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.
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 – 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.
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.
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
Trick or Treat
Hoping to lure a victim in with these berries no doubt.
Encased in web
This thistle is a popular place for web building
Drawn into a delicate tunnel
The owner of this beautiful web will be hoping for more than just my eye to be drawn inside.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Meanwhile their crafts dried off in the sun
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
Paint and paper
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
Wow what a week it turned out to be. After 3 storms in one week last week we had back to back sunshine for this week. Our lucky guests were treated to the best of September sunshine. Almost frosty mornings gave way to t-shirts and looking for sun cream by lunchtime. For those beginning to toddle around we have acres of safe space to run free, learn and play.
Toddler led adventures start here
Here on the farm we have been busy with preschool children throughout September. This week they have braved the chilly mornings and been rewarded with something new to experience every day on the farm. As the sun rises over the valley so the animals wake, prick up their ears and come out to the sound of the tractor arriving. From egg collecting to goat feeding our little ones have enjoyed every minute.
Contemplating Farmer Nick’s “Gently” advice.
It takes a cracked egg or two for the little ones to understand “gently” but it’s all part of farm learning.
Hand feeding the goats
Goats can’t bite unlike ponies, it takes a while for the little ones to grasp this but the thrill of plucking up the courage to hand feed them is magical.
If you have a preschool age child who might enjoy our farm this autumn, do take a look at our website for our special low season prices and deals. It’s not just me shouting out about the fun here, this is from one of our guests in the week:
What do you do to entertain an eager group of children age 3 to 12 on a soggy Friday afternoon? I had struggled all week to come up with something and knew the forecast was at best mixed. I dug back in my mind for inspiration from birthday parties with my own children here on the farm over the years and decided the three things that were always most popular were water fights, DIY piñata making and treasure hunts. I ruled out the water fight with the different age ranges and thought on the other two. Finally I decided on the Piñata but with a twist, instead of using recycled materials as we had in the past, we would use nature. It all fell into place in my mind as I created an example nature piñata to show the children.
Setting the nature piñatas challenge
I split the group into two teams with a mix of ages, girls and boys. Each were given a sealed box with sweets inside and a long piece of string out of one end, a pair of scissors and a length of wool. I showed them the example nature piñata I had made and challenged them to go between the rain showers in search of nature to do the same or better. As an extra incentive to make them try their hardest to make them secure I told them they would swap piñatas at the end and have to try and crack open the other team’s work.
Collaboration and team work
It took a little while for the teams to begin to work effectively, but with a few tips and pointers they began to organise themselves. Some ran off gathering resources while others considered how best to secure them with the limited resources available. The more they worked together and listened to one another the better the progress. It became quite frantic and competitive as each watched the other team and I began to count down the time to stop building.
I hung the finished nature piñatas up from the games room veranda.
Then the children had to think how they were going to knock them down. A stick was the obvious nature choice and they dashed off in search of the biggest they could manage. Just to spice it up again I made them give their chosen stick to the opposite team to use, though we swapped half way to ensure no one had an unfair advantage.
Ready to play
Excitement was bubbling by this point but the children all lined up for the agreed 3 whacks each before moving to the back of the queue. This rule was essential so that no one was excitedly standing in whacking range!
The nature surrounding the boxes held fast for a good few minutes before the boxes were finally reached and hacked and the sweets came thumbing out. With a little reminder to share with their team mates the team leaders ensured everyone in the team had their share of sweets.
It turned into one of my most fun activity sessions and in the excitement of it all no one cared about the showers, though having the veranda to build under was certainly a help.
Recreate Nature Piñatas at Home
This would be a fun activity to recreate with a group of children for a play date or birthday party.
What you’ll Need
Nature collected from a walk keeping flexibility in mind to wrap.
A measured length of string at least a meter long
A box with wrapped sweets inside and a good length of string secured around it.
“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.