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.
Posted on September 3rd, 2017 - Fiona
For years I have been hankering after a giant sand pit for Coombe Mill. It has been one of those projects on the back burner for years since our old play boat sand pit fell apart. It takes a twist in events to bump something up the ‘to do’ list; in this case it was finally condemning the old Play Tractor as too rusty and unsafe, after years of happy use.
Now we had the perfect reason to introduce a giant sand pit and the only decisions became where to build it, how big and what toys to add.
Farmer Nick is on the job
The tractor had been down near the river but as this area can flood we decided to build the new giant sandpit higher up above the play fort. The space was limited by the bank behind but Farmer Nick never let something like this stand in his way, with his favourite toy the mini digger the bank retreated. We marked the area out with spray paint and Nick set to work helped by our eldest boys for the heavy concreting and lifting.
As always when Farmer Nick puts his mind to a project, it comes together remarkably quickly. I put the skeleton of the project up on Facebook to guess what we were up to and had a giggle at some of the suggestions with everything from a bar for parents to a lock up for naughty kids!
The roof began to go on and the boys work was nearing completion so it was over to me to decide what toys to add. I knew just the site to explore and took a look at the sand pits for sale over at Big Game Hunters for inspiration. There I found just what I was looking for, in amongst the fun shaped wooden sand pits was the perfect sand pit toy for us – mini diggers.
While we were building the sand pit all the children were fascinated with Farmer Nick’s mini digger and he had to be very careful to leave it safe and without keys at all times as the little ones couldn’t resist sitting up on the driver’s seat.
Our new all weather giant sand pit ready to use
A sand pit filled with mini diggers was the perfect answer for our farm holiday. What’s more at just £22 a digger they looked a bargain and we ordered 5 for our finished giant sand pit.
Needless to say both the sandpit and the diggers have been a huge hit with the children here. The imaginative play coming out from the sand pit is a delight to watch. Just listen to the conversation between the boys in this little video clip
It isn’t just boys enjoying it either, the girls have been creating in there too and buckets and spades and sandcastles have popped up between the diggers. The diggers are lightweight and the children can move them round the sandpit themselves to dig and re-dig to their heart’s content. I’m thrilled with this new all weather play feature which I hope will be in use here all year.
Curious about the old tractor?
Never one to throw things away, the old tractor top is now a mini field shelter in the goat field. As for the rest, the rusty old heap nearly defeated Farmer Nick and the boys towing it out, but with a borrowed flat bed trailer and two tractors they finally did it! I was so terrified for them watching it all with health and safety out the window I never took a photo.
Stay and play for all weather fun
If you have kids that would enjoy playing in our new giant sand pit and any of our other all weather play areas across our 30 acre farm why not take a look a look at our latest
price and availability.
We have some great
early bird discounts on next August too.
Posted on August 12th, 2017 - Fiona
This week, while my pictures are taken over the last 7 days, I’m actually talking about summer 2018 and some fantastic early bird discounts we have to share. When you have a young family, holidays to book at work and need to be organised, then getting ahead and booking a holiday well in advance can give you something to look forward to and take the pressure off last minute availability. If this appeals to you then read on as we have some cracking deals at the moment.
I have selected 4 of our properties in the mid price range and knocked a whooping £400 off the school summer holiday price for 2018. If this isn’t an offer worth shouting about I don’t know what is. We have never done this before but with BBC Breakfast TV unhelpfully putting down UK holidays this week and raving about Eastern Europe I thought it was time to fight back. If the possibility of airport delays, 40+ degree heat and worrying about falling ill abroad sounds off putting on your summer holiday then why not join us for all the fun of the farm, it really isn’t so expensive. At full occupancy this deal represents from £214 per person for a 7 day break (less than £30 per person per night). With farm rides, animals to feed, train rides, crafts and activities and acres of play areas we have a lot to offer. What’s more we have some pet friendly properties too so your 4 legged friend can join in the fun. Check out what others think on our Facebook Reviews and I hope you might pop over and bag yourself a bargain with us.
Willow and Honeysuckle cottages nestled in our lush valley. Perfect for those without pets and with young children
Water Mill dates back to the 16th Century. Quaint and quirky for families with older kids.
Inside Water Mill is a real fusion of old features and modern styling.
If modern and contemporary is more your style Eden lodge has the early bird discounts you need.
Check out the acres of space in the en-suite master bedroom
Enjoy the rest of your summer and remember our early bird discounts if you like to plan ahead for next year.
Posted on May 21st, 2017 - Fiona
In our next life Farmer Nick and I are coming back as property developers. Pardon me while I blow our joint trumpet for a moment, but we have now built or refurbished every cottage over the 15 years of owning Coombe Mill. Polzeath Holiday Lodge is the latest high specification bespoke property to add to the Coombe Mill estate. I’m thrilled with the result, it is perfect for a family of 4.
Planning a New Build
Planning and design begins around the kitchen table around 18 months before completion. Coombe Mill is set on the edge of an area of outstanding natural beauty and on the cusp of the river flood plain, idyllic for a holiday, but time consuming to create designs and applications in keeping with the beautiful surroundings and acceptable for planning regulations. Polzeath was approved as one of 8 new lodges and we were determined to make this the best blueprint we could for the 7 that will one day follow.
Keeping the cost down on the foundations
Cost and cash flow is always at the forefront of our mind and bookings need to be coming in to finance the expenditure going out. Farmer Nick is a wonderful handy man and learned so much about the building trade over the last 15 years that he delights in doing what he can himself. He dug out the foundations for Polzeath lodge on his own mini digger.
I love to see the concrete being poured into the foundation through the giant pipes on the lorry. For anyone who has visited us and worried about the lane, just remember this giant lorry makes it up and down with ‘relative’ ease!
The Builders Take Over on Polzeath
Once the October half term rush is over the boys from North Coast Log Cabins move in. North Coast is local to us and have built all our lodges from the play barn to Polzeath. They know just what we need, how to respect the holiday business around us and work well to deadlines, something critical for us. It feels very quick once they arrive to seeing the lodge go up.
By Christmas Polzeath was water tight and the rooms defined. However the time from Christmas to Easter seemed to drag as all the less glamorous jobs took place. Electrics, plumbing, plastering and carpentry were all messy an unexciting to show. Behind the scenes Nick and I were busy ordering bathrooms, kitchens, choosing colour schemes and the like so we are not holding things up when the builders were ready.
Here we are just weeks before the launch date still looking far from finished!
The Creative Bit
The internal layout follows the already successful blueprint of Trebah and Trevarno; however we made Polzeath taller to allow greater headroom upstairs. This gave us the chance to take the successful playroom format to a new level. Polzeath lodge has more than just a playroom; it is a 3 in one zoned floor with its very own soft play, reading snug and wealth of floor space and toys. We spent the most time researching this area to create something really special from a vast blank canvas.
You gave us the answers
While I give ourselves a pat on the back and marvel at the finished results, I have to also thank everyone who follows me on Facebook. On many occasions when Nick and I disagreed, or couldn’t decide which way to jump, I put the question out to you. The feedback has been so helpful and we really have taken the results on board.
Just look at this initial floatation of ideas for the upstairs space:
You chose a) soft play followed closely by b) Reading snug. We managed to do both and a general play space with seating based on the images above: You can read more about the finished playroom in yesterday’s post
If you don’t already follow my Facebook page please do, I really value all the input on there.
The Finished Polzeath Lodge Revealed
I was just a little excited as I made this little video the week we completed all the work.
Everything came together with the colour schemes and ultra contemporary feel I’d hoped for. All the planning, measuring and holding colour swatches of everything in my bag at all times paid off. Seeing the first family walk in and take in their new home for the week with the smell of fresh wood was payback in itself.
Behind the scenes the stress showed
There were moments of blood sweat and tears in the process, cross words between Nick and I and shouting at the kids that accompany the tension of adding a massive project onto an already busy lifestyle. However we always pull through, apologise to each other and value one another’s contribution. Neither Nick nor I could do it on our own, it is a real team effort including our kids, who as teens, were expected to jump in and help at the drop of a hat as a shouty parent demanded assistance. I hope we can make it up to each other over the summer months with some quality family time at our favourite beach, Polzeath of course!
Come and Stay at Polzeath Holiday Lodge
We are proud to be open for bookings now and even better, we have not set a premium on this exciting new build, so grab your calendar and head on over for a look!
Posted on May 20th, 2017 - Fiona
If you have a young family finding holiday accommodation that is truly child friendly can be a challenge. Having such child friendly accommodation is something we pride ourselves in. As our knowledge and experience of designing and managing new builds and refurbishments grows, so each new holiday lodge becomes more desirable for families. Polzeath is the name of our latest holiday lodge finished just this last week. It is our most superior and luxury holiday lodge yet featuring a bespoke personal playroom which is split into three sections occupying the whole of upstairs.
Soft Play in your own holiday lodge
We have a little room within the playroom kitted out for our younger guests with soft play. Watch them learn to build and stack the towers, create and ride a soft play train and take a slide down to ground level. There is even a concave window to watch what’s going on downstairs.
Quirky Reading Snug
This year’s latest trend in small spaces is a reading snug, somewhere for a little mature quiet time. We have filled our book shelves with all the latest new release books including ones from Lonely Planet Kids, Quarto Kids and Simon and Schuster . Educational reading time is fun in our cosy snug. Soft cushions and seating and a swishy curtain section this quiet area off from the rest of the playroom.
Fully kitted out Playroom
The middle of the room is simply furnished with a comfy sofa for parents. There are draws full of toys for the children to take out for play and building including a giant wooden train set, medieval castle and ride on Thomas the Tank Engine.
Book Polzeath Luxury Holiday Lodge with Bespoke Personal Playroom
You can check out the whole of the property including the modern and contemporary downstairs living space with a super king bedroom, twin room and 2 bathrooms on our webpage for Polzeath. We have space from October onwards this year and just one school holiday space on 26th August. I hope we might see you here soon.
If you are interested in the build process I have a follow up post tomorrow sharing the stages of building Polzeath holiday lodge over the past six months.
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