Coombe Mill: Where learning is fun

Posted on October 19th, 2014 - Fiona

 

A farm holiday with us here at Coombe Mill is widely regarded as educational for children and often parents too, however the educational side of our stays are always dressed up as fun and play. With no effort what so ever a stay at Coombe Mill is guaranteed to bring new learning experiences from the moment you board the tractor and trailer ride to saying goodnight to friends at bedtime. Learning is best when it is fun to do.

Learning around the farm

There are times when as parents you may like to support and stretch the natural learning from a holiday here. For this reason we are proud to have teamed up with the on line education experts at twinkl UK to help re launch our education pages on the website.  We were lucky enough to have Heather from Twinkl to come and holiday with her family back in the spring. This experience  fully equipped Heather to understand what we do and how to extend the natural farm learning with her up to date teaching resources at twinkl.  

Together we have spent the summer developing and approving worksheets which are both supportive of the national curriculum and totally in keeping with everyday learning here on the farm.  Just like our holidays at Coombe Mill the worksheets are fun and challenging but most of all interesting and relevant. 

Coombe Mill; Where learning is fun.

The worksheets are divided into three groups: The early years from age 3 – 5, key stage 1 for our infant school visitors from age 5 – 7 and even some carefully thought out key stage 2 sheets for our juniors at age 8 – 11 years old. 

To find the worksheets simply; click on Farm Fun on the Coombe Mill Website home page header and select Education

Education Click Through

From here you can click through to any of the three key stages that best suits your child.

Pick Your Key Stage

The worksheets are all individually labelled and colour coded on each key stage page

 

The Three Key Stages

Click on any you like the sound of to download them to your PC or print out.

Print out or Save for later

The sheets would be perfect for helping familiarise your child with the animals we have and a little bit about farm life before your holiday, or taken around the farm whilst staying as an activity during the day, like the sensory worksheet, or even completed in quiet time reflecting on a busy day here such as the diary activity. Other sheets might be best worked on after the holiday to bring everyday learning and holiday memories together, e.g. some of the pen control or math sheets. The resources are here for you to use them as works for your children. Please use as many or as few as your children enjoy.

Already we have been putting the worksheets to good use here at coombe Mill by combining them into our activity hour. The children happily engage in completing a worksheet as part of their craft activity and we select them by age and theme to fit our focus for the session. I hope you will find them useful too.

 

Resources in use

We are committed to maintaining and updating these worksheets to keep them relevant to changes on the farm and the national curriculum over time. I am thrilled to have twinkl as our education partners in this and hope you will find the new worksheets as exciting and engaging for children as I do.

I’m linking up with Magic Moments and What’s the Story with my new education pages.


Are we bringing up a generation of phone phobic kids?

Posted on October 1st, 2014 - Fiona

My fourteen year old son is a typical teen. He is popular at school, from what I can gather and pretty self assured, most of the time. That is within the confines of the family, school and holiday guests here at Coombe Mill where he can be larger than life or at the very least courteous. However what happens to my face booking, You tubing, playstaioning expert when the phone rings? He and his brothers all leave it to me to answer, and if Nick or I are out then I can just imagine them all passing the virtual hot potato by way of the phone to see who is going to lift the receiver and manager to splutter a gruff  ” good evening Coombe Mill”  down the line.  

 

Are we raising phone phobic kids

 

 

At his age I still remember the old house phone in the hall, no social media, in fact the internet hadn’t been invented and TV was only four channels. The upside of this was that I grew up answering the phone and making phone calls to arrange all my social comings and goings with friends and taking messages for my parents.

I suddenly realised when it came to ringing an old friend of ours about work experience that Felix was quite scared of this innocent piece of equipment. To Nick and myself it is slightly mystifying but the sixteen year old agreed remembering having to phone and make his work experience arrangements too. 

Our response was to turn into pushy parent mode backed up by four younger siblings all nudging each other and sniggering around the door as we cajoled Felix into ringing. Of course we had warmed our friend to the idea first and agreed that Felix would ring and ask for himself, yet still even knowing this he was terrified of what to say. I suspected he would be a little nervous but to see him almost back down from what he wanted to do rather than make a phone call did shock me.

I wonder if my teens are typical. May be everything will be arranged by facebook one day and even formal things drift into the world of social media as an acceptable form of communication?  We already restrict thank you letters to the ‘our age and over group’ allowing anyone younger to be thanked by social media or text. Here again somehow the phone call was by passed as an option and email appears to have the sole function of authorising apps and social media accounts in my children’s world.

To speculate further I wonder if the mobile phone will become superseded? I remember the dash for my older two to own their own phone and enter the world of text. However my twelve year old has never used his phone and the triplets have never mentioned one. It turns out all they need is an i pod for the apps and games, facebook and Skype.

Perhaps I shouldn’t chastise Felix for his phone phobia; maybe in reality he will never have the need to use one anyway when wi fi fills the airways.

Perhaps he will look back and laugh telling his children of his fear of this old thing called a telephone.

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Joining in with Word of the Week, my word being “Phone” and Small Steps Amazing Achievements and Loud & Proud for the phone call made and Brilliant Blog posts.

     


A Frock for Brit Mums

Posted on June 15th, 2014 - Fiona

It isn’t every day I come away from the farm and when I do I like to be able to dress up and leave the work gear behind. A trip to London certainly deserves a new outfit, and to Brit Mums no less. However I am not a good shopper, rarely make time to visit a town or city and when I do it tends to be with Clio to try on the entire contents of the tween section of New Look!

Despite my lack of enthusiasm for shopping I am a hoarder and have accumulated a dress or two over the years, I just fancied the confidence boost of attending a large event in something new. My chance to shop came at The Royal Cornwall Show. I enjoyed an adult day before taking the kids and headed straight for my favourite place, the Cornwall Hospice Charity tent. My mission was to find an outfit to match my much loved Mia Tui Bag which doubles up as a practical and stylish holder for my DSLR.

The Hospice tent came up trumps and I emerged armed with three lovely dresses at £5 each and a wrap for £2.50. I felt I had myself a bargain and set about enjoying the rest of the day.

 

Dresses from the Royal Cornwall show for Brit Mums Live

 

Back at home my aspiring writer, editor, photographer and model decided she wanted to take some photos of me in my possible outfits; knowing there was a Brit Mums linky on the go I obliged. 

 

Brit Mums Live '14 Outfit options

I hadn’t realised quite how much I would be bossed around and asked to twirl this way and that, so apologies if the pictures and video look a tad over the top but we had a giggle making it together and some quality girl time. Clio is the real star of the video with her commentary and cartwheel.

 

 

  

I will probably travel with all three outfits and dither on the morning without a little advice so please do help me decide.

Over the two days at Brit Mums I really want to meet so many with whom I chat online so please say hello if you spot me there. Last year it was only travelling home that I realised how many friends I had missed; I’m determined to do better this year. To make things even easier I will wear a Coombe Mill logo on my dress and support a kid’s farm hat or two round my bag if not on my head.

 

Coombe Mill Farm Hat and Logo

 

I did briefly consider just dressing up as a farm animal which felt like a fun idea a month or so ago, however now the time has come I have lost the nerve for that one; there is always next year!

I’m linking this post to the Brit Mums what are you wearing linky and Magpie Monday with Liz at Me and My Shadow for the bargains I found. Also joining Jamie for Magic Moments and Charly for What’s the Story. Lick on the links to find out more from other bloggers.

See you on Friday!

Fiona x


Life on the receiving end of Tripadvisor

Posted on May 12th, 2014 - Fiona

Everyone has heard of Tripadvisor and most of us have probably used it sometimes, if not regularly to investigate somewhere before committing to visit. You may even have put your own comments up there. It is a handy website and can give you a good idea of what you might expect but it is also worth remembering that it is subjective, personal and only a guide. 

Comments can Hurt

As a small business I cannot tell you how upset I get by a few of the comments on Tripadvisor about Coombe Mill. People can pick up on the smallest imperfection and blow it all out of proportion. There is one so nasty from an anonymous entry that it nearly put a family off visiting. I only know this because during their stay they told me about the post and how angry it made them feel when, like many, they had the best holiday ever and their view of Coombe Mill couldn’t have been more different. It saddens me that people can visit us, be unhappy about something, not say anything to Nick or I whilst here but then anonymously tell the world about a fault they found with their holiday. I know I need to put this in perspective and remember that there are so many outstanding entries to every poor one but it doesn’t stop them hurting me, especially as some are directly pointed at me, Nick or worse still our children. As a family we put so much into making every single person’s holiday special which makes these comments feel like a real kick in the teeth. If you want to see what I mean this is the comment feed on Trip Advisor for Coombe Mill

Making Changes

There are always improvements going on here and those returning year on year comment on the positive changes. Over the past 12 months we have invested in the Coombe Mill Railway, introduced new animals and improved field fencing, built Tree Roots Cottage and dredged the fishing lakes together with ongoing maintenance.

 Improvements & Investment at Coombe Mill 2013 / 4

However much I would love to we can’t afford to change and add everything all at once; I wish I could, there is always something that is work in progress and something that needs updating.  I have a growing Pinterest Board of things I would love to change or add if money were no object!

About the Farm 

We are a holiday farm. Our farm is a working farm but on a very small scale. It is not a petting zoo, the animals are not zoo animals and neither can we or would we want to expose you to all the real machinery and life cycle of a true working farm. We do our utmost to educate and develop confidence with the animals within safe guidelines but to some I guess we will always be too much of a farm and to others not enough.

 

Too farm like for little helpers?

 

We Act on all Comments

If someone takes the time to mention to us that something is not right in their property whilst staying at Coombe Mill we will do everything we can to rectify the problem at the earliest opportunity. We live here on the farm and are available to talk to at any time of the day or night. An uncomfortable mattress or a squeaky door are not always picked up on our weekly changeover checks, but tell us and we will sort it. Just two weeks ago a guest left us mentioning, very nicely, that there was an unacceptable damp smell in the downstairs bedroom in Willow Cottage. We aired the property as best as we could that day for the following guests, provided an alternative property for the parents using the room, and identified the chimney as the issue. This was not something we could sort instantly, however we were straight onto the builders to book them in for our first free week and they have now rebuilt the chimney from our emergency funds and also replaced the back door which families were having trouble locking as it had become stiff over the winter period. 

 

Replacing Willow ChimneyNew back doors to Willow Cottage

Please tell us of issues before venting on line, we do care and we will act. Just for the record I have chosen not to respond to comments on Tripadvisor to avoid becoming entangled in a public discussion there, but we do address every issue arising, it would just be so much more helpful if these comments could be directed to us here at the time of inconvenience so that we can sort them out before they spoil a holiday. 

Next time you go to add a poor review about a family business on Tripadvisor please remember there is someone who may really care receiving your complaint. Please consider approaching them directly about your concerns first, they may be only too happy to help.

My pleas to you before you visit Coombe Mill and during your stay

 
Do Don’t
Read the web site and see what is included and excluded. It is very clear Don’t book a riverside lodge because it is cheap and then complain it s small and basic when the web site clearly states this is the case.
If you visit us and are not happy please, please tell us at the time. Don’t let something we can help with like an uncomfortable mattress ruin your sleep, we will happily replace it that day if we possibly can.
Do be aware this is a working farm with real farm animals and natural dangers. Children need to be supervised Don’t expect the river and lakes to be fenced. They are natural features that our insurance prohibits us from fencing and signing.
Do use our safe play areas as somewhere to let the children run free and meet others  Don’t expect us to find a damaged play item immediately. It really helps if you can tell us so we can fix it.
Do take advantage of our honesty shop and leave us a note in the book of purchases Don’t expect us to stand in the shop all day, there is a door bell if you need us
Do take part on the activities provided. The morning tractor rides are fun and educational for parents and children and the train rides a great way to meet with others at the end of the day. Don’t expect us to anticipate your every need. We try to ensure all children take turns at tractor driving and train turns but please speak up if we miss someone, or something is scaring them.
Do plan for all weathers. This is England and it can rain as hard in summer as in winter.  Don’t book your holiday dates based on what you think the weather will be; it is very unpredictable in England for good and for bad!
Do enjoy the freedom and peace of the farm, appreciate the nature around you and respect it. Don’t allow your children to run riot on the farm, leave gates open, terrorise the rabbits then complain they have been bitten or the play equipment is broken.

 

We work hard as a family to provide happy holidays for your family with plenty to keep children learning and enjoying from tots to teens. However if the outdoors, mud, wellies and animals in a beautiful 30 acre estate doesn’t appeal and evenings by the log burner listening to the river babbling in the background is not your idea of entertainment then we may not be the holiday for you.

Still interested? Here is the link to our availability page.  We look forward to welcoming you to our farm and making your holiday one to remember for all the right reasons. 

 Tractor, trailer and animals at Coombe Mill Farm

I’m linking up with What’s the Story over at Podcast


Country Kids from Coombe Mill

Posted on May 9th, 2014 - Fiona

An Epic Birthday Party 

After last week’s aborted birthday party this week was hotly awaited. Within minutes of finishing the morning feed fun excited classmates began to arrive. Each child came armed with spare clothes and a water pistol; the triplet’s parties are becoming legendary! Having said this I removed every single water gun promising they could all have them for a water fight at the end but that I wasn’t going to have 3 hours of soaking wet children; with water guns confiscated they piled onto the trampoline.

 

 Triplets Birthday on the trampoline

Excitement was running high and I felt it was best to channel that energy into the first game. My older three children all hid three sets of pre prepared clues for a treasure hunt. Team Guy, Jed and Clio eagerly accepted their starting sheet and raced off to the first place. It was all I could do to keep up and advise them along the way as they dashed from one end of the farm to the other. I deliberately set the clues apart to keep them running and busy.

Triplets Birthday Party Treasure Hunt

 

There was seconds between them when they came back and that certainly took the edge of their energy levels!

 

Triplets Birthday time out

Next up the highly successful game from last year; everyone has played Pinata, but make your own girls vs boys recycled Pinata is amazing fun, ecological and cheap as chips! Each Team had a ready prepared milk bottle filled with sweets attached to a string, a pile of recycling and a real of sellotape. They then had ten minutes to make the biggest most indestructible Pinata they could. The shouting through their team work reached fever pitch as they taped and wrapped to a countdown finish.

Triplets Party Pinata making

Then I was grateful of the help of my teens in rigging them up to the veranda while the party members searched the farm for suitable sticks. The aim was for the girls to beat their way into the boys Pinata before the boys beat their way into the girls one; huge excitement bringing out the competitiveness in all.  

 

Triplets Party Pinata Fun

 

Thankfully I had a couple of Mummy friends who stayed to help me police it all and lay out the party lunch, thank you Fiona and Mandy, after all the running around everyone was hungry.

 

Triplets Birthday Party Lunch

 

Next up Farmer Nick’s inspiration; down on the train lawn he set up two tractors both attached to a long rope. We mixed and matched the teams to race the tractors to the finishing post. It did remind me of something out of the old Iron Man TV series, but so perfect for our farm kids!

 

 Tractor Pulling Challenge

I had one more game up my sleeve before I let them loose on their water guns. This was a game I remembered from my own childhood but which must have become forgotten over time as one of the children had played it before. It involves trying to eat a bar of chocolate with a knife and fork in silly clothes when you roll the dice to a six. However if someone else gets a six they take the clothes and knife and fork from you; frantic fun in the afternoon sun on a picnic blanket.

 

Triplets Party with Chocolate Game

 

Finally we sang happy birthday and there followed a huge roar of “yessss” as I said they could go wild with the water guns.

 

 Triplets 10th Birthday Cake

Of course they were wet in seconds but at least I had held off the moment until their parents were due to take them home!

 

 Triplets Party Water Fight

Apparently this was their best ever birthday party and well worth waiting for. It was certainly helped having the space and fun of the farm as a base. I was pleased I remembered to warn our guests it would be happening as the noise levels during the games would have been quite a disturbance.

 

 

Joining in with Country Kids

Country Kids is all about taking time out from the comfort of the sofa and screen entertainment and enjoying time outdoors. Active kids are healthy kids and the same applies to us grownups. A little time away from the day to day chores enjoying quality time together doing something fun, from as close as the back garden, is good for mind and body. Please join me, grab the badge and add your outdoor adventures to the linky. Crafting, learning, playing and discovering are all Country Kids activities when they are outside. Please do check out some of the other posts here, everyone loves a comment and it could be the inspiration for your next post.

A few of my favourite posts from last week:

Bod for Tea Came to stay at Coombe Mill and shares some wonderful photos, no wonder she is shortlisted for a BIBs photo award

Taming the Goblin goes crabbing, this post reminds me how long it is since we did this, such a great seaside activity.

Le Baby Bakery finds success on a beach fossil hunting expedition

Chelsea Mamma takes the family Kayaking, an activity my children love too, though the choopy sea made this time a real challenge

Mama Mummy Mum gets the Geocaching bug and if this is new to you Chantelle gives a great explanation of how to get started

Can I walk Mummy?  takes advantage of a great outdoor Education Cantre to learn with the kids

Dear Mummy visits a farm and totally fires up my imagination with tales of sheep racing.

 

Remember you can join Country Kids here on the linky as well as:

Pin on the Pinterest board

Join the Google Plus community page for Country Kids

Share your posts on  Instagram and Twitter with #CountryKids 

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

 and if you are still to vote I would love your support in the BIBs for SOCIAL MEDIA. There are serveral other regular Country Kids bloggers in the short list too across the categories, do look out for them.

VOTE FOR ME BiB 2014 SOCIALMEDIA