Posted on February 20th, 2017 - Fiona
Coombe Mill sits nestled in a beautiful woodland valley on the edge of Bodmin moor and an area of outstanding natural beauty. We take full advantage of our wonderful wooded back drop with all the crafts and activities we do with our younger holiday guests. For my children being outdoors and exploring nature is second nature and by the end of a week on the farm the children staying here have come to love and respect our woodland too. I’d love for children everywhere to experience the joy of England’s woodland, but sometimes it can be hard to know how to begin. Boolino have the answer with a new range of books from Maverick Arts Publishing based on ‘Woodland Hedgehugs’ with two dear little hedgehog characters.
Woodland Hedgehugs Horace and Hattie
Meet Horace ad Hattie the stars of the books; two lovable characters that will guide you through the woods with an adventure at every turn.
Treat yourself to the activity book and be inspired by countless activities and crafts for children to do, make and collect within the woods. No family walk need be dull again with inspiration from the book. From bark rubbing to play doe animal prints, tree identification to making your own woodland, this book has it covered.
We love the scavenger hunts the book suggests and regularly create them here, spotting colour in nature is a great way to appreciate the colours by season and animal tracks are fun to look for up in our deer field. We even have some handy reminders of the footprints to look for in our woodland fairy garden.
I am definitely trying out the musical sticks for one of our upcoming crafts; we have plenty of y shaped sticks to find and were given a box of bottle tops which will be perfect.
At just £5.99 this book is full of imaginative ideas that won’t cost you the earth to make, but create a zest for exploring our lovely woodlands, which in itself is an inexpensive family day out. The ideas in the book will engage children from age 3 to 8. I am very impressed with the book and will be using the ideas for future activity hour inspiration here on the farm.
After a busy day of exploring and making why not relax indoors with the delightful Hedgehugs storybook, or take it with you on a woodland exploration and read it under a tree? Learn all about how the Hedgehug name came about in an enchanting make believe story to set imaginations running. Priced at £6.99 it is one to read over and over. The book is not too wordy but has plenty of colourful illustrations that are perfect for younger preschool children.
Win your Woodland Hedgehugs Activity & Story Book with Boolino and Coombe Mill
If you fancy exploring your local woods inspired by some fun crafts and activities and relaxing with a good story after why not enter to win. Simply follow the instructions below.
Good luck to all taking part.
I was sent our copy of the Woodland Hedgehugs Activity Book and Hedgehugs story book for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed are my own. Coombe Mill holiday guests will find our copies to borrow in our games room.
Posted on February 18th, 2017 - Fiona
Following on from my posts about Athens and where we stayed in Kefisia, I’m sharing today the next leg of our Greek trip last summer. It’s a bit of a change from my Sunday photos on the farm but the area is so beautiful in a very different way to Cornwall, I wanted to share a little of what we enjoyed here and brighten up a Sunday in February.
Booking a holiday independently from the UK in an area you are unfamiliar with is not easy, even in the modern age of the internet. We wanted a two centre holiday, beginning with a few days in Athens and finishing with a few days on the coast. For our coastal stay the area near Nafplion, in the Peloponnese region south of Athens, appealed having good reviews. We randomly selected a hotel in a little village called Kantia. That was back in February last year and we had a whole 5 months to wait before we would find out if our choice was a wise one.
The Greek roads have been transformed out of all recognition in the 20 years since I last visited. A super new highway connected Athens with the Peloponnese and in our hire car, complete with sat nav; we reached our destination in under 3 hours. Stepping out of the car was like stepping back into the Greece I remembered; dusty roads, fabulous houses next to derelict ones, rooms to rent and a rather undiscovered beach devoid of all the touristy water sports. Instead the beach supported just the odd Taverna every 200 yards or so, lemon trees, olive trees, the odd dog lying underneath and our little hotel just 30 yards up a dirt track from the beach. This was clearly a place for the locals but with a Greek surname and a smattering of Greek it was just what we were hoping for.
After confusion on arrival and a misplaced booking we were in. Thank God my ever prepared husband had the bank statements and emails printed out to prove we had booked and paid. I did feel sorry for the flustered owner, it is my one nightmare, that the booking system will fail and I’ll have a family arrive I’m not expecting. I’m pleased to say in 15 years it has not yet happened!
Our 4 days here were perfect. After an adequate breakfast we set out exploring the area in the mornings covering Nafplion, Mycenae and Epidavros retreating back in the afternoon for a swim and siesta around the pool or down on the beach.
I love this photo of my eldest and his Dad (Farmer Nick) walking from the hotel to the beach together.
We explored on foot and swam for miles before falling into one of the two tavernas each night to watch the sun go down, sipping ouzo and indulging in the local Greek food.
Greek style squid is still one of my favourite meals
Sun setting inland over Kantia
Early Morning was my favourite time to swim when the sea was as calm as a pond
Tips and pitfalls of staying in Kantia
- We stayed in the Candia House Hotel. It is a mid range hotel, nothing fancy, a little tired but friendly and welcoming and more than adequate. We ended up in the Presidential suit after confusion with our booking, which was a cut above the other rooms. It had a pool and wonderful views out to sea from our suite and the breakfast room / veranda. There is shady parking area for cars and rooms are serviced daily. I would book here again if returning to Kantia.
- Pack light. We only travelled with hand luggage which saved us over £100 each and this was adequate in July. I never needed a jacket once; only swim wear, shorts, tops and a couple of floaty dresses.
- It is suitable for children but be careful in the water as it shelves very quickly so younger children may find swim aids helpful.
- My favourite time to swim was at sunrise and after dark when the sea was like a lake. A wind whipped up the waves during the day.
- WiFi is excellent all around. There is free beach WiFi and it was free in the Tavernas and in our hotel.
- You have to feel comfortable with the Greek style of eating. There is only Greek food on the menu and it is served Greek style, i.e. haphazardly when it is ready. We were happy to go with the flow and share everything, but if you like to order and eat your own it is not ideal as one dish may be half an hour ahead of another.
- Watch out ordering wine, it is only local and pretty poor quality. I loved the old peasant wine Retzina, however this is no longer sold even in the supermarkets, the replacement is quite poor if you like a good sauvignon like me. Local beer is a better bet.
- In the absence of good wine I developed a taste for the local Ouzo with ice. Watch out though as the little bottles I had were 75% proof and more like half pint sized!
- The locals all speak excellent English and are very hospitable so asking anything is easy.
- Kantia is a made up spelling from the Greek alphabet. Unfortunately every map producer has chosen a different English equivalent meaning you have to watch for signs to Kantia, Cantia, Candia and try them all in a sat nav!
- We hired a car from Kafisia where were staying in Athens via Hertz rental and opted for the Sat Nav too. It was a 5 seater costing £320 for 4 days returning to Athens Airport which is well signed on the return journey. Petrol is a similar price to the UK.
Would I recommend Kantia?
If you want to experience the real Greece then this is a great holiday, however if you want modern resort facilities and a variety of cuisine this may not be for you. The beaches were quiet during the week but busy at the weekend as the Athenians came down for their weekend / day retreat. For me it was perfect and just what I hoped for my boy’s age 16 and 18. This year we are tied to school holidays again and will be enjoying the summer from home in Cornwall, however I hope to return with our younger children one day.
Posted on February 17th, 2017 - 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 100 things to do before you are 11¾ along with all other ideas for family fun outside.
Share your half term fun here
I hope you have enjoyed a good half term week and a much needed break from the school routine. We have split the week between here on the farm with our holiday guests and visiting family in London and Sussex. That’s a whole lot of travelling in a short space of time, but it has given us a chance to enjoy some family adventures out and about which I will be sharing here over the coming weeks. I hope you have managed time away from screens this past week with an adventure or two to share with me on the link up below.
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 11th February:
1st Sonia from Mamma’s School and Sonia from Mummy Constant who both with 22 comments
2nd Helen from The Princess and The Pickle with 21 comments
3rd Helena from The Queen of Collage and Emma from South West Reviews with 18 comments
Thank you so much to everyone who joined in last week we had NO LINK DUMPERS. Thank you for making the Country Kids community such a lovely place to link up and be inspired for outdoor fun.
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 last week added to the shortlist for winning the February Rockfish Wellies:
Top Commenters : Sonia from Mamma’s School and Sonia from Mummy Constant.
West Country Mum enjoyed a birthday celebration in the snow in the Brecon Beacons
Discovering hidden gems just around the corner was in store for Kids of the Wild on their latest adventure.
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 1500 posts this community is flourishing with outdoors photos.
My favourite photos from the week came from @tucker_and_henry, @bugbirdbee2, @lesbemums & @bridiebythesea. Please do check out these lovely folk on Instagram if you are not already following.
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Posted on February 17th, 2017 - Fiona
Winter can feel very long without a few things to look forward to. One tradition we have is a family winter short break to our favourite hotel in Devon on a weekend when we have no visitors at Coombe Mill. We spotted our chance and booked up.
The hotel is one we have been going to for 21 years, since our honeymoon. I’d have never thought back then that it would be somewhere we would still be returning to all these years later with our now almost fully grown 6 children. It is pricey and so 2 nights in mid winter is all we can stretch too but we all look forward to the break.
Our first day was met with a real south westerly wind and drizzle, not to be put off some of us braved the coast path.
The more sensible ones opted for the badminton and squash courts and it wasn’t long before we caught them up for some inter family challenges.
The outdoor pool was unsurprisingly closed but thankfully the indoor one was open and the kids were in and out all weekend when they had a spare half hour.
Day two was quite different with glorious sunshine and warm too, there was no time for indoor swimming as we headed out to wear off our indulgent breakfast. Guy and Jed fancied themselves as the next Wimbledon stars
The others dabbled at golf. This is Farmer Nick’s passion and a big part of choosing this hotel 21 years ago. He has so much patience teaching the children and keeping their spirits up after landing in the rough.
I find golf very frustrating and am happy to enjoy the coast path after failing to gain a true golf score again!
After a full day of outdoor fun dressing up for dinner is a treat and enjoying the odd mocktail or cocktail down in the bar.
Even with one very rainy day we had another wonderful visit and returned to the farm feeling refreshed and ready to greet those visiting us for a welcome winter short break.
Do you have a short break to look forward to in winter?
Posted on February 13th, 2017 - Fiona
When it comes to engaging preschool children in education, we know appealing to all the senses is the key to success. Little ones are always eager to learn so long as you can tap into the way young minds think. They may not be ready for formal schooling but they can still enjoy books that are colourful and engaging, interactive and cover subjects the children can relate to. The clever folk at Quarto Kids know this all too well and now have 2 great themed books to add to their collection for age 3 plus. Called Pairs, they incorporate the classic memory game of matching pairs within beautiful rhyming non-fiction books on either life underwater or in the garden.
A Rhyme on each page gives a little information about the creature featured. Then there are challenges to spot and a ‘lift the flap’ pair’s game too. With so much fun on each hard back page, these books teach children about the underwater world and life in the garden without them even realising they are learning.
Here on the farm we try to do just what these 2 books do in our activity hour by making learning fun. A favourite topic is bug hunting and butterfly crafts. I will be sure to introduce ‘Pairs in the Garden’ to our next bug themed hour.
With Coombe Mill being close to some fabulous sandy beaches, our holiday makers always enjoy a beach day or two and tell me of star fish or crabs they have found, while here on our lakes we like to go pond dipping to see what lives in there. Pairs underwater will be perfect for expanding this activity.
Need to Know
RSP £6.99 per book
Available from the Quarto Kids website
Hardback cover and pages
7 Lifting flaps to play pairs on every double page
5 double pages in each book
Suitable for Age 3+
Written by Smriti Prasadam-Halls
Illustrations by Lorna Scobie
We love these little multipurpose interactive books and can’t wait to work with them. At £6.99 they are great value for money and would be ideal as a birthday gift or pocket money treat.
Win Pairs in the garden AND Pairs underwater with Quarto Kids and Coombe Mill
For your chance to win a copy of both Pairs books simply follow the instructions below.
Good luck to all taking part
I was sent our copies of Pairs in the Garden and Paris underwater for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Coombe Mill holiday guests can borrow our copies from the games room during their stay.