Digging into the Past

Posted on February 7th, 2012 - Anya

A Series of Firsts meme


I was recently tagged in a “Meme” by the fabulous and friendly   to continue this meme started by the lovely Lou @Bobbity666 over at Bloggomy.  Firsts is just that, a trip down memory lane about some early and significant firsts in your life. I am so very comfortable with chatting about motherhood and farm life, dragging up my own teenage history is a little more out of the comfort zone, but never one to turn down a challenge, here goes!

Who was your first boyfriend?

Now what counts as ‘boyfriend’? I am guessing I have to own up to the 1 date wonder with the boy in my class who I agreed to go out with, just so I didn’t look like someone who never had a boyfriend. Oh the angst of being 14 years old. 

First person you kissed?first kiss

That same boy; then he had the nerve to tell the class the details of ‘that kiss’. Needless to say there was no follow up kiss on offer!

First Job?

My first job was the checkouts at our local Tesco in Aylesbury. 12 hours on a Saturday during my A level years. It was a killer and all for £15! I would never have believed then that I would have ended up going back to Tesco as a graduate trainee buyer 4 years later!Tesco tills

What was your first pay packet – can you remember what you bought? 

I really am struggling for what I bought with my £15 from my Saturday job, probably one of the records I am about to mention! I do remember saving up my pay packets to go inter railing round Europe before going to University. We managed 4 weeks on £300 (excluding the train ticket) with a lot of nights spent on trains travelling from country to country!

First CD or Record you remember buying?

Well CDs hadn’t been invented in the 80’s when I discovered music. It was a while till I actually bought a record, I think everyone used to ‘tape’ the top 40 with Steve Wright on a Sunday afternoon on radio 1, trying to edit out Mr Wright! My first records I remember in my bedroom were Duran Duran and Culture Club. A slight aside but I also remember receiving Now volumes 1 – 4, and where are we now, about Now 80?

First holiday abroad?

Rhodes Island

Like  my first holiday abroad was to Rhodes, age 15 with my parents. Actually I think that may have been boyfriend number 2 at the same time and kiss number 2 with the Greek waiter at the hotel. I obviously had a thing for Greek men from a young age since I ended up marrying one! (Farmer Nick is Nikos to his Greek family) 

What age were you when you moved out from your parents home?

I was 18 and off to university. I didn’t realise it then, but I would never live at home again.  I had a wonderful 3 years and then rented with fellow graduate trainees near Tesco head office in North London. My parents still live in the house I left and my children love going back to visit Grandma and Grandpa 
Kids and GarnadparentsKids and Grandparents Kids and Grandparents
That all seams so long ago, I really had to dig deep, well all except the first boyfriend and kiss, you never forget that for good or for bad!
I am now tagging some more lovely twitter friends to continue with this meme……

Mummy Roadshow

Posted on January 24th, 2012 - Anya

Girls Road Trip

This was a really last minute thing that just came together beautifully. Well it did for me anyway, as I have very organised friends! Just 1 night away from home, but wow did we make the most of our Mummy time off. Anyone with children will know only too well that time out as a Mum is a rare treat to be treasured. I make it sound like I don’t adore my family, nothing could be further from the truth, I just find I appreciate them more and have more patience after the occasional day away; absence really does make the heart grow fonder. We all offered to drive, but when Anita pulled the trump card of taking her husband’s Jaguar, well there was nothing to debate really! I have to say I was slightly apprehensive of feeling car sick in the back seat, but I can now safely say the back of a Jag is better than the front of our bus any day!Jaguar Travel

Why Cornwall to Birmingham?

The Strictly Come Dancing Road show at the NIA was the focus of our trip. http://www.thenia.co.uk/whatson/strictly-come-dancing I have to confess to not ever having watched an episode of strictly before, but I was in good company and I knew we would have a laugh so I counted myself in!

In true girl style we took our time travelling, stopping at Cribbs Causeway Bristol for lunch and a spot of shopping. Remember we don’t have huge indoor shopping centres in Cornwall, a chance to catch up on fashion outside of surf brands! 

Arriving late afternoon with luxury picnic and champagne, we were ready to hit the town and definitely in high spirits as our taxi arrived!

Ready for our picnicBirmingham Thistle HotelFrom the Cab

The NIA was only minutes away and the show certainly did not disappoint from start to finish:

By the time we came out we were buzzing, and that’s not just from the wine in the interval! Catching a cab, our next destination was booked in advance…… a late night curry house. We couldn’t come to Birmingham and not go for a curry; it would be like visiting Cornwall and not trying a Cornish pasty or Cream tea! Despite our picnic we all tucked in to our feast! 

Enjoying our CurryCurry House Birmingham

It was gone midnight when we left the restaurant and we should really have been heading home, however spotting an 80’s night club accross the road, yep, we just had to do it! It was a blast, dancing round our coats and bags, cocktails in hand to all the old tunes and I wasn’t even the oldest person in there! 

A laugh a minuteGood cocktails!80s Nightclub Reflex

By breakfast we were a tad more subdued! Not to be put off we set off for the city centre and Bull Markets. I had no idea just how big Birmingham was or how beautiful. The architecture is really stunning with a wonderful fusion of old and new, as for Cornwall Street, well I just had to have that one on camera!

The famous Bull in the Shopping CenterLovely buildings along the streetTown Hall

 Cornwall Street Birmingham Monster Coffee!


We had to stop for one last coffee at Starbucks – well the nearest at home is 40 minutes away! Then the “Mummy fab 4” hit the road for the journey home and a warm welcome from our lovely families. Oh, and not too feel too sorry for them, the Dads and kids organised a big party get together at Coombe Mill including all the crisps and Pop Mummy normally bans! I would love to be cross, but actually I am delighted they had a good time too, since we might be planning another trip soon!   

Just do it!

Time out is never easy, money, work, child care and feeling comfortable away from your family is hard, but as the children begin to get older it does get easier to achieve, making a little time for yourself isn’t selfish, it can be enriching and certainly makes me better at being a Mum. If you can find a way, give it a go!

Things to do before I am ‘older’

Posted on January 18th, 2012 - Anya

Thank you for the Tag!

This meme comes to me from the very supportive  who encourages me with my blog and has a lovely blog of her own going about life with her beautiful Boy. The meme originated from Danielle at   with this post ; another parenting site well worth following. 

Things to do before I am ……..

Our Family


6 Years Ago

The photos show the Kids 6 years ago and all of us now. In 6 years time when I hit 50, (there we are said it now!) I think many things will be changing again for us as a family. Our children will be age 13 to 19 and many of my achievements and wishes are based on the changes that will bring.

So here goes for the list of things I hope to achieve.  



Go away for a weekend with Nick and leave the Children in charge of themselves and the farm


Go out for dinner and have one of the boys come and collect me in the car 


Have regained 1 bedroom in the house and hopefully packed 1 child happily off to Uni


Have found a big enough dining table to accommodate meal times with the girlfriends and boyfriend too!


Have built another 2 Scandinavian lodges at Coombe Mill


Add a really significant “something” extra that all our guests will benefit from 


Still be able to cycle up our hill 


To stay young at heart and still enjoy sporty things with the (grown up)kids – surfing, skating, cycling etc


To fight the onset of grey hair with the best colorants on the market!


Maintain the respect of my children, when I am the shortest member of the family!


Find enough time to keep enjoying my blogging


Play golf with Nick more than twice a year 


Organise a big party for my 50th and practice with a mini party for my 45th


keep a bathroom for myself in a house full of teenagers


Win a competition for a year’s supply of Lynx for the boys


Train myself to go to bed before midnight


Be able to go to sleep at night and not wait up for the kids to stumble in from where ever


Be making a smooth transition from parent protector to parent support and friend


Make sure I never find teenage dirty dinner plates or half drunk drinks in teenage bedrooms


Hope that I have done enough as a guiding parent to ensure I am not a Grandmother by 50! 


I am now tagging the following people to write a list of things to do before they hit their next decade. They then need to copy the url of their post back into the linky tool on Two Point Four Children’s post.



I am looking forward to reading your lists. 

My Highs and Lows of 2011

Posted on January 10th, 2012 - Anya

I’ve been tagged

The lovely  has tagged me in this meme which asks me to share with you my highs and lows of 2011. Do pop over and read her blog too and see her roller coaster of a year resulting in a fine blog!

2011 in a nutshell

2011 was a good one for me. It was the year I discovered twitter, created my blog and discovered and that I could combine work and pleasure with the two! Farmer Nick made some great changes on the farm, bookings were good and guests were happy which has inspired us to even greater plans for 2012. The children all moved on a stage and parenting by and large became easier.The Happy Couple

1. What was your happiest event?

So many happy moments in a large family, but I think the best was my lovely Niece’s wedding. It is not often we manage to pull the wider family together and it was a truly beautiful day https://www.coombemill.com/blog/post/2011/12/20/Happily-Ever-After.aspx

2. What was the saddest thing to happen?The fated quad bike before the crash

I guess this is the saddest and the happiest all in one. We had a wonderful Christmas day all except 1 major mishap which cast a shadow we had to work hard to shrug off. We were so excited (or at least Daddy was) to show the children their fabulous new Quad bike, but sadly Jed managed to lose control, panic and stuff it into the wall throwing himself and Guy off within the 1st 20 minutes. Half the children hadn’t even had a turn at that stage!  We were all shaken and sorry for the children but equally so relieved no one was hurt. The Quad is STILL at the garage being repaired at vast sums of money!

3. What was the most unlikely thing to happen that actually went ahead and did?
Farmer Nick buying a real cannon! Sent off for groceries and returned with an old war cannon! It did make a funny tail though and is going to be a huge hit in our new 2012 play area now being built. http://bit.ly/CannonDaddySample Farmer Nick Club Hat

4. Who let you down?

Well, no one yet, but I am waiting with anticipation for 1000 Farmer Nick’s Little Helpers Hats from October due to arrive next week! 


5. Who supported you?

Farmer Nick is Husband and Daddy and my true support. We work together in our family business but our secret to making this successful is having our areas of specialization on the day to day chores. He would claim I can’t tell a sheep from a goat (harsh) and I get cross that he can’t tell a single sheet from a double one (true)! However on all big decisions we both rely on each other for support and guidance. This year I can also say my children have been a support. At age 7 to 13 they all now have jobs in the business which really make a difference. https://www.coombemill.com/family-team 

6. Tell us something you learned.
 As I ponder this at the computer, Felix wonders in (age 11) “what have I learned this year?” I ask him. His reply was about my blog, web site and how to make cool videos. To which I replied, “and what have I learn’t about you?” His answer to this stunned me a little “nothing, you are always on the computer and don’t do anything with us”. That on the back of the two of us going for a run together on Saturday, 2 evenings of family scrabble in the past 3 days, family meal times and an amazing treat of a family skiing adventure day yesterday!  My take out from this is that it is impossible to get it all right all of the time with everyone, and that a Mum’s work is never complete.  I have learnt to be happy with just doing my best. 

7. Tell us one thing that made you laugh.

This video of my Kids messing about in the car park while Daddy is trying to wash it down:

8. Tell us one thing that made you cry.
Funnily enough I rarely cry at real life. I am too busy getting on with it. However I am terrible with books and films.
The one that stands out for me last year was The Time Travellers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I cried at the book and the film.
9. Tell us three things your child did to make you proud.
This is a tough one with 6 children, but here goes for my top 3 Felix 1st Day

Felix moved up to Secondary school this year from our little 56 pupil village primary and has taken to it like a duck to water. He is happy, confident, found some lovely friends and totally independent organising his school work, bag and homework alone.

Theo and a baby bunny

Theo started working in the business last year and has total responsibility for the rabbits. He has to lock them up and feed them each night and clean them out once a week. He has never once forgotten them and will even ring home when at a friend’s after dark to remind someone to see to them for him.

Jed on the farm

Jed finds academic work harder than the others and struggles to keep up in his year group at school. Despite this he is my most tenacious, persistent and driven child. When Jed wants to achieve something he does. It takes him longer and we often have tears and tantrums of frustration along the way, but he is no quitter. He works hard at succeeding and no parent can ask for more than that.  

10. Tell us one thing that made you proud of yourself.
Blog award

Oh this is it! I started the year with a vision for updating my web site and creating a blog. I am so proud of the way it has come together and love it to bits. The bright colours reflect the child orientated family business we run and a my personal style too. I managed to be a runner up in the http://www.lovedbyparents.com/awards/ for 2011 after just a few months of blogging which I am still delighted by.

11. Tell us one challenge you overcame.

12 months ago I didn’t know how to download a photo from my camera to my PC and my phone was so old that I couldn’t work out how to text on it! I have overcome some huge technical barriers in the last 12 months to update my web site and launch my blog. Admittadly I have had a huge amount of help on the web site from my web designer  but am still proud that my objectives for the site are being met.

12. Is there anything you would like to change about your life in 2012.

I don’t want to sound smug or cheesy  but I love my life. I fear more from loosing something I already have than striving for something new. If I can continue to build the business, impliment our exciting plans for the year with Nick and help our children as they take another step along the path to growing up, then it will be a perfect year for me. 

Family trip to Padstow

So, who to tag? I am guessing this has been going a couple of weeks so appologies if you have had this one before and please pass on.

Looking forward to your responses!

The Ultimate Christmas Meme

Posted on December 21st, 2011 - Anya

A Meme for Christmas

It is December 21st & just 3 more sleeps away from a visit from the scary man with the white beard! I am delighted to join in with the Christmas themed Meme   tagged me with, as created by Carolin from Mummy Alarm.

So here are my answers: 

1. The Christmas song I can even listen to in June is…

Bob Geldolf’s Do they know it’s Christmas. It kind of annoys me to listen to, but it did so much to raise awareness and money for a desperate situation and was put together in such good spirit that it never fails to make me appreciate all I have at any time of the year. 

2. Hot chocolate, egg nog or mulled wine?

Hot chocolate all the way. I love hot drinks and options are my favourite. I have tried all the flavours as I have a really sweet tooth and these just hit the spot. My favourite is without doubt the white chocolate. To all you fresh bread and crisp fans it must sound quite sickly but to me this is heaven, even in June! I have been known to stock pile them in the cupboard as they only sell this flavour as special twice a year *addict*

3. When do you put your decorations up?

Out door decorations

16th December. Our Christmas guests arrive on the 17th and so the outside lights go up and the real Christmas trees are ordered for the 16th. This way Farmer Nick and I can make sure they are all installed with working lights and a box of decorations ready for guests to decorate as a family on their arrival. Meanwhile our children set about the task of uncovering all their favourite treasures from years gone by and turning our tree in to a masterpiece. 



4. What are you having for Christmas dinner?
Farmer Nick showing off our turkey

Breast, Leg and Stuffing our Turkeys are currently being fattened up in Jurassic park here at Coombe Mill. The children are not at all sure about eating them but personally I would far rather one of our own than one from elsewhere where I know nothing of its upbringing! With our own bacon and sausages from our farm piglets it will be a real old fashioned farmhouse feast again for us.



5. What’s your favourite Christmas tradition?

Christmas morning present opening

I think this has to be the mince pie, milk and carrot left for Father Christmas and the reindeer. The look on the children’s faces on Christmas morning when they see the half finished milk, mince pie crumbs and bitten carrot dropped around outside just makes me want to cry with joy.

This is followed by stocking opening and the famous Coombe Mill feed run delayed from 9am to 10am for all our kids and the guests. The animals have their special Christmas treats and everyone is so happy and excited on Christmas morning.

6. Have you ever gone carol singing?

Never, after being thrown out of the school choir age 10 I took the hint! Still enjoy a good sing at the Christmas Christingle Service when my voice is drowned out by others and I can pretend I am in tune!

7. When did you discover the truth about Santa?

Age 12, I guess I had figured it out but was still going along with things when my Dad cornered me in the kitchen one December to say, “you know I am Father Christmas and he isn’t coming this year!” I was so disappointed; Christmas lost a little sparkle after that, so I think I will keep the magic going for mine for as long as they keep it going with me!

8. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?

That is all up to the children. I supervise the lights and the rest is up to them. It is a little more tasteful each year as the children grow up and the decorations make it to the top of the tree! 

Kids decorating our TreePreschool specialGuy in a cracker

Father ChristmasWho's angle won top slot?Father Christmas

10. All I want for Christmas is…..

A healthy family! With 8 of us before we start on any visiting family there is always someone who is poorly on Christmas day. Last year it was Farmer Nick who left me with the whole thing from our Christmas eve party to presents, the feed run at -10degrees and Christms Dinner. After that I can cope with anything this year – bring it on!!

Me on Tractor duty Xmas Day 2010

Now I tag 



 Hope you can squeeze yours in before the 25th!