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.
Sometimes being set in the back of beyond in an area of outstanding natural beauty has some added benefits. The rugged Moorland off the edge of our local village at St Breward was the home for the Poldark crew last summer as they set about filming the autumn series now playing on Sunday evenings.
This was one opportunity I wasn’t about to miss out on. After all there was always a chance of a spotting of Aiden Turner. Maybe he’d let me have a photo, answer some questions, feature on my blog, oh the excitement was building. It was only up the road in my favourite cycling territory so I hoped on my bike, and with camera slung over my shoulder, I pedalled in hot pursuit of the action.
Poldark here I come
There were a steady stream of cars and vans around that I guessed were part of the support crew and it was pretty easy to follow their route. I also spotted some temporary signs on posts that I guessed were directions for the camera crew.
As I cycled over the crest of a hill, there before me was undoubtedly base camp with big Movie Maker signs, just in case you couldn’t guess!
I freewheeled down to the entrance to find bollards and private signs. Damn and that was just for the camera crew and support staff! Perhaps I should follow the animals lead, they showed little regard for the filming in progress and even less respect for the signs.
I could see the house where the filming was taking place beyond the camp. Undeterred, I figured I could still get myself close by approaching from the back of the house. I had my long lens so I was still hopeful.
As I clicked away, still unsure if the figures I was seeing were the cast or film crew, I found myself approached by security. Apparently the media had broken in the previous day via this side and taken unauthorised footage and they were worried I was from one of the national papers. When I explained I was simply a local hoping for a story for my holiday blog their guard came down and they were happy to chat. However my photos were still curtailed from this point on and my cheeky request to pop in and meet the cast dashed.
To be fair it was only a few days of filming here on the moor, the old port at Charlestown, Near St Austell saw most of the action. The Poldark cast even returned to the town for the opening night. I managed to miss this but my good friend Karen, who owns the wonderful Winifred and Mable gift shop in Wadebridge, was part of the action. Karen clearly did better than me with photos, managing to capture the fun of the evening.
Despite not meeting the cast myself, I’m still proud to have such a popular TV series filmed so close to Coombe Mill here in Cornwall. Watch out Poldark series 3, I will be back with my bicycle and long lens stalking you again!
With the children back to school, and the August rush past, the Cornish coast path retains its beauty for us locals and the late summer holiday makers. I love the buzz of August down on the beach with my own kids, however equally, in the quiet of early September I also love a quite stroll along the cliff tops. There are some beautiful walks here, but possibly my favourite is from Polzeath beach up around the headland. It looks so far away from the beach but is actually easy to walk both ways within an hour and notches up a gutsy 10,000.
Some of the upward climbs can leave you stopping to catch your breath, but you are rewarded with some stunning views that make it worth the climb. Looking back towards Polzeath after the first climb you don’t want to get too close to the edge, the wispy summer grasses are no protection against a fall. The number of times I see holiday makers trekking along carrying little ones wearing flip flops, to me that is just so dangerous. Sensible footwear is just common sense along the Cornish coast path.
The towering cliffs hide little secluded bays with rock pools teaming with life. Some of them are accessible from Polzeath at low tide.
I marvel over the wild flowers that withstand the harsh winds and sea spray. They look so resilient and fill me with determination for making the most out of life.
From Pentire Head the view back across the Cornish Coast path towards the beach and up the estuary is breathtaking; Polzeath and Rock on one side and Padstow on the other. It is no wonder this area of Cornwall is such a popular tourist destination.
The Cornish coast path from Coombe Mill.
Polzeath is a 25 minute drive from Coombe Mill and well worth a visit if you are staying with us. The coast path here is suitable for families to walk, though little legs may struggle on the uphill climbs and please wear sensible footwear on the coast paths and keep your distance from the edge.
With the boys away on scout camp and Clio at a loose end we took her and her friend to the Boconnoc Steam Fair. We had fond memories if visiting in previous years so knew we would be in for a treat. It was turning in to a stunning warm summer’s day and it was a tossup between this and the beach, but as this is a one off it won the toss.
The girls were tempted by the food stalls as soon as we arrived and as it was lunch time I could see their point.
With tummies full we set off exploring the rows of stalls leaving Farmer Nick to tractor shows and vintage cars. It wasn’t long before Clio had spotted something she wanted. She has so many friends’ birthdays coming up and the stands were full of just the right things.
It’s lovely to see them just being kids again and the fish for a prize stall caught their eye. Clio had no trouble hooking her duck and choosing a fun inflatable ball for them both to play with.
I was quite taken with some dear little Cornish dolls made from silk flowers. Whist chatting to the owner and asking if she minded me taking a photo she was very wary. I had no idea but apparently craft copies are rife and they were very wary of having their ideas poached telling me of how it had happened in the past. I really felt for them as their ornate dolls were beautiful and original. She allowed me my photo and Clio bought a couple of bracelets there to complete her shopping. If you like the look of them they make them to order and are only £5 each.
Shopping complete we headed for the fun fair. The girls spotted the dodgems immediately and invested in 4 rides for £10. It was worth every penny to see their faces.
Back together we lapped up the afternoon sun with ice creams and watched the big steam engines roll past.
Nick couldn’t resist taking me for a quick tour of the vintage cars and I must say I did hanker after the canary yellow VW van and an old Triumph Stag just like the one we had pre children. I have a feeling when they all leave home we may treat ourselves again.
The Boconnoc Steam Fair: Need to know tips:
Runs for 3 days at the end of July each year
£28 for a family ticket, concessions for seniors and children.
Free field parking
Porta loos regularly serviced.
Endless food and drink stalls reasonably priced
Camping on site for the 3 days available
About 30 minutes drive from Coombe Mill
Thank you Boconnoc Steam Fair, we had another great visit and will no doubt be back next year.
It isn’t often these days that I have a full family outing. However when you mention lunch out and shops they are all interested. May be it is growing up in the countryside and being surrounded by nature, but the thought of a trip to the city really excites them all. The added bonus was having my niece staying with her young family too. The cousin bond is a special one and it was a trip that suited everyone.
It was a quick change after the Sunday morning feed run and into the cars heading for Plymouth. Having missed breakfast our first stop was lunch. We have a favourite all you can eat Asian restaurant with everything from freshly cooked seafood to well known regular dishes. Even the hungriest teen can come out full without breaking the bank so it works well for us. My thanks to Jed for the photos I didn’t know he’d taken on my phone!
With tummies full the kids headed for the shops, I was keen to sort some of their school uniforms out for the new term but was also determined it wouldn’t take up all our time as the sun had come out and it was turning into a gorgeous afternoon. As soon as we had the necessary purchased we headed out towards the Hoe leaving the older ones to continue their shopping. My triplets were totally taken with the huge Olympics big screen and deck chairs in the centre of town. There was even free table tennis there and an outdoor bar so we stopped to join in for a while.
Continuing to the Hoe the kids had a chance to run free along the water features and up the banks. Thankfully no one fell in!
A special cousin bond
Once we arrived we left the children to play. The whole area was full of family groups enjoying picnics and soaking up the summer sun. It was wonderful to see my three playing with their cousins.
There is a special cousin bond within families and it’s lovely to have a chance see that flourish even with cousins they don’t see very often thanks to us living at the end of the earth in Cornwall.
Plymouth Hoe Lighthouse
I left them playing together down on the Hoe to take a walk up the old lighthouse with Farmer Nick. I had wanted to do this on previous trips but never had the time. It was well worth the £3 entrance fee with plenty of plaques and a TV playing to help fill in the history. How anyone lived there is beyond me with the tiny kitchen stove, little beds and winding stairs.
Once at the top the views across the city and out to sea are amazing. I stood a while watching the cousin bond developing down below.
Back with the family the teens had returned from their shopping spree and were showing off their purchases. I could have happily stayed longer but with the train to run back at Coombe Mill we had to head home. In any case the little ones were looking quite exhausted from their play time with the triplets and more than ready for a little nap in the car. Plymouth is still a city I love to visit and I’m sure we will be back before too long.
The holidays seem to be racing by far too quickly and I was concerned I hadn’t managed a single beach trip. To me summer beach days are what spring to mind whenever anyone mentions the school august break. I would feel cheated of my summer if we didn’t visit, yet somehow the time had been slipping away.
Making time for Summer beach days
Finally we woke to a beautiful day which wasn’t earmarked with essential jobs or other outings. Loaded up with wetsuits and a picnic we headed off to enjoy the heat of the day at the beach.
Polzeath is always busy in high season but it is a lifeguard beach with good facilities and easy parking, making it a great location for summer beach days. Even when the sea is busy there are always quite secluded bays to be found at low tide giving a feeling of space and discovery.
The kids were soon changed and heading into the waves. I’m sure Jed is a secret fish; he can never be bothered with a wetsuit but still stays in the water as long as the others.
I soon lost them in the waves, but they are all good swimmers and know to remain within the life guarded flags. Meanwhile I enjoyed a little peace and quiet on the beach, with just the occasional opportunist gull swooping by to check for picnic leftovers!
All too soon we were heading back to Coombe Mill to catch up with the holiday guests and run the evening train. With salt in my hair and sand tingling against my skin I knew we had enjoyed one of the summer beach days I had been craving.
Looking out towards the coast after dinner, I stopped to watch the sun set and will the holidays to slow down a little. We live in such a beautiful place and I really want more time to enjoy it together before the new school term.
“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.