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.
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It was our eldest son Alistair’s 20th birthday and the bank holiday weekend. His favourite past time is surfing and the heat wave, the bank holiday and his birthday all fell on a day of great surf. It was pretty much a done deal that we would be a birthday beach day. There was only two flaws in the plan, one was that the temperature fell from a gorgeous 24 degrees at Coombe Mill to just 14 at the beach under the mist from the sea, the other was that we were far from the only ones heading to the beach. In the end neither turned out to spoil our enjoyment.
In the end it was Ally, Clio Jed and I that headed out after the feed run in search of the surf. Theo and Felix have GCSE’s and A levels fast approaching requiring reluctant revision and Guy was exhausted from a sleepover. We have a well oiled routine at busy times of year where by the kids carry the stuff onto the beach while I go off and park the car. I get the raw deal on this as they are always changed and heading to the waves as I arrive.
The sea mist was visibly rolling across the beach and the cliffs came and disappeared from view. It was very atmospheric and before going into the water I stopped to capture a few photos.
Down at the water’s edge I tried to find the kids but there were so many in the sea all in wetsuits it was almost impossible. I came back with so many photos of kids surfing I felt sure I’d have one of them all but in the end it was only Jed I had correctly identified! I suspect Ally was too far out for me to see but he assured me he caught some great waves and stayed in the longest.
I couldn’t resist a little stylised shot of my drained coffee mug before heading in to the water myself.
Usually I like to hang around on the beach and warm up but it was too cold for that when we knew Coombe Mill was most likely still in full sun and anyway Jed had left the football he brought in the car. Using my coffee mug for a game of catch was not going to end well so I soon called Clio and Jed over as I saw Ally finally emerge from the water.
Driving back inland we soon left the sea mist behind and watched the temperature creep back up again. Sure enough it was still 20 degrees and beautiful back on the farm. Clio and Ally flaked out on the trampoline making up for the sunbathing time they missed at the beach.
I caught up with Guy and the guests over at the train and they all confirmed it had indeed been beautiful all day on the farm and they had enjoyed paddling in the river here. It is hard to believe it was just gone 6pm at the start of May and everyone was in short sleeves.
A family meal with everyone back home and of course a homemade birthday cake for Ally made the day just perfect.
I do hope the gorgeous bank holiday weekend was just a taste of what’s to come this summer. I never tire of beach days.
This time of year is birthday season in our house. My triplets have just celebrated their 14th birthday and my eldest is about to turn 20. We spent a lovely day in Plymouth with the triplets last weekend having lunch out, shopping and them ice skating for the kids and car shopping for Nick and me. It was a beautiful day and we walked to the car showroom round the Barbican and harbour soaking up the sun and the boats. Why the midlife crisis you may ask. Well that’s what my kids have dubbed it since it is a soft top I’m after as a late 50th present to myself. The weather the past couple of weeks has really pushed my soft top craving up the agenda and on Thursday evening I took ownership of an old SAAB convertible. Despite laughing at me and telling me SAAB is a real old persons car, my two eldest couldn’t wait to give it a spin and Theo has declared it perfect for him to learn to drive in. I know I will be fighting to drive my own car on a sunny day from here on in. Fingers crossed I haven’t put a curse on the summer weather now for everyone! I have checked my golf clubs fit in the boot and even my body board and beach kit so I am all set as a middle aged poser.
Nick and I are off on a little weekend away right now in my new car complete with twin sets of golf clubs while our kids manage the business. I have to say if this is having midlife crisis I can thoroughly recommend it!
Plymouth Barbican seafront in the summer sun last weekend.
The end of a beautiful day on the golf course.
Driving out in my gorgeous new car dubbed my midlife crisis.
All the photos this week are simple iPhone snaps out and about. I’ll return to a more farm focus next week which incidentally is looking wonderful, bursting with summer colour and new born animals. Here is a little taster:
Rhododendrons in the cottage gardens at Coombe Mill
Farmer Nick is half Greek thanks to his father. This has come with many benefits to me over the years as I adore our Greek holidays, meeting extended family out there and here in the UK and the wonderful tradition of celebrating Orthodox Greek Easter. If I’m honest the only downside to our Greek heritage is our Greek surname of Cambouropoulos which most people understandably struggle to pronounce and spell! As an English person learning the Greek language I can honestly say that is very hard too. Anyway back to Greek Easter, the Orthodox Church sets its calendar differently to the Anglican one and we usually benefit from two Easter celebrations as a result. We had a wonderful time here on the farm for English Easter with our Easter egg hunt and activities, then the following weekend we travelled with Clio and her friend to Seaford to family friends hosting Greek Easter in the UK this year.
We are lucky enough to have Nick’s Mum living close by and we were able to stay there along with Nick’s brother and his girls. This alone was wonderful for Clio, being surrounded by teenage girls for the weekend instead of all her brothers, who had opted to stay home and run the farm for us this year. If you have ever watched my big fat Greek Wedding, then there is a certain ring of truth to it about every good Greek gathering. Food and socialising is everything. The day starts early for the host who has to prepare and begin to cook the spit roast lamb from early morning. Having hosted it ourselves in the past I know this takes plenty of skill and patience. By the time we all arrive armed with designated plates of food the lamb is well under way. Clio and her cousin took their seats by the BBQ to share lamb turning duties.
Let the merriment begin.
The day rolls by in a blur of socializing, mouth watering Greek delights, wine and music. It is wonderful seeing all the generations mixing together with the younger children enjoying the day alongside the teens, adults, and grandparents.
The smells of food waft from the BBQ and kitchen making everyone hungry. I think starters may be my favourite part, there are so many to choose from though Kokoretzi has few takers so I get more than my fair share (all the bits of the lamb you would probably never use like liver, kidney, tongue etc on a big BBQ skewer – look away now if you are vegetarian).
But filling up completely is a mistake with Greek style roast to follow.
Play time and cracking the red eggs is always the best part for the children
A welcome pause in the food allows just enough of a gap to tuck into puddings.
We left late afternoon full and happy while Yia Yia brought all the girls home later. Phone games and bubble blowing kept the cousins busy while the little ones played and the more senior generation took 40 winkes!
Celebrating Orthodox Greek Easter in Seaford
Next year Orthodox Greek Easter falls at the end of the English school holidays so we are hosting down at Coombe Mill, be warned if you happen to be staying that week, you may just get an unexpected invite to join our festivities.
Port Isaac is a traditional Cornish fishing village just 25 minutes drive from Coombe Mill. It is picturesque and surrounded by countryside in an area of outstanding natural beauty on the North Coast of Cornwall, almost directly out to sea from Coombe Mill. The village is characterised by its steep narrow lanes, old whitewashed granite cottages and slate fronted Cornish houses leading down to the old harbour. It is a notable tourist attraction not least as the setting for famous TV series like Doc Martin. However while tourism is the big employer today, fishing was once a significant industry and a few fishing boats still use the port today. If you dig back further in time cargo ships came and went from Port Isaac carrying coal, stone and more from this Middle Ages until well into the 19th Century. While I was tied up at Coombe Mill waiting for guests to arrive, my niece and her family went off to explore the quaint little village armed with my camera. It is their photo adventure I’m sharing.
You can’t park down by the harbour but there are car parks up on the headland with stunning coastal views.
It’s a steep walk down but not too long or busy
Once at the bottom it is clear why you can’t park there, there isn’t even room to turn the car but it is very pretty to walk though.
All roads lead to the sea
Whichever way you walk down you will find yourself in the little harbour front. At low tide there is enough beach for a little play and it is easily accessed via the boat slipway. Space and freedom was just what was needed for these little ones and an eager puppy. Wet paws and wet wellies were inevitable but worth every minute.
The handy slipway wall is a good chance to sort out soggy wellies, sandy hands and catch your breath.
If you are after a bite to eat or a drink there are a handful of shops, pubs and cafe’s to revive you.
After which a wonder through the town brings plenty of excitement for little ones from cottage railings to the old water pump.
A last look out to sea through the harbour walls is a must before the long trek back to the car park. A heavy trek for some and a cosy carry for others!
Apparently the car engine was hardly turning before this was the scene in the back seats.
Half an hour from drive from Port Isaac is just enough time for a power nap before the evening Coombe Mill train ride!
Tips for visiting Port Isaac
Park at the car park at the entrance to the village before driving down into the village where you can’t park or stop.
Wear sensible footwear for walking.
Have some cash for a local tipple and a treat in the town or pack some snacks and drinks in a ruck sack.
Take advantage of a play on the beach at low tide.
In summer and weekends the local fish shop sells excellent fish and seafood from the local fishing boats.
I love the beach as much in winter as I do in summer. It is less crowded, parking is easy and it always gives me a sense of being on holiday whether I am sunbathing or wrapped up exploring. The lead up to the Christmas holidays leaves me short of time and dreaming of time off with the kids at the beach. Thankfully I found that free afternoon and it became a wonderful impromptu beach adventure with my triplet teens.
Hardy winter beach folk
The sun was shining when we left but Cornwall can be very changeable and even though it was only a 15 minute car ride, as we parked up the drizzle began. I was determined not to let this stop us now that I had found the time and the kids had downed technology and were keen for an adventure. The path to the beach crosses fields that were boggy and slippery, this didn’t stop the kids passing a football between them all the way and nearly losing it on several occasions.
Slipping and sliding along the coast path
I was questioning my decision as the wind and rain picked up, but it had become a badge of honour now to reach the beach and we forged onwards despite soggy feet and muddy trousers from falling.
A Stunning coastline
Standing and watching the towering cliffs through the misty air was quite breathtaking.
Fun on a winter beach
The kids clambered down the rocks in no time at all while I carefully picked my way through feeling my age. Once down, the sand is soft and golden interspersed with huge rocky outcrops. I had firelighters and matches with me to look for driftwood and light a fire as we had done in the past, however the rain was making everything too wet and the tide was coming in fast so we made the most of our time just being carefree on the sand and jumping off the rocks.
Danger of tidal beaches
I am always wary of an incoming tide as it can cut off the route back to the steps up to the coast path so quickly. When the waves crept in to within a couple of feet of the path we headed back up the rocks to the safety of the steps.
Teen gossip & hot chocolate
The kids knew I had a flask of hot chocolate and bag of donuts in my rucksack and were determined to enjoy them outside and not back at the car so we found a large rock back on the path with a bit of an overhang to shelter us from the rain and sat there together sharing our impromptu snack.
We must have sat there a good 20 minutes laughing about silly family moment’s together and school gossip. The rain didn’t stop play at all, though we agreed to return when the tide was further out and the conditions drier for the campfire we didn’t manage.
“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.