Posted on January 12th, 2018 - Fiona
Traditional New Year’s Eve celebrations may revolve around fizz at midnight but when you have younger children we think it’s great to do something fun as a family at a time they are able to enjoy. I remember as a child myself fighting to stay awake with my parents till midnight to see in the new year, then finding it all a bit of an anticlimax on orange squash and being grumpy and tired the next day. For this reason here on the farm we run from the afternoon New Year crafts into a family party as the night sky settles in. This has the added benefit of leaving the traditional party hours free for adult time celebrating New Year while worn out little ones sleep.
A Versatile Games Room
My own children helped me turn the games room from craft centre to party room with twinkle lights, music, drinks and a table of party food straight from the oven. We even rigged up a heater to make it warm enough to take off coats and really enjoy the atmosphere.
As the guests arrived the children played games and danced while the adults enjoyed a drink and a chat in comfort without the usual wellies from the farm duties.
Fireworks to Impress
Farmer Nick snuck away from the party to prepare the fireworks for us and I prayed the rain would hold off for us to enjoy them. We had sparklers for the children to start and their little faces were a picture as Guy and Jed lit them and handed them out along the path.
Then we followed the beam of the tractor lights along the path to stand and watch the display.
With Rockets and a giant mixed display box we were kept entertained for a good 5 minutes. Not quite central London but enjoyed just as much.
As Nick and I cleared up and prepared to return home for our own family celebrations for New Year we knew we had left some happy little ones excited for 2018.
Celebrating New Year with Younger children on the farm
Posted on January 6th, 2018 - Fiona
One of the families staying with us at Coombe Mill this New Year has been a lovely German family. They have twin girls of age 10 who have enjoyed mixing with our English guests and working on their already credible use of the English language. It has been lovely to see them exploring all areas of the farm and enjoying all we have to offer here in Cornwall. However when Farmer Nick gave me the tip off they were about to embark on a bare foot river walk here I simply had to grab my camera and rush out to discover more. It turns out the girls are part of a gymnastics team back home and they had been set a family bare foot water challenge by their instructor over the festive break. After watching friend’s back home tip toe through lakes in fancy dress and posing for a photo they decided our river was the perfect setting to up the challenge.
The heavy rain and winds has meant the river is running quite fast at the moment and reaching our island a challenge in itself compared to summer time when the children dart back and forth building camps. Water gushed over their wellies and I shivered at the prospect. However once there they reached the island wellies and socks came off and they braved the cold water and rough river bed bare foot to reach the large tree usually at the head of the island but now submerged in water.
You have to admire their spirit as they posed for photos showing no sign of cold. I was rather hoping my triplets would come out hearing the squeals and commotion as I know they would have been crazy enough to join them; as for me, swimming the river in summer was enough of a challenge and I happily settled for capturing their moment of fun from the bridge with cosy warm toes!
Heading over to the Island to begin the bare foot river walk challenge
Carefully Treading bare foot from island to tree
They all made it!
Beer swigging bare foot pose
One for the Gymnastics club back home!
Posted on January 5th, 2018 - Fiona
Welcome to Country Kids from Coombe Mill
Country Kids is the original outdoor family fun linky designed to:
“Encourage family fun outdoors, in an age where technology and screens are such a draw to a sedentary indoor life”
Welcome back if you are a regular to Country Kids and if you are new please join in. You will find plenty of inspiration for enjoying outdoor space and please do share your own adventures. We support the National Trust #50 things along with all other ideas for family fun outside.
6 years of Country Kids!
As we move into January I realise Country Kids is moving into it’s 7th year! My kids have gone from kids to practically gown ups in that time but the linky is still one I’m passionate about and so it continues. Essentially outdoor family adventures make memories and healthy happy families. I hope you will stay with me on the outdoor journey for another year. Whether you are taking time out at the park, the beach, the woods or just frolicking in the garden it is time well spent. Capture those moments and share them on the link up below.
Happy New Year!
Guidelines for Joining in:
- Post must be predominantly outdoors such as in the garden, the park, the woods or the beach with crafting, learning, exploring or playing.
- Despite the title, both countryside and urban outdoor adventures are welcome.
- Unheated covered areas like a barn or tent count as outdoors.
- Please comment on my host post and a minimum of 3 others of your choice.
- If you use #CountryKids when commenting the post owner will know where your found them and hopefully come back to visit your post.
- Please take my badge, without it you won’t be considered for winning the lovely Rockfish Wellies.
- Linked posts should be written and made live within the last 2 months.
- I understand sometimes you need to do catch up posts and write about something from a couple of months ago but the publish date should be within 2 months.
- By joining in with Country Kids you’re giving me permission to email you weekly as a reminder.
- There is no restriction on the number of posts that can be linked up, however please be sensible, if you have more than 3 consider linking over a few weeks.
My top commenters from last week:
- Emma from The Joy of Five who commented on 17 posts.
- Jenni from Odd Socks and Lollipops who commented on 16 posts
- Sanna from Wave to Mummy who commented on 15 posts.
Thanks to all of you who joined in last week and for the comments you took time to leave, we had a week with no link dumpers so a pat on the back to you all!
Rockfish kindly sponsor Country Kids
Win a pair of wellies from Rockfish Monthly
I am delighted to have Rockfish as the sponsor for Country Kids. Rockfish are a local Cornish company specializing in stylish quality wellingtons for all the family. We have been offering their country wellies in our borrow room here on the farm for over a year and they are always popular for their style, comfort and durability.
Each week my favourite #CountryKids posts, which include my badge or a link back here, will be considered for a free pair of Rockfish Wellies at the end of the month; the perfect way to enjoy the outdoors whatever the weather throws your way. Keep your posts coming, it could be you winning next!
For more more information on the Rockfish Wellies on offer with us and terms and conditions to win see here.
Favourite posts from 16th December added to the shortlist for winning the December / January Rockfish Wellies:
Top Commenter: Emma from The Joy of Five
- Snow has arrived in America and Mum turned Mom is making the most of it with her little girl
- Marsh Farm looks like a perfect place for visiting Santa for a great pre Christmas day out as told by Our Little Escapades
Country Kids Communities
I’d love you to join me:
Pin on the Pinterest Board Just ask for an invite to pin and include Country Kids on your pins for me to stop by on your boards too.
Follow Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays’s board Country Kids from Coombe Mill on Pinterest.
Join the growing Country Kids Instagram Community with #CountryKidsFun.
I'll like and comment on all and share my favourites from the week with a tag on a Friday on Instagram and Twitter. With over 7735 posts this community is flourishing with outdoors photos.
My bumper Christmas and New Year featured photos came from @lucyathomeblog @countryvicarswife @laurasidestreet @wouldliketobe@_lauriesharp @packetmixmum @four_acorns and @dear_mummy Please do check out these lovely folk on Instagram if you are not already following.
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Posted on January 5th, 2018 - Fiona
We make no secret of loving the beach at any time of the year; however one of my favourite days to visit is Christmas Day. The weather doesn’t need to be perfect, just warm enough to face changing into a wetsuit and dry enough not to ruin a walk. Christmas Day this year delivered on both these criteria with the typically Cornish mix of warm with outbreaks of drizzle and occasional sunshine. Just to further encourage a family beach visit Jed had a surf board for his Christmas present which he opened with great excitement here in the morning and couldn’t wait to test it out.
Everyone has their own Christmas Day traditions, ours is Stockings in the morning, followed by feed run with the guests and then family cooked brunch.
Refuelled by something warm to eat, we head out for a walk, preferably to the beach, while the Turkey cooks for an early evening Christmas dinner. I like it this way as it ensures I manage to join the family for the daylight hours and not be left stuck in the kitchen cooking. With the window wipes on and off during the car journey to the beach I had my doubts about our plan this year, however the kids were keen and who am I to stop their fun. Half of us hit the waves while half walked the beach and coast path. I left Theo with the camera so he is responsible for most of the beach photos.
I hadn’t thought to bring my long lens and really wanted to capture Jed trying out his new surf board so I risked my camera in the water and waded in while Theo held my surf board. I even managed a couple of little video clips before a wave nearly had me over and the camera ruined for good!
After nearly an hour in the water I had to drag the kids out, they were going blue but still having a wonderful time on their Christmas Day surf.
Changing back on the beach is the most unpleasant part, but we made up for it with the heating on high in the car going home and a wonderful traditional Christmas dinner within a couple of hours of being home.
I always say kids are like puppies, they need a good dose of exercise every day in order to relax quietly. Surfing and sea air clearly did the trick; they all played Monopoly and watched films with us in the living room late into the night. It was my perfect balanced Christmas Day.
A Christmas Day Surf 2017
Posted on January 1st, 2018 - Fiona
As 2017 closes and we look forward to the year ahead I like to take a little time out to see what we have achieved in the year and share some of our thoughts going forward. Every year seems to fly past quicker than the year before and it is only when I stop to look at all we have done that I realise why we are always so busy! New Year Resolutions scare me so I like to call them plans.
Building and Renovation
The big project for us has been bringing our latest holiday lodge to completion. We actually ran ahead of schedule and rented it out for the first time the week before May half term. Using everything we have learned to date on new builds, Polzeath is, without doubt, a cut above. The real highlight is the extra head room upstairs which we have used for a bespoke soft play room, a reading snug and still left ample of general play space which is filled with toys. If you have 1 or 2 preschool age children I can’t recommend this property enough at any time of the year.
In addition to the new lodge our maintenance program has continued as usual with Willow benefitting from a master bedroom make over and Heligan a new en-suite shower room.
Our lovely big old tractor was rusting beyond repair in the far play area. With the help of two tractors and a digger we finally managed to wave it goodbye. In its place my ambition to have a giant covered sand pit came to fruition. Thanks to the lovely play equipment folk at Big Game Hunters we furnished it with 8 shiny new play diggers which have been in constant use all season.
Our lambing season was a success with just one needing hand rearing this year. Friday (born on Good Friday) became everyone’s pet and even enjoyed the odd game on the x box in the evenings with my kids!
We began the year with a restraint on free ranging all our ducks and chickens. Farmer Nick spent all last Christmas building Chicken world to give luxury indoor living to our chickens. The chickens thrived in there over winter and we are now taking them indoors every year for the winter months. With ample daylight, nature toys and bespoke laying boxes they are safe from the fox and the weather.
New Animal fields
This winter has been remarkably mild and we were able to delay moving the animals onto hay. This was also helped by a cunning new fencing system from Farmer Nick which meant the goats and alpaca could free range the main tractor route around the lake in our low season. Treat foods for the animals, perfect strimming for us and very entertaining for the guests as the alpaca love to lead the feed run in the morning!
Marketing Success for Coombe Mill
I was thrilled to be a finalist and then actually win at the UK Blog Awards (UKBA) this year. The night of glitz and glamour unfortunately clashed with my triplets 13th birthday so I missed the big do in London was very grateful to fellow finalist and Cornish blogger Helena from Down side Up who collected my award for me.
Brit Mums Finalist
I was also honoured to be a finalist in the Brit Mums Blog Awards this year. This one I did get along to and had a wonderful couple of days catching up with old friends and new and learning plenty to take my blog forward again for another year.
Daily Express Feature on best family breaks
Thanks to a lovely review to the Daily Express from Clare Nicholas of Emmy’s Mummy and Harry’s Too Blog from her visits to Coombe Mill, we enjoyed a Daily Mail feature highlighting us as one of the best holidays for families with children and grandparents.
Facebook has been the focus of my social media this year and my page now has a following of nearly 6000 and a reach that peaked at over 10,000 a week. The review section has been a real win taking over from Trip Adviser as the main place for guests to leave comments. We have had some wonderful reviews with maximum star ratings. Thank you to everyone who has taken the trouble to write these, it is the best form of marketing I could hope for.
Personal highlights and events
2017 was the year I officially had 6 teenagers.
Alistair decided University just wasn’t for him and pulled out of Cardiff University studying Economics in his second year. He has returned home and joined our local holiday lodge builder to pursue what he really enjoys, working outdoors with his hands. He is now doing an apprenticeship with them in carpentry. I should have known when he spent so much time watching Grand Designs and working with the builders and Farmer Nick over the summer. It will be very handy to see him working here on our next lodge!
Felix passed his driving test within weeks of turning 17 and pulled some good grades in his AS level exams. He is applying for University next year after his A levels to study Business Management and Marketing. So far he has 2 unconditional offers and we are thrilled for him.
Theo is heading towards GCSE’s next summer and is still passionate about acting. He has joined the local amateur dramatics group where he is staring in Puss in Boots in February next year. He is now the tallest of us all at 6f 3″
The Triplets have just begun their GCSE subjects this year. Guy and Jed love their Rugby and play for the local town which keeps me driving all over Cornwall on Sundays for matches while Clio has kept up with her Ballet and Tap where she is now on grades 5 and 6.
Farmer Nick is still my jolly old farmer who likes nothing better than tinkering on the farm or working on our latest property project.
I turned 50 in the autumn and marked the occasion with a big party at our friendly village pub. All my family came along and I even have some teenage photos to share which have nicely updated the Family Page on our website and mug shots here.
Farmer Nick and I have also managed several short breaks away during the school holidays knowing we have 6 capable young adults who can keep the business going for us. This feels like a real milestone and one I plan to encourage next year. We also have Amber our onsite duty manager for when the older kids are not around or at school and college who is more than capable of overseeing the triplets and running the farm so finally it feels like we have some holiday time too.
New Year Plans for 2018
||We have begun with the first hole and hope to build this to 9 holes during the year.
|Playroom and link bedroom for Pencarrow
||Following the success of the conversion in Heligan Lodge, we plan to copy this in Pencarrow splitting the upstairs master bedroom to create a link bedroom and separate playroom.
|New Nature trail along the orchard
Farmer Nick created terracing along the orchard in the summer for ease of mowing and strimming. I plan to use the resulting space for a nature trail.
|Re plan the Welly Walk
||We talked about this last year and managed to add some bird feeders but it still needs more work. I like the idea of a Wonderland Walk.
||These need a freshen up with new trinkets and chippings and some pruning of the encroaching branches.
|Follow my own SEO advice from Brit Mums.
||We need to continue to improve our Google ranking for our farm holidays as we are still heavily dependent on repeat bookings which make up half of our turnover.
|New Farm Map
||Our current farm map on the website is an outdated old areal photo. We plan to update this with a more illustrative map to help you find your way around our 30 acres.
|What to do with the last 2 riverside lodges?
We still have the shell of 2 of our old riverside lodges waiting for a good use. We have already created a Gym, reception and Games room and boot room, what would you like to see next?
Come and Join us
We are set for another busy year and that really excites me. If you fancy coming and seeing how we are progressing there is nothing like a holiday planned to lift the January blues. Whether it is school holiday week or a cheeky weekend break, we’d love to welcome you to experience the magic of the farm.
Happy New Year and may all your new year wishes come true.