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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During term time Coombe Mill is full families with toddlers and preschool children who are able to take advantage of our lower priced weeks. Planning activities they can all join in with is often a challenge, but a good theme helps. We have looked at pirates before and know how popular this is for little ones, but we wanted to add something new and decided to focus on every pirate’s best friend, the parrot. Parrots and pirates was the perfect toddler combination.
Colourful Parrots from toilet tolls
With our theme set the rest all flowed. I had some red painted toilet rolls left from making Chinese New Year Lanterns and decided these would make perfect parrot bodies. With help from parents we cut the toilet roll to make the head, beak and feet and then added coloured floristry ribbons for the wings and head feathers. Ta-da, beautiful parrots for little pirates.
Pirates off on an adventure
I had planned to do some painting next but I could see the children were already becoming restless going off to play with my giant pirate palm tree so I decided to move onto our treasure hunt. We had newspaper prates hats planted on sticks that the children had to spot and collect to lead us to our treasure.
Our trail took us through the fairy gardens where we had to spot the parrots in the tree.
Finding the hat to lead us out of the fairy gardens took a little time as there were plenty of distractions that we let the children explore. Finally we were on our way again and the children were now tuned to looking out for the hats and found them more easily. The last was by the pirate play boat where they began hunting for the missing treasure for my box. This was a great chance to combine play and treasure hunting all at once.
It was a long walk back for little legs so we had them finding a stick along the way. This was to form the oars for their own pirate boat. They climbed aboard with their parrots and the palm tree behind and rowed to home singing along the way.
We had just had our sheep sheared and the children had enjoyed watching this during our morning feed run. The trailer load of fleeces was due to be collected so I pulled a bag full onto one side to get creative with the children at the end of the week. They were all curious about the feel and texture of the wool and so I thought there had to be a good way to incorporate it into a sheep themed activity hour.
A Sheepscape 3D picture to hang on the wall
With an age range of 1 – 4 I wanted to keep my activities simple enough for the children to manage, but interesting enough for them to want to have a go. After searching online I adapted a hand painting idea and came up with a 3D sheep craft picture for the children to make and keep.
It was a gorgeous day but very windy so we set up in the reception garden where we were sheltered on 3 sides. It was still a job to hold things down. Painted hands made the basic shape on a piece of card with a blob of sheered fleece sticking to the wet paint to bulk out the body.
The children then went off in search of daises and grass for the floor of their sheepscape which we stuck on with double sided tape.
We added a little floristry ribbon and a bend in the card and our 3D sheepscape pictures were ready for hanging.
Sheep Inspired Kites
The wind may have been causing us a few problems making our pictures but it was going to be just what we needed to fly sheep face kites. With some bamboo, black and white bin liners and some printed sheep faces we cobbled together some makeshift kites for the children to run with.
A run around was just what they needed after concentrating on their sheepscapes and the wind did indeed come into its own lifting them up over their heads in gusts.
We have a tradition at Coombe Mill of ending the Easter holidays with a recycled raft race. Every year this popular event grows with regular visitors to us looking forward to the day, newcomers joining in the fun and a few new additions from us to keep the event fresh and exciting.
The fun begins with a pile of washed and recycled floatable items from our recycled bins, a ball of string and plenty of masking tape. Every one works as groups or individuals on their raft following my “one I made earlier” as a rough idea guide.
Making recycled rafts in teams
I allow a good half an hour for everyone to work on their rafts. I have found the more time I allow the more creative and imaginative the rafts become. There were milk bottle bases, stick bases, masts and decorative additions being added to some wonderful bespoke designs. We were blessed with a beautiful sunny day and the time just ran away from us.
New for this year we had made a range of certificates. There was everything from biggest raft to smallest raft, most creative to fastest, best in class by age and more. I figured everyone would win something and the challenge added a new burst of energy to the finishing touches.
Finally everyone was ready and we carried the rafts down to the river. Despite the building excitement I managed to gather everyone for a team photo and gain enough of their attention to remind them of the rules.
Ready for a Recycled Raft Race
The chatter was building as they climbed the bridge and held the rafts over the starting line. We managed a perfect first time start and the rafts were away to the sound of much cheering and shouting.
The dash to beat them along the river bank was on. Guy and Jed were on hand in the river to rescue any rafts caught in the reeds and set them free, along with a few others keen to wade downstream, while the rest dashed towards the finish line.
For most of the journey it looked like my raft was going to win, this was not the outcome I wanted! I was quite relived to be moved into second place by a smaller team raft on the final straight. Those who weren’t on the bridge by now were in the water, me included. There were plenty of helpers to stop any runaway recycled rafts from racing down to Padstow.
We handed out the certificates writing in the winner names as we went and every team won something.
As is often the case the real fun began just at the end. All the older children piled into the river for a big water fight, the screams and squeals as they were showered in cold water was enough to make all the adults smile. I feel sure this will be another fun afternoon on the farm that will remain with the children for a long time to come.
If you fancy joining us for Easter Next year, the Easter Egg Hunt and recycled raft race will take place on Easter week: 31st March 2018.
I feel like I have really made the most of Easter this year with our holiday guests. We have done bunny crafts, chick crafts and this week was the turn of Easter egg crafts. I had my fingers crossed for the weather as I wanted an Easter egg hunt with a difference in the fairy garden and this was the only afternoon all week with rain in the forecast!
Magic Easter Bunnies.
The fairy garden is wonderful for so many of my activities and treasure hunts and this week I had an extra Easter surprise for the children. I had told them all they were making toilet roll bunnies that had to have their name on and Guy was going to take them to the fairy gardens for me and hide them. The fairies had a little magic planned for the children, but they would have to wait to discover this.
Easter Egg Bonnets
Guy collected up all the bunnies and left. Meanwhile we moved on to making Easter bonnets with decorated Easter eggs, bunny ears and nature. Double sided sticky tape is the magic tip to making everything stick, including all the petals and flowers from outside.
Easter Eggs for the fairies
With bonnets complete we set about painting Easter egg shaped fabric to hang in the fairy gardens for the fairies. Poster paint works really well on plain white cotton and it is a great use of our old marked sheets from the business.
The children carefully carried their painted eggs and handed them to me in the fairy gardens where I pinned them up to make bunting for the fairies to enjoy.
An Easter Egg Hunt
I think the children had quite forgotten the bunnies they made at the start of the afternoon. Now that the Fairy Easter Eggs were all hung up I suggested they go and find their bunnies. There were squeals of delight as they found their bunnies and discovered a caramel chocolate egg inside.
A Surprise Easter lamb
This should have been the end of the afternoon’s entertainment. However we had a surprise visitor with us. An abandoned lamb found that morning had made an amazing recovery in the house with me and joined us for our afternoon fun. The children were thrilled to help feed him a bottle and stroke him out on the grass. This little fellow is soon going to become every holiday maker’s new best friend.
The children were still wearing their Easter bonnets that evening for the train which I took as a sure sign of a fun afternoon and that forecast rain never happened.
After the success of our Easter Bunny activities last week, I was keen to keep the Easter theme going with this week’s guests. We moved from Bunnies to Easter Chicks and a new treat for our chickens. My biggest worry was that faced with the warmest day of the year, would anyone make it back from the beach in time to join in. I needn’t have worried, I had a couple of families who came back especially to join in and I was glad I put in the preparation time.
Easter Chick Cards
Relying on the warm sunshine to dry out paint work we began by making the thumb prints of our Easter Chick cards. The children drew inspiration from my example card and happily finger printed chick bodies on their own cards.
Setting our cards aside to try we moved onto cutting and painting toilet roll Easter chicks.
Again these were set on one side to dry while we made Easter gardens for our chicks from cereal boxes before running off to collect grass and flowers out of the lawns as a bed for the miniature gardens.
We added 2 chicks and a handful of chocolate eggs to complete our Easter chick gardens.
Nature walk with a purpose
The children had worked really hard on their crafts and I was keen for them to come on a farm walk. I had just the challenge in mind for them in line with our chick Easter theme. Farmer Nick had a long chain in the chicken coop which was waiting for a toy to be hooked on the end. After failing to find anything suitable for weeks, he finally came home with a miniature clothes dryer with pegs hanging down. I pounced on this with a genius idea. We could take it for our walk collecting nature along the way to hang from the pegs as toys for the chickens. We set off through the fairy gardens and down the path to the farm pegging leaves, twigs and flowers along the way.
The children shared the very important job of carrying the finished toy
It’s fair to say the chickens seemed rather underwhelmed with our offering running away from us.
I had a feeling they ventured over to investigate as soon as we had left them in peace, it turns out I was right, when I looked in later they had torn down most of the nature items and were still playing with what remained.
Refilling their toy carousel has now become part of the morning tractor feed run.
Back at the craft tables our finger print chickens were dry and really to have eyes, beaks, feet and wings added.
It was so lovely to feel the warmth of the sun and no one was in a rush to leave, least of all me. I do hope this is the start of a beautiful summer in Cornwall.
“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.