Coombe Mill in Cornwall has been on my holiday wish list for a few years now – ever since I first started joining in with the Country Kids linky. It always sounded so amazing in Fiona’s blog posts and I thought my girls would love it there. Sadly we never did get to take Jessica, but when she died in April, Fiona kindly offered us a stay at Coombe Mill if we wanted to get away for a while.
We knew our first Christmas without Jessica would be particularly tough. We couldn’t face the thought of staying home and trying to do the things we would normally do without Jessica. Getting away felt like the best thing to do and Coombe Mill the perfect place to go.
We stayed in Polzeath, the newest of the Scandinavian-style lodges, which accommodates four people. It has two bedrooms downstairs. The master bedroom has an en suite bathroom with a toilet, sink and shower and there is a second bathroom next to the twin bedroom which has a bath. The living area is open plan with a dining area and kitchen area. The heating in the lodge is through night storage heaters and it was so warm that we kept having to turn the heating down. There is also a wood-burner in the lounge which you can use throughout the stay (there’s an additional charge for the log burning starter set) but we didn’t use this.
Upstairs was the best bit as far as Sophie was concerned! Above the bedrooms was a huge play room with a Brio train set, lots of toys to play with, a reading nook and a soft play area with a window overlooking the lounge. It was amazing. We brought the last of our Advent books with us and enjoyed a bedtime story each night in the reading nook. Christmas afternoon was spent playing games in the playroom and Thomas even got to sit on the Thomas the Tank Engine train and in the soft play area too!
Decorating the tree
As we were staying over Christmas, there was a Christmas tree in our lodge with a box of decorations all ready for us to decorate it together. Sophie loved hanging baubles on the tree. We brought a very special little angel with us to hang on the tree in memory of Jessica too.
A special surprise
When we arrived at our lodge, there was a book on the table with pretty hearts all over the cover. I assumed it was a guestbook until I opened it. Each page had a Christmas card glued to it with a printed message inside. Fiona had collated all the messages from everyone who has contributed to our stay at Coombe Mill. It was such a beautiful gesture. Reading the messages made me cry – there was so much love and support in each of them and to know that Jessica touched so many hearts means a lot.
There were a few blank pages in the book – I’m planning to print some photos from our week to fill them up with memories of our Christmas stay.
One of the things I really loved about the feed run was that it got us outside first thing in the morning. At 9am each day (10am on Christmas Day), Farmer Nick and Farmer Fiona were waiting with the tractor and children’s trailer in the car park.
The children took it in turns to help drive the tractor. Sophie got to help drive it three times when we were there – each time doing the drive around the lake.
There are lots of animals to see at Coombe Mill including pigs, goats, chickens, ponies, deer, alpaca and guinea pigs. Sophie loved helping to feed them each morning. It was lovely to watch her making friends with the other children. I also enjoyed being able to chat with some of the other guests while the children were helping feed the animals. It was lovely to meet fellow blogger Kara (Chelsea Mamma and Are We Nearly There Yet?) during our stay too.
At the end of the week, the children received a certificate for being part of Farmer Nick’s Little Helpers Club.
The train ride was the other highlight of the day for Sophie. The feed run got us outside in the morning, but whatever we did during the day, we always had to be back in time for the train ride!
The train tunnel was decorated with twinkly lights for Christmas. On Christmas Eve, we had a festive looking driver and a very special visitor waiting inside the tunnel. Father Christmas was there waiting for the train to make a special stop for the children to each receive a little gift.
As well as getting to ride on the train, there was also the fun of being able to control the signals. Sophie was a bit too small to be able to climb the ladder but Fiona gave her a helping hand!
I always love reading about Fiona’s creative activities during activity hour and was looking forward to this. Our craft activity was to make a special Christmas decoration for the table. The children had to look in the fairy garden for some of the things they needed for their crafting. Having to hunt for their plastic bottles and collect holly and ivy added to the fun. We also had to pick up a log from the log store for the base. Sophie went for an off cut of wood rather than a log. This was easier for her to work with, even if it did lose a little of the rustic charm a log would have had! She loved making a Father Christmas figure to stand on her piece of wood along with a candle, a photo cut from a Christmas card and some tinsel, holly and ivy to decorate.
We took a break midway through our crafting to catch the afternoon train ride and toast some marshmallows over a fire. Hubby enjoyed helping Sophie with that one!
Opposite our lodge was the bridge that I recognised as being the starting point for the annual Coombe Mill nature raft race. We were there at the wrong time of year for raft racing but it was a good spot for a game of Pooh sticks.
Crazy golf, play areas and gym
Next to the train stop at Coombe Halt was the crazy golf. Sophie loved playing a few holes before and after the train ride each day. The trampoline on the other side of the train track was also a big hit!
There were a couple of play areas that we didn’t find the time to explore. Sophie did discover the outdoor gym though and quite enjoyed trying this out. Hubby had a go on the treadmill inside the gym a couple of times as well.
Sophie enjoyed a couple of games of pool and playing table football with Daddy in the games room. There are lots of books and board games too which you can borrow during your stay. We borrowed Giraffes in Scarfs which has become a new favourite for Sophie. We also enjoyed getting to chat to the other guests over drinks and nibbles in the games room on Christmas Eve.
Christingle service in St Tudy
On Christmas Eve, we headed to the next village, St Tudy, for their Christingle service. It was a beautiful service although hubby and I did find it quite emotional too. Afterwards, we enjoyed mulled wine and mince pies in the street. Sophie and Thomas also got to see Father Christmas again. It must have been a very busy Christmas Eve for him going out to meet the children just before his epic sleigh ride to deliver the presents!
Feeling in a bubble
We had no phone reception at Coombe Mill. There was wifi in our lodge, but this was just about enough to send and receive emails, check social media and make voice calls on WhatsApp. I loved the feeling of being cut off from everything and being in our own little bubble.
Going away for Christmas was the best thing we could have done. Coombe Mill was every bit as magical as it had seemed in Fiona’s posts. Jessica would have loved it there. It was hard to face the festive season without our beautiful big girl, but being at Coombe Mill helped us to make happy memories with Sophie and Thomas amongst the moments of heartbreak. Getting outside a couple of times each day was good for us too and it was lovely to chat to the other guests each morning on the feed run. Thank you Fiona, Nick and family for a wonderful stay. We will definitely be coming back again!