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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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.
Usually my blog posts are restricted to activities on the farm and our personal news kept to a minimum. This wasn’t always the case, but since the teenage years have crept up on us, sharing our kids’ antics has dwindled as a natural course of events. However some things are meant for sharing and this past fortnight certainly qualifies. Felix has been hanging on all summer for his A Level Grades and Theo his GCSE grades. The exam results for both are now out and I am thrilled for them both.
A level exam results for Felix
Felix needed ABB to study Marketing Management with Psychology at Sussex University. He did just that and we have spent a busy week sorting student accommodation and finance ready for his big move out of Cornwall on 15th September. University life on campus is going to feel so different to family life at Coombe Mill but he is really looking forward to it and Nick and I are thrilled for him. He is a very capable lad both socially and academically and I hope he will do himself proud in University life.
Felix has been busy working with a local building company all summer to put some beer study money aside but still managing to join us on a few family outings.
Felix looking the part ready for life at Uni
GCSE exam Results for Theo
Theo is very different to Felix. He is sharp and witty but was diagnosed as dyslectic at primary school and always struggled with academic written work accordingly. Despite his dyslexia he didn’t qualify for any extra time in exams. We were left hoping he had ‘a good day’ when he needed it and would pull the 4 grade 4’s (old GCSE level C) including English and Maths to take the Creative Media level 3 Diploma that he wants to peruse at Collage. This week we headed to school to discover he passed 6 GCSE’s including the both English subjects and Maths and is all set to start on 6th September. We are now trying to sort bus passes and bus stops to tie in with our triplets school travel. Of course they are in opposite directions! Our mornings will be as hectic as ever ahead of the 9am Tractor Feed Run here at Coombe Mill.
Theo has had a busy summer undertaking the National Citizen Service which occupied 4 weeks of his summer holidays. That said he has a wonderful time, gains an extra qualification and a great life experience. At just £40, including 2 weeks away from home, it is a bargain and he would totally recommend it to any teen offered the chance to participate.
Theo helping out on a little veranda demolition project on a disused building.
We are thrilled both our boys are moving on to do the things they wanted.
If you have children receiving exam results this past couple of weeks, I hope they have what they need to carry them through to the next step in life. If it is all years away for you, watch out, it creeps up faster than you might imagine!
“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.