Posted on December 8th, 2018 - Fiona
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
Posted on November 24th, 2018 - Fiona
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
Posted on May 26th, 2018 - Fiona
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.
Posted on February 3rd, 2018 - Fiona
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.
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.