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.
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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!
Usually my blog posts are restricted to activities on the farm and our personal news kept to a minimum. This wasn’t always the case, but since the teenage years have crept up on us, sharing our kids’ antics has dwindled as a natural course of events. However some things are meant for sharing and this past fortnight certainly qualifies. Felix has been hanging on all summer for his A Level Grades and Theo his GCSE grades. The exam results for both are now out and I am thrilled for them both.
A level exam results for Felix
Felix needed ABB to study Marketing Management with Psychology at Sussex University. He did just that and we have spent a busy week sorting student accommodation and finance ready for his big move out of Cornwall on 15th September. University life on campus is going to feel so different to family life at Coombe Mill but he is really looking forward to it and Nick and I are thrilled for him. He is a very capable lad both socially and academically and I hope he will do himself proud in University life.
Felix has been busy working with a local building company all summer to put some beer study money aside but still managing to join us on a few family outings.
Felix looking the part ready for life at Uni
GCSE exam Results for Theo
Theo is very different to Felix. He is sharp and witty but was diagnosed as dyslectic at primary school and always struggled with academic written work accordingly. Despite his dyslexia he didn’t qualify for any extra time in exams. We were left hoping he had ‘a good day’ when he needed it and would pull the 4 grade 4’s (old GCSE level C) including English and Maths to take the Creative Media level 3 Diploma that he wants to peruse at Collage. This week we headed to school to discover he passed 6 GCSE’s including the both English subjects and Maths and is all set to start on 6th September. We are now trying to sort bus passes and bus stops to tie in with our triplets school travel. Of course they are in opposite directions! Our mornings will be as hectic as ever ahead of the 9am Tractor Feed Run here at Coombe Mill.
Theo has had a busy summer undertaking the National Citizen Service which occupied 4 weeks of his summer holidays. That said he has a wonderful time, gains an extra qualification and a great life experience. At just £40, including 2 weeks away from home, it is a bargain and he would totally recommend it to any teen offered the chance to participate.
Theo helping out on a little veranda demolition project on a disused building.
We are thrilled both our boys are moving on to do the things they wanted.
If you have children receiving exam results this past couple of weeks, I hope they have what they need to carry them through to the next step in life. If it is all years away for you, watch out, it creeps up faster than you might imagine!
We had watched our lovely alpaca Caramel be sheared at the start of the week. This is a once a year event and a bonus for our holiday guests if it falls on their stay. Colin our shearer has come to expect an audience at Coombe Mill and now talks everyone through what will happen and encourages the kids to come forward and watch. We finish with 2 big bags of alpaca fleece for Kay our local crafter. However I like to hold a little back for activity hour here. By the end of the week the kids had almost forgotten alpaca shearing at the start. But it soon came flooding back as I introduced our alpaca craft for the afternoon with the real fleece.
Alpaca craft formed in stages
I had a full house with 15 signed up to join us in making little alpaca. That left me with a few hours to work out how best to make them. I finished up with two designs split by age, a simple flat design for the under 3’s and a 3D Alpaca for the 3 and over. The first job was to search the fairy gardens for sticks to make legs.
These were poked into a toilet roll, a peg added for a neck and an egg box section tied on for the head.
The children were inpatient to move to the next step of sticking on the fleece but it took a while with so many to get everyone’s alpaca constructed. Finally we were ready and moved over to the grass where one by one I sprayed each with glue and the children stuck on the wool to transform their model into an alpaca.
An interactive alpaca quiz
When everyone had completed their alpaca we set them on one side to let the glue dry and the children gathered on the grass for a little fun quiz. I had researched some fun facts and made up some rubbish ones, the kids had to jump left or right depending on which answer they thought was correct. It was a great way to get a little learning in and I’ll use this idea again. We explored alpaca history, habitat and sociology finishing with what they like to eat.
Creating alpaca homes
Armed with their new knowledge the kids were ready to make a home for their alpaca with all their favourite things to eat.
The children were deservedly proud of their finished alpaca in their homes, though I felt sorry for the parents trying to pack them safely into card to go home the next day!
Elmer the Elephant Alpaca
With creative minds still running I left the children colouring alpaca that reminded me of Elmer the Elephant!
I think I may have created the most knowledgeable 2 – 8 year olds on alpaca in the country! The best part was that they loved every minute and never knew they were learning at all.
“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.