Thursday, 8 September 2011

We have moved!

Tails from the Farmer Wife has moved to
Please do come by and follow me there.
Plenty of tails waiting on the new site
Thank you Fiona.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Guest Blog: Top 10 family daytrips from Coombe Mill Farm

My first guest blogger writing for the Coombe Mill site is Georgina from Gem Writing. She is a freelance copywriter specialising in marketing for small businesses and lover of North Cornwall so I was delighted when she offered to share her favoutite days out with us.  I have added our pictures to Georgina's copy as we agree with her selection and have been to many of these treasures too........

Here's what she says:

 Coombe Mill Farm is an idyllic base to explore North Cornwall. And with wild Atlantic coastlines, sandy surfing beaches and pretty coastal villages alongside major tourist attractions there's plenty to please all the family.

With so much on offer here's a list of ten must-do activities to take the pain out of planning.

1.     Sunbathe and sandcastles at POLZEATH BEACH.
Surf's Up Surf School where all 6 of mine go
Polzeath beach
At low tide this surfer's paradise offers up masses of golden sand. Polzeath is also great for sunbathing and sandcastles making it perfect for families as well as the surfing dudes. Polzeath explodes in the summer when the beach, shops and cafés become a hive of activity. For surfy things check out Surf's Up Surf School, and if you want some adrenaline pumping action try Cornish Rock Tors. Alternatively for a scenic coastal walk take the buggy friendly route to Daymer Bay or the more challenging trek to Pentire Point and beyond. 

1.     Lookout for dolphins on the Jubilee Queen at PADSTOW.
You can arrive at this picturesque working fishing port via the Camel Trail or the Padstow Rock Ferry. Stroll around the harbour and browse the plethora of interesting shops and places to eat. For lunch you can takeaway Rick Steins Fish and Chips or a Cornish pasty. And if you want to get on the water, a cruise on the Jubilee Queen is a great family treat (if you get really lucky you could spot dolphins). 

2.     Cycle the CAMEL TRAIL.
Join this popular cycle path at Padstow, Wadebridge or Bodmin and follow the easy going trail as it winds along the beautiful Camel Estuary. It's suitable for most ages and abilities. And if you don't have your own bikes, you can hire every variety imaginable. Even younger children can join in on tag-alongs, and buggies mean babies in car seats can enjoy the ride. Try Bridge Bike Hire.  

The last stretch of the trail arriving at Padstow

3.     Hunt out old fishing communities at PORT QUINN, PORT ISSAC & BOSCASTLE.
You could do these in a day, but children may prefer to explore the pick of North Cornwall's villages at a slower pace.

Take a picnic to the tranquil rocky cove at Port Quinn. At low tide kids will love exploring the exposed nooks, crannies and caves. And if the sea is calm, the cove is safe for a paddle or a dip.

The busy village of Port Issac of Doc Martin fame has pretty whitewashed cottages and narrow streets and alleyways to wander through. Explore the working harbour, browse the gift shops and catch a view of the fishing boats from a dainty café.  

Further north is Boscastle. Its recent floods are documented in the child friendly visitor centre located near to the medieval harbour. Other attractions include the Museum of Witchcraft

4.     Let their imaginations run wild at TINTAGEL
Legend tells that Tintagel is the birthplace of King Arthur. It's still home to the ruins of his castle as well as Merlin's cave. Pack some hardy shoes and climb the winding cliff path to the castle ruins to enjoy stretching views of the rugged Cornish coastline. Buggies aren't allowed so this adventure may be difficult for very young children. Other attractions include the Old Post Office along with interesting souvenir shops and various eateries. And when you want a rest The Cornishman Inn has a spacious play area and will keep children occupied while you relax with your drink.

5.     Enjoy the atmosphere at NEWQUAY.
Fistral Beach is the main attraction with its fantastic surf – but away from the surfing scene this laid back town has something for everyone. There's a youthful vibe and crowds flock for the thriving nightlife and array of water activities. Alongside there are plenty of attractions to keep the family entertained including Newquay Zoo and Blue Reef Aquarium. And nearby Watergate Bay is an idyllic expanse of sand so perfect for picnics and sandcastles

6.     Have fun together at CORNWALL'S CREALY.
If your kids are crazy for a theme park, Cornwall's Crealy is your nearest choice. With drop slides and mazes in the large indoor play areas this attraction offers all weather fun. The outdoor "Big Six" rides include some get wet ones so if it's chilly consider packing cagoules! What's more your tickets give entry for seven days, and if you visit in peak season there may be a children's character appearance.

The new ride at Crealy for 2011

7.     Experience other climates at THE EDEN PROJECT.
Where else in the world could you experience a taste of the tropics and the Mediterranean in one place? The Eden Project's iconic biomes and inspirational vision make this unique garden a holiday essential! There is something to inspire everyone from horticultural delights to delicious food, some of which is grown on site. In school holidays the Eden team put on some brilliant activities to inspire and entertain your children so check out their website for the latest offering.

8.     Watch the cows being milked at DAIRYLAND.
DairyLand successfully combines education with fun. Watch the cows being milked in the "orbiter", and browse the farming relics and rural history displays in the Cornish Heritage Museum. Kids will love the huge indoor "Bull Pen" (perfect for escaping the Cornish summer showers) as well as the outdoor play areas and pony rides. What's more your admission price includes 7 days of unlimited entry.
Our triplets when they were little enjoying Dairy land!

9.     Ride and groom the ponies at SPRINGFIELDS PONY CENTRE.
Springfields is great if you love ponies. There's a range of species waiting to be groomed and ridden including Shetland, Gypsy and Dartmoor. Away from the ponies children can run riot in the giant indoor play barn, take a ride on the Springfields Express or visit the farm animals. And the eight acre Old Quoit Wood is perfect for a woodland walk and local wildlife spotting.      

Bonus trip - Express your arty side at ST IVES.
If you are happy to travel for more than one hour, St Ives is worth the journey. The streets of this bustling seaside town are lined with the workshops and galleries of local artists. The Tate is worth a look even if you aren't a modern art fan, and there's plenty inside to inspire your children's creativity. Away from the art scene amble through the maze of cobbled streets, explore the working harbour, or enjoy a fun packed day on the beach. For something different children will love the stunning train route into St Ives. Take the First Great Western Train from Bodmin Parkway or St Erth.

Happy to travel for more than an hour? These are the pick of other further a field destinations.

If you have a small business and would like some help with copywriting you can contact Georgina via email - or follow her on Twitter @GemWriting.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Newborns on the Farm Today!

Theo and Jed a Goat each!
An exciting day for the farm with 3 newborns! Our lovely long haired goat gave birth overnight to healthy twin boys! A real treat for our guests on the feed run this morning! My children all missed the excitement having gone to bed too late last night. Still when the news filtered back they were straight out there to see the action!
Well done Mummy!

Theo and one of the twins
Everyone wanted a hold and Mum waited patiently at the door eager to come back into nurse her boys. Goats can make very indifferent mothers so we are delighted at her protectiveness towards the pair! Just need help now with 2 lovely kid goat names..... suggestions most welcome on the comments area below
Mum Hovering at the doorway

Clio claiming her cuddle
A Lovely Surprise to discover a new duckling too! Animals being born on our farm are like buses in London...all or none!
Hatched today, hoping for a brother or sister soon!

Wondering back home I spotted Farmer Nick making excellent progress on the new Wallaby fencing! I do hope it is finished soon as I am keen to embark on the great Wallaby Capture

Nick employing our eldest son to help with the hard digging of fence posts

All in a day on the farm, do hope you can come and join us on holiday soon, don't worry digging fence posts not included! 

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Family Time at the Camelford Show

The sun shone all day for one of our favourite family days out. There is so much to occupy the children that it's always a winner for us. Today it clashed with our return from Sussex, after a lovely week with Farmer's Nick's Mum, but not to be beaten we set off at 4am to ensure we were back in time to check all was well at Coombe Mill and head on out to the show!

Striding out to the action

Many of our guests this week are regulars and know it makes a great family day while others saw my daily update on the wi fi and followed the recommendation.

This lovely family remind me so much of us a few years ago, they have 5 boys under 6 yrs old with twins for number 4 and 5!

So takes me back!

The children headed straight for the big tent and all the free circus equipment where they met up with our guests and local friends. I think they must have spent nearly the whole day here riding penny fathings, juggling, plate spinning, tight rope walking and much more!

Watch out Clio you are about to fall!

Happy faces all round!

Generally we bring a picnic on all our family days out. Eating out with 8 of us is an expensive exercise, more than the £25 entrance fee for the 8 of us!

Lunch with friends
(You can read more on my picnic tips on multiplemummy's site where I guest blogged on the subject last week)

Today I am fraid I broke my own rule! After arriving home this morning to an empty kitchen we did splash out on a very unhealthy pasty and chips combo to keep us going for the day. It will definitely be back to the picnic's next time (pocket hurting)!

At 2pm the big tent fills to overflowing with children for a comedy act of magic tricks and circus stunts. Guaranteed to make them laugh every year and a great way to keep them occupied at any age for hour or so!
Big tent entertainment

Happiness is..........
Meanwhile Nick and I have some leisurely time to explore the rest of the show! No prizes for guessing where we both headed......It was easy to find my beloved droowling over the next Tractor / quad / digger / dumper,  while I am to be found a midst the craft tents and homemade produce! A very happy afternoon for all!
Loving these goodies!

Dragging the gang away from the circus activities we all enjoyed a family tour of the show animals, old tractors and entertainment in the arena from sheep dog trails to show jumping. We stopped to chat to Sarah, who runs our stables, with her beautiful horse before facing the inevitable from the kids at home time  " No Dad, we can't go yet, we've only been here a few minutes!"

So well behaved, the kids too!

A great day out which I can't recommend highly enough if you are down our way at this time of year.

I have compiled all the highlights into a fun video of the day. Well worth a watch!

Monday, 1 August 2011

What's cooking? The Ultimate Sausage & Mash

How can anyone want a recipe for bangers and mash? The answer is all in the ingredients and a few 'cooks know how' tips!

Bangers and mash is a childhood favourite, but let's face it, who doesn't get peckish at kids tea time and think - I could fancy that too? Well here is my family recipe that the kids enjoy with an adult twist too!

OK we are lucky enough to have our very own sausages from our farm but any good butchers own are a cut above the rest!

Simply oven cook or grill on a rack to catch the fat whilst boiling some Cornish potatoes on the hob.

Heat a splash of olive oil in a pan and toss in sliced onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes before adding mushrooms and peppers. Just a couple of minutes on a high heat, then add a little red wine and seasoning to taste, simmer for a further couple of minutes and remove from the heat.

Chop the cooked sausages (or leave whole if you prefer)and place in a pie or casserole dish, add the saute veg with a slotted spoon, reserving any juice and any lightly boiled veg too (carrots or peas work well). Drain and mash the potatoes with milk, butter and salt to taste.

Drain all the fat from the sausage tin bar the sticky bottom layer. Place tin on the hob and heat with the remaining reserved juice, a couple of stock cubes, any veg water from the peas or carrots and a sprinkle of plain flour stiring all the time into a rich gravy. Poor over your casserole, top with the mash.

All ready to heat and serve,or freeze for another time. It is a great one to defrost and pop in the oven after a busy day. Watch out for them in our "Coombe Cusine" Freezer when you come to stay on the farm!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Dear Diary: & the little one said "roll over".......

It's been all shuffle along one on the farm today for the Polish Banthan chicks. With 9 new born chicks hatching out yesterday timing and planning is everything to ensure no one is left homeless!

The chicks have up to 12 hours in the incubator after hatching to dry out and 'find their feet' before what must be a very scary transition from our laundry room to the nursery house in the chicken enclosure. They have some lovely children to watch over them on their intrepid journey bumping along on the tractor and trailer as the surprise start to the morning feed run!

Timing is everything. The new born chicks only have around 15 minutes out in the open before they would die of cold.....yes even in July! Farmer Nick is quick to prize them out of the caring arms of the children and into the "here's one I made earlier" home under a heat lamp within the nursery house.

Here their ordeal ends, well for the next month at least! Plenty of time to get to know one another and establish who is boss! But what about the chicks they are displacing? It's a case of 'and the little one said "roll over, roll over"' as the month olds came 'off heat' a few days ago in preparation for their big change today.

Brought out into the big wide world for the first time, yet remaining in a designer home as an anti bullying precaution from the etablished ducks and chickens. The chicken world can be a savage place!

And on the merry-go-round we go as the teenage chicks move for the last time in with their adult counterparts down near the river. Again they will remain in their house for a week or so getting to know the grownups with safety around them. Both are curious to say "hello"!

To square the circle, Farmer Nick collects the next batch of fertilized eggs from the food store and carefully washes and places them in the now cleaned and empty incubator.

The laundry room is once again multifunctional! The eggs are labelled up with expected hatching dates,in this case 21st August. I for see another distracting day ahead for me as I hop between the office and the laundry listening and watching the chirping eggs!

Most exciting of all, I am hoping to have live "chick cam" operational for next month so you can tune in and watch with me as they hatch live on our web site! It will be another Coombe Mill first bringing you closer to our lovely farm even when you can't be here!

Friday, 22 July 2011

Dear Diary - What happened to the play boat?

A quiet day on the farm until drama unfolds, quick call the fire brigade, we have an arson attack in the play area!

something has really fueled those flames!
Hang on a minute......where is Farmer Nick? I have been subtley mentioning for weeks that the play boat needs some sanding down and repainting. A suspicious farmer's wife might suspect a spot of sabotage going on here! 

Who snuck in with those safety fences?
OK so sanding and repainting is no longer an option for this boat. Instead I can see 1 digger, 2 farmers and a very big hole left to fill, but what with? I just knew something was bubbling under when he spontaneously brought the washing in for me!

He is after something!

Digging to Australia?

It turns out he has been back on eBay and bought a very substantial children's outdoor play wobble board. Well I'm sure it had a more professional name when sold by the manufacturer, but play wobble board or bouncy board is the most accurate description I can manage. To his credit it is in excellent condition and looks sturdy enough to last for years.

"Come on boys, hurry up and see if we can finish this job before I collect the kids from school". (I am becoming quietly excited about this now and keen to share in the action!)

Wow with springs like this even Dad's can have a go!
It's taking shape and we're on to the back filling, just 15 minutes before the children come home "put your backs into it then"........ I'm more than occupied of cause enjoying the sunshine, holding the camera and offering morale support!

A bit more filling this side Ted!

And we are ready! A quick test by me before school run.


It's clearly going to be a winner all round this summer. Excited children all came to give it a go.......

All in a days work here on the farm. I know there are more plans bubbling so keep watching and following to see which one lands next......Nick have you caught those wallabies yet? 

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Mummy Tips for Potty training - Dry in a week

There is so much advise these days on potty training your toddler it is hard to know what to follow. It’s a bit like maths, there are several possible ways to work out a sum and still reach the correct answer, just some methods are quicker than others! The reality is that by one means or another we have all come through potty training and learnt toilet etiquette.
So why am I blogging on the subject? Simply to share my experience with my own 6 children. Every one of them is different in personality, intelligence, confidence and just about every trait you can think of, yet they have all been potty trained the same way and all been dry in a week. If I am honest, my method is not really mine at all, it is that which was thrust upon me by my confident 1st nanny. After around 10 years as a professional nanny and me as a know nothing new Mum returning to work, I figured I was best to just go along with her recommendation, as like most things, she knew what she was doing and it worked. Long after we moved away from Surrey and our family grew, I still stuck by her tried and tested method so here it is (Thanks Anna, your secrets shared!)
Golden rules
·         Be consistent
·         Once you start there is no going back
·         use incentives like chocolate buttons (usually never done by me)
·         Be patient and clear but don’t make the process an issue
·         Pick a week when you are at home with a clear diary for at least the first couple of days
·         Buy a basic alarm timer and some real toddler pants featuring your child’s favourite characters
·         Your child needs to want to move on to potty training and you need to be committed to making it work for them.
When to Start?
 Typically most are ready between 18 months and 3 years, but don’t panic, I do know of exceptions at either end! My children were all ready to be trained at around their 2nd birthday, this is not important, what is important is that you pick up on their cue as to when they are ready and able to learn. Try too early and you will both be disappointed, leave it too late and lazy behaviour sets in.

Training cue’s
 Have a potty in the bathroom before you start, from around 16 months and encourage them to try for a wee before their bath, no pressure, don’t force the idea or make it a big deal, just encourage the motion, praise them for sitting there when they do.  If 30% or more of the time they can produce the wee then they are probably ready to learn. Other interest in the toilet habits, wanting to see you go or trying to pull off their nappy all the time are other good indicators. I'm sure there are more, you will know your own child best.

Theo is dry big bro here & the triplets nearing potty training as
they play together in our toddler play area

Ready to go, clear the diary and follow my step by step guide:
Day 1
1.       Explain the whole process to your child so they know what to expect
2.       Big boy/girl pants go on in the morning and nappies are out!
3.       Set the timer every 5 minutes. When it rings stop what you are doing and sit them on the potty. Try for just a short wee, no need to wait more than say 15 seconds, if they think there is nothing there that's fine. Repeat for the first hour, any successes reward with a chocolate button or other motivating treat.....they soon get the hang of this game! Keep their fluids up so they can achieve their goal.
4.       Increase the intervals during the first day to around every half hour max - toddlers after a drink will often struggle to go longer. Keep them occupied during the day but not so engrossed they don't want to stop what they are doing for the potty!
Day 2
Continue as for day 1, carry the potty with you if you move around the house or to the garden so it is at hand when the alarm goes.
Day 3 and 4
 Take away the alarm and start the perpetual "do you need a wee?" comment. Keep the reward bit up if you need to but most will be so proud of their achievements and big girl / boy dry pants they won't need the reward, just constant reminding and praise.
Day 5 /6
Go out, visit  LOCAL friend or the park, just remember to keep asking and ensure it is somewhere where you can whip out the potty. If a toddler replies "yes" to the "do you need a wee?" question it means now not in 5 minutes when I find the toilet! 

Our Guy at the beach!

So what about night time?
Give them their last drink around an hour before bed time from the first day of training. In my case it was 6pm milk, 7pm bed. Ask them to do a ‘last wee’ before bed, then invest in trainer pants for bed time, we called them night night pants. They had no other use as we never used them in the day. Allowing an hour for the drink to go through before bed helps night time success. The brain is learning day time control and it will automatically work at night time too.  I found 1 pair of night pants would often last a few days before an accident so you should be well on your way to dry nights all at the same time. Dry nights does take longer, since once the brain can control the night it then has to learn to wake the child when he/she can’t last the whole period and this tends to be the harder bit, much easier when you are already awake! However they will soon be encouraged by some dry nights and I found within a couple of months I could do away with the night pants.

A good nights sleep from 2 caring, sharing brothers!

I am not saying my system is perfect, or that you won't have any accidents, but if you are dedicated to following through with the timer and asking endlessly if they need a wee you will minimise accidents and boost your child’s confidence till they remember to go for themselves.
It really is just a week of intensive training then just gentle reminders as often as you feel necessary. The important thing is to decide to do it and just go for it and not turn back to nappies. If you do feel you are trying before they are ready and it’s just not working, then go back to nappies, take the pressure off you both and try again in a couple of months time or when you think there are some willingness signs from your child. I did have this with my triplets, after ambitiously trying to do them all together I had to concede defeat let one wait a few more months before he was ready.
Good luck and I hope to have been of some help. I would love to welcome you and your toddlers on holiday with us at Coombe Mill Farm pre, post or during potty training. We specialise in holidays for young children, have potties and trainer seats to borrow and real cloth nappies free to try too. All our properties have stair gates built in and are designed with little ones in mind. They will adore our daily tractor rides to help feed the animals, potties welcome aboard!

 I hope to meet  you soon! 
note: A big thanks to Mummy Central who allowed me to guest blog this on their site first: