Christmas Eve Activity Hour

Posted on January 6th, 2017 - Fiona

Christmas on the farm has been a whirl of fun and laughter. Coombe Mill was fully booked and with many returning for a second or third Christmas with us, expectations were riding high for our special Christmas Eve activity Hour following the success of last year.  I spent some time planning and preparing and it was worth it with so many joining in.

christmas eve activity hour

Dressed as Mrs Claus, I explained to an attentive audience all the things I hoped to complete in the afternoon.  First off was baking biscuits for the children to leave out for Santa as I had been tipped off that these were a favourite of his.

Making Cookies at Coombe Mill

With biscuits baking we set about making our Christmas Gift Tree Decorations. I have a lovely tutorial for this one over on #Trash2Treasure if you fancy doing them next year. They are really simple and fun and made a great way to decorate our Christmas Tree ahead of the party later that evening.

making the christmas gift tree decorations

Moving on we made some fun Christmas Eve Reindeer and Santa Tags ready for when our biscuits came out of the oven. The children were really thoughtful with their messages to Santa on the back.

making the Reindeer and Santa tags

The Games room was smelling delicious as the biscuits came out of the oven. However they were still very hot so we took everyone off on the elf  trail we had laid out beforehand. Each child had a sheet to tick off the elves as they found them and to make a note of the letter hidden behind each elf.

on the elf hunt

 At the end of the Trail the children rearranged the letters to make the word “Rudolph”.  Such a simple idea but they had a wonderful time and were thrilled to complete their sheets.

Completing the Coombe Mill Reindeer trail on Christmas Eve. #reindeertrail #countrykidsfun #outdoorsandhappy #coombemillxmas #coombemill #trail #forest #woods #whatevertheweatherkids #curiouslittleexplorers #outdoorfun #kidsoutdoors #activekids #adventure

A photo posted by Coombe Mill (@coombemill) on

And there was more Elf fun!   

At the end of the bamboo tunnel my little elves were waiting to hand out reindeer food to go with the tags the children had made earlier and chocolate pennies for discovering the word.

lining up for the elves

The children queued to visit the elves and then took advantage of a little adventure play while everyone had their turn.

on the rope swing

There were a few wet welly boots by the time we returned to the games room but everyone was refreshed and ready to wrap and tag their Santa biscuit parcels and reindeer  treats. 

finishing off the santa and reindeer gifts

I was amazed we managed to pack everything in with so many, but we were on a tight timescale with the Santa Express firing up in the distance. I’ll be sharing all about that one next week. It’s safe to say children staying here are more than ready for their beds by the end of Christmas Eve at Coombe Mill!


I hope your Christmas Eve was fun packed too.

Country Kids

Trash 2 Treasure January 17

Posted on January 1st, 2017 - Fiona

Welcome to a new year of Trash 2 Treasure.  I hope you’ve all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year. I can’t quite believe it is 2017 but I’m looking forward to watching the days begin to draw out a little this month and seeing if I can spot the first buds on the trees.  With Chinese New Year this month and Valentine’s Day next month there are plenty of opportunities to get your crafting hats on. Alternatively why not share how you use up your Christmas turkey leftovers or inspire me for the mountain of nut shells I am looking at in our house. Whether you are sewing, crafting, cooking or sawing I love to see all your upcycled ideas.

My photo below is from our New Year’s Eve crafting here on the farm, while my post this month looks forward to Chinese New Year.

Trash 2 Treasure January 2017

Joining in with Trash 2 Treasure

  1. Trash 2 Treasure is all about upcycling. Posts should be about making something foraged from nature, household throw away items or low value items you have added value to.
  2. Posts can take any form, all that matters is that the item made has primarily been upcycled. Whether you cook, sew, make or create I’d love you to join me.
  3. The linky will run on the 1st Monday of every month and stay open for the full month.
  4. There is no post limit as the link up is open all month.
  5. Old posts and new posts welcome.
  6. Please comment on my host post and at least 2 others and use #Trash2Treasure in the sign off so other’s know where you came from and can pop back to see what you have made too.
  7. Do remember to pop back during the month to check on later posts linked up. I will share linked posts during the month as a reminder to pop back and as a thank you for joining in.
  8. Please add my Trash 2 Treasure badge to help others find the link up and to be in with a chance of winning the lovely Duck Tape Colours (see below). 

Most of my Trash 2 Treasure tutorials will come from fun keepsakes we have made with the children in our farm activity hour, but sometimes I share bigger upcycling projects from the farm too. I hope through the linky to acquire some new ideas from you.

A little extra from the awesome folk at Duck Tape Colours

Trash 2 Treasure sponsored by Duck Tape UK with Coombe Mill Holidays for creative fun.

Trash to Treasure is sponsored by Duck Tape Colours, makers of colourful tape to add pattern and sparkle to all your upcycling projects. My favourite upcycling post each month will receive 3 colourful rolls of tape to inspire their next project. Do check out the website for plenty of creative ideas. 

My December winner of the duck tape colours is Anna of Tea and a Sewing Machine. Anna made a wonderful Christmas wreath from dried citrus pieces. Why not pop over and see how to make one yourself.

January winner Trash2Treasure


Thank you to all linking up in 2016 there are some wonderful ideas I have pinned over the year.  

Trash 2 Treasure Communities

Please use the hashtag #Trash2Treasure for your makes, I’ll find you and promote your post or picture on

  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Google Plus

If you link up below to Trash 2 Treasure December I’ll also send you an invite to pin on the Trash 2 Treasure Pinterest board 



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How to make a Chinese Lantern

Posted on January 1st, 2017 - Fiona

I love how national events are slowly becoming international events. When I was growing up I had never heard of Chinese New Year, for my children it is quite different, even in primary school there were crafts and Chinese food to mark the occasion. While we don’t celebrate Chinese New Year I like my children to be aware of different cultures and events and when they take place. A craft is a good way to do this. I decided it would be a fun to make a chinese lantern with the children at Coombe Mill. We had a little look at the pages about China in my lonely planet Kids cities of the world book, discussed Chinese symbols from my printable below and then set about making some Chinese Lanterns.   

How to make a Chinese Lantern

What you’ll need to make a Chinese Lantern

  • Toilet Roll

  • Scissors

  • Red Paint

  • Yellow or Gold Paint

  • Black or Gold Marker Pen

  • Yellow or Gold Floristry Ribbon
what you'll need for Chinese Lanterns


Method for making a Chinese Lantern

paint it redPaint your toilet roll red and put it aside to dry
Squash the toilet roll and cut a long thin strip from each side leaving a good cm untouched at the top and bottom cutting-the-lantern-holes
cutting the rest of the lantern holes Open your toilet roll and flatten again in a new place about 2 cm round from the first squish and cut another two strips along both sides. Repeat once or twice more until you have strips spaced around your toilet roll.
Now bend the toilet roll gently in half across the middle of the strips, open and push the toilet roll end to end to so the lantern shape pops out from the fold line. folding and squashing the lantern
Cutting the lantern handles Cut two thin strips from the end towards the centre (without cutting all the way through) and lift to form handles.
Cut a length of red, orange and yellow floristry ribbon and split them in half Creating the floristry ribbon candles
Cutting the Floristry Ribbon into Candle shapes Cut the ends of a half of each colour into a point matching a Candle flame
Split the remaining three halves in half again, curl with scissors and organise with the flame style floristry ribbon Floristry ribbon flame
Stapling the flame in the lantern Staple onto the lantern for a flame effect inside
Use Yellow / gold paint to accessorise your lantern Painting the decorations
Draw your decorations on Add Chinese symbols with a black or gold marker pen. (There are some simple symbols with happy greetings on the printable below)


Printable Chinese Symbols.

Chinese Symbols

A few alternatives you could try

  • Try yellow lanterns with red trim.

  • Add your lanterns onto a length of string or floristry ribbon to form lantern bunting

  • Hang your lanterns over fairy lights to create light up bunting.
  • Place on a saucer over a tea light for a table decoration (don’t add the pretend floristry ribbon flame for this option).

  • Add a little glue and glitter if required (or you could add this to the red paint when it is still wet.
A few extra ideas for the Chinese Lanterns


A Vlog tutorial on making a Chinese Lantern



Making a  Chinese Lantern in Activity Hour on the Farm


Making a chinese lantern for Chinese New Year at Coombe Mill Activity Hour

Do you celebrate Chinese New Year or feel it is important for children to be aware of such events?

Trash 2 Treasure

Vlogging Bloopers from the farm in 2016

Posted on December 26th, 2016 - Fiona

So with a year of vlogging under my belt you’d have thought I’d have mastered the art by now and made vlogging bloopers a thing of the past. It turns out, when I look back through my video clips from the year; this is far from the case. On the contrary, my crafting projects in particular are riddled with retakes thanks to moments of memory loss and things that didn’t quite work out as easy as they should have been when filming!

Last year I shared the silly outtakes and even though I’d hoped there wouldn’t be any this year I’ve managed to pull together a hefty collection of the bits that were edited out of all my published blogs.  It feels a waste to just hit delete on them when many of them make me laugh looking back. As a result I find myself competing with my own mistakes in another year of vlogging bloopers edited to show off all my worst moments.  I hope they make you chuckle, and if you vlog yourself, please tell me you have a few of these hiding on your lap top somewhere too?

Coombe Mill Vlogging Bloopers for 2017

 If I’ve not put you off watching one of my real vlogs, they are largely part of my #Trash2Treasure upcycling posts. I’d love you to jump on board with the linky; no vlogging necessary, just sharing ideas for making something of value from something that might otherwise be thrown away or abandoned. The link up is the first Monday of each month lasting all month. December is still open and a new January link up will go live on the 2nd.

For now I leave you to continue with your family festivities and in my case way too much Gin! Just as well it is only Christmas once a year.


vlogging bloopers christmas message from Fiona

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Fiona xx


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Acorn Crafts from the Coombe Mill Oak Trees

Posted on December 9th, 2016 - Fiona

Autumn is perfect for foraging and the farm is rich in natures finest seasonal offering. I wanted to take advantage of the countless acorns falling all around this week and set about creating acorn crafts from a nature hunt.


Acorn crafts from the Coombe Mill Oak Trees


A Nature Hunt

We were spoilt for choice with where to go hunting, it could have been as close as the car park but the children told me they had seen lots over by one of the play areas so we set off there with a collecting tub each looking for oak leaves, acorns, acorn shells and a feather.


Collecting acorns and oak leaves in the Coombe Mill play area


Collecting in a play area naturally necessitated a little play too!


Collecting acorns and oak leaves for activity hour with a little play time too

A video posted by Coombe Mill (@coombemill) on

Acorn Crafts for Kids

With our pots full we headed back to begin creating. The girls were very keen to try the jewellery first. I guessed this would be the hardest so it made sense to do it first moving to the messier painting afterwards. The adults helped me to skewer the acorns so the children could thread the acorns onto their string. They made a simple but fun nature necklace. For those happy to learn a little finger knitting we made stretchy bracelets with an acorn feature. This was pushing things for many of the little ones so we just pulled a couple of strands of wool through the acorns for a similar effect.


Making acorn jewellery at Coombe Mill


Whist wearing our jewellery we extended our acorn crafts to paint work. I had three separate challenges which all came together on one colourful card.

  • First we selected the shells from our collection and holding onto the stalks made geometric designs in overlapping colours.

  • Next we rolled acorns in paint and shook them on paper inside the tub to create messy art.

  • Finally we painted our oak leaves and made colourful prints.

Acorn shell printing in activity hour. #coombemill #farmstay #acorns #kidscraft #craftykids #countrykids #countrykidsfun #outdoors #painting #craft #autumncrafts

A video posted by Coombe Mill (@coombemill) on


The children each chose a colourful backing card to mount their painted acorn crafts onto and then using feathers or a paint brush wrote their name on their card.


Acorn crafts with paint

It was a lovely way to explore nature from the Oak tree itself to the leaves that change colour and the acorns that fall in autumn.  


Country Kids