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.
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!
I hope you will be able to join me and link up some of your festive outdoor moments with the kids this week. I am holding this linky open until Saturday 7th January so no excuse not to blow away the cobwebs over the break with some outdoor fun and be in with a chance of winning the Kids Coombe Mill Cap for January!
If you have been following this blog you will know that cannons are rather popular with Farmer Nick and the boys. https://www.coombemill.com/blog/post/2011/11/15/Daddy-Bought-a-Cannon.aspx When they all sat laughing at James May on TV firing Christmas decorations onto his tree from a DIY cannon they were inspired. Daddy was sent shopping for parts then it was down to the shed to convert the leaf blower into a tinsel firing cannon!
Drain pipe sections and Leaf blower were assembled in the shed for a dummy run, the light was fading outside so the ‘real’ operation had to wait till the morning.
Testing Testing 1, 2, 3!
Day 2 and the children were all ready with tinsel and cannon from the shed. Playmates were enrolled to join in the challenge adding to the level of shouting, bossing, ordering and playing around but at the end of the morning they did manage to work together and blast tinsel into the tree. A triumphant gang, sadly no petrol left for leaf blowing!
Tinsel Cannon in opperation
Please link up any snaps you have of your children playing outside over the Christmas and New Year break, whether with new toys, imaginative role play or just enjoying the frsh air, twit pic them or blog them and add to the linky below.
It is December 21st & just 3 more sleeps away from a visit from the scary man with the white beard! I am delighted to join in with the Christmas themed Meme TheBoyandMe tagged me with, as created by Carolin from Mummy Alarm.
So here are my answers:
1. The Christmas song I can even listen to in June is…
Bob Geldolf’s Do they know it’s Christmas. It kind of annoys me to listen to, but it did so much to raise awareness and money for a desperate situation and was put together in such good spirit that it never fails to make me appreciate all I have at any time of the year.
2. Hot chocolate, egg nog or mulled wine?
Hot chocolate all the way. I love hot drinks and options are my favourite. I have tried all the flavours as I have a really sweet tooth and these just hit the spot. My favourite is without doubt the white chocolate. To all you fresh bread and crisp fans it must sound quite sickly but to me this is heaven, even in June! I have been known to stock pile them in the cupboard as they only sell this flavour as special twice a year *addict*
3. When do you put your decorations up?
16th December. Our Christmas guests arrive on the 17th and so the outside lights go up and the real Christmas trees are ordered for the 16th. This way Farmer Nick and I can make sure they are all installed with working lights and a box of decorations ready for guests to decorate as a family on their arrival. Meanwhile our children set about the task of uncovering all their favourite treasures from years gone by and turning our tree in to a masterpiece.
4. What are you having for Christmas dinner?
Breast, Leg and Stuffing our Turkeys are currently being fattened up in Jurassic park here at Coombe Mill. The children are not at all sure about eating them but personally I would far rather one of our own than one from elsewhere where I know nothing of its upbringing! With our own bacon and sausages from our farm piglets it will be a real old fashioned farmhouse feast again for us.
5. What’s your favourite Christmas tradition?
I think this has to be the mince pie, milk and carrot left for Father Christmas and the reindeer. The look on the children’s faces on Christmas morning when they see the half finished milk, mince pie crumbs and bitten carrot dropped around outside just makes me want to cry with joy.
This is followed by stocking opening and the famous Coombe Mill feed run delayed from 9am to 10am for all our kids and the guests. The animals have their special Christmas treats and everyone is so happy and excited on Christmas morning.
6. Have you ever gone carol singing?
Never, after being thrown out of the school choir age 10 I took the hint! Still enjoy a good sing at the Christmas Christingle Service when my voice is drowned out by others and I can pretend I am in tune!
7. When did you discover the truth about Santa?
Age 12, I guess I had figured it out but was still going along with things when my Dad cornered me in the kitchen one December to say, “you know I am Father Christmas and he isn’t coming this year!” I was so disappointed; Christmas lost a little sparkle after that, so I think I will keep the magic going for mine for as long as they keep it going with me!
8. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
That is all up to the children. I supervise the lights and the rest is up to them. It is a little more tasteful each year as the children grow up and the decorations make it to the top of the tree!
10. All I want for Christmas is…..
A healthy family! With 8 of us before we start on any visiting family there is always someone who is poorly on Christmas day. Last year it was Farmer Nick who left me with the whole thing from our Christmas eve party to presents, the feed run at -10degrees and Christms Dinner. After that I can cope with anything this year – bring it on!!
Taking time out from busy lives is never easy. In our case, leaving Coombe Mill on a busy Christmas changeover weekend to Travel en family Cornwall to Essex really does take some planning. However last weekend was my niece’s Wedding Day and with nearly 12 months notice there was no excuse not to make the effort to meet up with all my family and see her special day. Farmer Ted and Gill came into their own managing the changeover for us here at Coombe Mill leaving me to simply pack with Wedding attire for 8.
There is no easy way to do a 5 – 6 hour journey with children. Having tried various methods over the years, the one that works for us is pack at night, set the alarm and travel early morning while the rest of the world is still asleep and the roads quiet. It worked as planned and with a quick McDonald’s breakfast stop we were at the Premier Inn Braintree http://www.premierinn.com/en/hotel/BRABAR/braintree-freeport-village meeting with family and friends by lunch time. Our first time in a Premier Inn and I must say I would use them again. My only criticism was that there was nothing for the children to do, though they were very patient when the kids took over the foyer to practice their Gymnastics. Outside play in a car park at -2 degrees did have its limitations and our late extended family lunch in the pub soon lost its attraction for the children once the food was eaten and the adults chatting and drinking!
The Wedding Morning
I made a point of capturing some of the morning action for Sarah since this is the part she will have missed with her own preparations. I would love to have seen some of these scenes from my own Wedding.
The Amazing Wedding of Sarah and Paul
The sun shone, the couple looked so perfectly in love and the day went like clockwork. I don’t think I have been to such a beautiful Wedding and I was so pleased to have been part of such a special day. Even my gang scrubbed up well after the picture above in the car park and wore their Sunday best!
I have turned the Service and Reception into Videos which I hope Sarah and Paul will enjoy watching when they arrive home from honeymoon in the New Year!
A Personal Message
Thank you Sarah and Paul for all the work and effort you and those close put into the day. From the written instructions, to booking the accommodation, the bus and that fun photo booth, you really did make it a great day for all your guests as well as a magical one for you both. Wishing you all the happiness in the world! Fiona x
“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.