Category Archives: Holiday

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. :)

 

 

 

The Spirit of Christmas

Pffft

I hear you say, but hear me out.  I’m in a bit of a dither and you may be able to help me.

I need to kick this off by saying that, yes, I am an atheist, but by jingo those Christians know how to create a wonderful holiday.  I’m all for a bit of religion (my daughter is currently dallying in these notions) but it’s not for me.  I tried, honest guv, but my heart wasn’t in it.

However.  I am a M A S S I V E  fan of Christmas. I just love it. Everything.  The tinsel, the lights, the tree, the decorations, the giving and sharing, the eating and most importantly The Family.  It’s such a beautiful day.

I can’t think of a single day in the year where almost every single person is with their family. Whether they love them, like them, find them irritating, slightly dislike them or often hate them, we all share the commonality of spending Christmas day with each other. No mean feat for a lot of people.

However, I’m also a mum and I have a family and there is an awful lot of preparation involved in getting in the “Christmas Spirit”.  As such, I’m a little stretched.  So you can imagine my mood when my sister decided that this year instead of doing lists we were doing “surprise” presents.

I moaned. I complained. I took to Twitter. I moaned some more.  It’s an issue because she designs jewellery, so I can’t buy her any.  She has always been far more into fashion than I have so I wouldn’t dare purchase her a piece of clothing. She has much more money than me so I can’t imagine she wants for much.  Arghhhhh. I was so annoyed.  Why couldn’t she just give me a bloody list.

And therein lies the problem, dear readers.  I wanted the easy way out. The quick fix. The non thinking option.  I didn’t want to think too hard about buying something or giving it too much thought, because it was an inconvenience.  Now, admittedly I have bought her something that she doesn’t really need, but by goodness I put a lot of thought into it.  I’ve also bought her a jewellery travel wrap, something I’m sure she has, but this one is gorgeous and she has a lot of jewellery.decoration

It really occurred made me realise that I often go through the motions when it comes to Christmas and presents and I forget that moment when you are thinking of your loved ones whilst hovering over a shelf of goods in Debenhams and you imagine their reaction.

The same goes with the writing of Christmas cards.  I may have reduced my list of recipients as the cost of stamps have gone up, but every one of those cards took time to write, I have put a different message in each one. Some I’ve written updates in.  I ranted about the lack of Christmas cards writing last year here, but I donated to charity this year AND wrote some cards out.   They remind me of what it is all about, I realised. Each and every card that I have to take the time to fill in, gives me an opportunity to reflect on the person it’s for and what they mean to me, when I saw them last, how I feel about them.

So I think I learnt a big lesson this year. I think I may have managed to retrieve My Spirit of Christmas through a few lessons learnt.

Do you still have The Spirit of Christmas?  What does Christmas mean to you?

The Plough Sacks their head chef – Human Resources 101

There are many many rules to good Human Resource (Personnel) management.  I’m thinking The Plough in Great Haseley needs to pick up a HR manual and learn the basics after what unfolded last night on Twitter.

It started with a fairly innocuous tweet about Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and then delved into some bad ass tweeting that can only come about if the person who has the password for the twitter account is sacked with barely a week to go before Christmas.  See for yourself below (read bottom up)

Plough Pub 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plough Pub 1So, what did The Plough do that was so wrong?

Well, it is entirely possible that the chef in question left it too late, was demanding or had an expectation that he could just “hop it” over the Christmas period, just when The Plough were getting ready for an onslaught of hungry Festive fellows.

However, in my opinion, there is always a right way and a wrong way with these things and I wonder whether the proprietor (or proprietors) had explained the position, hours and holiday expectations up front.  If someone is expected to work over a holiday period, then they should be made aware of it.  Ideally in writing.  Now, I know that as a chef, that should be an expectation and assumption, but we all know the saying “Assume – Makes an ASS out of U not ME”

Secondly, if you fire someone, especially in the week prior to Christmas (and let’s face it – that is a really shitty thing to do and demonstrates a real lack of basic HR.  How did they not know they wanted to sack him?  If they were planning on sacking him, they should have bought the new guy in at Christmas to cover his shifts and then given the this guy some notice). A clear explanation is needed and a protocol should be followed.  Where I work (admittedly a big corporate, but this should work regardless of size) you are expected to hand everything back.  You don’t take a laptop, your pass card or any paperwork as you leave the building for the last time.  What company  or establishment in their own right makes a decision to sack someone who has access or, quite possibly, the administration right to their twitter account.

Thirdly, always ALWAYS assume that sacking someone is going to go terribly badly.  Think carefully about your strategy and try to mitigate for this exact sort of scenario.

And here is the really worrying thing.  As of 2pm today, the messages are still up and the company appears to not have any knowledge of what went down yesterday.

His first comment was retweeted 1881 times, favourite 368 times and was still being discussed 34 minutes ago.

His comment about the meat coming from Asda has been retweeted 2288 times and favourite 839 times.  It is still being retweeted!

Well, you can check the conversation yourself.  Needless to say, if his comments about the meat were anything to go by (and lets face it, they’d hardly be the first), you’d need to be bearing that in mind if you are eating there during the festive period.

The Plough?  The balls in your court.

Bugger Off, Fireworks

Brace yourself.  I’m in a ranty mood!

No guesses what I’m not happy about, but I don’t think I’m alone.  I’m not anti people having fun, honest, Gov, but why the bleedin’ hell can any old Tom, Dick and Harry buy and let off fireworks?Fireworks

I was born and raised for a good part of my life in Australia, where fireworks can only be used with a licence.  That’s right. You cannot purchase and light fireworks anywhere in Australia unless you have a licence and you have an agreement from your local council to do so.

Now, I LOOOOOVE the UK. That’s why I’m still here. I love a load more things here than I do over there. You lot are lovely. My kin.  However, every year I watch a load of idiots with more money than sense spend a shed load of cash on (let’s face it) mediocre fireworks that are a danger to them and everyone else and the whole thing is over in about 6 minutes. Really. What’s the point?  Why don’t you stand in your garden and set fire to a wad of cash. It’d be a lot quieter.

They are expensive, they are un-impressive, they are dangerous, they scare animals, they are incredibly noisy and THEY GO ON FOR ABOUT A MONTH!  When you have small children, you finally get them to bed, they start to doze and “BANG”, suddenly they are awake again. Arghhh.  I expect big firework displays on the weekend before and after November the 5th and I do expect them on the actual 5th, but why do people let them off early and late?  What are you celebrating?  The fact you have more money than sense?  Congratulations! You do.

In my first year in London me and all my housemates got a load of money together and one of us bought a load of fireworks.  My first ever November the 5th and I was pretty excited about it (imagine that last sentence in a strong Aussie accent).  I guess half the fun was the lighting and running away of the various rockets and wheels, but I found the whole thing a bit of an anti climax. I think we had a £20 firework that did a little more, further up in the sky, but seriously, what a disappointment.  I decided from that point I would never try to do fireworks in my back garden again.

However, I do love fireworks. Big fireworks. I will “ooooohhh” and “ahhhhh” for hours over the ones that are arranged in London on New Years Eve.  When the kids are a little older, I may even venture out to our nearest arranged one.  For the time being can we all just calm down a bit.  Spend the money going to your nearest event or better still, donate to a charity.  I’m so OVER November the 5th.

 

 

The Fight

It’s always nicer when it isn’t you.

There you are.  Enjoying a meal out with friends in a restaurant with kids, in a foreign land and then the atmosphere changes.argue

You can’t quite put your finger on it, but things become chilly.  The wife gets up after her meal and pretends to be busying herself with the kids larking about on the beach.  The husband busied himself clearing his plate and that of his daughters, head down, not speaking.

This is what happened to us, one day on holiday. Then it was time to go home.  A relaxing wander down the boulevard from the beach to the rides, the “bouncy thing” the two girls are desperate to have a go on.  We headed off to our car to dump an excess bag, they wandered to theirs with our daughter and theirs to do the same.

We crossed the road with The Monster to meet them, but they seemed to be spending an awful lot of time at their car.  So we headed into the little fair ground, found out the cost of the Bungee Trampoline and purchased the tickets for the girls in readiness.

Then we waited. Waited some more.

Eventually I left hubby behind with The Monster and wandered down the road to find out what the hold up was.  The girls were leaning against the wire fence holding hands with very worried faces and my friend took one of their hands and walked them towards me, wiping a tear from her eye as she did so.

Clearly her and her husband were having a rip-roaring argument.

We’ve all been there.  You can never pick the right moment to finally kick off. It had been brewing all day (or so my husband said) and I think a criticism of a parenting manoeuvre had been the last straw.  The husband is very hot-headed, so he got pretty angry.  My daughter and their daughter looked quite alarmed.  It’s never nice to see a big argument.

My friend looked up at me (she’s shorter) with a look of apology and asked me to take the girls for me at which point she walked back to the car, had a few more (unheard) words with her husband and stalked off in the other direction, shortly followed by him.

Neither of these two are drama queens. They don’t argue for a bit of excitement.  This was a big deal.

So we took the girls in. I reassured both of them that it was completely normal.  Made a joke to Pickle about how me and her daddy do that sometimes and tried to diffuse the situation.  They soon forgot all about it as they leapt in the air on the bungee trampoline and hubby and I did a little post-mortem on what we’d seen.  We’ve not been having the best time, ourselves.  Lots of argument in the last 6 months, but I’ve not been too concerned about it. Raising young children is a mighty task, especially as we share the childcare and both work as well.  How anyone escapes divorce will always be one of life’s great mysteries to me.  I spend far too much time angry at my husband for not swilling a breakfast bowl.

Anyway, I digress.  We did a post-mortem, because let’s be honest, it’s always nice when it’s not you.

We didn’t know how long these two would be off up the road “having it out” so once the bouncing was over, we paid for all 3 kids to go on a roundabout as well.

Eventually after 2 rides, we saw them walking back alongside the fair ground, so we took everyone back to their car.  Immediately their daughter said she wanted to come in our car, bless her.  Pickle looked alarmed again.  I told both girls that everything was fine and brushed it off. Both girls went in their car, we followed in our’s with The Monster.

As we climbed the steps to the front door the husband turned to me and said he was very sorry about having such a public argument. He felt awful the girls had witnessed it as well. I told him, with a laugh, that I thought it was good for Pickle to see other couples argue.  At least she doesn’t think it’s just her parents.  He smiled.  He added he thought it was important that they had come back with them because then both girls could see that he and his wife had made up, had reconciled their differences and I agreed.

Still.  Nice when it isn’t you, hey?