Category Archives: Natural Childhood


I’ve been wondering for a while what it would take to make me start blogging again, then I realised it’s been a year today since my last post.  If I don’t do it now maybe I never will.  It’s been a very tough year and something had to give, but I have missed it and I think I might need it as my space to process some things.  Or maybe not, but I’ll only know if I try.  It feels like a positive step.  I’ve been feeling hard pressed on all sides for a very long time but something has lifted this week and I hope I am emerging.

Getting outside in this beautiful weather has helped.  We now have two children happy and settled in school (more on this later perhaps) and I am enjoying the time with the three home educated ones all the more because I’m aware how precious it is, and how school is creeping up on us.  We had a lovely walk to Oaks Park on Monday morning, and a fun afternoon with friends in Carshalton Park this afternoon.  I’m storing up all the happy and hoping that blogging at least some of it will help me to remember to be thankful.

Isaiah 44:2-4

This is what the Lord says—
he who made you, who formed you in the womb,
and who will help you:
Do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant,
Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.
For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring,
and my blessing on your descendants.
They will spring up like grass in a meadow,
like poplar trees by flowing streams.

Mile in Memory of Matilda Mae 2014

On Saturday 17th May, we joined with Jennie and friends to walk a mile in memory of Matilda Mae and raise money for the Lullaby Trust.  The little ones chose to spend the day with Granny, so Paul and I travelled up to Warrington with the two big boys.  The venue, Walton Gardens, was lovely, and the weather was perfect.

mile in memory 2014 1

We gathered in the courtyard and blew bubbles for Tilda while we waited for everyone to be ready to set off.

mile in memory 2014 2

Pink and purple balloons marked the route.

mile in memory 2014 3

Thomas made an appearance and we were sorry that the little ones had missed him, but even the big boys were quite pleased to see him.

mile in memory 2014 4

Beautiful pink and purple flowers reminded us why we were there.

mile in memory 2014 5

After the walk, there was time to play in the playground, have lunch and explore the park.

mile in memory 2014 6

We walked around the mini zoo, and spent quite a while trying to get a good peacock photo but they weren’t really in the mood for performing!

mile in memory 2014 7

The boys had a go at bungee trampolining.

mile in memory 2014 8

Then they went on the bouncy slide.  By this time it was very hot and they needed an ice cream to cool down before finishing with a ride on Thomas.

mile in memory 2014 9

Thank you Jennie for letting us be a part of your day to remember Matilda Mae.


Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Sunday Afternoon at the Park

This post is written by Suburban Dad.

Although this linky is called ‘Country Kids’ I’m hoping it’s ok to blog about last weekend’s suburban experience, as after all, we almost live in the country. Near our house is the rump of a park, nearly 10 hectares in area but only one-tenth of its original size. The park has lakes, ponds and canals that were laid out in the early 18th century and filled by diverting tributaries of the river Wandle. Nowadays, with much of the Wandle being diverted into local sewers, the canals are dry, and have been for many years – that is, until the wettest January for 250 years filled them up with fast running water, more than I can remember in my lifetime.

wandle 1

On Sunday afternoon it was beginning to get dark and only half our children wanted to go to the park, so we had the choice to fight it out with the rest of them, or take half the children to the park. I set off with Monkey and Tiddler, and parked up next to the new river running through the neighbourhood. They were interested. For about 500 yards, the six-feet-deep grassy depression they normally run up and down in was coursing with water. We walked up it, all the way to the Italianate grotto at the top of the canal, then headed over to climb up the climbing frame and get a good view of the unexpected waterscape.

wandle 2

Monkey went halfway down the slope of the former lake now used as an amphitheatre for local festivals, and the bed had filled up to a depth of ten feet. When we got home Monkey and Tiddler reported the exciting water find to Owl and Rabbit, and now they all want to go and see it. So, we are hoping the rain will abate and spare the country, but are also aware that, once dry, the local park may never look so beautiful to us again, even if we end up taking grandchildren there.

wandle 3


Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Forest School

It’s been nearly two weeks now since we started our own Forest School.  The first session was a great success, and I was excited about blogging it, but somehow life got in the way again.  And now, before the next session tomorrow, I think it really is time to publish this post so I’m going to have to let the photos do the talking.

forest school one

forest school two

forest school three

forest school four

forest school five

forest school six

forest school seven

forest school eight

forest school nine

forest school eleven

We have been talking about doing this for a long time, and I’m so grateful to my friend who made it happen when I didn’t have the energy to organise it.  It was lovely to see how happy and relaxed the children were, and it was a reminder that the simple things in life are the best.  I really wonder why we usually make everything so complicated.  We are all looking forward to the next session tomorrow.  After a tired and grumpy day today, I think it is exactly what we need.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Outdoor Play Round Up

I have been out of the habit of blogging what we’ve been up to, having coasted through December writing only about books.  It felt easier to do that when I was so busy, and didn’t have time or space to reflect on anything.  It’s been nice to look back through the photos, though, and realise that there were some good moments in what was a fairly stressful month.  I’m starting with an outdoor play round up, because I have missed being part of Coombe Mill’s Country Kids linky recently, and I don’t want to miss another week.  If I manage it, a round up of Christmas-related things will follow.

garden football

We took the opportunity to play in the garden as much as we could, even in the colder weather.  One morning in early December, the big three went out to play football while Tiddler was at Pre-School.  I resisted the temptation to leave them to it, and went out with them (cup of coffee in hand) and I was glad I did.  We had a lot of fun, and I think they stayed out there longer because I joined them.

garden play one

When they had finished playing football, they got the sledge out and tried as hard as they could to pull each other around on the grass.  They can’t wait for it to snow.  Monkey also took the opportunity to check that he could still get in the Little Tikes car – he can, just about.  Owl is a bit jealous!

garden play two

The sledge occupied them for a long time, and then they moved on to the swings and climbing frame.

garden play three

They played together for a long time in an imaginative way that was lovely to watch.  The top of the climbing frame became a bed, and Monkey and Rabbit were waiting for Father Christmas (Owl) to bring them presents. This was reenacted several times!

garden play four

A few days later all four children were out in the garden again.  Tiddler spent a long time riding on the fabulous Didicar – one of our best garden toys.

garden play five

Other than that it was the sledge and the swings that kept them busy for a very long time.

garden play six

I have really been enjoying spending time outside with the children.  In previous Winters I haven’t really been out there that much, but I’ve been trying to lead by example this time and it has worked.  It’s always easy to get the little ones out there, but with a bit of encouragement the big boys have had a lot of fun too.

garden play seven

On another occasion it was bubble blowing that got Rabbit outside.  Tiddler was happy with his scooter, and Monkey with his stick lightsaber.  And Owl agreed to come out as long as he could bring his book!

playground one 1

One of the best bits of outdoor fun in December was an unplanned trip to the park on a beautiful sunny day, to fill in time between a party and trip to the theatre.

playground two 2

This park is usually very crowded in the Summer, so we really enjoyed having it more or less to ourselves for a change.

playground three 3

The children had a wonderful time and burned off some energy before going in to the theatre.

park run december

Another highlight was the park run at Nonsuch Park, with my dad, and my brother who was over from Australia.  Well not exactly with them, as they shot off into the distance very quickly.  Owl and I managed to run it properly this time though, and I was very proud of his time, 42 minutes and 30 seconds.  I think that is pretty good for a nine year old.  I just about kept up with him!  Monkey, Rabbit and Tiddler walked with daddy and we all met up at the end.

There were a few other outings over the Christmas holidays, but I don’t have very many photos, so I think I’ll leave it at that.  Country Kids, it’s good to be back and I’ll try not to be a fair weather friend 🙂


Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Outdoor Cooking

Last Saturday I had this bright idea that we might make a fire in the garden with the children and cook something on it.  I suggested heating up milk for hot chocolate, but that was too simple for Paul…

building the fire

He taught the children how to build a fire.  It was great watching them have so much fun with daddy, and learn a really useful skill too.

lighting the fire

With close supervision, Owl lit the fire.

cooking on the fire 1

Then the cooking began.  Somehow, the idea of hot chocolate was lost in Paul’s more elaborate plan to make prawn curry for supper.  He chopped the onions and started frying them, while Monkey and Rabbit practised using a tin opener to open tins of tomatoes.  The children took turns to add the ingredients (I should probably get Paul to blog the recipe!) and stir them.

cooking on the fire 2

We also cooked some rice, and it was all ready pretty quickly.  The resulting meal was delicious, even if it did look a little more rustic than the version Paul had cooked the weekend before!


The children did get their hot chocolate in the end.  Daddy cooked it for them while we were indoors watching Strictly.  He also cooked stewed apple and custard out there.  He doesn’t do anything by halves!

We had a great time cooking outdoors, and we’ll certainly be doing it again.  Though I did decline the children’s request to cook the roast out there on Sunday 🙂

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

A Stroll Through the Deep Dark Wood

A mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood.
A fox saw the mouse, and the mouse looked good.

“Where are you going to, little brown mouse?
Come and have lunch in my underground house.”

“It’s terribly kind of you, Fox, but no –
I’m going to have lunch with a gruffalo.”

gruffalo woods 1

Last week we went for a walk in the local woods with our Home Education Group.  It gave us the perfect opportunity to test out the Gruffalo’s Bug Catching Net, Woodland Magnifier and Woodland Creature Cabin which were among the many wonderful prizes we won at the Welly Walk.

gruffalo woods 2

We set off for our stroll into the wood, not so deep and dark on a perfect Autumnal day, cold but bright and sunny.

gruffalo woods 3

We searched under logs for bugs who might like to live in our creature cabin for a little while.

gruffalo woods 4

Tiddler tried to catch flies with the net, while the big boys did a bit of weight-lifting.

gruffalo woods 5

Tiddler also examined lots of things with the magnifier, and loved wearing it round his neck.

gruffalo woods 6

I enjoyed the peace and quiet and the beauty of the woods while the children were busy playing and exploring with their friends.

gruffalo woods 7

We saw a log pile house and wondered if there was a snake living there.  The children played in a fantastic den, and found some more residents for their creature cabin, while I collected sweet chestnuts.

gruffalo woods 8

All the children had a good time, but I think the most joyful moment was when Tiddler discovered the perfect muddy puddle for jumping in.

I’m joining in with Country Kids again, and I’m doing my best to do so every week.  As Autumn turns to Winter, and the cold weather settles in, I need the motivation to get outdoors with the children so I will be reading the other posts for ideas.  Country Kids never fails to inspire me!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

An afternoon at the Rollright Stones

On Sunday afternoon we went to the Rollright Stones, which is one of our favourite places to visit near my mum’s house.

rollright stones one 1

We walked down to the Whispering Knights first.  On the way, we spotted a good crop of haw berries.

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The weather was perfect and we enjoyed making the most of the late Autumn sunshine.

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Tiddler found some mud to squelch in by the Whispering Knights so he was happy!

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On the way back, we stopped to pick rosehips and haws.  We even found a few brambles, and some elderberries too.

rollright stones five 5

I left Owl and Rabbit picking haw berries with daddy, as Monkey and Tiddler were keen to get back to the stone circle.

rollright stones six 6

They played there happily for quite a long time.  It was hard to stop Tiddler from climbing on the stones, until he decided to dig a hole with a stick which kept him busy for a while!

rollright stones seven 7

When Owl and Rabbit joined us, the children decided to count the stones.  There are officially 77, but we get a different number every time we count, because some are joined together and it’s hard to know what counts as a separate stone.

rollright stones eight 8

I had the bubble mixture from the Matilda Mae Welly Walk with me so we ended the afternoon by blowing bubbles for Tilda as the sun was setting.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Chestnuts, Potions and Kites

On Tuesday afternoon, we went to our local park to hunt for some more chestnuts.

Chestnuts one 1

My mum was with us, so between us we managed to gather quite a few chestnuts fairly quickly, with a little help from the children before they decided to play football instead.

chestnuts two 2

Next we went down to the play area and the children had a good time, but after a while it was getting too cold and we decided to set off home.

chestnuts three 3

We picked up a few more chestnuts on the way back and then the big three played piggy in the middle for a while.

chestnuts four 4 again

Back at home, they drew some pictures of a chestnut in its spiky case.

On Wednesday, we went to Home Education Group at our friends’ house.

Potions one 1

Owl wasn’t feeling very well, so he spent most of the afternoon inside with one of his friends playing with Lego, but the rest of the children went outside to find ingredients to make a magic potion.

Potions two 2

They also had fun in the new tree house which has been built since we last visited.

Kite one 1

I had offered to make a kite with anyone who was interested (after reading Fiona’s post last week) and suddenly, at the end of the afternoon,  some of the children decided they would like to do it.  So we found two straight, lightweight sticks and tied them in a cross shape with string.  Then we taped on a plastic carrier bag.

kite two 2

We decorated the kite with leaves, added a wool tail with more leaves, and found a piece of wood to wind the string around.

kite three 3

The children had a lot of fun testing out their kite.  It didn’t seem to matter to them that it didn’t fly terribly well – they managed to get it up off the ground just enough to satisfy themselves that it was flying!

kite four 4

They had some real success a couple of times, only to disappear around the corner before I could get a photograph.

potions, kites and chickens

Finally it was time to go home.  There was just time for Rabbit to admire her potion one last time.  She and Tiddler also went to say goodbye to the chickens, and I quickly made another kite for the boy of the house, so we could take the first one home.  I took a picture of their carved pumpkin for inspiration too!  It was a lovely afternoon with good friends and I left feeling really positive.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall