Our New Adventure Play Barn

January 24, 2016 at 8:00 PMCoombeMill

This was a project that became a bit of a square peg in a round hole and had us working day and night for the end result.


Our New Adventure Play Barn

We had spent months trying to find a good option to replace our tired looking play equipment. It had served us well for many years but was beginning to rot underneath and fall apart and we knew it needed attention. Having failed to attract any of the big companies to quote on our little barn Nick had resorted to scouring EBay and came across what looked like the perfect fit for us. I put it up on Facebook to great excitement when we had secured the winning bid and it arrived.

Arrival of the Play Equipment

Since it was still the summer season and we didn't want to ruin anyone's holiday by making the play barn off limits we waited till our autumn close down period. Then it was all hands on deck removing the old soft play which we managed to sell on again via Ebay.


clearing the play barn


Faced with a spacious empty barn Nick decided that damp proofing and lining the floor would be a good move to give insulation for little feet and prevent the new equipment ruining through condensation.  I was impressed with the speed and efficiency with which this stage was completed and new lining laid.


However we were blissfully unaware of the problem we had just created. It was only when we began to construct the frame of the new equipment that the cost of raising the floor a couple of inches became apparent. We jiggled and wriggled but the frame would not fit between the rafters.


Problem with roof height


With only 3 weeks before our Christmas opening the pressure was on, we considered cutting into the rafters and reinforcing them elsewhere but in the end called our builder and agreed to splash out on a whole new roof and raising the height of the walls. This of course meant exposing the new equipment and floor to the December weather, never before had an accurate weather forecast been so important. We waited a week for our clear day of dry and went for it.

Re-Roofing Play Barn

With just one rain shower and a much better quality roof we were back on track, if down a couple of thousand pounds down on the project!

From here it was like a giant jigsaw trying to fit pieces together and we were very grateful of our growing lads to help maneuver the weighty frame. Once the frame was complete the kids played around with the floor pieces and accessories to slot everything into place and Nick spent hours with some Duck Tape Colours cleverly protecting ripped fabric joins from moving the equipment.


Working as a family to build the play barn


Finally it took days to patiently thread the protective netting securely into place before I gave the whole room a thorough clean. The finished result was one we were all proud of just one day before our Christmas opening!


New Soft Play


It wasn't long before little feet were enjoying our hard work. With the wettest Christmas and New Year weather I can remember it was much appreciated by all our guests and worth all the hard work.


New Play Barn in Use


We have added a table and chairs but I am still keen to add some shoe boxes and possibly a baby play pen so that tiny tots can be safe while their older siblings leap around.  If you have any other ideas for the space at the front please let me know.


Reflections and Plans for Coombe Mill Holidays

January 10, 2016 at 7:20 PMCoombeMill


2015 finished here on the blog with a comical look at my vlogging bloopers, with some funny outtakes from the farm and my crafting projects. If you've not watched it do pop over, it's quite a giggle. However there is a much more serious side to running a holiday business with a level of attention to detail that goes unseen in providing family holidays that quietly offer that little extra and which has prompted so many of you to write. Thanks to your kind words I have a growing Pinterest board of Coombe Mill Reviews and was awarded the highest commendation on Trip Advisor. I know I've been known to bleat about the effect of Trip Advisor in the past, but if I'm honest it keeps us on our toes and in the main tells a good story for us.

           Follow Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays's board Holiday Reviews for Coombe Mill on Pinterest.    




The little additions in 2015

A holiday at Coombe Mill is a lifestyle experience, I like to think of it as opening our heart and our farm to all who visit, building on the memories for those who return each year is my pleasure.  After the grand opening of Tree Roots Cottage in 2014 I knew we were more cash strapped for 2015 investment and needed to think creatively. There is nothing like a challenge and thanks to my Country Kids linky and a strong feel for all the things you enjoyed on day trips out I was able to take the best and find a way to build them into Coombe Mill as well as taking advantage of my super DIY farmer husband for the bigger projects. In the end the 2015 line up is quite impressive:

  1. Conversion of Heligan from a 7 bedroom property into an 8 bedroom plus play room
 Heligan upstairs
 Water Mill Kitchen
  1. A New kitchen for Water Mill and measures to deal with damp in this old 16th Century Cottage that still oozes charm.
  1. The move from king to super king beds in Honeysuckle and Willow, every property refit from now on will have super sized beds, they are perfect for co-sleeping and early morning visits from children.
 Willow Super King Bed
 Wildlife Trail
  1. A Wildlife Trail covering parts of the farm even many of the regular guests were not familiar with. There are signs along the route and cards with clues and tick sheets to collect from reception or an audio recording to follow on our web site to help you spot the eleven animals the 1.5km walk.
  1. An underutilized area of the cottage gardens was transformed into a kids den building area with a weekend of work for my teens lugging fallen branches from winter storms over ready to use while Farmer Nick created signs and I cleared the brambles.
 Den Building Zone
Mushroom Stools
  1. A cut down tree made dangerous by the storms gave us the chance to put chippings all around the fairy garden and play areas and build a mushrooms and table central clearing for the Fairy garden that the children have adored this year.
  1. I've had a mud kitchen in mind for years, finally we converted an old log store into our kitchen complete with some kitchen units and old pots and pans and some fun recipes. I'd say this has been one of the most used areas of the farm this year.
 Mud Kitchen
Ping Pong Tent
  1. Our new craft tent transformed activity hour on wet and windy days and has been perfect for housing the new Ping Pong table the rest of the week
  1. Last but not least Farmer Nick invested in a new, well new to him, digger and cleared a wonderful path up the Ravine, now accessible I decided it was far too good just for the animals to graze and turned it into our Welly Walk with signs, activity sheets to follow and a rope swing at the end.
 Welly Walk


I'm sure this is not an exhaustive list but it certainly shows that we have kept ourselves busy all year and grown the Coombe Mill experience.

Plans for 2016?

What more can we possibly do? Actually my list is never-ending but these are a few of the things I hope I will be reflecting on next year:

  1. A New Play Barn, we have almost completed a total refit of our indoor play barn, it was open for Christmas, just, but there are some final finishing touches to make before sharing the whole story, and there is quite a lot to share on this one.

  2. Cattle Grids again cross over the cusp of 2015 with Nick working right up to the day the guests arrived for Christmas to make them roadworthy and has just completed all the fencing now, I'll be following up with a post explaining the benefits of these for the farm and our guests.

  3. New Wood burners for Willow and Honeysuckle are planned in for January; they will replace the old style ones and their rather nasty concrete wall overhang with modern easy draw, heat retaining flues that will transform these cottage living rooms.  

  4. We have a couple of options to create a games room for older children this year. Either the store room to the side of Two Chimneys cottage or the old riverside lodges are contenders, more on this later in the year as the plan unfold. 
  5. We have had planning permission in for 7 new 2 bedroom Scandinavian lodges like Trevarno to be built where the old riverside lodges stand. This is a long term project probably spanning the next 10 years but we hope to start the first towards the end of 2016 so watch out for availability in 2017.

I'm sure this is only the beginning and when I reflect back in 12 months time there will be a whole lot more we actually achieved.

On a personal level I have Alistair sitting A levels this year and hopefully leaving for University, Felix taking GCSE's and hopefully moving to collage to start his A levels, Theo taking his options and beginning his GCSE courses and the triplets completing their first year in secondary school, so our personal life will take on quite a change too.

I hope you'll follow our progress through my blog during 2016 and even better, book yourself in for a family holiday and see for yourself what the Coombe Mill holiday experience is all about.


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Ahoy Captain Coombe Mill

November 9, 2015 at 8:10 PMCoombeMill


It is no secret that here at Coombe Mill we love the awesome ideas coming out from Prezzybox. We have shared, kids night lights which are happily installed in our kids cottage and lodge bedrooms, a monster travel suitcase now used for activity hour each week packed with play things for our youngest guests and a worry eater to help worried little ones banish their fears. Delighted with all our tested products to date I was very excited to receive our latest addition to Coombe Mill, a child's table and chair with our very own pirate name.


Ahoy Captain

Welcome Captain Coombe Mill

You can order this pirate table and matching pirate chair with any child's name, for us Coombe Mill was the obvious choice giving us the flexibility to place it in any of our property play rooms.

The pack arrived in super fast time all flat packed in safe travel packaging. On opening up everything was pristine with all the nuts and bolts you need included. However you will need to have a Philips screw driver and either a spanner or 10mm ratchet driver to assemble it securely.

I have the benefit of my very own handy man by way of Farmer Nick. With 11 properties to manage and maintain at Coombe Mill he is an expert in all DIY.  He had chair and table constructed in just 15 minutes; though I have to say if it had been left to me I might still be trying! The quality and finish of the table is impressive and Nick gave ours a little extra strength by adding wood glue as well as the dowel fixing provided; after all we are hoping for years of use by successive Captain Coombe Mill visitors.


Nick Putting together the Table


If you are familiar with flat pack furniture it is a breeze, if not you will have to study the picture instructions carefully and not take them too literally. For example the table diagram suggests there is space for 2 screws on the underneath corner fixings of the desk when in fact there is just one. Quality isn't compromised it is just you need a certain amount of imitative in interpreting the diagrams.


Kids at the table


With our table and chair complete we took it along for the ultimate test. A group of little farm helpers keen to give it a try during our weekly activity hour. Our 1 - 6 year old children tested the set for comfort, fun factor and ease of working and gave it big thumbs up.


Table in Trebah


We had a long think about which play room to add the pirate desk set to and decided on Trevarno. This is one of our sleeps 4 Scandinavian lodges with a huge playroom taking up the entire upstairs floor space. It fits in here a treat and is ready to welcome a new Captain Coombe Mill each week.


I received my Coombe Mill names pirate desk and Chair from Prezzybox in order to write this review. All thoughts and opinions about the product are my own.

A Tent for All Seasons

May 31, 2015 at 9:00 PMCoombeMill

Tenting but not Camping

Here at Coombe Mill all our properties are stone cottages or Scandinavian style lodges. I am often asked about camping, but seriously when you see the slope of many of our fields and the steep lane to approach us it isn't hard to see that we have the perfect fields for mountain goats but that tenting isn't really an option. However I did spot a wonderful marquee style tent at Trago back in the winter and persuaded Farmer Nick it was just what we needed; not as accommodation but as a base for my Activity Hour which has been growing in popularity and threatening to overwhelm my kitchen on rainy afternoons!

Activity Hour in the House


Locating & Constructing our Tent


We agreed that the cottage car park was the perfect place being flat and on tarmac and right next to the train which runs immediately after. Even with the tent marked out we agreed there was still space for 2 cars per cottage. Putting up the tent took a few weeks as the pegs securing the frame down were concreted into the tarmac to ensure it would withstand any winter storms. The children helped Nick with the project as step by step it began to take shape.


Setting up the Tent

Multi functional

Nick had a genius idea for the tent to ensure it was put to good use all week. After all Activity hour was only at the end of the week and half the time we were out and about on the farm for this anyway if the weather permitted. Table Tennis was the idea and we purchased an outdoor game which fitted perfectly inside with plenty of space to move around too. It soon proved an instant hit with children and adults all enjoying a match.


Playing Ping Pong

There is even the option to turn half the table up to play solo.

Guy Playing Solo Ping Pong

At the end of the week we simply remove the net, cover the table with old curtains and draw up Nick's specially designed benches to make the perfect base for our Activity hour crafts.

Ping Pong Table Read for Activity Hour


We left the tent completely open on one side so it is always light and airy yet provides the protection we need against the wind and rain on our crafts not to mention preventing a gust ruining a crucial ping pong point and I'm sure the tent sides have saved the nearby bushes from being littered with lost balls!


A Tent for All Seasons


Thanks to a YouTube tutorial from the wonderfully creative Maggie of Red Ted Art I managed to combine ping pong and crafting in the tent during half term. Like so many parents we are left with a huge bag of loom bands since the craze fizzled out. Maggie had a simple yet effective idea to turn them into colourful bouncy balls; it was a short step from there to use them as ping pong balls. We had a lovely craft hour making our bouncy balls and testing them out on a ping pong challenge.

Loom Band Ping Pong Balls


If you are coming to Coombe Mill this summer I hope you will join us for Activity hour in the tent and enjoy a family ping pong game at  your leisure too.


All change in Heligan

March 29, 2015 at 11:00 PMCoombeMill


Our Scandinavian lodges have been extremely popular since we began building them back in 2004. Our first was Eden and the popular design was soon followed up with Heligan and Pencarrow where we copied the footprint of Eden but divided the triple room into a twin and single to make spacious 4 bedroom properties with a single room ideal for a teenager, nanny or grandparent to join the party. Trebah and Trevarno are smaller Scandinavian lodges designed to replace our old riverside buildings and offer luxury for a family of 4. The popular play den refits in Honeysuckle and Willow cottages inspired us to change the design totally in these smaller lodges giving the whole of the upstairs to a giant playroom with all the living accommodation downstairs. This was also our first venture into super king 6 foot beds and despite the problems of sourcing linen for them I was convinced this was the right move. We are now committed to supersize comfy beds and playrooms in every refit and new build we do.


Redesigning Heligan Lodge

Our new builds always take advantage of the latest in building and design technology which has a tendency to highlight improvements we could make to our earlier properties. Farmer Nick is not just a farmer, throughout our 13 years at Coombe Mill he has developed his interest in DIY to the extent that he felt he could take on our latest refit himself.  

During our January close down following much discussion between ourselves over the design together with considerable input from those of you who follow our Facebook page we came up with a genius plan to transform the upstairs space in Heligan.


Heligan Upstairs Before the Refit

The vast king size bedroom together with locked storage room with the boiler would be transformed into a good sized king size bedroom, capable of taking a super king bed in time, together with a link through toddler bedroom and separate playroom. The space really was more than adequate to do all of this.


New Plan in Heligan

I felt my heart was in my mouth as Nick began to peel up the carpet, saw holes into the upstairs corridor wall to make the playroom entrance and erect the timbers for the new walls. I know he is good at DIY and makes all our stair gates, garden furniture and the odd doorway but this was all on a far grander scale and there was always the worry of "what if" something went horribly wrong and things weren't ready for our 2015 guests to arrive.


Nick Busy building


Of course I shouldn't have worried, he took it all in his stride and the finished result looks every bit as professional as the work of North Coast Log Cabins, the trusted local company who builds our lodges.

The toddler bedroom has a new pirate low level toddler bed and a stable style door which can be left part open for a sense of security and comfort for a little one into Mummy and Daddy's bedroom. It is also right by the en-suite bathroom which is handy for those night time toilet calls.  


Toddler Bedroom


Although smaller, the master bedroom actually feels spacious with the new layout and more usable space. Nick's finish on the partition wall to the playroom looks like it has always been there.


Master Bedroom


Next door and accessed via the corridor and not through the bedroom is the playroom. It has its own open door way with a stair gate so the children can easily be heard and feel a part of life in the rest of the open plan living area while enjoying their own safe space. Filling it with toys is my job and always the fun part!


Play Room in Heligan

If you are looking to book with us this year and have a party size of 8 including a toddler this is a serious contender for your family holiday. Depending on the feedback we have this year we plan to make the same changes in time to Pencarrow and Eden.


Toddler Fun in Heligan Play Room

My testing panel certainly gave the finished playroom a big thumbs up!


 photo 4d06e438-4e6a-4f3b-88b2-0c1093350397_zps361ad0e9.jpg     

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