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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It can be difficult to find family time at a weekend for outdoor pursuits, especially when it is cold, the days are short and the kids are indifferent at the prospect. There we are, caring parents, putting some quality time aside for a lovely family walk; only to be met with a ‘grunt’ from the kids and continued TV focus! If we can get beyond the initial lethargy and go then we do find it worthwhile.
When outside their sense of adventure builds and the TV is soon forgotten. Fresh air, rosy cheeks and tired children from physical exercise is so satisfying.
Trekking up Rough Tor
Cornwall is famous for its rocky outcrops known as Tors and we are lucky enough to have some very close by on Bodmin Moor. 10 minutes in the car and we are there.
It looks so beautifully rugged and open with lovely sea views and quite a climb to the top. Nothing is purpose built for children but that is the appeal, just running around, racing each other to the top and building imaginary games from scratch is good for mind and body. With free car parking at the start it couldn’t be a cheaper day out at any time of the year!
Even Grandma (Yia Yia) enjoyed the fun and made it to the top to take a photo of us all!
Perhaps the very best part was the caves formed between the rocky outcrops. Just listening to the banter between the children as they climb in and out claiming each cave as their own makes me smile every time!
Please Join in
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Kate is a mum of two tearaway toddlers who lives in Cheshire with her long suffering hubby. Kate is a holistic therapist and also a keen writer so I was delighted when she offered to write for my blog on the need for children to have family holidays:
Do you need a holiday?
New Years resolutions. It’s what a lot of us will be thinking about right now, but how many of you are resolving to have more holidays this year? Well, if there’s a queue then I’m most definitely joining it. In fact, I’ll be right there at the very front!
Do you realise that holidays are actually essential for our long term health and wellbeing? Yes, they’re not just the luxury that lots of us consider them to be. Our bodies need regular breaks to allow us to recuperate. If we’re overworked we’re more susceptible to illness because our immune systems become suppressed.
There’s also the issue of stress, which the majority of us suffer from probably far more often than we’d care to admit! Prolonged stress can have a disastrous effect on our bodies. We’re not designed to be in our ‘fight or flight’ mode long term and as far as I’m concerned this is the number one reason that regular breaks are absolutely essential.
I know all too well that trap that we fall into when it comes to taking time off. I’m a prolific offender! ‘There’s too much to do’, ‘We really should be catching up on jobs’, ‘The business won’t run itself’, ‘There’s no way we can afford to take time off’. But I’m also aware that if we carry on that way burnout will slap us hard in the face, much like our toddlers do when we try to put them in our bed to grab an extra half hours sleep in the morning!
So how can we not take that break? We need time off to spend recuperating and relaxing because without it we won’t be anywhere near as productive.
What about our children?
Children deserve holidays and they actually need them just as much as we do. Its absolutely essential for them to have a chance to break free from routine, time to race around outside, explore new places and just spend time playing. Children learn just as much outside of the classroom as they do inside it. They need freedom and unplanned activities just as much as they need routine and structure.
Most importantly, they need to learn that life isn’t all about work. I don’t want my children growing up thinking that it is. However, I am well aware that if we carry on the way we’re going then that is exactly what we’ll be teaching them!
So, I’m going to take a leaf out of my parent’s book.
Learning from my childhood holidays
When I was a child we took the majority of our holidays in North Wales. Occasionally we spent a holiday down south but the majority were in exactly the same place. My parents owned a touring caravan which we always spent our entire summer in, plus most of our other school holidays. While I loved the time we spent there I have to admit that growing up I was insanely jealous of my friends who got to travel abroad on their holidays. I brooded while it thundered and lightened outside, even snowed (yes, in June!) and I imagined that they were all having a great time sunning themselves on the beach, splashing around in a swimming pool and eating out with their families every night while we were stuck in the caravan playing snap!
Don’t get me wrong, Wales did have some sunshine too and we enjoyed many days riding the waves in our dinghy, but it is very easy to believe that the grass is greener, especially when you’re young. The family holidays we had abroad when we older were great too but it’s only now that I’ve begun to appreciate how truly blessed I was and what was really important.
I now realise that my parents were very wise in knowing that it was much better for us to spend ten whole weeks a year together rather than one week abroad like my friends. The point is, it really didn’t matter where we went. We got to go on holiday and spend lot of good quality family time together. Cliched, I know. But very very true!
We had loads of holidays. No one worked, no one had their phone permanently attached to their hand (not that they really existed back then but that’s not the point!) no one was doing housework or running errands for family and friends. We simply spent time together either on the beach, walking, eating, sitting, playing. In addition, we got to make lots of friends, the place was familiar which gave us more freedom than we would have had otherwise and there was plenty to keep us occupied.
Holidays, the bit that money just can’t buy….
Holidaying is something my hubby and I have thought about and talked a lot about lately. We’d love to take our toddlers to all the corners of the world. There’s loads for the little ones to learn from travelling but rather than worry about where we go, we know what’s really important is that we have holidays together. A proper break where we take time away from work, the business, the housework and that never-ending list of DIY! We know that our children are growing up so fast that if we don’t stop and take some time out together we’ll miss it.
We’ve had very few holidays since our children were born but the ones we have had they’ve enjoyed enormously. We haven’t even had to do anything special because they never tire of spending time outdoors. They don’t care whether it’s beaming sunshine or it chucking down rain. And the real beauty of it is, that they’re intrigued by the simplest of things, leaves, trees, insects and even just water! I’m well aware that will change when they’re 12 and 13 instead of 2 and 3 but for now we’ll just make the most of it. The time outside does us all good, the exercise, the fresh air and the daylight all helps us feel much better and the amount they learn is astonishing! It really is true that education happens anywhere.
We know it’s far too easy to be dragged away from family time at home, when we’re ‘off’ work we’re never really away from it. The phones are always on and it’s easy just to take a second to check emails, which always ends up taking far longer than a second! So we’re making holidays a priority this year, we’re going to make lots of time for them, and for us too.
We want our children to have similar memories of their family holidays that we do, including spending lots of time with extended family, and friends who tagged along on occasion too. For them to have memories of family holidays to reminisce over months and even years after. And we’ll be ecstatic if they grow up wanting to recreate their experiences for their own children.
More about Kate
If you would like to find out more about Kate she is a keen twitter girl _katie_bailey
I am so grateful to Kate for sharing her holiday memories and aspirations here. She gives a poignant message about family time that I support wholeheartedly. Hopefully I will meet Kate and her family holidaying with us at Coombe Mill this year!
Family time is special and Christmas a perfect opportunity to share quality time together. Enter our competition to bring the whole family for a great Cornish get together here at Coombe Mill in 2012. Enjoy an amazing 10 night holiday for upto 7 people in one of our beautiful family properties.
With 30 acres of farmland, meadows, woodland and gardens to explore, daily tractor rides with Farmer’s Nick and Ted to help feed and care for the animals, play areas, fishing and more there is plenty for everyone to enjoy.
It has become a tradition for those staying with us over Christmas to have a big bonfire party after Christmas day. With all the wrapping paper overflowing the recycling points it is the only way and makes a great afternoon of entertainment for the older (school age) children here too. All supervised by Farmer Nick, the times are communicated on the morning feed run and all interested children gather in the car park for a spot of camp fire building.
An unusual Journey
It is never conventional here! All the Christmas paper had been collected in the stock trailer and Farmer Nick just closing the back when the children asked to travel in the back with the paper! The excitement at this prospect was quite unbelievable, so pile in they did. The short journey down our woodland path was accompanies by much laughing, shouting and pretend animal noises as little smiling facing peeped out at the top. It never ceases to amaze me how the simple things in life are so special to children.
Christmas 2011 Up in a Puff
Once there everyone was inspired, piling up the bonfire pit with all the old paper. The children stayed playing on the farm and revisiting the fire for hours challenging one another to poke a new lease of life into the cinders with sticks and twigs. The boys especially were in their element, mine showing off their scouting skills for fire lighting to anyone who would listen!
From the commotion on the video you can sense the children’s excitement
Caught on Camera
I think all these children will have some tails to tell when they go back to school!
Reflecting on 2011
Here on the farm as we say good bye to 2011 I can honestly say it has been as busy as ever. For the Properties Old Mill underwent upgrades and transformed into Water Mill with a wonderful fusion of 16th Century Mill and modern decor and new lighting, heating and internal layout. https://www.coombemill.com/cottages/water-mill Towards the end of the year we have begun work on Trevarno lodge which I am very excited about as with each build we add that something extra to help make staying with us special.
Our web site re-design, and the launch of this blog have been something I have enjoyed immensely, even though Farmer Nick now calls me “Tweetface” whenever I sit at the PC!
On the farm we saw the introduction of the Alpaca, Peacocks and Wallabies all of whom have added intrigue to our morning Feed Runs, not to mention the regular delights of the spring piglets, and lambs. The Orphan lamb Domino, being raised by hand, became a huge hit with all the children who took it in turns to feed her bottle each day.
Any year is a success to me if I still have 6 healthy children at the end of it. The farm is such a lovely place for them to grow up, but living here they have so much freedom and try out one or two daft ideas (playing Dare with the Ram just one I recall) that I am always grateful to see them happily into a new year! This year I have noticed their help too, not just as play mates for our guests but in really helping out. If you’ve stayed with us then you may have noticed them stripping beds on a changeover, helping Dad on the farm or bringing round a requested highchair. All to be encouraged! https://www.coombemill.com/family-team
Our Plans for 2012
Next year will be all go once again. The builders are back on site from January 3rd to continue with Trevarno, the new land we purchased needs transforming from mud soup to lawn and new play area. Who knows what is up farmer Nick’s sleeve with the animals, but I bet there will be a new arrival on the farm before the year is out! I know Farmer Nick is working towards a very special addition for Coombe Mill that the children will adore; as always it’s not plain sailing so keep following our news and all will be revealed.
I hope you have enjoyed a fun Christmas holiday too and what ever your take on 2011
The party to end all parties awaits us. All day I have cooked and baked as the children dart in and out from the farm asking “Is it time yet?” They have made great friends with all our guests, many of whom return year after year to share in the magic of Christmas at Coombe Mill. Camp fires, bikes, mud and more, as they play games together and pile into each other’s houses for the days leading upto Christmas. Finally at 4.30pm we all go to the local Church for a wonderful family Christingle service. Seeing the active participation of the children in a packed out old village Church with their Christingle oranges and glow sticks makes me want to cry with joy. After, it’s mince pies, mulled wine and Father Christmas in the street. We say our Merry Christmas wishes, the children collect presents from Santa and we all head back to Coombe Mill for Farmer Nick’s amazing firework display.
The children take advantage of the usually restricted fizzy drinks and pile out together to the play barn leaving the adults to enjoy a drink and chat in the house. The atmosphere was buzzing, the children full of anticipation for the evening and their parents enjoyed a relaxed night off. I think I had cooked enough to feed the five thousand!
We even had a little Santa lucky dip before the children left
When the last of our friends left, the milk, mince pie and carrot were assembled for our secret visitor, stockings set out and children fell exhausted but happily into bed. I then set about the party clear up and stocking filling! Satisfied with the result I fell into bed myself without so much as a ‘tweet’!
Never enough sleep, but my weary self is still excited at the sight and sound of our children racing into the bedroom to declare that Father Christmas has cast his magic
“Mummy, Daddy, hurry, we need to open our presents; he has been, come and see…..”
Grabbing my dressing gown and insisting on a cup of tea first, we all gather in the kitchen to watch the minutes of pleasure as they rip through from one parcel to the next.
As if this wasn’t enough, while everyone dressed, Daddy prepared their main present from us. Oh the excitement as everyone wanted a turn.
Surprise Christmas Quad Bike!
All this before the 10am Christmas Feed Run! Daddy turns into Farmer Nick in Santa costume and it’s all aboard for a festive farm ride to greet the animals. Look out for Felix in just a T-shirt.
As we ate our Christmas brunch marveling at the mild weather a plan emerged. Why not go to the beach for a surf? It was all hands on deck with dinner preparations, turkey on low in the oven, wet suits, boards, children, Uncle Mark and Grandma (or Yia Yia as she is known to our kids) all in the car with Christmas music along the way! I can honestly say it was one of my hightlights of the day. I love the beach, and to make it in the sea on Christmas day was such a thrill.
Arriving home to pop on the vegetables, have a hot shower followed by Christmas drinks, Christmas Roast and yes more presents just felt like a the perfect end to an amazing action packed day.
Christmas: Take Two
OK so I may have left out a few bits and pieces along the way……..
The little mishaps!
Anyone who claims the perfect day, I am afraid I just don’t believe it! Here are our little mishaps which I omitted from my fairy-tail Christmas:
Christmas Eve, mishap 1
I love entertaining and really enjoyed our Christmas party, however I was tired by the time it came to clearing up and putting out stockings. One o’clock and the realization that Alistair’s Ski wear was definitely in Guy’s Christmas pile made me question everything. It actually took me till 3am to open and rewrap everything to ensure the correct presents were in the correct places, somehow lots had become muddled (note to self to use different Santa paper per child next year!)
Christmas Morning – Mishap 2
7.30am as my weary body staggers downstairs for the grand present opening, we have Theo in tears. His presents have been replaced by a bag of coal thanks to his thoughtful older brother! Being parents it didn’t take us long to unravel the culprit and have the presents returned but…..
Christmas morning Mishap 3
In the great present steeling fiasco Guy’s main present ended up in Theo’s pile! In years gone by we could have fudged things over, but at 9 years old and already sceptical, that was the end of believing in Father Christmas for Theo. To relay the conversation:
Me “Theo, sorry sweetheart, that’s Guy’s present you are opening” as I see the camera emerging
Theo “It’s in my pile!”
Me “Sorry Theo that one IS for Guy, they must have become muddled when Felix took yours as a joke; a simple mistake”
Theo ” How do YOU know?”
Theo storms off upstairs leaving the rest of his stocking unopened!
Yia Yia and I make a start on Christmas dinner preparations while Daddy has a quiet word with Theo and we all agree that we can patch over things by Theo helping Daddy bring out the Quad surprise. The idea being that he would see it first, tests it out before the others and the disappointment of earlier be diminished. The plan works, an excited Theo rushes into the house to call his siblings and they all dash out for a turn. 9.50am and the electric blows in the house. No fridge, freezer, cooker etc, etc. I try the fuse box but it all instantly trips out again. Reluctant to admit defeat, but aware the feed run is only 10 minutes away I call Nick in to help. Finally we identify the overfilled kettle as the problem and restore power to the rest of the kitchen just as …..
There is an almighty thud from outside. We all dash out only to discover Guy and Jed in a heap on the lawn and the quad bike a right off! So relieved it was the bike not the boys written off, I really couldn’t be cross! We were all a little shocked and stunned, those who still hadn’t had a turn were angry with those who wrote it off and all this as the guests assembled happily for the feed run admiring the wreckage. There was nothing else for it but to put it all down to experience, thank our stars we were not on our way to A and E, and carry on with the day as Daddy turned into Farmer Nick!
I am pleased to say that was the end of the mishaps, and the rest of the day really was magical, but it did require a degree in keeping cool, calm and collected to manage the first few hours. It is a Christmas we will dine out on for years to come with some real high and low moments. The quad bike goes to the garage tomorrow; if it is recoverable there will be some strict usage rules imposed!
If you are thinking of a Christmas at Coombe Mill, don’t worry, there will be plenty of tractor rides and Christmas fun but absolutely NO quad biking for your children!
“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.