile their crafts dried off in the sun


Autumn crafts for kids


Outdoor classroom style learning like this is perfect for preschoolers. We had a lovely afternoon studying leaves and nature without anyone feeling pressure to do anything but have fun.


Recreate A pile of leaves sculpture and painting at home

This would be a fun and educational activity to recreate from a country walk.

What you’ll Need


  • Collected seasonal leaves and nature
  • Large flat pebble
  • flour and water paste


  • Leaves
  • Paint and paper
  • paintbrush
  • mounting card
Educational Benefits


Messy Play

Balance (not all things will stack or stick to the paste and pebble if they are too large or unbalanced)

The opportunity to discuss leaf types and changes with seasons 

Suitable ForAge 2 – 5





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