Tag: country living

March Chat with a Mum: Fiona of Coombe Mill

If you are a UK Parent Blogger, chances are you’ve already heard of Fiona of Coombe Mill. Apart from running the lovely must-visit self-catering cottages specifically made for families in Cornwall, she also writes about country living in her blog and hosts the famous #countrykids linky which I’m a follower of.  Grab a cup of tea or coffee you lovely folks, and get to know the lovely woman behind Coombe Mill:

Tell us something about yourself and your children (age & sex)

Hi I’m Fiona, married to Nick, or Farmer Nick as all the children here on holiday call him. I’m a full time Mum to our 6 children, working full time at our holiday business and squeezing a little blogging and social media into my spare time, that’s a lot of full time jobs in one but thankfully I thrive on very little sleep. My children are all coming up to birthdays but are currently 17, 15, 13 and 11, the 11 being my triplets. Only the youngest (by minutes) is a girl so she and I are rather outnumbered in our household.

What were your children’s birth stories like?

I can sum my birth stories up as long, boring and conventional right up to the triplets. Each was 48 hours of hell as far as I’m concerned but reading the stories of others I know I was actually very lucky and felt right as rein straight after giving birth. I even took the older children to a 2 year olds birthday party in the afternoon after giving birth to my 3rd in the morning, so yes I was lucky. The triplets on the other hand were a pain free c section; though I still remember lying there watching the reflection in the rim of the ceiling mirror and seeing a distorted view of what was happening inside me the other side of the curtain! I was kept in with them for 3 weeks as they were born at 33 weeks and only tiny. It was only when I came home and had to instantly be on hand for the older children and the business I realised what a rest hospital was! Poor Farmer Nick had been amazing back home on his own with the other 3 children and the business in that time and having to furnish our first Scandinavian lodge alone; it still has a very minimalistic male touch to it! As for the next 2 years with 6 children under 6 and the business, I have only limited memory; survival of each day was my only goal!

KF2-2002

What you wish you knew about being a mother before becoming one?

Oh everything! I didn’t even know how to change a nappy, I was as clueless as anyone could be and I wish I had put my first down more, sterilized everything less, and accepted every offer of help I turned down. I wised up with subsequent children. I think the triplets almost brought themselves up and I never sterilized a thing, they were my most healthy babies!

How do you manage your “me” time?

I’m addicted to fresh air and exercise. I can’t manage as much as a day indoors. I sneak an hour mid day most days to go for a run, cycle or swim or surf, often with a friend or with one of my teens if it’s after school or just on my own to think. It is one of the biggest benefits of working from home, having the freedom to take a break when I feel I need one. When the children were tiny I’d wheel the pram round my running route.

Do you have any favorite anecdote of your children?

Oh plenty, but I think the thing I find most amusing and annoying is never knowing ‘who did it’. Whatever the misdemeanor it is always “I didn’t do it” I” I saw ….” I”I wasn’t there” finding out who broke something or ate something I was saving etc is impossible, they cover for each other no matter what and Nick and I don’t stand a chance. I think it is probably a big family thing.

What is it about motherhood you absolutely love about?

I cherish the sense of belonging to a big family and of loving and being loved. The family bond is so very important to me.

On the other hand, if there is anything about motherhood you dislike about what would it be?

My biggest dislike is the 11 – 13 age when the children go through puberty, the mood swings and aggression is tough and for a while I feel I’m losing them, I now know it is a phase and to just love them and give them the space they need and they come back to you, the things they say along this journey can be hurtful but they don’t mean it. Fear not if you’ve not yet reached this stage, they don’t all go through it in such an obvious way but at least half of mine have and the triplets are right in it now. Like the terrible twos, there are of course lovely days too at this stage, it is just an emotional roller coaster.

What’s a typical day like for you and your kids?

Our days change throughout the year with the changing needs of the business, all the kids have jobs around the farm on different days though it is fair to say they do enjoy time off in the holidays except our busy Saturday changeover when they are all needed.

KF2-2002

Best advice you’ve ever received about motherhood/parenthood?

Be consistent, make rules you can stick to and follow them through.

If you could give yourself advice about motherhood before becoming one, what would it be?

Use your intuition, do what feels right, take advice from others but don’t feel bound to anyone else’s word, every child and parent are different and there is no one rule that fits all; do what works for you and your child.

How do you manage your time, blogging/workwise and time with your family and other activities as well?

The age old work life balance! We have family time over dinner every night, meals often take an hour now as with teenagers there is plenty of humour, banter and debates that take place around our dining table, and this is our daily family catch up time. In summer family trips out are much harder as changeover and business needs take over, however we try for a family outing on a Sunday between the animal feeding and even train rides then in the winter close down period we value our weekends together. My blogging time is either mid week while the kids are at school and the guests out for the day or late in the evening as I’m a bit of a night owl.

Thank you so much Fiona!  

And if you’re planning to visit North Cornwall over the Easter break and looking for a place to stay with your family, why not stay at Coombe Mill?  It’s nothing like your usual holiday self-catering cottages – it’s a working farm and Fiona and her lovely family have fun  activities planned for your little ones that will surely make your holiday even more special. 

Click here to visit Fiona’s blog and if you haven’t read last month’s chat with a Dad, do have a read here

Out and About: Photos in the Sun

We had glorious weather last Monday, although it was biting cold, especially with the breeze blowing in from the sea.  T wanted to go around our little village on her scooter.  But I told her we had to walk Doc first, after a few whinges, she gave in.  I reminded her that Doc was her dog, not mine and therefore she was responsible for walking him, especially during breaks from school.

As you can see, she did get to ride her scooter around after walking her dog.

What have you guys been up to during the half-term break?

 

A Walk in February with Doc

Doc says:

Come and walk with me.

I’ll show you where we go.

But first, you will have to wear your wellies.

Yes, it is very muddy.

Told you so.

Now we go through that gate

and as soon as we’re in, you can take me off my leash.

Oh sorry, I didn’t mean to leave you.

I must have a little play with my stick first.

Do and have a look around, enjoy the view.

Where are we going?

Through there, yes I know there’s a gate.

But that’s not for us, they’re for the cows.

Oh don’t worry,

the cows aren’t here.

They are way up in the headland.

Just wait and see.

Now c’mon, I’m sure you’ll fit through the side of the gate.

You’re slimmer than my human’s mum, you’ll fit.  

But shhh, please don’t tell her I told you that.

C’mon.

The view down there is so worth the squeeze!

See, I told you so!

We can even move closer ….

See those waves crashing into the rocks?

Don’t they just look magnificent?

C’mon, closer now …

Lovely, aren’t they?

Now enough of that, let’s move along!

It’s not that high, don’t you worry.

Move along!

I see you’re like T’s human, always stoping to take a photo.

Oh alright then.

Why do you have stop to take a photo of those flowers?

It’s called gorse, in case you don’t know.

C’mon, the view is way better up there!

Once again, I told you so!

Let’s move along, and see if the cows are up in the headland.

What’s wrong?  

Why have you stopped?

Oh the lock is jammed?

Just jiggle it like my human’s mum does, it usually works.

No?

Climb over then!

My human’s mum does it all the time!

C’mon the view is lovely up here too.

I always deliver, don’t I?

Yes, it’s beautiful up here isn’t it?

And that’s my little human’s favourite bench.

She likes to come up here and sit there while I forage around 

and her mum takes photos.

Speaking of my human, 

it’s time to go!

She’ll be done with school by now now, it’s past three!

Why are you stopping?

I must be home before she arrives, or else she’ll wonder where I am!

Okay, I’m off.

See you around!

Thanks for coming along with me.

You won’t get lost …

As son as you see the church tower,

turn right and go through the gate,

across the field,

and you’ll be back from where we started.

See yah, bye!

Woof!

Doc says thank you for coming along with him on his walk.  Those photos were taken last week when we had a brief interlude of lovely blue skies, before we were engulfed in grey, the rain and gales.  Hope everyone is having a lovely Tuesday.

What’s the weather like in your end of the world or the UK?

A Walk through Wilsey Woods

It’s easy to miss Wilsey Woods.  If you’re on your way to spend a holiday in Cornwall and you’re racing down the A395 from Launceston after a long gruelling travel on the M5 or A30, and you can’t wait to get into your holiday home or rental cottage in Polzeath, chances are, you’ll never even notice driving past this little patch of Forest.

We’ve lived in our little village by the sea for the past eight years and I’m embarrassed to say that we’ve never visited, in spite it being a mere ten-minute drive from where we live.  Not that we don’t notice it, I see it all the time. But our tendency is to go to Minster Woods located within our vicinity, or head off somewhere further away for a day-trip out.

However last Saturday, our little family, did just that.  We finally headed to Wilsey Woods.

We were surprised to see the gate obviously rammed in by a vehicle.  Debris of the gate was left on the ground, with nails exposed which can damage wheels or heaven-forbid injure a person.  The historian cleared the mess as much as he can, getting rid especially of the wood with exposed nails.

There isn’t any parking around, I’m afraid, you’ll have to park along the entrance and make sure that you don’t block the drive-way.

We didn’t know what to expect, or more like, we weren’t really expecting anything.  We just wanted to go out and walk Doc in a different place and this little woodland was always in our radar, but just one of those places, you always plan to go to, but never really get around to doing it till now.

 At first, little T wasn’t impressed at all and was turning into her annoying version of a teen-ager.  You know that, “I-hate-everything-or-everything-is-boring” attitude.  Yep, that one.

And then the husband and I spotted a make-shift-forest-den.  To me it looked like a scene from my childhood where my cousins and I would try to make a house in our grandmother’s garden with any material we could get our hands on.  This looked magical to me.  This is what childhood is all about.  This of course, quickly piqued little T’s interest too.

And of course, Doc was busy doing his own thing.

The sulking teenager was gone and I had my inquisitive, excitable little T back happy to go exploring with me.

As for Doc, he was happy surrounded by sticks.

We looked at trees that were lying on the forest ground.

We checked out the moss covering the ground like carpet.

While Doc watched us and wondered what we were doing …

…. which of course only lasted a few seconds as something more interesting caught his attention.

Then little T decided to make a forest den for Anna.

She also used sticks and twigs she found lying on the ground.

And of course, even her Dad had to help in the making of Anna’s forest den.

I think Ana looks rather pleased with her den.

By this time, the sky turned greyer and we decided that it was time to do more exploring before the rain came back.

We kept moving, and little T kept exploring …

Up the muddy walk …

with Doc.

We never got around to exploring more because the sky turned greyer, it was best to head back to the car before the downpour began.

What about you?  Is there a place nearby where you’ve been meaning to visit, but never get around to doing it no matter how close the place is to where you live?

Trespass Clothing Perfect for Country Living (A Review)

We are lucky to live in a beautiful part of England. The village where we live is nestled between hills, going down into the sea. We have an old harbour that dates back to 1584. Although we don’t have a beach, when it’s low-tide in the summer, there is enough sand for the little ones to play on.

We love living here, and as much as we can, when we’re not busy we spend it out doors and of course, in the country, it is very important to wear the right coat, especially down here in Cornwall where the weather can turn really rough.

I love coats. I have about six of them. I like wearing them, because they’re so convenient to use, especially when you’re a mother. You can do a mad dash out of your house to do the school run even if you’re wearing the tattiest top you own under your coat – no one will ever know except you.

The problem for me though, finding the right coat is a bit like the Goldilocks syndrome, but instead of being too hot or cold, mine would be too big or too small, I’m barely five foot inches you see. I can easily be dwarfed in a big coat and it would make me look smaller than I already am.

And if I order a smaller size, I’d be lucky to be able to zip the coat up, let alone wear a cardigan underneath it, especially since … let’s just say I haven’t lost much of my post-pregnancy weight.

Lucky for me, I’ve found a match made in heaven, the Trespass Everyday Women’s Waterproof jacket. It actually feels like it was tailor-made for me.

Why do I love it? Let me count the ways:

1. I love that it has shape. As I’ve mentioned, I’ve lost mine five years ago, giving birth to T. It’s nice to have a coat that doesn’t engulf me and make me even look bigger than I already am.

2. I love that it has style. Most waterproof jackets I’ve seen look sporty, which is fine. Although I don’t claim to be a stylish mum (I’m probably the most non-stylish mum you can find on the school run), but that doesn’t mean I’d say no to style. Having said that, I love the details of this coat. The zips on the pockets and the small belts on the side, which you can adjust depending on your size.

3. It has a detachable hood. Admittedly, it’s nothing new. A lot of jackets have this feature. But I love the way it detaches and attaches with a zipper. For me, it makes it sturdier than buttons or clasps.

4. The length is just right. Most coats are too long for me, again making me look shorter than I already am.

5. The arm length is also perfect. Most coats make me look arm-less, I must have it shortened, fold it or just awkwardly hike them up my arms.

6.  The fit is just right. I was wearing a bulky jumper underneath and it didn’t feel tight at all. I noticed some costumers commented on their website that sizing is a bit too small, but I guess that also depends on your build. When it comes to coats, a size 12 fits me and this is a medium, and it rather fits me well.

7.  And lastly, Trespass is a British brand. It’s nice to support my adoptive country’s own brand.

Dislikes:

1. I’m not a big fan of coats with a faux fur trim in the hood, but luckily the fur is detachable, so I’m losing that one.

2. I don’t like the way the zipper is zipped upwards rather than downwards. It’s easy to accidentally unzip it and maybe drop things.

2. The coat is only available in navy and khaki, even though I love both colours, it would be nice to have a variety of other colours to choose from.

I haven’t used it in the rain yet, so I don’t really know how waterproof it is.  But considering how much it has kept me warm in spite of the harsh Cornish wind, I have a feeling it will be as weatherproof as any coat can be.

All in all, if I were to rate this coat, I’d give it a five-star rating. Like I mentioned it feels like it’s been tailor-made for me and its perfect for my lifestyle of country walks through the woods, on Rough Tor, jaunts on the beach, the school run or even just walking Doc on the headland.

What about you?

What are your criteria when choosing a rain-coat?

Do you go for style, brand or practicality?

Disclaimer:  Trespass sent me the raincoat for the purpose of this review. However all words and opinions are mine.  All photos are owned by Little Steps and were taken by my husband.

Wanted: Have You Seen this Woman?

Don’t be fooled by her deceiving looks.

Behind that friendly face is a cunning crazy old woman who likes to kidnap cats.

Case #1.

The Missing Boots

The photo above was taken last December 2012, happier days when Boots loved us and wanted to be with us always.  She tolerated me and my husband, but loved T and had so much patience with her even though T liked to strangle the poor cat.  In return, T let Boots play with her favourite soft toys as seen in the photo.  Boots with T’s precious bunny rabbit which she named Zak.

Boots was last seen in front of the our house about a month or so ago.  For a minute, we thought that she changed her mind, we opened our door to coax her in.  But she gave us a long stare as if to say “I’m just here to say Hi” and then left us once again.

We know that the woman pictured above has kidnapped her.  We have a solid witness who can prove this in every single high court in England.

Case #2

The Missing Benjie

Last seen resting on a neighbour’s wall.

A few days ago, as we stepped out of our door to do the school run we noticed a bowl of white chicken meat by our neighbour’s door.  We didn’t think much about it till we bumped into her and she explained that she was trying to lure Benjie back in.  We later learned that the crazy cat woman (pictured above), actually had the gall to knock on her door and demand that our neighbour sign a note relinquishing ownership of Benjie, so she could register him with a vet as her own.  Our neighbour refused to sign, instead she’s also trying to lure her cat back.  I doubt it’s working though because while the bowl is empty, there is still no sign of her furry friend.

See, I told you she was conniving.

We’ve reported her to the cat authorities and wish for her arrest soon.

 ***

The above story is true, except for the part where we reported the woman and that we hope for her arrest soon.  The only hope we have is that Boots will decide to return home to us.  Other than that, we do not wish any one harm.

That’s one of the charms of living in a little village, there are bound to be interesting or weird characters around, the village drunk or curmudgeon, the gossip, in our case, we have a “cat-lady”.   I’ve never met her, don’t really have any ill feelings towards her, although I do want our cat back.

Do you have any crazy cat woman in your vicinity or even just an interesting person?

Do share.

Summer in November

The first day of November felt like summer.  After the experiencing Halloween madness the previous night, we along with some friends, decided that a beach day was a must, especially since the day looked very promising.

But it being late autumn, I packed coats, wellies, wooly hats and scarves in the car.  It turned out that we didn’t need them at all.  Widemouth Bay (as you all know is a fave) and was surprisingly packed well not the beach (there’s always space enough for everyone), but the parking lot, considering it was the last day of the half-term break.

While waiting to meet up with her best friend F, as always, little T and her dad were lost in the rock rockpools.

Soon little F joined his best friend and they quickly had a small collection of rock pool finds, a small fish, crab and some snails.

One must never forget the rock pooling rule: What one finds, must always return back to the sea:

T and F letting their precious finds back into the water.

And then it was time to run around like loonies.

 This was what it was like the first day of November.  It certainly felt like summer that day.  Today, the 14th is an altogether different story.  As I type this, I can see our little village clothed in grey and rain.  It is definitely autumn once again.

What’s the weather like on your side of the world?

Is it sunny or gloomy like it is here?

An Idyllic Life: Village School Activities

Ever time we have friends over for a visit and they see little T’s school, they always comment on what an idyllic life she has, growing up in our little village by the sea, where everywhere you look is beautiful.

Little T goes to a small village school with a population of probably about sixty children.  Yes, it is that small.  Their school activities include days spent on the beach, exploring around our little village and their latest, doing a nature-inspired dance routine in a meadow, down in the village.

T’s class getting ready for their performance.

We were so proud when we learned that little T actually volunteered to read in front of everyone during the activity.  And she did it brilliantly!  In fact, when her friend stalled and couldn’t read a word, T helped her out by whispering it to her friend.  This little gesture warmed my heart.

Moments like these make me really proud as a parent, more than a perfect score in spelling or maths.  Being kind and helpful is more valuable than perfect scores.

And there’s my little munchkin eating her picnic lunch with her friends.  This was actually only part one of their activity.

The second part was held at the beach in Port Isaac, another lovely seaside village, now made famous by Doc Martin (a television program featuring a grumpy doctor played by Martin Clune).  I love that show, though don’t be fooled.  In the episodes, it is always sunny.  In reality, you’ll be lucky if you get a sunny day, especially if you visit after the summer holidays.   But we were lucky that day, the weather was just perfect!

And at the end of their activity, they were given little bottles to fill up with sand, a little memento  from their day’s activity.

The parents went home proud of their little ones performance, the teachers were also beaming.  They knew they did a great job and we certainly agreed with them.

What about you?

What’s your children’s school like?

Or

Would you like to live in a place like this?

A Red Tutu Kind of Day

We woke up to a gloomy depressing autumn morning.

Grey was the colour of the day, or so it seemed.

Good thing, little T is always full of good ideas.

I want to wear my red tutu mummy!

That’s a great idea T, I agreed with her.

When it is a dreary autumn grey day, wearing a read tutu is a must.

Little T and I can guarantee you that your gloomy day will dissipate.

Where to go when you’re wearing a tutu on a country road?

To the headland of course, but first you have to go through the church yard gates.

This will take you straight through the headland and of course, before we let the dog off the leash, we have to make sure that there aren’t any other furry creatures around.

The coast is clear… Doc is off!

Where is he T?

He’s off chasing imaginary rabbits mum!

Indeed.

This is the spot where you can stand and see little T’s school from afar.

And of course, a walk isn’t complete without a goofy photo from T.

And then its time to go home.

Do you like the colour red?

I do! Especially on a dreary-autumn day like this one.

Running Errands with T

As most of you know (especially if you’ve been following my blog for some time now), we live in a small village by the sea.  Our house is located on the top, near the headland.  Most shops, apart from the garage is located down in the village.  To run some errands, like going to the post office, we have to walk all the way down to do it.  It’s an easy walk, but going back up is a different story.

I had to run some errands a few weeks ago and since it was a weekend, little T of course came down with me.

We never go down in the village without having a little mooch in the many tourist shops around, especially the National Trust shop.  And of course, all parents with little children will know how difficult it is for a little person to leave empty-handed without a melt-down.  To be fair though with T, she does accepts a “no”, but this time though, I gave in, especially since she’s been such a good girl lately.  And guess what she chose in the shop?  A gymnastics ribbon stick.  Surprise, surprise.

Let me share with you some photos of our little village and the coastal path:

The Harbour

I’ve probably photographed this harbour more than a dozen times.  I love it here, especially when it is low tide and little T and her friends can have a little play in the sand.  These harbour wall were actually built-in 1584!  Imagine that.

Little T was lucky, it was low tide that day, so she was able to play a bit in the water, especially since she was wearing her wellies.  After a few splashes, we were ready to head back home, but this time decided to walk by the coastline, forgetting that the tourist season has come, which meant that we met so many of them walking up and down the coastline.

At one point, we decided to wait and sit by the bench to let a big group through:

As soon as they were gone or at least have walked far enough, we decided to get on going too.

But then got stuck again, behind a large group, thank goodness for benches found on the side of the path.

When the coast was clear, we decided to make our way back home again.

This time we turned left on a path which tourist normally don’t go to.  Here little T was able to play with her ribbon stick.

Which she did, all the way back home.

Do you run errands with your little ones?