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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A windy day last week saw the Deer’s favourite tree come crashing down through the fence, lopping off some Oak branches before coming to rest in the pony field. It was a quick patch up job to bodge the fencing, before really getting to grips with repairing the damage.
Rotten yet beautiful
The old beech tree turned out to be rotten right through with only around 6 inches of strong trunk holding it up all round the edge. The structure itself is full of interest, call me a nerd, but 30 plus centimetre fungus in layers hanging off the sides is really quite fascinating along with the soft light interior. I wish I had a more elaborate camera to demonstrate!
What about the Deer?
Funnily enough the Deer must be creatures of habit, they still gather in the same far corner of their field during the feed run, even though their best camouflage tree is lying on the ground! As we creep up on them in the mornings they still make a dash down to the bottom of the field.
Turns out the goats are now in heaven. They currently share the deer field and oak leaves to them are like cake to you and me, the beech a close 2nd place! Just as well goats are deft climbers as the tree is so large and precariously fallen only they can wind their way in amongst the spindly branches for the tastiest leaves. Farmer Nick thinks the tree will keep them going all year, if they can ration themselves, I fear they will gobble up all the best bits and go pop beforehand!
The children have all been quick to see the attraction of the fallen Beech too. The potential for a natural climbing frame always so much more fun than one purpose built! My children are also planning den building and camps with great enthusiasm!
Farmer Nick, Always the Opportunist
Farmer Nick and a chainsaw are never far behind a fallen tree! The branches crashing though the fencing are already being collected for next year’s firewood to fuel our cottage and lodge wood burners.
3 Cheers to the British Beech
The old beech tree really was a beauty in all its years standing, yet is now still proving it still has much to offer for us at Coombe Mill!
I am sure we wern’t promised a sunny day, but when it snuck up on me yesterday I had to make the most of it. After a lovely morning feed run, Farmer Nick and our eldest son Alistair drove off with friends to Plymouth to watch the Americas Cup (sailing), leaving me and the younger children behind. I could so easily have lost myself in the office and kitchen for the day but the sun shine was just too tempting!
Just chilling out
Clio and I wandered out onto the farm on own at first, only to find many of our guests making the most of the various Coombe play areas too. As usual it was minutes before I was happily chatting to the parents and Clio playing with their children.
Lunch out on the veranda with Clio retelling her morning adventures meant I had a queue of requests from the boys to go out on the farm with them in the afternoon! Why is it that they can jump on the trampoline at any time, but it’s only if I jump on it with them or we climb a tree together that it becomes an adventure?
Not so welcome
Our guests were not necessarily delighted to see my boys appear, like a tornado ripping through, shouting, pushing (each other) and general showing off. They meant no harm of cause, but they are bigger than the tots we welcome here in term time and despite my best efforts to shush at them I think everyone was pleased when the ‘bigger boys’ moved on and peace was restored for toddler play!
Theo and I stopped by the orchard to gather apples, it has only been going 2 years but already we are benefiting!
Nick and Alistair came back with stories of over turned boats and disqualifications and tremendous speeds in the sailing, before heading off to clear some new land we have just purchased near the cottages. This of cause was perfect boy stuff and all the boys disappeared together on the tractor for tools, equipment and a lesson in tree chopping from Dad!
Family Catch up time
The perfect opportunity for me to finish off the gammon in cider casserole I had been trying to get stuck into all day! With my monseter size cooking pot and 3 large gammon joints there was plenty for my hard working wood choppers and a few meals for the freezer in the shop too. Everyone had a story to tell over dinner from trampoline flips to over turned boats, new friends to aching shoulders.
I am just a real mother hen, happy to see them happy and making the most of their childhood here at Coombe Mill.
Picnics remind me of my own childhood, of freedom, fun, friends, happy times and play. I suppose this is why I am such a fan. They are a break from the routine, a chance to chill out without the formality of meals at home or at a restaurant and therefore always popular with small children. The sitting still etiquette can be wavered at a picnic introducing a fun element. My children always end up eating twice as much as they would round the table at home.
All the fun and excitement and you save a fortune compared to eating out too! No stressing over whether they like cafe/restaurant food, whether it is good for them, whether or not to let them have the fizzy drinks, and worrying that they don’t like it after you have paid and waited to be served. All the content of the picnic and the time of when you eat it can be exactly as you choose. Now I think about it that has huge advantages!
When and where to Picnic
We are huge picnic fans and take every opportunity. We have even been known to carry a picnic to the play area or front lawn at Coombe Mill and indeed I have seen many of our guests do the same. The If you are not staying with us then a picnic in the garden with a sun tent or in the local park can be a great half day activity. The beach is another favourite for us, all that running around building sandcastles and paddling and the kids are always ready to eat an hour earlier than usual! A quick hand rinse in a rock pool and they are ready to tuck in! Any day trip is worthy of a picnic, in Cornwall we have so many family attractions which make a great day out and every time the picnic wins for us. Having 8 in our family makes finance a big factor but for all the convenience and fun factors already mentioned I think we would choose a picnic anyway!
What to pack for a picnic
I always vary my picnics to keep it interesting but have a few golden rules:
Never pack chocolate in the summer or anything else you are worried about going off or melting
Make more sandwiches / rolls than you would at home, kids will eat more outdoors!
Pasties, sausage rolls or toasted sandwiches wrapped in foil are good alternatives to sandwiches for a change
Use the picnic as an excuse to have some of the treats you don’t always allow at home (crisps are a winner with mine, they are a real treat food normally and they don’t melt or go off)
Bought little cakes or biscuits are popular with us as I always bake my own at home
Dried fruit like raisins and apricots or carrot batons travel better than fresh fruit
Pack plenty of drinks, water or squash but they will drink more on a picnic too.
On colder days a flask of hot chocolate goes down well
For a real last minute picnic simply drop into your local supermarket and buy everything en route, no hastle at all, all the fun and still much less money than eating out!
A few extra tips from experience
Always know where the nearest toilets are to your picnic spot – kids always eat then need the loo!
Wet wipes for sticky fingers
Use disposable containers – I recycle ice cream tubs – then you can throw it all away afterwards
Don’t stress about making and packing the picnic, simple and quick is fine or it becomes a chore
My first guest blogger writing for the Coombe Mill site is Georgina from Gem Writing. She is a freelance copywriter specialising in marketing for small businesses and lover of North Cornwall so I was delighted when she offered to share her favoutite days out with us. I have added our pictures to Georgina’s copy as we agree with her selection and have been to many of these treasures too……..
Here’s what she says:
Coombe Mill Farm is an idyllic base to explore North Cornwall. And with wild Atlantic coastlines, sandy surfing beaches and pretty coastal villages alongside major tourist attractions there’s plenty to please all the family.
With so much on offer here’s a list of ten must-do activities to take the pain out of planning.
1.Sunbathe and sandcastles at POLZEATH BEACH.
Surf’s Up Surf School where all 6 of mine go
At low tide this surfer’s paradise offers up masses of golden sand. Polzeath is also great for sunbathing and sandcastles making it perfect for families as well as the surfing dudes. Polzeath explodes in the summer when the beach, shops and cafés become a hive of activity. For surfy things check out Surf’s Up Surf School, and if you want some adrenaline pumping action try Cornish Rock Tors. Alternatively for a scenic coastal walk take the buggy friendly route to Daymer Bay or the more challenging trek to Pentire Point and beyond.
1.Lookout for dolphins on the Jubilee Queen at PADSTOW.
You can arrive at this picturesque working fishing port via the Camel Trail or the Padstow Rock Ferry. Stroll around the harbour and browse the plethora of interesting shops and places to eat. For lunch you can takeaway Rick Steins Fish and Chips or a Cornish pasty. And if you want to get on the water, a cruise on the Jubilee Queen is a great family treat (if you get really lucky you could spot dolphins).
2.Cycle the CAMEL TRAIL.
Join this popular cycle path at Padstow, Wadebridge or Bodmin and follow the easy going trail as it winds along the beautiful Camel Estuary. It’s suitable for most ages and abilities. And if you don’t have your own bikes, you can hire every variety imaginable. Even younger children can join in on tag-alongs, and buggies mean babies in car seats can enjoy the ride. Try Bridge Bike Hire.
The last stretch of the trail arriving at Padstow
3.Hunt out old fishing communities at PORT QUINN, PORT ISSAC & BOSCASTLE.
You could do these in a day, but children may prefer to explore the pick of North Cornwall’s villages at a slower pace.
Take a picnic to the tranquil rocky cove at Port Quinn. At low tide kids will love exploring the exposed nooks, crannies and caves. And if the sea is calm, the cove is safe for a paddle or a dip.
The busy village of Port Issac of Doc Martin fame has pretty whitewashed cottages and narrow streets and alleyways to wander through. Explore the working harbour, browse the gift shops and catch a view of the fishing boats from a dainty café.
Further north is Boscastle. Its recent floods are documented in the child friendly visitor centre located near to the medieval harbour. Other attractions include the Museum of Witchcraft.
4.Let their imaginations run wild at TINTAGEL
Legend tells that Tintagel is the birthplace of King Arthur. It’s still home to the ruins of his castle as well as Merlin’s cave. Pack some hardy shoes and climb the winding cliff path to the castle ruins to enjoy stretching views of the rugged Cornish coastline. Buggies aren’t allowed so this adventure may be difficult for very young children. Other attractions include the Old Post Office along with interesting souvenir shops and various eateries. And when you want a rest The Cornishman Inn has a spacious play area and will keep children occupied while you relax with your drink.
5.Enjoy the atmosphere at NEWQUAY.
Fistral Beach is the main attraction with its fantastic surf – but away from the surfing scene this laid back town has something for everyone. There’s a youthful vibe and crowds flock for the thriving nightlife and array of water activities. Alongside there are plenty of attractions to keep the family entertained including Newquay Zoo and Blue Reef Aquarium. And nearby Watergate Bay is an idyllic expanse of sand so perfect for picnics and sandcastles
6.Have fun together at CORNWALL’S CREALY.
If your kids are crazy for a theme park, Cornwall’s Crealy is your nearest choice. With drop slides and mazes in the large indoor play areas this attraction offers all weather fun. The outdoor “Big Six” rides include some get wet ones so if it’s chilly consider packing cagoules! What’s more your tickets give entry for seven days, and if you visit in peak season there may be a children’s character appearance.
The new ride at Crealy for 2011
7.Experience other climates at THE EDEN PROJECT.
Where else in the world could you experience a taste of the tropics and the Mediterranean in one place? The Eden Project’s iconic biomes and inspirational vision make this unique garden a holiday essential! There is something to inspire everyone from horticultural delights to delicious food, some of which is grown on site. In school holidays the Eden team put on some brilliant activities to inspire and entertain your children so check out their website for the latest offering.
8.Watch the cows being milked at DAIRYLAND.
DairyLand successfully combines education with fun. Watch the cows being milked in the “orbiter”, and browse the farming relics and rural history displays in the Cornish Heritage Museum. Kids will love the huge indoor “Bull Pen” (perfect for escaping the Cornish summer showers) as well as the outdoor play areas and pony rides. What’s more your admission price includes 7 days of unlimited entry.
Our triplets when they were little enjoying Dairy land!
9.Ride and groom the ponies at SPRINGFIELDS PONY CENTRE.
Springfields is great if you love ponies. There’s a range of species waiting to be groomed and ridden including Shetland, Gypsy and Dartmoor. Away from the ponies children can run riot in the giant indoor play barn, take a ride on the Springfields Express or visit the farm animals. And the eight acre Old Quoit Wood is perfect for a woodland walk and local wildlife spotting.
Bonus trip – Express your arty side at ST IVES.
If you are happy to travel for more than one hour, St Ives is worth the journey. The streets of this bustling seaside town are lined with the workshops and galleries of local artists. The Tate is worth a look even if you aren’t a modern art fan, and there’s plenty inside to inspire your children’s creativity. Away from the art scene amble through the maze of cobbled streets, explore the working harbour, or enjoy a fun packed day on the beach. For something different children will love the stunning train route into St Ives. Take the First Great Western Train from Bodmin Parkway or St Erth.
Happy to travel for more than an hour? These are the pick of other further a field destinations.
“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.