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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Reflections on a month of our holidays being open again after the Covid-19 lockdown. How our no contact holidays work & farm news. ... Read More
If you have a child with so much as a passing interest in history, culture or art they will love the adorable new title from the Frances Lincoln range of Quarto Kids books: Treasure Hunt House. Think the best of the National Trust and English Heritage properties all bound up in one fantasy book with real history and learning woven inside. Read on to discover more and for your chance to win a copy.
About Treasure Hunt House
As the title suggests the reader is taken on a huge treasure hunt room by room in Great Aunt Martha’s magnificent house. Follow the children as they try to solve the clues. Lift the flaps on all the interesting furniture in the rooms to reveal their purpose and find the one that solves the clue for that room. From the contents of the kitchen fridge and how food was kept before they were invented to the history of toys in the playroom, the reader is kept engaged on every page.
We loved the book and can see it being a great read ahead of a visit to one of the country’s great stately homes or to inspire creating your own house treasure hunt or grand house from a Cardboard Box.
So this week it feels as though the heat wave is over and England is back to standard summer weather. Here on the farm we have had the usual mix of sun, showers and comfortable temperatures for being out and about. For our guests, there is plenty to do both indoors and out and the farm run resumes a leisurely pace as we no longer try to beat the rising temperature of the day. The animals are up and about and happy to greet us instead of lolling around in the shade and it is back to wellies for the guests with flip flops reserved for the beach. The grass has responded and begun to grow once again, a relief for feeding the animals, though a hay shortage in making is concerning.
Hay shortage implications for Coombe Mill
The heat wave meant the grass stopped growing and left the farmers unable to make hay. While it is now growing again, it is doubtful there will be enough to cut, dry and bale for the animals this winter. So far we haven’t found anyone in Cornwall in a position to sell locally produced hay. Farmer Nick is getting creative on our 30 acres moving animals around the fields with our little helpers and contemplating silage as a backup for some. Thankfully we should have enough land to see us through to spring with careful grazing, but I fear not every farm will find it so easy with the hay shortage. Just as well the animals themselves are content to just live day to day in the safe knowledge extra food will arrive each morning with the sound of the tractor.
Morning Tractor ride to feed the animals
4 new fawns this summer will add to the hay shortage dilemma.
The goats are very happy with their maize breakfast supplements
The ponies will always beg for carrots however much grass and hay they have.
Listening to Farmer Nick on how to help move the sheep to the next field.
On the plus side our holiday bookings for 2019 are looking encouraging on the back of the heat wave this summer and all the animals are currently looking in excellent condition.
Activity hour fell on the most beautiful day and I had wondered it all the families staying might just have headed to the beach forgetting to come back and join me. I needn’t have worried; there was a steady gathering of little ones eager to discover pond life with me.
As everyone gathered I explained all the things we were going to do, beginning with a little frog explanation. Our farm path had been overrun with froglets that had fascinated the children, and so exploring the frog life cycle seemed a good starting point.
Next we had a look in our ‘where animals live’ book for photos of animals and creatures we might see around the pond.
With pond life identification sheets, fishing nets and magnifying glasses we headed over to the top lake on the farm. There is a little slipway there with easy access to the lake and the children cast their nets in to see what they could find.
I had a large tub prefiled with lake water at the ready and we added any catches to this from our nets. From the safety of the slipway the children could peer into the tub and study the pond life inside. We could see water boatmen and smaller creatures darting across the tub.
Damselflies were all around us with their vivid blue bodies hovering over the water and sunning themselves on leaves and rocks.
When everyone had tired of seeing the activity on the water we began to fill our collecting trays with nature around the lake. Only foxgloves were off limits as they are poisonous to eat and little ones have a habit of putting fingers in their mouths. These were the prettiest flowers around the pond but we found plenty more things to fill our tubs.
Back over the river I taped a giant piece of plain wallpaper to the path and asked the children to re create the lake and it’s surrounding using the paints and the nature they had collected. Even though the ages went from under 2 to 7 everyone joined in and creativity flowed.
I was so delighted with the finished result I tried for a team photo before hanging it in our games room.
It was certainly a creative way to explore pond life and a perfect introduction for the children.
The heat wave continued in Cornwall last week. When I say heat wave, we haven’t experienced the mid 30s of the South East, rather a very pleasant mid 20s and perfect for being out and about and enjoying the sunshine. I have been promising the kids a beach visit for weeks and just found work and life has pushed it endlessly to “tomorrow”. Finally, fed up of not managing to go I agreed on an early supper and an evening visit to an old favourite of ours, The Secret Beach. Unlike Polzeath, our usual go to beach, The Secret Beach is secluded and almost deserted even in midsummer. This is probably because it is only accessible by a coast path hike and a scramble down steep cliff steps. It is actually our closest beach being just 15 minutes drive from Coombe Mill. We really should visit more, but it’s biggest drawback of this lovely Beach is that it is only accessible for around 4 hours surrounding low tide. That was perfect timing for a mild summer evening visit and so my Shirley Valentine moment transpired.
As well as taking the kids, we scooped up my good friend too who came armed with a bottle of wine. It was one of those perfect evenings that turned into a special night we will all remember. I’m going to share more of the evening in a separate post as I took so many photos of our 3 hours there before the incoming tide finally forced our retreat. But for today, I just wanted to share a couple of moments I remember fondly as I sipped wine in the most beautiful setting in between laughing with family and friends. Full credit to Felix who offered to drive home as I sank into my second glass of wine. Grown up kids really do come with added benefits!
Our beautiful secluded local beach.
My Shirley Valentine Moment on the beach in Cornwall.
In mid July when the buddleias are at their peak, the butterflies flock around the farm. We have the most beautiful bush up behind our Pencarrow lodge with a perfume so sweet and distinctive. An unappreciative Farmer Nick was about to chop it down as it isn’t so easy to mow around, but I was up in arms as the butterflies adore it and I had plans for our activity hour around the scented bush. Thankfully I won, the bush remained and we had a beautiful afternoon butterfly hunting there for the Big Butterfly Count.
Butterfly Watch for The Big butterfly Count
We talked about how shy butterflies can be and the need to creep up to the bushes to spot the different varieties. We had been on stealth patrol earlier in the day and taken photos of all the different butterfly types landing on the Buddleia and surrounding ground. These were complied in a table with labels for the children to tick off when they saw them. The children did a great job on all but being very quiet and managed to spot them all. I was slightly concerned about the lack of Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Red Admiral this year, though there were lots of Silver-washed Argynnis Paphia which I’d not seen in the past and the Common Blue and Small White are reappearing in numbers again.
Butterflies spotted, the children were keen to see what crafts I had planned for them. I wanted to vary things from our butterfly studies in previous years and came up with something quite original. We began by making caterpillars from card circles and pine cones joined with paper clips and wool.
The really fun part was painting them. I’d brought out the spray paints to let everyone make their caterpillars unique with splatter colour.
Butterflies on boards
While the caterpillars dried in the afternoon sun we turned our attention to butterfly boards. My big bag of material scraps was used to create colourful butterflies. Simple rounds or rectangles were pinched in the middle and stapled onto cardboard. A felt pen completed the butterfly bodies and antenna. The results were quick and impressive which was perfect for the time we had.
It was a lovely way to look at butterfly varieties, talk about their lifespan, habitat and create our own crafty butterfly varieties. If you fancy joining in The Big Butterfly Count it is running till 20th August and there are some great downloadable identification sheets. I wish I’d checked this out before making my own!
“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.