Coombe Mill – Our Summer Trip to Cornwall

This summer we went back to Cornwall for a third year, and decided we’d stay at Coombe Mill. We join in with Country Kids as much as we can, and enjoy the outdoors. Just follow Coombe Mill’s Instagram and you’ll see the beautiful scenery and fun on the farm.

Coombe Mill is in St Breward, near Bodmin. It’s a working farm, something I had a lot of questions about, because I’m a curious person who likes to know stuff. I’ve often wondered if owning a farm and rearing your own animals means you could eat them. We soon found out that the animals without names were the ones which went! H was doing her Brownie ‘Friend to Animals’ badge there and learned a lot of facts which helped too.

Coombe Mill Scandinavian Lodges, Coombe Mill at Christmas

We stayed in Trebah, a Scandinavian style lodge which was cosy and comfortable and had everything we needed. You have a washing machine and a dryer which came in handy as we had a lot of rain. We also had a wood burning stove which kept us really toasty on the more chilly nights.

Two doors down was The Boy and Me gang so H had a playmate, and over by the train tracks was Jo from Mummy Needs Wine. It was a proper blogger get-together!

So what does Coombe Mill offer? For H, freedom. We live in London and I get twitchy enough her going to post things at neighbours houses. We joined the feed run every morning, and H got to drive the tractor with Farmer Nick twice which she really enjoyed.

driving the tractor at Coombe Mill

She learned facts about the animals, picked them up and by the end of the week was way more confident with them than at the start.

cuddling hen at Coombe Mill

Bear in mind as we rent we can’t have pets, and she has never spent a chunk of time around animals this was a big deal for her. By the end of the week she was picking up hens and rabbits without a care. At the start of the week there were a few strops when they didn’t just magically come to her!

catching rabbits at coombe mill

Coombe Mill is in a great location with several places close by. As ever we ran out of time to do everything we wanted to. We discovered the fabulous beach at Perranporth and are trying to plan next year’s holiday. That may be a part of it…

Coombe Mill is a great place to stay. It’s somewhere you could stay through the day and still have plenty to do. Aside from the feed run there’s the daily train ride from Coombe Halt which H insisted we HAD to go to. H even got a circuit on her own!

We loved watching the wild deer every morning on the feed run.

I loved opening the doors and listening to it all. The river, the birds, the animals. I started to breathe again, to relax. But then all of a sudden our week was over – it flew by! I wish you could bottle it up so I could have some to remind me of the calm.

The thing I loved the most was meeting parents every morning on the feed run and chatting. Everyone was so friendly – and H made new friends. She’s sending a Christmas card to a girl she met at Coombe Mill as they swapped addresses and write to each other.

Our last night we had an outdoor barbecue with the bloggers, and it was a lovely end to a lovely week. The kids all played around us, their age differences didn’t matter as they all got stuck in and enjoyed each other’s company. You can’t beat that as far as holidays go.

The Coombe Mill website is here.

Obviously we’re linking in to Country Kids again!

Country Kids

Our Short Essex Family Break in August 2017

Short Essex Family Break Woodpecker Yurt, Essex
Last weekend we had a few days off work and holiday club, so headed away for a few days. We had a short Essex family break – getting away from it all.

A short Essex family break isn’t the first thing you’d think of when planning a few days away. Initially we were looking around Europe for something within the £500 range, but soon gave up.

Hands up, who has never been to Essex properly ever? Me. I don’t know why. There are lots of places in this country I have never visited properly, and Essex is one. It’s also one of the closest to where we live, M25 traffic permitting.

To celebrate Shaun’s birthday (as his is two days before H’s), we headed to Mount Hall Woodpecker Yurt as a little getaway for the three of us. After our previous brilliant but noisy Yurt experience, I was hoping for something a little more quieter and we got it.

Short Essex Family Break Woodpecker Yurt, Essex

Mount Hall is just outside Colchester, again another place I had never visited. I mean, without knowing anything, the name Colchester doesn’t sound like somewhere you would actively visit, right? But oh, so wrong. The history!

H’s first topic in Year 4 is the romans, and as we couldn’t make it back to York, Colchester is as good a place for some proper Roman history. Colchester Castle is really interesting and worth visiting too.

Fancy a half hour drive? Then you have Clacton-on-Sea and Walton-on-the-Naze, both have piers you can walk along. The Walton Pier is massive, and a quite decent long walk out to sea whereas Clacton’s Pier is full of amusements. Both are good places to use up your spare 2p’s on the machines in the arcades.

clacton on sea wind farm

Out to sea is a windfarm which covers the skyline. I think we’ve seen it when coming in on flights as you line up with the Thames Estuary – you can’t miss it.

Walton-on-the-Naze has an entire hill full of beach huts all beautifully coloured which you can see from the pier.

Beach huts at walton on the naze

The best part of our short Essex family break was the location. You’re not far from the A12, there are shops nearby for supplies but it’s still quiet. You are under the Stansted flight path which doesn’t make it completely quiet, but it’s still quieter than our previous stay.

Short Essex Family Break Woodpecker Yurt shower block and kitchen

Woodpecker Yurt has its own shower and kitchen block, as well as games for the private garden area. We could also borrow cycles. H enjoyed having a go on an adult bike while I fear she’ll need another bike already as it only felt like yesterday that she got her last one… she grows too quickly.

bike riding Woodpecker Yurt, Essex

Around the Woodpecker yurt are apple and pear trees, with grapes growing on a side wall. We didn’t hear the woodpecker, but could still hear the chickens and horses just over the wall. H’s new found love of animals since she went to Coombe Mill meant she went to feed the horses some grass every day we were there.

Short Essex Family Break H feeding horses at Mount Hall, Essex

Every night we had a BBQ. It’s quick and easy, in fact, the most difficult thing was finding somewhere that had vegetarian food. The local Co-Op had run out so we had to drive to a Tesco in Colchester. The joys of arriving on a Sunday when the shops had closed. On the second night we toasted marshmallows at the fire pit.

Toasting Marshmallows on an open fire

It was a lovely relaxing stay, and I feel like I want to discover more of Essex. I don’t know why we’ve never ventured out there. It’s so pretty!

Mount Hall Apple tree

I found our yurt for our short Essex family break via Canopy and Stars.

Of course, what this now means is we’re going to look into getting camping gear, and get into the camping lark properly while the weather is still good. This may be a bonkers idea, but right now it feels like a REALLY good idea!

We’re linking up to Country Kids this week, it has been a while – it seems only fair as H and Shaun are in the Coombe Mill blog this week!

Country Kids

Making Homes for Wildlife – a National Trust Event

There’s a lovely National Trust event to help build homes for our feathered garden friends, making homes for wildlife!

Making Homes For Wildlife

The National Trust on the Surrey Hills are celebrating National Nest Box week (14 – 21 February). As spring seems to have sprung along the North Downs, National Trust Ranger Rob Hewer and his team of woodworkers have decided to host a nest box making event.

Anyone can join this fun woodworking event on Friday 21 February from 10am until 1pm at Westcott near Dorking. Tickets cost £15 per person and include all materials, a cup of tea and of course your beautiful new des res for your feathered garden friends.

Ranger Rob says “as spring seems to be a little early this year, it’s even more important that we help our garden birds. February is a time that they will be prospecting for nest sites; somewhere safe, dry and away from drafts and strong winds is what they’re after”. Rob continues; “all the wood that we use has been felled on the Surrey Hills, meaning that the boxes you make are made from the best local produce”.

Booking is essential for the event and reservations can be made by calling 01372 220644


Bocketts Farm Father Christmas

We’ve never been to Bocketts Farm Park, though have driven past the entrance many times. We’re also horribly disorganised this year and hadn’t booked H into Painshill to see Father Christmas. The slots all went and even locally it was hard – until we read about the Bocketts Farm Father Christmas.

Bocketts Farm Father Christmas

Bocketts Farm is no more than five minutes from Polesden Lacey, so already an area we’re familiar with, though we’d never been. It’s a farm with a big play area, good for kids and somewhere that was on the list to visit.

Bocketts Farm Father Christmas can’t be pre-booked – you turn up and buy a ticket for your slot. To save you reading the review, we were really impressed and H got a great toy (a Barbie sized horse) – it was really well done and had the right atmosphere.

You can visit Father Christmas without visiting the park – entrance there is around the £9 mark and worth it if you’re having a day there. Father Christmas is an additional £5. We only wanted to see him so paid the £9ish charge which gave us access to the cafe and a small outdoor play area. As H is an only child we got a slot for an hour later (I suspect if I’d have had more than one child it would have been two) so we grabbed some sandwiches, had a play and had a browse in their shop. Soon enough our time came, our ‘elf’ took the kids in a trailer to the Grotto (made from hay and really well laid out), we sat down and let Father Christmas work his magic – and he was great. Writing the kids name and their present request, a simple touch but it was like he was listening to them. H was the last one to be seen, he asked lots of nice questions and handed over the present – she had a minute with him. We were all sat on hay bales watching.

Bocketts Farm Father Christmas

It felt like we were in there for ages – each group of kids has around fifteen minutes until the next lot arrive, and he does see children in groups rather than individually and it was done really well.

A bonus is parents go free (up to 2 per child).

Polesden Festive Fun

It’s small, but when you’re like us and badly organised Bocketts Farm Father Christmas is a more than adequate experience. If you’re National Trust members (like us!) then head to Polesden Lacey afterwards where there’s always lots going on. We were lucky and caught the last rides from two horses ‘disguised as reindeer’ in a truck around the grounds – that was pretty fab and I’m finally starting to feel festive. There was a Father Christmas who chatted to the kids in the queue, however H told me it wasn’t the real one, and they’re all dressed up and pretending. Gulp…

Carshalton Frost Fair

We celebrated the second Carshalton Frost Fair today – packed full of stalls of local businesses by the ponds. In addition to this Sutton Ecology Centre had their Christmas Fair as well – which included their fab Santa trail!

Things are slowing down here. It’s getting colder and we’re staying in more, shame on us. However, a Saturday afternoon wandering by the ponds checking out all the stalls was great – there were some fabulous cake stalls (we missed out on the rainbow cake, alas) and our favourite Koula’s Kitchen was there so we stocked up on more locally made jam – H and Koula get on well and she always gets a special jar of her own to take home!

Carshalton Frost Fair

By the ponds there were two stages – one with all sorts, from choirs to clog dancers, bell ringers – nice festive entertainment and the kind of things which make Carshalton feel like a village. The other stage had local bands performing acoustic sets. Last year H enjoyed The Dirty Spoons, but they were on a little later this year so we missed them. The kids all got to dance to earlier acoustic acts though, a special mention goes to the loud guitar bits one artist had, and watching the two four year olds clamp their hands over their ears as it was too loud! I tried to get a photo but failed… (bottom photo, bottom right)

Yet again our favourite had to be the Ecology Centre’s Christmas trail – making your way around the grounds to find Santa’s sack (with clues, paw prints and tracks to help you find each clue.) It was perfect for a four year old that can read – they ran on ahead looking for prints while getting outside. Sutton Ecology Centre is right in the middle of Carshalton – yet it’s a lovely wild open space. It’s somewhere we need to get to more often, especially as it’s on our doorstep.

Carshalton Frost Fair

H and her friend M did the trail around the grounds and bumped into another friend from school, so the three girls ran around finding clues and having a great time. Of course, the end of the trail has them finding santa and a prize, which cheered them all up. We headed back out to the fair, buying more home made decorations for the tree from yet more local crafty people (it’s this point I wish I’d picked up some cards as I can’t name them), and finished off the day with a quick drink in The Sun who also had a craft stall outside, selling things that are currently available from their little shop in the outside area – Christmas decorations and more.

It felt really good to live here this weekend, with that and the Christmas lights the week before (where I picked up some of Calladoodles lovely wrapping paper – check out their website!) it’s really starting to feel festive around here. I have just one task left to do – I need photos of the lavender lights in Wallington!

Linking in to Country Kids this week!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall