University plucks one from the cuckoo nest

Posted on September 25th, 2016 - Anya

I thought I was done with the emotional roller coaster of the first day of school. At age twelve to eighteen my children are all growing up and finding their independence. Their need for me and their Dad is reducing all the time and this independence is something I’ve always encouraged. However I failed to factor in just how emotional taking the first to University would be. Suddenly I felt like a parent taking my child to his first day at primary all over again; except worse, I wouldn’t be returning to collect him with a big hug in a few hours.

One flew the cockoo nest as Alistair drives to Cardiff University

Off to Cardiff University

When Alistair secured his place at Cardiff University I was so happy for him, it was an exciting new world opening up. The days closed in and as we drove up I could feel the apprehension in the car. A cocktail of nervous excitement from Alistair and a quiet dread of saying goodbye from me. Thankfully it was a beautiful day and the bridge into Wales felt very welcoming.

Hello Wales! Cardiff here we come . #uni #cardiff #freshersweek

A video posted by Coombe Mill (@coombemill) on

Nick had driven up separately as Alistair was keeping his car with him. As we met at his new halls of residence it felt like time had stood still from 30 years ago and my own first day. That same smell, a cross between school and a hospital, the old fire doors, bike lock up and small rooms. However a friendly group of early arriving girls keenly welcomed Ally to the group on his floor and I felt things were going to work out at university. He even had a cracking view over the city and Cardiff bay from his 5th floor window.

University Halls Cardiff

We were blessed with the most amazing September weather and took Ally for brunch in Cardiff bay. I’m already looking forward to return trips and Nick is exploring the idea of hiring a boat to blast across from Padstow to Cardiff which he thinks would only take an hour.

Brunch in Cardiff Bay

With a big supermarket shop done there was no more need for us to be there. It was time for us to bid him Goodbye and let him find his feet alone. I was determined not to cry but as Nick pointed out the family photos he had secretly packed and pinned up on his notice board I almost cracked.  I walked out with a huge lump in my throat, but reassured this little cuckoo was well set up for his new university life.

So he’s in. Uni life starts here! #Cardiff #universitylife #uni #leavinghome #son

A photo posted by Coombe Mill (@coombemill) on

I had to wait a full 36 hours before I had my first Facebook message. He had been out to his first freshers party and it was “awesome” relief flooded through me. He is hopeless at staying in contact so I treasure the occasional message and I’m trying not to keep asking how he is. I don’t want to be an annoying parent, but it is so hard to just let go and not wonder how he is doing. I remember all too clearly blaming vandalised payphones when I forgot to ring home, though I guess the modern day equivalent would be ‘my phone was out of charge or credit’! 

Ally has left a big gap in our family life but we are learning to adjust, it is every bit as hard as I feared and I think about him all the time. Whoever is on dinner time table laying duty is still setting out eight places instead of seven. I can’t believe I may have to do this 5 more times over the coming years. If you have a little one just started primary, watch out, the heartache at leaving them certainly doesn’t get easier as they get older. Once a parent, always a parent, even when they fly the nest.

Never Break a Promise

Posted on May 29th, 2016 - Anya

A golden rule of parenting

“If you make a promise to your children and make sure you follow through”

It’s there in every parenting best practice book and we all know it’s right.

Be consistent, don’t make hollow threats and don’t make promises you can’t keep.  Yes, we all bend the rules, use the power of Father Christmas to our advantage and sometimes promise things that simply don’t materialise. But on the whole we know the rules and that it pays to stand by them.

Then this happened….


I woke up and flicked through my emails as always before the school run to see a notification that I had made the BIBs finals. I honestly thought it was a mistake. I was sure they were due the following day and shrugged it off. It was only with children safely delivered to school and returning on line that twitter assured me it was no mistake. I lost my morning of work basking in happy banter online before another thought crossed my mind:

 Follow through with that Promise

When I found out I was shortlisted in two categories I wrote a heartfelt post on how much this meant to me and why I was so thrilled. Readers Choice was the category I had pinned my hopes on right from the start. I didn’t really imagine making the finals, and added to my post a silly dare just for fun. Except now it had happened and I felt all those best practice parenting books pointing a finger at me. I had to follow through with my promise.

Swimming for BIBs.

I was feeling hot and sticky after lawn mowing and decided it was time to put to bed the niggling commitment I made, to swim fully clothed across our river, if I made the finals.  Guy, my resident river boy, thought it was hilarious and positioned himself on his bike downstream to watch. Before I had set a foot into the water, I spotted a curious gathering of our guests on the bridge. Now I had an audience and there was no going back!

It was May, the river was freezing, and I was dressed in my running clothes and trainers. Quite possibly one of the craziest things I’ve ever done sober.

I did it, and I felt proud. I had stood by my promise, pushed myself to do something a little crazy and demonstrated just how thrilled I am to be a BIBs finalist. Thank you so much if one of those votes was from you, you have made me so happy and put Coombe Mill on the map. 

And if I win?

I said right at the start I’d never be as brave as my kids and jump off the bridge into the river, but ‘if’ I were to win, hell that would be so amazing I’d really have to try. After all, a promise is a promise!

Would you go out of your way to keep a promise?


Shortlisted in the 2016 BIBs Awards

Posted on May 2nd, 2016 - Anya

I keep reading this title again and again; I am so pleased I’m not quite sure I can believe it yet. 3 days I have sat on this news and pondered this post and still the words refuse to come. It is such an honour to be shortlisted in the 2016 BIBs Awards (Brilliant in Blogging), to find myself in 2 categories leaves me speechless in the best possible way.

2016 BIBs Awards Shortlist for Coombe Mill in Social Media and Readers Choice


I don’t even want to think about the competition out there for the next stage, I’m still enjoying reaching this milestone. But seriously I’ve had a good look at the shortlisters in all categories and frankly wow, what a talented list with so many of my favourite blogs being recognised and a few I’m keen to discover.

2016 BiBs Awards for Social Media

I have been shortlisted 3 times and a finalist twice but never made it all the way. I feel so guilty asking to be considered again in this category especially with such well known social media gurus in the line up with me all of whom deserve to win, but I’m swallowing my guilt and asking.


Blogging is more than my passion, it is how I market Coombe Mill, and it is how Mum’s and Dad’s with young children discover our farm and book holidays. Without my blog and the social media channels I run to support it, I’d have no marketing for our family holidays. It is where I share our latest crafts, our outdoor fun, our new building programmes and all the latest news from the farm.

To be a finalist in this category and in with a shout of winning is the ultimate sign I’m doing the best I can for our family business. If you don’t already follow me please do, I’m around on every platform as Coombe Mill and you’ll find it hard to miss me in real life at a blogging event.


Fiona at #SBS winners meet up representing Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays, Cornwall.

2016 BiBs Awards for Readers Choice

This brand new category on BIBs really excites me and I cheekily popped on my side bar from the start thinking it really could be the category for me. I feel like a liquorish all sort in the blogging world. I’ve always been a parent blogger but as my six children are now age 12 – 18 I write about them less, not because there is less to say, on the contrary; but they all have their own social media now and frankly anything I might want to say about them is “embarrassing” and would be seen by their friends. I respect this and feature parenting tips from experience less than I once did. That said; with parental permission I still share plenty of parenting fun here on the farm with our holiday guests.   Our weekly Activity hour covers some imaginative crafts which I follow up with tutorials in my #Trash2Treasure linky. Outdoor fun is what gave me my blogging voice and my #CountryKids linky is now in its 5th year with a new outdoor adventure from the farm to our family travels each week. Add to this my desire to build education into everyday life and all under the umbrella of farm life and I have a blog of all sorts.


Coombe Mill Blog covers all the fun of the farm and more at our holidays in Cornwall.


Readers Choice is the place for me and if I were to be your choice for the finals I might just swim across our river to celebrate fun on the farm. Trust me that would be a personal challenge and I’d video it screams and all, though I can’t promise to be as brave as my kids jumping in from the bridge.

Jumping in the river

 Many congratulations to all the shortlisted 2016 BIBs Awards bloggers, you have such talent and I admire you all   

Please vote for your favourites here.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill

Posted on January 29th, 2016 - Anya

 A Family Short Break in the UK

After a successful summer season and either side of the Christmas festivities we allow ourselves a 6 week window of closure at Coombe Mill. This is an opportunity to take stock of our year, tackle maintenance work and begin larger projects. So far we have installed cattle grids to work the fields leading to the Scandinavian lodges, bitten off rather more than we should have refitting the play barn and installed new wood burners for Honeysuckle and Willow cottages. More on all these projects over the coming weeks, ahead of the start of the new season from February half term.

However life is not all work and our close down periods ether side of Christmas allows us some much needed family time. For the first time since last winter we have been enjoying two day weekends, no changeover, no emergency problems to sort or duties to perform past feeding and caring for the animals; the fact that it is only for a few weeks makes us appreciate it all the more. It is lovely to have the farm to ourselves, to turn the music up in the gym or pop over for a late night hot tub at Tree Roots Cottage; however it is also a chance for us to have a mini break away. We now have Amber to take care of the farm while we are away and took advantage of this taking the kids away for the weekend to our honeymoon hotel in Devon. Nick and I try to return a couple of times each year for a short adult break, yet after taking the children with us this time last year, they have spent all year asking if we would be able to do it again and were super excited when we said we had booked.


A Family Short Break in the UK

The weather was pretty awful which was no surprise at this time of year but we still managed to enjoy some golf on the little 9 hole hotel course and some windy and wild coastal walks.

Cliff walks and Golf


When the rain came the kids headed for the indoor pool or the squash and Badminton courts. So many matches and rematches took place and Nick and I were delighted to hold our own against our very competitive children, well some of the time anyway!  


 Guy and Jed playing Squash

Perhaps the best part for me was not having to think about cooking meals. It was a pleasure to have all my family dressed up for dinner with me, this year they were all old enough to join us in the restaurant, grown up enough to sample and enjoy strange foods and be trusted to sit there long enough without being bored and making excuses to visit the toilet. The introduction of charades by Jed between courses really did help to keep everyone going.

Breakfast was enough to set us up for a full day of outdoor pursuits, although I did find all my full English ended up vegetarian as the boys swapped all their tomatoes for my sausage and bacon! Fortunately I’m the only one who likes black pudding so I managed to keep that.


Meal Times at Thurlestone


It was only 2 nights away but it felt like longer and I was still excited and feeling rejuvenated driving back over a windswept Tamar bridge into Cornwall, after an almost a perfect break.


Over the Tamar Bridge on the way home from Thurlestone

I say almost perfect as we then spent half an hour with me flicking through the owner’s manual and Nick cursing beneath the car on the side of the dual carriageway trying to free rusted bolts from the spare wheel thanks to a huge blow out.


Tyre Blowout


Thankfully after only one ruined set of clothes, and much cursing, we were finally back on course for Coombe Mill, refreshed and ready to finish the projects we set ourselves with renewed energy.



Joining in with Country Kids 

I’d love you to come and share your outdoor fun with me here on the linky.  All posts are welcome from playing in the garden to days out.  All I ask is that the post is predominantly outside, away from screens and enjoying some fresh air.  I’d be delighted if you would take my badge or link back here and please remember to check out some of the other posts, it might just be the inspiration for your next adventure.

Country Kids is around in these communities, I’d love you to join me: 

Pin on the Pinterest Board Just ask for an invite to pin and include Country Kids on your pins for me to stop by on your boards too 


Follow Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays’s board Country Kids  from Coombe Mill on Pinterest. 



Join the Google Plus community page  for Country Kids and add #CountryKids to your tag elsewhere for a +1 from me 

Share your posts on  Instagram and Twitter with #CountryKids for a like or a re-tweet


A few of my favourites from last week:

I love these wild winter fun  beach pictures from Would Like to be on a day out from her Coombe Mill Holiday

for many snow was a feature last week. I love this post from the woods by Over 40 Mum to One and this one from Little Steps who lives close to us where there was no snow but went off to Dartmoor for the day and were rewarded with plenty of snow fun

Walking with children is always more fun with something for them to look out for or do. Diary of the Evans Crittens took scooters along a path to the beach to keep the kids enjoying the fresh air. 


Thank you Muddy Puddles 


I'd like to extend a huge thank you to Muddy Puddles who have been our Country Kids sponsors for the past 4 months generously giving a pair of free wellies to a lucky country Kids winner each month. I really love their kids clothing and feel privileged to have been working together. We have a new sponsor for February who I will introduce next week, but we are already talking to Muddy Puddles about plans for later in the year so it is and case of 'au revoir' rather than 'goodbye' and watch this space!  

My January winner is Karen J Whitlock with her heartfelt post of her Christmas spent with us at Coombe Mill. Congratulations to Karen please email me your choice of Puddle flex wellies and size.



Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall



Christmas is Coming

Posted on December 5th, 2015 - Anya


Weekly Photos from the farm

It has been quite miserable outside this week so I thought I share our little midweek fun of  putting up the Christmas Tree, Nick and I bought this gem for just £10 and I have to confess I was a little worried as we opened it up thinking that half the branches would fall off or be damaged at that price. Much to our surprise it shook down into a perfect tree shape. I worked with Theo to put the lights on as at just 13 he is much taller than me and could reach the top!

Guy and Clio then took over from us with squeals of excitement as trinkets and decorations made from years gone by emerged from the box to take their pride of place once more on the Tree.


 Decorating the Christmas Tree at Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays, Cornwall


By the time it was finished it resembled a bit of a dogs dinner but it is their handiwork, their artwork and all our family memories of Christmases gone by. I think I will actually be quite sad when no one wants to help me decorate the tree and I finally have my magazine like minimalist vision.


Christmas Tree at Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays, Cornwall 2015


Next week I will be onto putting up the holiday cottage and lodge trees, however we always leave a box with the decorations inside so each family can make their own Christmas traditions dressing their tree together.


OneDad3Girls      Mami 2 Five   Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday