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.
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.
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.
I can’t resist a little beach art when I have time on my hands at our local beach. Simply stacking rocks and pebbles creates a fun photo and is a great balancing act. Initially I planned to just photograph the rock stack, before it became a shooting target for the kids. However an idea came to me as Jed was hovering in the distance. He is often the one who ends up photo bombing my pictures but this time he gave me a great idea. Perspective was something he had struggled with as a child and I really wish I’d thought to do this with him then. However this was my chance to demonstrate that mystifying concept of perspective again and create a clever illusion at the same time.
It’s just an illusion
I explained what I was trying to achieve. He began by just reaching out with an arm. I showed him on playback and he chuckled at the illusion of him adding the last rock to the stack. Tickled by the effect he was game for trying a little more. We opted for climbing the stack. While the end result isn’t perfect, it gives the idea.
Jed adding the final touches to my Rock Stack
The rock stack photo I originally planned
Creating illusion and exploring perspective as Jed threatened to photo bomb my rock stack photo.
This little bit of fun photography has inspired me to experiment further in the future with perspective and illusion. I have wound perspective into our activity hour sessions with the children staying here in the past and separately tried rock stacking in the river. I think I will revisit both again next year with a little photo illusion fun added too.
Have you ever tried creating illusion and exploring perspective with photography?
Our closest beach is just 15 minutes from Coombe Mill by car. It is one of my favourite beaches yet we hardly ever visit. The main reason is it is tidal and only accessible for a couple of hours either side of low tide. It is also a 10 minute hike down a steep cliff path once you park so no use at all with surf gear and too much kit. That said if you pack light, wear trainers and judge the tide right you are in for a treat. Our last visit to the secret beach was back in the drizzle of winter and we promised ourselves a return visit in the sun. One glorious summer’s evening we kept that promise.
A Stunning approach
The scenery is nothing short of spectacular as you approach. I can never resist a few photos as we head down the rocky steps.
A dip in the sea
The walk and cliff top scramble means we don’t bother with wetsuits. This usually means I don’t go in, however with the amazing summer we have had the sea was beautiful and even I swam, without being cold, at 8pm!
A sandy beach perfect for sport
The perfect way to warm up after a dip in the sea is to take advantage of the sandy beach space playing football and outdoing each other on acrobatics. Even I managed a few cartwheels and then regretted it as my hips grumbled!
Wine for the Mums
My friend who came with us had packed a bottle of wine, Felix agreed to drive home and so we found ourselves watching the sunset and over a glass or two while the teens explored in and out of the caves.
A driftwood campfire
We were all chilling down as the sun sank low and built ourselves a great campfire with the matches and firelighters I’d packed and driftwood from the beach.
We picked mussels straight from the rocks and cooked them on a makeshift hot stone oven we created on the campfire. Naturally seasoned by the salt of the sea they were totally delicious.
Marshmallows on sticks were the sweet treat to end.
Beaten by the tide
3 hours raced by in a flash, it was only the tide lapping at our feet and the darkness falling after the sun had set that finally prompted us to leave our toasty fire to the waves and head back up the steep cliff path to the car.
It was such a wonderful and spontaneous evening. We have managed a couple of visits since to the secret beach, taking advantage of the warm sea temperature before winter sets in.
So where is the Secret Beach.
It is a little cove just a mile around the coast path from Trebarwith Strand towards Polzeath called Tregardock. It is only signed when you are already there and on foot towards the beach, hence the secret bit. The lack of facilities and difficult access make it unsuitable for under 5’s and anyone not safe on their feet, however for an able bodied person it is a beach worth discovering.
The heat wave continued in Cornwall last week. When I say heat wave, we haven’t experienced the mid 30s of the South East, rather a very pleasant mid 20s and perfect for being out and about and enjoying the sunshine. I have been promising the kids a beach visit for weeks and just found work and life has pushed it endlessly to “tomorrow”. Finally, fed up of not managing to go I agreed on an early supper and an evening visit to an old favourite of ours, The Secret Beach. Unlike Polzeath, our usual go to beach, The Secret Beach is secluded and almost deserted even in midsummer. This is probably because it is only accessible by a coast path hike and a scramble down steep cliff steps. It is actually our closest beach being just 15 minutes drive from Coombe Mill. We really should visit more, but it’s biggest drawback of this lovely Beach is that it is only accessible for around 4 hours surrounding low tide. That was perfect timing for a mild summer evening visit and so my Shirley Valentine moment transpired.
As well as taking the kids, we scooped up my good friend too who came armed with a bottle of wine. It was one of those perfect evenings that turned into a special night we will all remember. I’m going to share more of the evening in a separate post as I took so many photos of our 3 hours there before the incoming tide finally forced our retreat. But for today, I just wanted to share a couple of moments I remember fondly as I sipped wine in the most beautiful setting in between laughing with family and friends. Full credit to Felix who offered to drive home as I sank into my second glass of wine. Grown up kids really do come with added benefits!
Our beautiful secluded local beach.
My Shirley Valentine Moment on the beach in Cornwall.
“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.