Reasons we love Coombe Mill!

Last week we spent another lovely week at Coombe Mill. We still found it just as magical as we did on our first visit last year. The boys loved returning and my youngest enjoyed it so much more this year as he really started to get into the whole animal feeding thing and riding the train. Theres just so much I could say about Coombe Mill but you’d probably all end up really bored so I figured I’d break it down into more bitesize chunks!

The Cottage

We stay in a cottage called Willow, personally I’d go to a different one next year but my Dad loves the fact its at the end of the site so people dont have to walk past it or anything, its kind of secluded in its own way.

The walls are super thick and although its bang next to Honeysuckle you don’t hear your neighbours. We haven’t on either occasion we have visited so either we have very quiet neighbours or you really dont hear them!

The master bedroom has a superking bed! This is an addition this year and is SO comfy! I could lie across it length ways and I didn’t touch either end! It was perfect for me and my cosleeping 3 year old, we had plenty of space and I loved being able to lie smack bang in the middle of the bed and still not be able to reach the edge! LOVED IT! Mattress is also super comfy!

The childrens playroom is lovely! Theres a little room next to the master bedroom filled with lots of toys, cuddly toys, train tracks, cars and much more. Little man generally isn’t much of a ‘solo’ play kind of guy, hes too used to having brothers to entertain him! But he loved being able to go in there and would happily sit in there for 20 minutes or so talking to himself, building train tracks.

The open plan lounge/kitchen/dining room is lovely as it means your able to be in the kitchen but not feel excluded from any action in the lounge, the table is large and perfect for a family of 6.

Views from Willow are also lovely, out the front you have the train track, playground and beyond that the river camel, which if you have the windows open you can hear the tinkle of the stream, magical. And to the right you have a field of sheep which are lovely to hear in the morning!

The Farm

When your at Coombe Mill you can join the feed run every morning and go around with the farmer to feed all the animals, these include chicks, chickens, ducks, geese, wallabies, donkeys, goats, Sally the pig, sheep (including hand reared Ebony who is lovely), ponies and deer. The kids get stuck in hand feeding most of the animals and all the farmers are very knowledgeable about the animals and the local area, and all are great with the kids.

As well as the feed run you can visit the animals at any time of the day. We made numerous visits to see the rabbits, mainly because they had the most adorable baby bunnies! On days when we hadn’t been able to make the feed run we would go round and visit the animals ourselves. Especially my favourite baby goat!

All the extras! 

Although the farm is one of the main features of Coombe Mill there are also numerous other things you can do on the site. There are two wonderful play areas that both my boys adore. They spent hours on the pirate ship roleplaying Jake and the neverland pirates, or zooming down the zipwire, jumping around over the soft play, playing in the stream, riding the train every day! You can easily spend the day on site and not be bored!


The great thing about Coombe Mill is how child friendly it all is. Stairgates are already there on the stairs so you don’t have to worry about taking travel ones, bed guards, black out blinds and much more are available. Toys are already there so you don’t have to take half the house with you! If you have children and you want a child friendly holiday, Coombe Mill is WELL worth checking out!


Breville blend active

For a few weeks I have seen the Breville Blend Active mentioned on numerous Facebook groups I am in for runners etc and have toyed with the idea of getting one. When I decided I was going to try clean eating for a month I knew I needed to get one, luckily I had some clubcard vouchers to use up so I popped into Tescos hoping they would have it, and they did! I then whizzed into the nearest supermarket to grab some fruit, even being daring enough to grab a few fruits I usually wouldnt touch.

I had to try it the moment I got home! I chucked in some pineapple, raspberries and blueberries along with some natural yoghurt and whizzed it all up together to make a very yummy smoothie! Its so simple to use. I could make my own video to show you how but the Breville video shows it well!


By chance I had browsed the instructions, a rarity for me ;-) and read a great tip about cleaning it, you pop in a drop of washing up liquid, some warm water, pop it back on the unit whizz it up for 10 seconds and then rinse and its clean!! SO easy!

This morning I did Melon, Pineapple, Blueberry and Raspberry for my breakfast, it was lovely! My plan for this month of clean eating is to have smoothies most mornings as using the blend active its a nice quick breakfast!smoothies


Missing Cornwall!

Last week we spent a week in Cornwall at the lovely Coombe Mill. For those that don’t know about Coombe Mill its a little set of properties in the middle of a valley surrounded by fields with animals and a little stream running through it. I went to sleep at night to the sound of silence, no planes, no noisy neighbours, no cars. Just silence. And woke up to the sound of the stream and sheep. 

I went for runs which involved seeing only a handful of people on roads that didn’t have pavements and with stunning scenery, not running next to busy main roads with cars, or the thames (which after running along the same stretch for 18 months is rather boring). 

We spent time in little towns that featured pretty much only independent shops and not numerous brand names lining the high streets. 

I have always loved cornwall. It just has a certain vibe about it. I fell in love with it for the first time when I was 17 and dealing with a very difficult period in my life. I found a total escape in Cornwall. A complete isolation where phones didn’t work and internet was patchy. And ever since then I’ve found that kind of escapism there. I needed it this year. I needed that isolation. Its unnerving at first but after a while you settle into that silence. My phone remained on silent the whole week and I deleted Facebook from my phone and iPad. I needed time to be cut off. To focus on the boys and on myself. To distract myself from agonising memories which have been haunting my recently. 

Cornwall feels safe. When the terror level got upgraded the other day it didn’t phase me because Cornwall is like a little safe haven. Living so close to the capital and the countries largest airport though I worry.  

Yesterday we came home. I have never wanted to stay somewhere as much as I did yesterday. Usually I’m the sort of person who is ready to come home after a week away. I wasn’t yesterday. I wanted to stay. Had I been a 10 year old I would have gripped the door frame and screamed at being made to leave. Thats what I felt like doing. Or laying on the floor kicking and screaming. I didn’t want to come back. I didn’t want to return to the sound of planes, the drone of the airport in the distance, the noisy neighbours. I guess being away I realised home isn’t home anymore. Nothing is keeping me here and its time to start looking at moving on. Home is simply where my boys are. As long as they are with me ti will be home. 


September : A month of Clean Eating!

Anyone who knows me will know I’m a total convenience eater! I wouldn’t consider myself to have an unhealthy diet, I just like the easy options, basically things like cereal bars, yoghurts, Ryvitas, rice cakes etc! And of course chocolate has still featured on a regular basis, although no where near what it used to be. For a while I have considered trying clean eating but generally I’ve thought it would be quite a faff so haven’t gone with it, that and I wasn’t sure I could give up all my usual convenience options! But tomorrow is the start of a new month. We have a lot of big changes happening as a family this month as we adjust to a whole new routine so why not totally overhaul my eating at the same time?!

Clean eating seems to have a whole range of meanings for many different people from what I’ve seen across the web so here are the general rules I am going to be following:

  • No alcohol, no fizzy drinks, no squash, no juice with concentrate
  • No white flour, white bread, white sugar
  • No foods that contain ingredients I can’t pronounce
  • No supersizing portions!

One of the things I will find quite tough is going to plain water. I’m really bad at drinking squash. I’ve been upping my liquid intake but with squash, which ultimately has sugars etc in it, so thats going to be a big change for me! My usual breakfast cereal/cereal bars are also out, in its place I have brought a new smoothie maker (which I’m in love with and thats a whole other post) which is going to become my breakfast, lots of healthy fruits and natural yoghurts whizzed up for a quick breakfast. As a vegetarian my protein is going to come from eggs and tofu. Its going to be a month of experimentation with recipes I’ve never tried before. My biggest challenge will be going out. I’m a sucker for coffee shops like costa etc and they really aren’t very clean eating friendly! Maybe I should avoid them all month?!


I’ve created a pinterest board with relevant pins if anyone is interested in finding more out about what foods are clean eating friendly etc. I’m hoping that by putting it out there to the world that I’m going to do this that I manage to stick to it!  Wish me luck!


5 Years of Blogging!

This week I’ve moved my blog off a self hosted server and taken it back to wordpress.com. I don’t tend to review anymore, nor do I accept any sponsored posts etc so I didn’t feel the need to keep paying for hosting anymore. I simply didn’t need it. I have kept my URL though, thats part of my identity I feel. When I moved it to SimplyHayley.com I chose it because it didn’t tie me into being a parenting blog totally.

My blog started out in June 2009 according to my records. At the time I had named it ‘Single Motherhood Challenges’, that was a bit of a mouthful! At some stage it moved to being Singlemummy.net but then again I reached a stage where I didn’t want to be tied to it being about parenting so thats when it became simplyhayley.com. This blog has all 5 years worth of posts on it, over 1000 of them! Many have now been put into draft mode as I don’t want them in the public domain anymore. But I can’t quite delete them. Its like looking back at an old diary.

There are the days when blogging was much smaller, early 2010, when at all events there were the same few familiar faces. Blogging now has exploded. I talk to my few blogging friends and they mention names of people I have no idea who they are! I liked the way it was back then, I do miss those days.

This blog also saw me through my second pregnancy and provided me with a place to keep a diary and write about my concerns and fears over my planned c-section and how that all turned out, as well as our volatile early days of breastfeeding.

More recently it has become my place to talk about my running, marathon training and race reports as well as my charity fundraising for the lullaby trust with the Matilda Mae Skydive.

Although I don’t blog on a regular basis now I like that its always here if I want it. I dont think there will ever come a day where I could hit the delete button. I’d be lost without my little space to come and get my thoughts down, that being said in recent years I’ve self censored so much that theres barely any of ‘my thoughts’ here now. Too many friends and family read it and I have to be conscious of that, gone are the days when no one knew I wrote it and I could say anything that was on my mind without any repercussions, thats generally the problem with all social media now.

I wonder where my blog will be 5 years from now…


Do you know what ALS is? #ALSIceBucketChallenge

So for a few days now the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has been taking over my various social media channels. I’ve found it all very amusing and have loved watching the videos, especially of the celebrities doing it including Cheryl cole, David and Brooklyn Beckham, Ronaldo, Colleen Rooney, loads of them! But I admit I wasn’t totally aware of how debilitating ALS can be. I had a general idea about what it entailed but not as aware as maybe I should have been. I’ll admit the first time this video got shared in my stream I skipped it. But then a friend who doesn’t share many things on FB shared it and I thought if she has taken the time to share it then maybe I should to! So I had a watch and was heartbroken watching Anthony caring for his mother, both of them suffer from ALS, hers is further along than his. How hard must that be caring for someone knowing one day your going to be in her place. Just awful.
Take a few minutes to watch his video. And then bear in mind how much this has helped spread the word about ALS, something the majority of the world probably had very little idea about before this happened.
The power of the internet.

In the UK ALS is known as MND (Motor Neurone Disease) The MNDA have set up a justgiving page and text code so you can do the challenge yourself and donate to them. Check it out here.


Beach Therapy

Yesterday we went to the beach. It was a decision I made on Monday when I knew I needed some time away. Ideally I had wanted to take the kids away for a night somewhere but seems all the budget hotels get booked up in seaside resorts during the summer holidays, who’d have thought?! So I decided we would go somewhere different. Usually when I need my sea fix, which has been ALOT lately, we go to Brighton. I know Brighton well, I can drive there and know the route like the back of my hand. We spend hours throwing rocks in the sea and walking along the sea front. But I needed to feel like I was really getting away, not going home, which is how Brighton tends to feel!



So I drove out of my comfort zone and went to Bournemouth. I wasn’t particularly thrilled at the idea of the journey but we were very lucky and traffic was clear both ways. I sort of know bournemouth beach but not that well but had my eye on a particular area and luckily we managed to find a spot near enough to the water that we could set up camp. The boys arent used to sandy beaches but they loved it. We built sandcastles and paddled in the water. Little man thought it was hilarious to run up and down in the waves so we spent 15 minutes sprinting up and down getting soaked and laughing our heads off. It was just what I needed.

For a few hours I was able to forget the things that have been upsetting me and bringing me down recently. Life has been such an immense rollercoaster these past few months. I’ve put too much energy into things I really should have known better. As many of my friends on instagram have been telling me this week I am stronger than I realise and I can pick myself back up again, because I always do. But there are times when you wish there was someone by your side helping you.

I need to spend time doing things that make me happy. I’m not good at doing that. I’m not good at saying to people, ‘Please can you babysit I need to do something for me’ I don’t have enough self worth to believe that is a valid reason. But its what I do need to try and do more of at the moment. No matter how alien it is.

The big events of this year are over. A half marathon, A marathon and a Skydive for the Lullaby Trust which have raised over £1200. School is over for a year. September/October sees some big changes in our day to day lives and I need to try and find some peace with that because at the moment I’m still not such a fan of that idea.

But in the meantime I’m going to try and find a bit of happiness in each day, no matter how small, be it snuggles with the boys, giggles on the trampoline or ice cream by the river. I’m going to make sure there is something small that makes me smile. Maybe the small ones will add up.Beach