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.
Welcome back to the Coombe Mill blog for a new year of farm fun and holiday activities. I’m starting the year with a traditional review of the plans I set out this time last year. As always there are some great achievements and some things that fell off the radar, however it is a good way to see the year that was 2018 in review and use this to plan ahead for 2019.
How did we do against our 2018 Targets?
Last year these were the things on our to do list:
This has been a popular activity for all the family
Playroom and link bedroom for Pencarrow
FAIL. the popular Heligan format is going to be carried over again for next year.
Nature Trail along the orchard
Became a fun Kindness Trail for reflective time
Re-plan the Welly Walk
FAIL. I wanted to make more of this and it just didn’t happen in 2018.
Update the Fairy gardens with new decorated stones, trinkets and regular new chippings
This ever popular area is constantly being updated
Keep on top of SEO
This is a harder one to call a pass or fail. I feel I’m slowly moving forward in my understanding yet slipping back in an ever crowded market place where SEO logarithms are moving faster than my knowledge.
FAIL. These are currently used as storage awaiting more exciting plans.
In summary a mix of success with some outstanding projects to carryover. However we did bring in some left field initiatives that sapped up our time too.
Additional Achievements for the farm and business in 2018
Updated wifi directly into all properties
Enjoy free wi fi inside all 11 properties
New Kitchen for Honeysuckle
Farmer Nick shows his new carpentry skills
New kitchen doors fitted in Millers House
New Door panels and modern handles
Introduction of guinea Pigs
5 Guinea Pigs and 3 babies take us into 2019
Introduction of miniature Shetland ponies
Shaggy and Scooby Doo are as cute as can be
New marketing initiatives such as our ‘refer a friend’ scheme and branded mugs.
Refer a friend and save money for them and you. #CoombeMillHolidays and if I share your post you take home one of these lovely mugs. Perfect for our morning feed run.
The Coombe Mill Blog
I began to pull back a little on the blog even giving up hosting the Country Kids Linky after 7 years of weekly posts. Sadly with children aged 14 – 20 outdoor play posts are a little too tricky. Three of my favourite outdoor bloggers, who have supported Country Kids each week, have collectively taken over and doing a great job. I still join in with activities we do here with the guests as outdoor fun and back to nature are still something I’m passionate about for children. Do join Louise at Little Hearts Big Love, Lucy at Kids of the Wild and Helena at Queen of Collage if you can where the link up still runs each Saturday to Wednesday.
I backed out of blogging awards in 2018 and didn’t put myself forward for any. I feel the blogging community has been more than generous to my little blog over the years. On the back of this I was pleasantly surprised and delighted to find myself with a new award.
On a Personal Note
We had a big year of exams for 2 of our boys.
Felix achieved ABB in his A levels and secured his first choice university place studying Marketing management with psychology at Sussex University. At the end of the first term he has won the business school challenge, made some great friends, partied hard and consumed far too much alcohol. I’m thrilled about most of this!
Theo scrapped 6 GCSE passes including the all important Maths and English and began a level 3 diploma in Creative Media at a newly opened local collage. At the end of the first term he loves his course, tutors and friends. His end of term report and parents evening has him heading for a distinction. This is certainly a change for the better from his school reports.
Ally, the eldest continues to thrive on his carpentry while the triplets (Guy, Jed and Clio) are preparing for GCSE mocks back at school this week. They are only year 10 so I think this is to give them an idea of how much they still need to do.
Farmer Nick and I have started taking more short breaks as the kids are now more than capable of running the business for us for a couple of days. Each has their area of expertise and it’s wonderful to be able to leave the farm and holiday makers in safe hands.
Business Plans for 2019
Willow Kitchen makeover to bring it up to date like Honeysuckle.
Welly walk theme. I need to crack this one and bring the trail to life this year.
Replace Farm fencing this may not sound exciting but the fence posts have rotted through on so many of our fences thanks to stringent EU rules on tanalized wood. Replacing many has now become an expensive priority.
Website: I am toying with a website revamp next year primarily to make booking via a mobile more viable.
Advertising I need to expand my reach for our holidays beyond social media and my blog which has been the focus for the past 7 years. I will still post here weekly, but also look at how else I can bring our educational farm holidays to the attention of families with young children.
As always I’m sure there will be many more opportunities that present themselves during the year and new projects that we will undertake. I am excited to meet the challenge and hope that you might visit us on holiday and see how we are progressing.
Soft Play is one of those love or loath activities. Usually loved by kids and loathed by parents. However on a rainy day they are a very handy stand by for using up excess energy for little ones. Much as I would love to pretend every day delivers beautiful sunshine for a holiday here in Cornwall, I know that just won’t wash. The reality is we experience our fair share of westerly winds bringing associated showers. Having soft play here at Coombe Mill is a sociable and fun way to dodge the rain clouds on the less than perfect beach days.
Making soft play bearable for parents
My relocation of soft play was always that they were made much more bearable with a decent coffee in hand! We have a table and chairs in the soft play barn for parents to watch over children at play. We request that no food and drinks are taken onto the play equipment, however bringing your real coffee over from your property to enjoy at the table is very much encouraged along with a snack for the children. There is even a highchair in there.
Soft play with space for parents to sit and kids to run and play
A game of chase is fun in a group
Round and round they go climbing up….
….And sliding down
Before flopping in the ball pit to catch their breath
Location, location. location
Our play barn is central to Coombe Mill, whether you stay in a cottage or a lodge the soft play barn is no more than a couple of minutes walk away. The morning tractor and trailer ride begins and ends just outside so children can easily run from one activity to the next. The soft play barn is just one of the all weather attractions here at Coombe Mill, so that you never need worry about the weather or the time of year you decide to visit.
Pin for Later: Soft Play at Coombe Mill for rainy days on holiday
Updating and upgrading our holiday cottages and lodges at Coombe Mill is a rolling programme. Now that we are at the end of the 2018 season we have time on our hands and properties empty we are able to work on the most pressing jobs. Honeysuckle and Willow cottages are semi detached and built in the 1980s. They have undergone a number of updates over the years including numerous soft furnishing updates, a playroom in the eves, a new fireplace, new windows and doors and the addition of superking bedrooms. It is the quality real wood kitchens have never changed. The trouble with great quality is they date before they ever wear out. This is the case here. Not wanting to throw the baby out with the bathwater we have worked around the quality fittings to give a modern look with our kitchen makeover.
Farmer Nick the Carpenter
It is actually our eldest son who is approaching the end of his carpentry course; however he has been seriously impressed, as am I, with how Farmer Nick has approached his first job. Together we choose the new worktops, sink, taps and tiles however it is Farmer Nick who has fitted and plumbed everything. Only the original quality units remain but with a modern neutral paint over to bring them up to date.
Kitchen Makeover for Honeysuckle Holiday Cottage
Looking down on the new kitchen from the mistral gallery
Open plan kitchen through to living room
Living Room with modern fireplace and new sofas
Standing back in the wintry afternoon sun, I am happy Honeysuckle is an up to date choice for our holiday makers again. Farmer Nick will be capitalising on his new carpentry and plumbing skills with a mirror makeover in Willow holiday cottage next. I hope you’ll find an occasion to come and see what we’ve achieved.
Front of Honeysuckle and Willow cottages
Pin for Later: Honeysuckle Holiday Cottage – Kitchen Makeover
It isn’t very often I go out to snap a few photos and share without any editing, but my photos this week are indeed unedited. Not a tweak, a highlight or a boost, just raw photos. Coombe Mill is set on the edge of an area of outstanding natural beauty. Our valley is wooded and lush and our 12 properties are spread out, set back along the riverbank. I find it hard to convey the feeling of space and beauty here, the sense of calm and rest and of being at one with nature. However on a sunny May morning Coombe Mill takes some beating for shear natural beauty. Anything I tried to add to these photos of our relaxing gardens just detracted from the original, so in keeping with the saying “why change what isn’t broke” I have left them all unedited. The pictures still don’t do justice to the beauty of the season here, or convey the amount of space there is to explore, but hopefully it gives you an idea.
All our Lodges face down to the river Camel. The field gardens offer plenty of open space perfect for picnics and play or just relaxing and listening to the river.
Polzeath lodge is our newest holiday lodge with it’s own fenced garden leading to the wide open field.
Across the lane Coombe Mill continues. This photo is the private front garden to Water Mill with the lane and more cottage gardens beyond.
A sweeping drive leads from the lane to Tree Roots, Honeysuckle and Willow Cottages with relaxing gardens either side.
Space and facilities on the cottage lawns leading to the river.
We still have a few summer spaces if you fancy loosing yourself in our relaxing gardens this summer, experiencing our enchanting river and learning all about the farm.
Usually for my week in photos I share the happenings on the farm. I’ve looked at the early signs of spring unfolding here in Cornwall and the fun of the farm on a winter holiday, but I rarely come back to our holiday accommodation. We have just 11 properties here at Coombe Mill, each of which are bespoke mixes of old and new cottages and contemporary Scandinavian style lodges. This past week I have been updating the website photos inside our earliest 2 bedroom lodge, Trebah. I thought I’d share a selection of the photos here too.
The wood interior darkens over time, and as we constantly replace furnishings, keeping photos up to date as a true representation of our properties is important. Like all our lodges Trebah is named after a famous Cornish attraction. Trebah Gardens are set in a beautiful sub tropical location much like the hamlet that forms Coombe Mill and it felt like an obvious name choice having visited the gardens. Over the years our very own Trebah has grown into its name.
As the addition of Trevarno and most recently Polzeath have since been built based on the successful layout of Trebah, I felt it was time to return to our original two bedroom property and give it a little focus. My style of photography has moved on since 2010 when Trebah was built as has my camera quality. Gone are the old over staged grainy photos to be replaced by these new, more simplistic and representative images. Hopefully any prospective family of four looking to book will be able to picture themselves relaxing into a holiday here in this comfortable and very practical holiday lodge.
Looking at Trebah holiday lodge from dining area through to lounge.
Compact kitchen with every home from home appliance included.
Simple and stylish furnishings with feature woodburner.
Super King bedroom En-suite with space for a cot.
Upstairs is just a giant playroom. Stair gates are built in.
The outside photos also need an update on the website but I’m waiting for spring to fully show it’s hand before updating these.
“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.