Posted on January 20th, 2018 - Fiona
I think we may be enjoying our best ever January for holiday makers staying. Usually it is a quiet month for people staying and a busy one for people booking ahead for Easter, Whitsun and summer. It is certainly a great way to give all the family something to look forward to. However a common myth is that January and February will be dreary weather and the Easter holidays onwards will be glorious. This may well be the case in any one year but certainly not a guarantee. We have been enjoying some of the most gorgeous weather around the country these past couple of weeks and those here have taken full advantage. The beaches are stunning and empty and the farm is buzzing. Nutrition from the land is lacking and the animals are never keener to see visitors than in late winter and early spring.
If you are tied to the school holidays we still have a few spaces left for full week bookings in February half term and Easter and if you don’t live too far away why not consider a cheeky weekend break in January or February. The tractor rides will run every day we have even just one family staying and that’s a good hour of entertainment to start the day, not to mention an egg to bring home for a well earned bunch after. If the rain does come along we have indoor play and free swimming at the local leisure centre so there is plenty to keep you busy without costing a penny.
Highlights from this week on the farm
Driving the tractor with Farmer Nick is always a treat
An egg haul we are proud of in January thanks to the winter barn.
Greedy goose, I’m sure we used to have a booked with this name!
The alpaca can sometimes spit so only Farmer Nick was brave enough to give them carrots, no bad manners today though.
Sun following us back towards the tractor and trailer for a ride home from the farm.
For winter, spring or Easter holiday prices with us see here
I hope your January is going well with a holiday of your choice planned for now or later in the year.
Posted on January 12th, 2018 - Fiona
Traditional New Year’s Eve celebrations may revolve around fizz at midnight but when you have younger children we think it’s great to do something fun as a family at a time they are able to enjoy. I remember as a child myself fighting to stay awake with my parents till midnight to see in the new year, then finding it all a bit of an anticlimax on orange squash and being grumpy and tired the next day. For this reason here on the farm we run from the afternoon New Year crafts into a family party as the night sky settles in. This has the added benefit of leaving the traditional party hours free for adult time celebrating New Year while worn out little ones sleep.
A Versatile Games Room
My own children helped me turn the games room from craft centre to party room with twinkle lights, music, drinks and a table of party food straight from the oven. We even rigged up a heater to make it warm enough to take off coats and really enjoy the atmosphere.
As the guests arrived the children played games and danced while the adults enjoyed a drink and a chat in comfort without the usual wellies from the farm duties.
Fireworks to Impress
Farmer Nick snuck away from the party to prepare the fireworks for us and I prayed the rain would hold off for us to enjoy them. We had sparklers for the children to start and their little faces were a picture as Guy and Jed lit them and handed them out along the path.
Then we followed the beam of the tractor lights along the path to stand and watch the display.
With Rockets and a giant mixed display box we were kept entertained for a good 5 minutes. Not quite central London but enjoyed just as much.
As Nick and I cleared up and prepared to return home for our own family celebrations for New Year we knew we had left some happy little ones excited for 2018.
Celebrating New Year with Younger children on the farm
Posted on January 6th, 2018 - Fiona
One of the families staying with us at Coombe Mill this New Year has been a lovely German family. They have twin girls of age 10 who have enjoyed mixing with our English guests and working on their already credible use of the English language. It has been lovely to see them exploring all areas of the farm and enjoying all we have to offer here in Cornwall. However when Farmer Nick gave me the tip off they were about to embark on a bare foot river walk here I simply had to grab my camera and rush out to discover more. It turns out the girls are part of a gymnastics team back home and they had been set a family bare foot water challenge by their instructor over the festive break. After watching friend’s back home tip toe through lakes in fancy dress and posing for a photo they decided our river was the perfect setting to up the challenge.
The heavy rain and winds has meant the river is running quite fast at the moment and reaching our island a challenge in itself compared to summer time when the children dart back and forth building camps. Water gushed over their wellies and I shivered at the prospect. However once there they reached the island wellies and socks came off and they braved the cold water and rough river bed bare foot to reach the large tree usually at the head of the island but now submerged in water.
You have to admire their spirit as they posed for photos showing no sign of cold. I was rather hoping my triplets would come out hearing the squeals and commotion as I know they would have been crazy enough to join them; as for me, swimming the river in summer was enough of a challenge and I happily settled for capturing their moment of fun from the bridge with cosy warm toes!
Heading over to the Island to begin the bare foot river walk challenge
Carefully Treading bare foot from island to tree
They all made it!
Beer swigging bare foot pose
One for the Gymnastics club back home!
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 December 30th, 2017 - Fiona
We are right in the middle of the festive period and I hope it is a happy one for you and your families. Here on the Farm the children have been enjoying plenty of fun each day out feeding the animals and making new friends. Between Christmas wrapping paper and New Year fireworks keeping the animals safe and well is our priority. This year has delivered more than the average rainfall and some strong winds for Cornwall; this is the worst conditions for our animals who cope with the cold so much better than the wet. Never the less Farmer Nick has been providing plenty of hay and treats and all the animal shelters have survived the winds – so far! On the sunnier days the beauty of the farm shines through and it feels as though animals and nature alike uncurl to appreciate the winter sunlight. We will be busy with crafts, partying and fireworks with our guests again tomorrow for New Year’s Eve, but rest assured it will all be away from the animals that will be tucked up with plenty of hay whatever the weather throws our way.
A few Festive Farm Fun Photos
First hold of a chicken and looking confident.
Rudolf having a well earned festive breakfast after his hectic Christmas schedule!
Our alpaca are becoming more friendly by the day and taking a shine to spiced Christmas apples!
Festive farm fun from afar, watching the children on the morning farm ride from across the lake.
Our cheeky ponies sticking their heads into the trailer in search of apples.
Wishing you and your family a very Happy New Year
Page 1 of 11312345...102030...»Last »