Returning to a heat wave in Cornwall

Posted on July 23rd, 2016 - Fiona

Away in Greece

We have been away in Greece for the past week with our older two boys. It is years since we have flown abroad and a trip we all enjoyed. I took my last dip in the sea the morning we left and dug my only cardigan and jacket out of my case ready for England.


Early morning sunlight over the sea and sail boat at Kantia Greece

Heat wave to greet us back home 

Touching down at Heathrow I was convinced I’d gone full circle back to Greece. I swear the temperature was the same and our broken air conditioning in the car made for a sweaty car journey back to Cornwall. Even the evening temperature held up and as I stretched my legs with an evening walk catching up with Theo, who was deep in tales of the new Pokémon Go on his mobile. I was struck anew by the beauty of home, green of the landscape and richness of our sunset.


sunset in july heatwave in cornwall


Out on the feed run the following morning I had a chance to catch up with our new guests and hear of the marvellous heat wave they had been enjoying.

Checking the wings of chickens for flight on the farm in the Cornish  July heat wave


The whole farm was looking its very best in the summer heat wave and my huge thanks go to Farmer Amber and our local friends for caretaking the farm in our absence and looking after the younger children. The break in Greece had done us the world of good and the younger kids sound as though they had been spoilt rotten and not missed us for a minute. Though Clio was keen to show me her latest gymnastics achievement.

My clever girl mastering her gymnastics @hey_its_clio on the Coombemill train garden

A video posted by Coombe Mill (@coombemill) on

Benefits of a holiday 

Both Nick and I are refreshed and more than ready to take the reins again for the summer season ahead.  They boys have had a cultural fill to last a lifetime and established some memorable family links in Greece. When guests come to us and say how they completely switch off and feel refreshed from the holiday I now understand just what they mean. There is nothing quite like a good holiday for making the most of time together and time to rejuvenate body and soul for the year ahead with or without a heat wave.

Speaking of holidays don’t forget there’s still time to enter to win a family Christmas holiday at Coombe Mill, just click on the badge below for details.


Win Christmas at Coombe Mill

Beaches Near and Far

Posted on July 16th, 2016 - Fiona

This has been a week of two halves for me as Farmer Nick and I are currently spending a few days away seeing family in Athens and checking out the beaches down in the Peloponnese region.  We have our two eldest sons with us. The trip was arranged as a post GCSE and A level treat ahead of the results for the work they put in to their studies this year.

I have been so excited for this trip. It is a real chance for me to leave the business in the capable hands of Farmer Amber and enjoy some quality time with Nick and the boys, soaking up the Greek culture, good weather and making the most of time before Alistair goes to university (hopefully) in the autumn.  

Beaches Near and Far Taket he Beach Challenge Cornwall to Greece

Beaches from Cornwall to Greece

What really struck me after some beautiful beach days at home last week is just how similar a beach landscape can look on a sunny day. Granted they are less frequent in Cornwall, but when they come our coastline is stunning and the beaches some of the best around.  

Take the Beach Challenge

Can you tell which photos are taken in Cornwall and which in Greece?

Photo 1 

Beech challenge Cornwall or Greece

Photo 2 

Boats on the Beach

Photo 3 
Surfing at the beach for the Beaches challenge Cornwall and Greece

Photo 4 

Ally in the breakers

Photo With just sand and sea it is so hard to tell, yet as soon as a little landscape or people come into view the clues are there.

The first photo is Cornwall just before we left. The waves are actually around 4 foot here but it is hard to see from the photo taken up the beach.

The second is Greece. By excluding the surrounding landscape it is only the stony blackened sand and lack of wet suit that gives the location away.

The third photo is back in Cornwall. Guy carrying his surf board and wearing a wet suit should have been a good giveaway.

The last photo is from Greece. The little fishing boats are a typical sight along the beaches. The one we visited only had locals so there were no commercial water sports or lifeguards present. The waves gathered in the afternoon at the shelving water’s edge to make it look a little like Cornwall, but died back to completely flat each night.  

I will miss the lovely warm waters of the Mediterranean next week, but I still love the Cornish beaches and the fun of surfing the Atlantic waves.

How did you do in my beach challenge? Do you have a favourite beach?

Brit Mums Live 2016 The Verdict

Posted on July 10th, 2016 - Fiona

The One I nearly didn’t Attend.

This was my 4th Brit Mums Live and the one I almost didn’t attend. Why? I was feeling a bit of an old blogger in every sense of the word. After 5 years of blogging and 3 great Brit Mums Events, I felt my blog was perhaps a little ‘old hat’ and that actually so was I as one of the older Mummy Bloggers on the scene. In my mind it was perhaps time to leave things to the new wave of successful young Mums coming though this year. The early bird tickets came and went and I let it ride until:

  1. My Mum’s disappointment that I wouldn’t be going to stay with her in June as had become a tradition for my attending Brit Mums.
  2. I was shortlisted in an incredible 2 BIBs categories.

Both these factors played on my mind, I didn’t want to let my Mum down and my confidence in my blog bounced back. I bought a ticket.

The Fringe Party

New for 2016   

After a  girly 24 hour catch up with my Mum, I was excited to be heading into London to find the Fringe Party.

Yikes real London! Now to work out which way I’m supposed to walk! #BML16 #fringeparty

A photo posted by Coombe Mill (@coombemill) on


Hosted by Holiday Inn overlooking Camden Lock it made the perfect party venue. The  wine flowed and the chat rose. For me this was a wonderfully relaxed way to start Brit Mums .


#BML16 #fringeparty getting underway tonight thank you @britmums and @hicamden for a great evening

A video posted by Coombe Mill (@coombemill) on


Meeting  newer bloggers I’ve come into contact with this year as well as catching up with old friends is what makes me feel part of the blogging community. I felt I had more time to start a good conversation here than at the main event. If you didn’t go this year I can thoroughly recommend it as part of future Brit Mums Live events.   


Brit Mums Live Fringe Party with fellow bloggers

Photo stars: Catching up with Mari of Maris World, Emily of A Mummy Too who I can’t believe I’ve not spoken too before now, Wayfair UK, Susanna of A Modern Mother who again I’ve never managed to catch up with during the main event as she is busy hosting BML, Cathy of Mummy Travels who I’ve shared a bottle of wine with putting the world to rights at Coombe Mill,  the bubbly Nadine from Juggle Mummy and stunning Jen from Jenography and co founder of Brit Mums, the wonderfully friendly Franca of A Moment With Franca, and a Clare from Tin box Traveller who shares some lovely adventures with me on #CountryKids. Another Claire I was delighted to finally meet was Claire Justine, and catch up with the lovely Gretta from Mums do Travel and Penny who blogs at Aresidence. I met Kirstie, one half of the Family Adventure Project, briefly touched base with Vic of Vevivos then embarrassed myself by not remembering I’d met the lovely welsh Mummy of 5 Claire from Dairy of the Evans Crittens who always joins Country  Kids with such fun family adventures from  and the ever friendly Steph of Steph’s Two Girls.  

Brit Mums Life: The Main Event  

I was back into London on the train bright and early Saturday for Brit Mums Live supporting my ‘School Uniform’; a clever branded dress from Bags of Love.  Never again do I need to worry about what to wear to a blogging event, only to remember to breath in as it is not very forgiving on my multiple mummy tummy!


Wearing a Coombe Mill Holidays Branded Dress at #BML16


The whole day seemed to disappear in a merry blur of meeting and greeting friends, enjoying cake and dashing between the breakout sessions. How could I ever have considered missing all of this?


Brit Mums Live 2016


Photo Stars above include the talented and vivacious Vicki from Honest Mum, uplifting Michelle From The Joy Chaser, comical cartoon illustrator Jo from Heir Raising who makes me laugh every time I visit her blog, super blogger Aby from You Baby Me Mummy. Absent from photos but I was delighted to meet: Emma from Island Living, Tim from Slouching towards Thatcham who amazed us all with his singing, and the delightful Jane from Maflingo Blog as well as catching up with old friends: Catherine from Cultural Wednesdays,  John from Dad Blog UK and long time blogging friend Joanne from The Boy and Me.

I know I spoke to so many more than I have photos for and mentions here, I must have just been wrapped up in the moment and left my camera languishing at my side. Huge apologies if you are not here, I genuinely loved meeting everyone at Brit Mums Live that I came into contact with and you all made my day special.  

My Brit Mums Live key learning


Brit Mums Live 16 Sessions and Speakers attended by Coombe Mill

Photo Stars: Jen and Suzanna the amazing Brit Mums founders introducing the day, Judith Lewis who is wonderful at explaining SEO in simple actionable language, Julie from The Fat Girls Gide to Running who I actually had a lovely chat to at the Fringe Party the night before, Emily of A Mummy Too talking Pinterest need to knows, Gori Yahaya explaining Google Analytics.

I have come away with 2 pages of scribbled notes from sessions I attended and have listed my key learning across the groups below. The one I beneffited from most from was SEO, I went last year too and found it so helpful. Please Brit Mums can this session go on longer next year. It generates so many questions and always overruns.

  • Don’t spam your photo alt tabs with key words, Google may penalise you. Alt tabs are designed to be photo descriptions for blind people. I had thought I was being very clever tagging “Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays, Cornwall” onto the end of all my descriptions. That stops today!
  • Get your follow and no follow balance right. Google likes to see a good mix. Do follow bloggers you are commending on a post link and no follow any paid for posts. Not to do so risks being penalised by Google – if you are reported. I have been inclined to ‘no follow’ all but the most relevant link in fear of the wroth of Google, but this isn’t the best plan.
  • Don’t republish an old post with changes to increase its SEO, just make the update and safe as it is unless you want it to rank head of your latest posts as the changes as so significant and relevant to the current time.
  • Only your Landing page is SEO ranked, not the extra elements in a ‘read more’ link so get your key message at the top.
  • Keep an eye on AMP (accelerated mobile pages) they’re going to become critical in the future as mobile searching overtakes lap and PC use.
  • In email marketing link via a hyperlink not a click through picture. It will have a greater response as not everyone will think to click a photo.
  • If you subscribe to the paid for version of mail chimp it will help you to identify the best times of day to send out your email marketing campaign, however the free version is surprisingly helpful  to get you started.
  • In Pinterest make sure you are on a business account and have your rich pins sorted ( I still need to add the coding to mine).
  • Make sure you register to be pinned by Pinterest 
  • Google will index your Pinterest account in board order so make sure your most important boards and current season boards are towards the top.
  • Pinterest searches are months in advance, so make sure you are thinking Halloween and Christmas now and ‘How to’ and ‘Round up’ posts are the most commonly repined.
  • for help understanding Google Analytics to measure your blog success check out Google Digital Garage.
  • Make sure your blog is mobile friendly. Check this at Google webmaster tools which will show you how many things on your site fail at mobile level.
There were plenty more tips from the day, these were just the ones that I needed to act on. 

The Brilliance in Blogging Awards

As if needed, this was another chance to catch up with friends over a drink.


BiBs Party 2016 at the Brewery London

Photo stars include: Long time blogging friends: Helen from Actually Mummy whose work I always admire, Charly from Podcast who always oozes confidence and success, Clare from Emmy’s Mummy, one of my first ever Blogging chums and always a friendly ear, Louise from Little Hearts Big Love with the prettiest dress on the night, Darren with the lovely photos at photalife and my Cornish blogging friend Stevie from A Cornish Mum.  

I was a finalist in Readers choice but never in my wildest dreams did I think I could win. Up against blogs I admire I was happy to watch and congratulate the overwhelmed and happy winners of each category as they  received their awards. Then suddenly it was me. Totally blown away I don’t remember too much after that but thankfully I was sat with photo loving Darren of photalife who took over my camera for me and Liska of New Mum on Line who videoed me and all the other winners going up on stage. Thank you both, you have captured a great moment for me.


Readers' Choice Awards at the BIBs for Coombe Mill

This was the icing on the cake of a thoroughly enjoyable Brit Mums live and I’m thrilled with my award and bubbly.

Readers' Choice Award for Coombe Mill in the BiBs


I won’t be dithering over purchasing my ticket for Brit Mums Live next year (#BML17) and already look forward to catching up with everyone again.

Outstanding Action

There is just one thing niggling at the back of my mind. I promised to jump from the bridge into the river if I won in the BiBs. Oh heck! My teens say it is OK for the triplets but I’m too big and could break a leg as it isn’t deep enough. I didn’t want to chicken out completely and let the kids have a giggle by taking my turn on a rather hair raising zip wire at a local attraction. It flies up so high at the end you loose your seat and it’s a struggle to cling on. Oh Brit Mums Live remind me not to make silly promises again! 


A video posted by Coombe Mill (@coombemill) on


Winning Readers’ Choice

Posted on July 2nd, 2016 - Fiona

I have a week of highs and lows that has flown by and left me chasing my tail.

The High: Readers’ Choice

The highlight of last weekend was Brit Mums Live which I will follow up with in detail next week. However my personal high point has to be winning in the Readers’ Choice category at the Brilliance in Blogging awards (BiBs). To say overwhelmed, flabbergasted and thrilled just begins to express how I felt. I was as proud as punch up on the stage receiving my lovely bottle of English Sparkling wine and much coveted Readers’ Choice award.


Readers' Choice Award for Coombe Mill in the BiBs


The Rather ironic side of this is that it was Darren, whose photo link up I’m joining in with, who actually took the photo below for me; thank you Darren for just grabbing my camera and capturing the moment.


Readers' Choice Awards at the BIBs for Coombe Mill


I also have to thank Liska who videoed all the awards. This is just my little section, but if you check out her You Tube channel you can see all the winners collecting their awards.



The Low: A Phone Call

My rejoicing was curtailed for no sooner had I left Brit Mums Live than I had a phone call from my husband, Farmer Nick, back at Coombe Mill. There had been a horrible accident with a little boy falling from our train flag waving platform. This has preoccupied the rest of my week and made more personal by the family concerned being regular guests and a blogging friend of mine. I can now say the little boy concerned is making remarkable progress in hospital and I feel closer than ever to the family. The train platform has been taken down while Nick works on a low level replacement. 


Amazing skies over Bodmin Moor tonight #bodminmoor #sunset #sky #cornwall #sheep #moor #moorland

A photo posted by Coombe Mill (@coombemill) on


The photo I am sharing reminds me why I love Cornwall and feel thankful everyday for our life here. It was taken driving over Bodmin Moor bringing two of my boy’s home from a Scout hike. The colours in the sky after the sun had set and far reaching views out towards the sea made me stop the car, take in the beauty and feel thankful for our everyday health and strength.  

Running The South West Coast Path

Posted on June 18th, 2016 - Fiona

Running is one of my passions and a love of the coast another. When I have the chance to combine the two and run the South West Coast Path here in Cornwall I jump at the chance. Last Sunday began damp and miserable with a very soggy feed run followed by Clio insisting that her friend’s beach party at Polzeath was still carrying on. I packed my running kit and body board and reluctantly drove off to the beach, the window wipers swooshing along the country lanes.


What a difference a few miles makes. It is less than 10 miles from Coombe Mill to the coast yet by the time we arrived the skies were clearing. Thanks to the overcast conditions inland the beach was deserted. I left Clio dashing over to catch up with her friends who were playing beach cricket and felt much more inspired for my run.

The South West Coast Path from Polzeath Beach June 2016

The South West Coast Path Polzeath to Lundy Bay


This was my first run of the year along the South West Coast Path from Polzeath. To make it a circular loop I took the lane to the Lundy Bay Car Park hopping a farm gate along the way to capture these lovely poppies.


Poppy season along the coast path #poppy #poppies #flowers #meadow #grass #countryside #coastal

A photo posted by Coombe Mill (@coombemill) on


From Lundy Bay I ran back along to Polzeath via the coast path taking in The Rumps. I had quite forgotten how breathtaking the views can be. Stopping to catch my breath along the way, the combination of wild coastal flowers and dramatic cliffs falling away to turquoise blue waters had me snapping away on my phone.


Beautiful colours over The Rumps between Polzeath and Port Quin. #polzeath #coastpath #coastline #cornwall #sea #seascape #rocks #checkoutthatview

A photo posted by Coombe Mill (@coombemill) on


Looking down as close as I dare to the cliff edge #cornwall #rocks #cliff #turquoise #sea #seascape #cliffedge #nature #coastpath #coastpathrunning #vivid #wonderful_places #cornwall

A photo posted by Coombe Mill (@coombemill) on

Our beautiful coastline . #summer #Cornwall #Flowers #naturalbeauty #nature #countryside #coast #coastline #sea #cliffs

A photo posted by Coombe Mill (@coombemill) on

With views like this running is easy. #running #coastpath #cornwall #coast #flowers #sea #bluesky

A photo posted by Coombe Mill (@coombemill) on


By the time I returned I was pleasantly hot and bothered and happy to relax in the sea with my body board for half an hour until Clio returned cake in hand after her beach party.

Polzeath Beach on the South West Coast Path

Back at the farm the sun had finally made an appearance but nothing like the clear skies of the beach. Cornwall has so many micro weather systems at play, it is often worth travelling in search of the sun and for the more energetic I can thoroughly recommend running the North Cornwall stretch of the South West Coast Path.