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.
I have posted many a times about fun family beach days; however as the childhood years slip away, the excitement of a beach trip with mum wanes. That’s OK; it is a natural part of growing up. I have two, soon to be three kids independent and driving, can I even call them kids now? Behind them are three, full of attitude, fifteen year old’s. Expecting them all to say “yes please Mum” when I suggest going to the beach is a big ask and I respect this. That said if just one teen fancies joining me then I’m thrilled. I’ve learnt to take this as a positive and not to dwell on the ones who, for whatever reason, would rather do something else without me.
When I was faced with three of my kids and one girlfriend joining me on a sunny Sunday afternoon I thought I’d just won Mum of the year!
The beach brings out the child in us all
We rocked up in a mix of the eldest’s car and my soft top. The sun was shining, spirits were high and spotting the advance party the kids all bonded over a game of beach rugby.
Ice cream treats
They were soon hot and bothered and asking if I’d brought a drink. It was a spontaneous thing and I hadn’t brought anything so I treated them to money to spend at the ice cream van. This was something I never allowed when they were young. With 6 children to pay for I always brought a picnic and the highlight was stopping for a multipack of ice creams at Tesco on the way home. In fact we fondly reminisced about the excitement this brought.
Water sports you never grow out of
Revived the kids headed for the sea, one in my wetsuit having refused to bring his own claiming he wouldn’t go in the water anyway!
While the kids swam I sunbathed in the sheltered rocks and enjoyed a spot of people watching. Usually I’d be in the water with them, but I had just given my wetsuit away and in any case I was rather enjoying just sitting in the sun and watching them, something I never do.
Two cars gave us flexibility on the way back, most headed off with the eldest, but Jed accompanied me on a coastal hike round to the headland. It is such a pretty stretch of coastpath. The chance for some one on one time is a big bonus.
Our end goal, the Rumps in the distance
Baby Bay from the coastpath
One of the few times I was ahead!
Apparently I was too slow!
Capturing a little of nature along the way
Peering down just to scare me!
Looking across the estuary from The Rumps to Padstow
Looking back towards Polzeath
Just resting and watching the world go by
Everyone enjoyed the few hours off and we rounded the day off with a garden BBQ with the rest of the family. I am thrilled that teen time out with Mum still has its place.
Tips for coaxing teens to join in a beach trip.
Have siblings, friends or partners too
Give them independence, not everything has to be together when you are there. We often travel in 2 cars for added flexibility.
Don’t expect them to be too grown up, mine still arrive and complain they are thirsty or hungry expecting me to have packed something
Do treat them, nothing big, just a sign you are pleased they came along. An ice cream on the beach was all it took with mine.
Don’t expect to be introduced to friends they see there. Mine only told me afterwards about others from school they saw and teachers, and that’s fine. I know my place as an embarrassing parent!
Remind them about sun cream and hats but don’t nag them, eventually they will learn the hard way.
Do have a laugh and a joke with them. This is usually this is at my expense, but I don’t mind that at all. This time I had my shorts borrowed, my wetsuit borrowed and my changing robe borrowed. I had just my bikini left to call my own to great amusement by them all!
Do keep it casual and don’t appear to watch over them, which of course you will do, after all you will always be Mum however old they get!
Try an evening beach trip with a campfire and swim as an alternative. We love to do this on warm summer evenings.
Appreciate the time together and tell them so after.
If you don’t have a local beach, there are plenty of other casual family days out that you may have loved when the kids were younger which would actually work well with a little adjustment as they get older. Woodland walks and Wetland centers spring to mind but I’m sure there are lots more places too.
Over time I think we all start to build up family traditions around Christmas. Whether they originate in our own childhood or evolve in adult life, they begin to define the Christmas we create. For us a little Christmas flutter at the Wadebridge races is one of these events. Usually hosted a couple of weeks before Christmas, it is a real local point to point.
A wet and Windy Racecourse
The 2018 Christmas races turned out to be the usual wicked winds, squally showers and glimpses of wintry sun I’ve come to expect. I had dressed accordingly with gloves, hat, welly boots and plenty of warm layers; however I am renowned for being cold if I’m not running around and the family awarded me the prize of most wrapped up, yet simultaneously most cold looking spectator! Despite this I still love to go, it is a part of my Christmas now.
A few photos from one of the Races
Family banter waiting for the race to start
Where are those horses Dad, the mist is too thick!
First lap, watch the jockey in yellow and black….
Racing down the back straight as the sun makes a fleeting appearance.
Here’s that jockey in the yellow and black racing up to win. Sadly not the one we backed!
Sustenance on Offer
Thankfully there is always refuge from the elements between races in the big covered shed where the bookies take your bets and local businesses sell their wares. This is always a winner for the kids as the smell of bacon and burgers cooking draw them in. Due to various alternative commitments we only had Theo and Guy with us this year, but they fleeced us for some good racing grub. I must say I was tempted by a brandy from the bar hosted by our local village pub, however I was sidetracked buying a new farm wax jacket as my Christmas present.
Photo credit to Theo as I tried on a new farm coat between races
It’s not about the money
Last year we pulled in a winner, but this year we lost on every race. In fact we considered ourselves lucky if our horse even completed the allotted race. But when you are only betting a couple of pounds on a race it isn’t about the money; it’s about the family time, the banter we exchange and the sense of belonging within one of our family traditions. My face ached, not from the cold but with laughter from the jokes and puns flying between us. Our Christmas flutter on the horses reminded me how much family traditions mean to me and how much fun having teenagers can be.
With Halloween and bonfire night behind us and the run up to Christmas underway life can feel hectic. The kids are getting excited and you may be feeling the pressure to plan and provide a great time for everyone. The nights are short and the days seem to be running away. If all this seems a little too real then may be a little time out in the countryside could help. OK it won’t make all those planning worries go away, but it will improve your mental wellbeing by giving you time to breath, evaluate, be grateful and put things into perspective to be more productive.
You don’t need to go far or for long to fill your senses with fresh air and nature’s beauty. A walk in the woods, the park, the beach or the hills can be more energising than you might imagine. Health experts are beginning to agree with talk of green space and the calming influence of natural flowing water. It is something I’ve known for a long time. I begin every morning with a walk around our farm to check on the animals. The sound of the river, the colours in the trees and smell of the season drifting up from the earth is uplifting beyond belief. I return full of pretty images, a feeling of being alive and a zest for the day ahead. It really does make me more productive and improve my mental wellbeing.
Spring is my favourite season with new born animals and fresh green leaves, however the striking colours in the final stages of autumn is breathtaking.
Morning light seeping into the entrance to Coombe Mill round the log store
Farm path over the stream coated in autumn leaves
Autumn colours reflected in the top fishing lake
Pigs with a view: Lower lake from in front of the pigsty
Take a break and boost your mental wellbeing
Try my morning countryside trick and see what a difference it makes to your day. Even if you work, can’t get our before daylight or back before dark, try using your days off and see how much more you get out of life.
Our cozy lodges are waiting for you
Why not take advantage of our lowest prices this winter and come and see us for a few days. We take bookings any day of the week: make use of school inset days, spare work days or cancelled clubs and mop up a good dose of countryside well being. Whether it is the calm before the storm of Christmas or a well earned break to look forward to at New Year or beyond we’d love to welcome you. Activities for the children run all year even if you are the only ones staying.
Bonfire night feels like it is steadily being eclipsed by Halloween. Certainly here we make a big event out of our Halloween fun Day, yet our once legendary Bonfire night celebrations have lapsed. It is partly a result of timing. Bonfire night used to fall in half term, yet now always falls the week after when we are quiet. Furthermore, our own kids have grown up and are now seeking out the big organised events with their friends rather than hot dogs, bonfire and fireworks here on the farm.
I do wonder if safety is a factor, especially for the DIY garden bonfire night celebrations. I always worry when Farmer Nick is putting on our wonderful events, though he has become an expert over the years. Pumpkin decorating, baking and even supervised Trick or Treat feels a safer option.
I feel this could be a big factor. Our fireworks for Guy Fawkes night were costing upwards of £200. Halloween costs are far less, even with a whole day of fun planned.
A shift in tradition
Pumpkin patches are popping up everywhere; a visit now feels almost an obligation, but what happened to ‘A Penny for the Guy’? Does this still happen anywhere?
St Tudy Village Bonfire and Fireworks Night
When November the 5th rolled round this year and we were faced with a clear still night and a balmy 14 degrees we headed into our local village of St Tudy to join their annual celebrations. What a treat it was. The playing fields were full of children, sparklers, vans selling hot dogs, Cornish pasties and even a licensed bar. Our kids disappeared in seconds having found old school friends while we caught up with their parents. It is all organised by the village carnival committee and run simply on donations in a bucket on the gate. All I can say is it must have taken plenty of cake sales and pub quizzes to raise enough to put on the amazing display we enjoyed. The bonfire crackled and the fireworks wowed. We had a wonderful evening with no planning, no responsibility and £200 up on the night vs running our own!
For anyone staying with us on November 5th Next year, I can totally recommend this as a cheap local attraction not to be missed.
Kids sparklers swirl watching the bonfire burn
A fizz and a bang as the night sky lights up
Heads crane up to the sky, little ones in arms and on shoulders in awe
A solitary burst in a magnificent display
Is Bonfire night being eclipsed by Halloween?
To come back to my original question: Is Bonfire Night being eclipsed by Halloween, I think perhaps it is more a shift, Halloween is more home led family activities while Bonfire night is becoming big organised events. Halloween feels more significant now as the associated activities and newly forming traditions keep growing over a longer period. Bonfire night is more of a short sharp ‘big bang’, but still a memorable event that I hope survives for generations to come.
Last weekend saw many 18 year olds head off for their first term at University. For us it was Felix who was about to sample university life for the very first time. The excitement, the anticipation, the 2 years of A level studies all building up for a new life with so many hopes and fears. Sussex was his first choice, not an easy journey from Cornwall, but helpfully just 4 miles from his Grandmother. This was certainly a benefit for Nick and me as we had somewhere local to spend the night and make sure Felix had all he needed for the term.
Apologies for the average photo quality, they are all phone snaps. I never intended to make the post, but how could I not record such a significant event.
Sussex University Campus
A good feeling
Right from the prospectus and the open day Felix was sold on Sussex. It has a lovely campus feel to it with everything on one site from bars to lecture rooms and even a bank and a shop. Arrival was made very simple and we had Felix’s room key in minutes. With 12 students to a floor in his halls of residence sharing just 1 kitchen, 2 showers, 2 loos and a bath they were all going to need to be very sociable very quickly. This was no problem and the kitchen soon became the meeting hub as everyone arrived.
Felix’s Halls of Residence
We left Felix there for his first night, the girls on his floor already filling him in on the wrist bands he needed for the evening party at the Student Union.
Home for the next year
Thankfully we had plenty of extended family in Sussex to take our mind of things that first night over a balmy autumn garden BBQ.
And so 8 becomes 7
A week on and life is sweet for Felix who is making the most of Fresher’s fortnight. Of course I’m missing him already; his siblings not so much, we came home to room chaos back in Cornwall as Theo called “shotgun” on his bedroom and the ripple effect of this filtered down to the smallest room now being redecorated for Felix in the holidays.
Two years ago it was our Eldest going off to Cardiff for University. Early in his second year he decided it wasn’t for him and came home. He is now happy here perusing a career in carpentry (he was studying economics), we have learned so much from his experience and hope that Felix has made the choices that will see him through a happy 3 or 4 years at Sussex. He is studying Marketing management with psychology, but I’ve encouraged him to gate crash a couple of other lectures in the first week to be sure he has made the right choice.
“Tales from the farmers wife” shares life on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Emma and our 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.