Our Best Family Holiday Ever

No exaggerating.  Even the hubby said it. In fact “he who never does the same holiday twice” wants to go back again.

We had heard about Coombe Mill Farm via Twitter, lots of bloggers went there and I saw lots of things online about how great it was.  However, I wasn’t entirely convinced at their enthusiasm.  It’s just a Farm Holiday after all.

So, I knew the kids would have fun and we could (at the very least) sit on our balcony and sink a few wines whilst they played out the front.

It was so much more than just a Farm Holiday.

I won’t bore you with the details of what we did every day, you can see most of what goes on by visiting their website and I’ve bored everyone at work with the details already. However, I will give you the highlights and some of the “extras” that make all the difference.

The feed runs every morning at 9am are just fab. You don’t have to go, so if you fancy a lie in, that’s fine, but after doing that on one day, I made every one after that because, quite frankly, I found it fascinating.  Every day is a different conversation with Farmer Nick about some aspect of animals or the running of the farm and I learnt so much. Every conversation was done with ease and smattered with lots of funny comments and I enjoyed every one of them.  Each day is different and the kids got to meet lambs and goats born the night before, treating their umbilical cords, moving bantams or sheep. Basically Farmer Nick used as all as cheap labour and we loved pretending we knew what we were doing.  Needless to say the ride in the trailer is fab for the kids and they all get a chance to drive the tractor too.

IMG_4532With so much in a wide area of land to explore, we only went out on 2 of our 7 days.  Skimming stones in the river, paddling in our boots, walking in the woods, taking some snacks over to the pigs, using all of the play areas (4 in total) and riding the miniature train.  That was just outside, as our lodge also had a play room so my children had a ball.

It was the little things that worked so well: provision of a slop bucket for all your scraps for the pigs, underfloor heating, a massive bed and shower, caps for the kids and a certificate at the end of the holiday.There was a wood burner, the train at 5pm, sticks galore and the play areas that even my 3-year-old could spend some time in unsupervised.  The place felt very empty, even though it wasn’t.  Really idyllic.

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Best of all we were also lucky to get involved in an annual mini raft contest instigated by a yearly returning guest.  We had 30 minutes to use some recyclable items to compete.  Here is the masterpiece. We came third!

IMG_4618Seriously. If there is a place to visit in Cornwall with your family, THIS has to be the place to go.

To find out more visit www.coombemill.com

This is NOT a sponsored post. I received no incentive to post this up.  I felt compelled to do it. :)

 

 

 

Reblogged — Our Update on the BIG move

It’s been such a long time since I last posted which gives you a bit of an idea of the head space I’ve had available.  I’ve been incredibly stressed about lots of things, but let me give you the update.

I went for the interview in Swindon.  It lasted 4 hours and I was pretty sure it went very badly.

The following week they called back and offered me a job.  YAY.

The week after that, they called back and offered me a lower paid job.  Not so YAY.

I went back to negotiate a little on the salary.  They came back, via my voicemail and met me half way. YAY.

We ummed and ahhed and weighed up the pros and cons and I finally decided to take the job.  YAY.

So straight away we had to switch our search area. The negotiation had taken place on the Friday, the day before we were due to go on holiday, but by then we had started looking for houses to visit. We cancelled 2 we had planned to visit en-route to holiday and threw in a different 3.

On the Saturday we packed up for our hols and headed off early to view the properties.  One was just outside Newbury and was really lovely, very detached, big garden, but it was very isolated with no community around and a drive to a primary school, the noise of the busy road behind.  We had a nagging feeling about it, not least because the family selling were doing so to be closer to Newbury, presumably as they weren’t in a good catchment for schools (we looked it up).

One house in Malborough was just very unsuitable. On a busy road and the garden had been photographed to look bigger. Grrrr.

The final house was just lovely. Big house (5 bedroom) with lots of receptions and a decent garden. However, it was in Pewsey which we thought might be ok, but after chatting in the car, decided it was just too far out from family.

So we went off and had a lovely holiday. I accepted my job via email whilst away and we did a couple of planning evenings, picking houses to visit on our return visit.  Hubby headed up to a higher place to make all the calls (we had no mobile) and booked 7 visits.  arghhh.

So we left our holiday on Friday and after a visit to friends en-route and a tyre blowout on the M4, we spent the night at family near Newbury.  My Mother in law came over the following morning to take the children and we began the mammoth task of visiting these houses.

I can tell you a valuable lesson.  If a garden has more than one photo and doesn’t look big, it’ll be big.  If a garden is shot in 1 photograph and looks massive, it’ll be tiny. TINY!  Bloody estate agents.

The two houses we liked the most were the surprises as far as gardens go.  One would require a big building project and the other none at all.

One of them is getting a second visit on Friday.

house drawing

The Interview

I haven’t had a lot of head space recently, what with the planned move and the pending interview.

The interview was yesterday, so I guess that’s one thing I can tick off the list.  Gotta find the positive somewhere.

It didn’t go well.

It ended up lasting 4 hours.

It started with a group discussion about a project.  The 8 of us were split into 2 groups and had to plan a budget to resolve an issue. They didn’t really care about the outcome, but we had 8 people observing us (which was weird) and they cared about how we went about resolving.

At the time, I thought it went quite well, but on reflection I think I was a bit too set in my decision.

That was my best part of the day.

The next exercise was being given a case study. I had 30 minutes to pull out the relevant information for a presentation that I had to deliver in 10 minutes.  Despite panicking at the last-minute when I’d spent too long looking at something irrelevant, that part went ok.  He told me I had raised all the relevant information. However the Q&A at the end of this went very very badly.  I panicked and started throwing terms at them because they were expecting a specific answer and for the life of me I had no idea what it was.   I could see one of the interviewers lose the will to live.

I knew when I had the answer right because he nodded and said “yes”.  I only saw him do that on one occasion though.  He didn’t look impressed or interested.

The third part of the day should have been the easiest. I had time to prepare for it, I knew I had to answer a set of competencies and I was given those competencies in advance. I had to provide an example of each one.

Inevitably though, the question was phrased in such a way that half of my prepared questions no longer fitted.  I felt a little deflated and then couldn’t get my shit together to say anything relevant.  I flapped about talking about examples that didn’t specifically meet the question.  I felt completely incompetent.

By now it was 4.45pm. I had been at the venue since 12.15pm. I was exhausted and just wanted to run away.

I drove home, numb and feeling very very stupid.  90 minutes later I was home and drinking a large glass of wine and giving my Mother in law and husband a post-mortem.

I feel even worse today.  I can’t even grasp a single good thing that came out of it.

I joked too much. I showed too much of my personality.  I floundered.

But……

At least we can start looking in our original area.  No Swindon job for me.

 

Choosing a Secondary School

Ok. Let me just start this post by saying my daughter is six.  Yes, six. She’s in Year 1, just 2 years into primary school.

However, I’m currently choosing her Secondary School.

There is a reason for this. Regular blog readers and those who visit my other blog here, know that we are about to “Escape to The Country” and this is supposed to be a more permanent move than we have ever done before, so it needs to be right for every aspect of, at least, the next 20 years.Secondary School

One of our (many) reasons for moving is that we know our chances of getting into the best secondary near us is very slim. I knew that when we moved, but we had a 5 year plan so we weren’t that bothered.  The ones within reach of us are not very good.  Of course, by not very good, I mean they have a poor Ofsted.  Pfffft.  You may have read my views on Ofsted on previous posts.

As it turned out, one of our search areas happen to have an Outstanding Ofsted and is a sought after school.  However, properties don’t pop up very often and we have had to expand our search area.  So we’ve begun trawling through loads of information about every secondary I find.

The Bad news is that it appears East Hampshire and East Berkshire have ALOT of underachieving schools!

It has got to a point where we can can only pinpoint 3 small areas (1 of them is north of Newbury, so only useful if I get the Swindon job), that fall within good/outstanding schools.  The rest (over 7 schools) have all been marked as needing improvement.

So, I’ve started to look at things other than the Ofsted. Me, of all people know what a load of baloney it can be, but when it comes to Secondary Education, I can’t JUST dismiss it as easily.

I’m looking at GCSE results.

I don’t know what else to do.

I can’t start booking in to look around these schools. MY DAUGHTER IS SIX. I’m looking at websites, googling them to see if people are saying good stuff.  I don’t really know what else to do.

I can’t completely dismiss them though, can I?  In 5 years time things could change and I’ll miss out on buying my dream house?

What would you do?

 

Why do you wear Makeup?

…asked my 6-year-old daughter.

Well, I know why I wear makeup and I’ll happily make some joke about “putting on my face” or “making sure I don’t scare small children”, but the question really did prompt a bit of a moment for me.  One I needed to work out because I need to make sure I give her the right answer without suggesting that it’s something she HAS to do.

The Truth

I started wearing makeup because my mother made me.  I know that’s a bit of a weird one, but it’s true.  While many of my friend’s parents were confiscating mascara and scraping foundation off their daughter’s faces with a flannel, my mother was putting ‘almost finished but not quite’ bits of makeup on my dresser and cajoling me to try it.

My mum mistook my lack of confidence, my introversion and my immaturity as ugliness.  Which was a bit of a shame, because years later I discovered I wasn’t ugly.  I was even quite pretty.  To her, though, I wasn’t putting on my “face”. I wasn’t pretty enough and this was the reason I wasn’t a better person.

I started wearing foundation around the age of 15 and was wearing it full-time at the age of 17.  I never wore much makeup, in fact most people thought I didn’t wear any, but therein lies the skill of a makeup wearer.

I’ve worn makeup almost every year since.  Still without people realising I wear it.  Foundation, concealer, mascara, blusher. I used to wear powder too.

I wear makeup because I don’t like what I see when I don’t wear any. These days, in the body of a 40-year-old, I do spend days when I’m at home without makeup on.  If very close friends visit, I may not put some one. I’m very conscious of it though. It’s a big deal.foundation

I wear makeup because I was told I needed to look prettier. I needed to be more attractive. Because people will only like me because I’m attractive.

I wear makeup because society says I should.  Because society says I should, I feel self-conscious if I don’t.   I wear it because it makes me feel better about myself, like I’m trying to improve myself. I guess I feel like that because that was what i was told at the beginning.

It almost makes me want to cry.

The Lie

I wear makeup because I like using it and it makes me look a little brighter in the sunshine.  You don’t need it, because you have lovely skin and you may not ever have to wear it unless you really want to.

Hmmm.  Not sure she’s going to fall for that.

What do you say to your children?