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.
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Back over the Easter Holidays we started our Kindness trail. The children had a lovely time spotting all my giant painted stones and plaques and helping to start a wishing tree. As summer arrived the stones became buried in lush new growth and Farmer Nick had to rescue them and hammer them onto batons in the ground for me. I also added a wishing well next to the wishing tree and the trail took on a new lease of life. I was keen to use the newly refurbished trail to build on our Easter activities around trust and friendship. This time instead of stones we created kindness bunting, played some games centred on trust and finished off with rainbow friendship bracelets.
As it was half term I had a huge variation in age from 2 – 11. I wasn’t sure quite how it would work and at first I only had the younger children as the older girls were busy playing with the ponies up in the field.
However as I set to work in the afternoon sun with the younger children a couple of the older girls came down to join us. Cutting the material was always going to be a challenge for the younger children but the older girls were able to work independently. We choose colourful material from my scrap collection and stapled while sheet over the top to create a mounted piece of bunting. The children all chose their own kindness message to add in pen.
While the older girls finished their bunting pieces I took the younger ones off across the fairy gardens to hunt for kindness rocks to tick off on their sheets.
We attached all the bunting shapes along string to create our kindness bunting adding the older girl’s pieces at the end as they finished carefully writing. Then we set off up the kindness trail in search of the plaques with messages. I was very impressed with how well the 5 year old’s read and identified each plaque to mark off on their sheets and their enthusiasm running from one to another as they saw them approaching .
Make a wish
The little well was an instant distraction. The children added grass and flowers to the bucket and wound it up and down.
It turns out we were missing one plaque, it must be buried deep in the summer growth on the slopes and I’m now determined to take a long stick and have a good look for it. We hung our bunting between two trees on the trail and watched it flutter in the breeze.
Back down on the grass we began our trust games; I had a set of games I thought everyone could manage. Many involved a blindfold and instructions demonstrating the need to trust the instructions given.
Finally we settled back down and made kindness bracelets with little animal trinkets. I taught the children how to finger knit the wool which gave it both stretch and width. They were delighted with the results.
As always it was an action packed afternoon with a little gentle learning and a lot of friendship fun.
Kindness bunting trust games and friendship bracelets
We have been enjoying the most beautiful weather in Cornwall and it has brought out so much pond life and bugs I had planned to study these in our activity hour. then I realised it was Father’s Day at the weekend and swapped my plans for some Father’s Day craft gifts the children could make.
I have learned over the years that preparation is key, especially with younger children who like to see crafty results come together quickly. With this in mind I pre-prepared our Medals with masking tape to make the word ‘DAD’ on pizza trays. All the kids had to do was choose how to paint, with which colours and get going.
The tape on the polystyrene worked a treat. Originally I was going to use paper but when I tried it in advance the tape ripped when peeled. The polystyrene peeled perfectly as well as giving structure.
We finished the medals by poking a hole through the top with the end of a paint brush and treading string through for hanging the medal round Dad’s neck. The children finished at different times and used their waiting time for running and rolling up and down the hill in the sunshine.
Our next Father’s Day craft involved flattening chunks of air dry clay and making hand or finger prints in them then painting them as gifts. We had some lovely prints for the Dad’s to keep as well as a finger print flower beautifully painted.
Even with little ones who can race through crafts I find three is all we manage in an hour. For our third craft we returned to a successful one from a couple of years ago: Nature Ties. With pre-cut tie shapes ready stuck with double sided tape the children just had the fun part of adding the nature. I gave the children a choice of places we could visit to look for pretty colours of nature for their tie and they all chose the fairy gardens racing ahead to show me the way.
When little hands were loaded we came back and spread out across the table and rugs on the grass. It was lovely to sit back at this point and watch the creativity unfold. There was some serious concentration of tie design and which petals and leaves should go where.
I thought I was pushing my luck to bring them all back down from playing on the grassy bank for a photo with their crafts, but they obliged. It might not be perfect but it is true to life and I was thrilled with how well they all did, especially as the oldest was just 5 and the youngest just 2. I hope the Dad’s were as happy with their gifts as we were making them!
Back in the New Year I made a commitment to create a new trail in the orchard. Farmer Nick had carved out a pathway so he could mow, but I instantly saw the potential for a new farm trail. I painted some kindness plaques and lay them along the slopes. We used the newly forming trail as part of our Easter Activity hour creating a wishing tree too. However as I showed it to friends in May, I discovered the plaques had been buried in spring growth. Farmer Nick came to the rescue. He screwed the plaques to some old balcony batons and hammered them into the ground. To these I added my painted wishing well under the apple blossom of the Wishing tree.
I’m thrilled with my newly named kindness trail and hope to add to it over the summer. For now it is a beautiful space to explore. Guests can wander through at leisure discovering the motivational messages on the plaques and add a wish to the wishing tree. With no traffic noise, just the distant sound of the river and nature going about its business, it is a peaceful setting to reflect, feel grateful and dare to hope for the future.
Wishing tree and wishing well.
Kindness plaque and wishing tags on the Wishing tree.
Kindness plaque standing proud on a banister in the ground.
Coombe Mill Lodges located in front of the trail.
Wood chip paths for ease of walking the kindness trail to the wishing tree
I love it when I have an idea that jut grows. We had such fun back in half term up in the deer field, where Farmer Nick was explaining the ice age history of the woodland there and I began to think about how we could incorporate this into an activity hour. My mind moved from the ice age landscape to the dinosaurs who would have roamed the Jurassic landscape back then. Creating a dinosaur world from the ancient parts of Coombe Mill began to take shape in my mind whilst I was cycling over Bodmin Moor. Farmer Nick was out shopping and as my plan came together in my mind I had to stop and phone him to ask him to buy me a bag of plastic dinosaurs. He is used to my strange requests and came home with just what I wanted. A little more planning and creative thought and I had our dinosaur world of discovery mapped out.
Dinosaur know how
As everyone assembled the children began to look through 3 lovely dinosaur books we have on the farm from Atlas of Dinosaurs and Lonely Atlas of Dinosaurs which covered the age range of the children perfectly. I was surprised how knowledgeable the children were on their dinosaurs, telling me names, habitats and even how long ago they lived on earth (180 – 65 million years ago) and theories on they became extinct.
I focused in on the Atlas of Dinosaurs and the page on the UK which depicted a beautifully illustrated landscape that could have been Coombe Mill. The children quickly identified the river and the forested deer field as looking just like the book.
By now everyone had arrived and we set about painting dinosaur rocks out of old Coombe Mill scavenged ancient chunks of rock which I had pre primed with white paint as a base.
The children painted their favourite dinosaurs and we set them on one side to dry. I later took them home and varnished them so they could be taken home with the children the following day and kept or hidden locally. My own is now hidden at Coombe Mill and added to our Coombe Mill Rocks page on Facebook.
Creating our dinosaur world
Next we arranged cereal box backing into supermarket vegetable trays as the base of our Jurassic world. When everyone was happy with the fit of the two items we took just the tray with us on a farm scavenger hunt to look for and collect evidence of where the dinosaurs might have lived and what they might have eaten at Coombe Mill. We stopped to look along the river, to collect and smell wild garlic which we all agreed dinosaurs would have enjoyed and headed up into the deer field.
A play in the trees followed, along with collecting moss as a carpet to our dinosaur world. We also searched for ferns and leaves which we had read they liked to eat.
Back at the craft table the children tipped out their scavenged items, added the backing board back and began to assemble their own mini Jurassic world replica.
There was just one thing missing, mine had a dinosaur in and no one else’s did. I had a last activity up my sleeve. Clio had laid a dinosaur trail for us while we were on our scavenger hunt. This took us from the games room up to the sand pit where 9 dinosaurs were hidden in the sand; one for each child. They raced along spotting and collecting the clues and enjoyed digging up their dinosaurs. The Play Expert diggers were very handy for the job!
Finally with dinosaurs in hand they headed back to place them in their newly made home.
It’s amazing how much fun we had with some lovely books, little dinosaur toys and 30 acres of ancient dinosaur landscape that makes Coombe Mill.
Sometimes I have an idea bubbling that I just know I have to use. Kindness Rocks groups have been springing up all around on Facebook and I have been impressed with the fun they are generating. Michelle from Mummy from the Heart shared a post in February about her girls finding some of these rocks and making their own and I thought then we should start a Coombe Mill Rocks page. We have finally set up the page and added many of the decorated Rocks and plaques from around Coombe Mill. To these I planned to add more from activity hour. I have also had a yearning to make a wishing tree. The two projects felt similar enough to tie together by adding kindness messages to a designated wishing tree.
More about Kindness Rocks
In case you are unfamiliar with kindness rocks, the idea is to find a rock, say in the local Facebook where you found it and then re-hide it somewhere else to be found again. The originator write on the back where the stone is from and you can see how far they travel. For this reason I thought it would be perfect for holiday makers here, they can create and take rocks all round the country and further. If you fancy getting involved join our group.
Kindness tags for our wishing Tree
We began with our kindness tags and the children were soon absorbed in choosing which phrases to use and decorating their coloured card with their choice of material scraps.
Coombe Mill Rocks Nature Trail
As I wanted to finish the tags with nature we set off outside on a kindness rock hunt. I have quite a collection scattered over the fairy gardens and new wildlife trail and handed the children a tick sheet with just 16 on to see if they could spot them all on our walk and also to inspire them for making their own later.
When everyone had found all the stones I reminded them to look for some colourful petals and leaves on their way back to finish their Kindness tags
Back in the Games room we put the finishing touches to our tags, laminated them and punched holes to add string for hanging and floristry ribbon to spin in the breeze.
Making Coombe Mill Kindness Rocks
It was time to use my collection of white painted rocks from the farm. Everyone chose one and set to work using their choice of felt tips or paint to carefully create their own special designs.
I took all the rocks back to my house to dry then varnished them and laid them out for the children to collect after the tractor ride the following morning. They all disappeared. We will have to wait and see if they turn up hidden at Coombe Mill or somewhere near you. They all have Coombe Mill Rocks on the back in permanent market so do let me know if you find one!
Creating our Wishing Tree
Our final task of the afternoon was to return to the nature trail and begin to populate my designated wishing tree. It is a fruit tree and just coming into blossom. We hung our kindness tags and watched as they swirled in the wind.
I’m delighted with our start to our wishing tree and a Coombe Mill Rocks collection. I think we will be adding to both over the coming weeks.
“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.