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.
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.
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.
Piglets bring smiles all round.
Piglets are curious by nature and off to explore whenever Mum isn’t watching!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
Marshmallows on sticks were the sweet treat to end.
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.
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.
Here at Coombe Mill we strive to provide holidays where learning and fun are combined. Children love to drive the tractor with farmer Nick, feed the animals and learn about their habitat, care and life cycle in the process. Our friends at Orchard Toys have the same ethos of striving to balance education and fun in their cleverly designed toys. We are lucky enough to have been sent one of their latest puzzles to review. World Map giant Jigsaw Puzzle is a beautiful bright and colourful map with plenty of visual picture fun as well as being packed with geographical facts.
More about World Map Giant Jigsaw and Poster.
Each continent is colour coded making it easy to gather jigsaw pieces together. Pictures on the continents show significant buildings, animals and national dress. Our alpaca are shown in South America while an Eskimo and igloo are up in the top of North America. Penguins huddle on the shores of Antarctica while the famous Royal Opera house of Sydney dominates Australia along with Bruce our Coombe Mill Wallaby. Even the tropics are labelled and marked as well as the seas, oceans and countries.
What we love.
We see this jigsaw as really engaging way to help kids get ahead in Geography and science at school developing a good understanding of our planet and where people foods and animals come from. My 14 year old confessed to learning a thing or two about where countries were completing the jigsaw, though it is actually intended for age 5 – 10. As with all Orchard toys jigsaws the pieces slot together easily but take some dexterity and concentration to spot the right shapes and colours and turn them the correct way round.
Support learning with a wall poster.
Keep the world map puzzle learning fresh with a giant matching wall poster. Great ways to ensure kids really know countries within continents and the seas from the oceans.
We were sent our world Map giant jigsaw and poster for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions on the product are my own. Our puzzle is available to borrow from the Coombe Mill games room for our holiday makers.
Here at Coombe Mill we have the gentlest little pigmy goats. They really are a delight with many of them having been hand raised. Even our youngest guests can safely go into their field without being afraid. They are so full of character and keen to eat from your hand. This makes them one of our most popular stops on the morning tractor feed run. This week we have had a wonderful group of regular guests who meet up at the farm here each year. As they children grow up they are always on the lookout for a new challenge. This time they took it up on themselves to try goat carrying. I think it’s fair to say the goats turned out to be heavier than they expected. However they did really well learning how to hold them safely and even hanging onto them long enough for me to grab my phone and capture the moment.
Prince Charles our smallest and youngest goat.
Attempting to lift Queenie, Prince Charles’s Mother.
Sprout is a favourite with regular guests who’ve known her since she was a hand raised kid.
Making carrying Sprout look easy.
Goat carrying championship winner with carrying and feeding.
Having so many hand raised goats was never our intention, but goats can be such poor mothers it often ends up this way. On the plus side it makes them very loving and tolerant with the children who love to feed them, mother them and carry them if they can.
I wonder what this group will make as their challenge for next year.
It has become a bit of a tradition to hold a grand nature raft race at Coombe Mill on the first week of August. There are always a few scared faces when I suggest what we will be doing for activity hour, however when parents are reassured that the children won’t actually be riding on their homemade rafts parental concerns disperse and everyone looks forward to the event.
Creating and Making Nature Rafts
This has to be one of the most eco friendly activities there is. The rules are very simple, everything that goes into building the raft must be found on the farm and belong in nature, so no finding a piece of bailer twine dropped by Farmer Nick to tie things up! Family groups soon formed on the grass with some puzzling over designs while others rushed off to find potential materials. This is one where I can sit back and watch the creativity come together. I am always impressed by the standards of the rafts, creativity used and team work among the groups.
When everyone had finished I managed to grab a group photo with everyone’s rafts before they were set free in the river.
Nature Raft Race Route
We have two bridges at Coombe Mill which make a perfect start and finish line for our races. However the drop from the starting bridge is quite steep and the first hurdle for our nature rafts. Everyone lined up and with no cheating released their rafts on cue.
The biggest problem this year has been the slow speed of the river thanks to the unusually dry summer. It took 15 minutes with a little helping hand from Guy and a couple of parents wading through the water for the rafts to make it to the finishing bridge. As always there is much running, cheering and searching from the children along the river bank as they all hope theirs will be the winning raft. Finally the first rafts came into view and crossed the line to a waiting audience.
Everyone had put so much effort into their rafts I had some certificates on hand covering much more than just the winning raft so everyone was rewarded for something.
Even Guy and Clio hung around for a little river fun after the race ended pulling floating branches from the river.
Despite the slow running river the nature raft race remains one of the most popular activities here. It is not dissimilar to Pooh sticks, just on a giant scale, and that has been going strong for generations!
“Tales from the farmers wife” shares life on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Nick and our 6 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.