In March 2017 we were absolutely delighted to spend five days at the wonderful Mill Farm Eco Barn which is the same holiday home that you can win a three night stay in by donating to the Spend for Syria 2017 Just Giving charity campaign. I was so pleased when Emma and Neil agreed to donate this prize (worth £600) because I really wanted to offer everyone an opportunity that we have tried and tested ourselves.
The Eco Barn, which is located in the village of Winterton-On-Sea and situated minutes away from the Norfolk Coast, sleeps up to eight people plus two babies (as there are a couple of cots available) and comes with a gorgeous open plan living space, four bedrooms, two en suites and a family bathroom. Not only does it pride itself on its sustainable build and eco amenities, but it is also an incredibly child-friendly place to stay.
I hate to admit since having children, I often find holidaying more stress than it’s worth. Due to the financial commitments of buying our first home and renovating, we have only been on a few short stays in the UK, but to know I was going to be somewhere where the owners totally ‘get’ what young children require was such a weight off my mind! The Barn already comes equipped with story books, plastic tableware and cups, highchairs, black-out blinds in every room (can I get an Amen?!), baby and toddler appropriate toys, puzzles and board games, as well as a large games barn with bikes to borrow, table tennis, boules, table football and so much more.
Despite visiting in March, we were blessed with beautifully sunny weather and had great fun visiting the local beach which was always so peaceful compared to the beaches I grew up near on the Dorset coast. I’d love to say it stayed that way, but Matt and I got a little too enthusiastic with walking to a certain spot for our picnic, not taking into account that we would also have to make the return journey. The same toddler who had skipped merrily on the way there, upon quaffing her sandy sandwiches with such enthusiastic aplomb, then declared loud enough for the one lone dog walker half a mile along the shore to hear, “I DON’T WANT TO WALK BY MYSELF ANYMMMMOORRRRRRE!!!” Then throw in a very mucky nappy change with a writhing toddler in the sand, a baby in a rucksack carrier crying for freedom and my post-natal neglected body pathetically struggling with lugging the picnic and/or toddler to the car, and the delicious fish and chip shop we passed on the way home was a very welcome sight!
Darcey’s favourite thing to do during the holiday, and she still talks about it eight months on, was feeding the free ranging rare breed chickens every day and searching for their eggs. The farm also has two friendly miniature Shetland ponies which are always happy with a carrot or two. Depending on your time of visit, of course, the welcome basket which you receive upon arrival will be full of fresh seasonal veg from the kitchen garden, alongside a delicious homemade cake. The kitchen comes fully equipped with everything you need (there’s nothing more frustrating than a blunt peeler?!) and there is a utility room of dreams (is it only me that dreams about utility rooms?!) which is perfect for storing sandy wellies and coats and keeping up with the laundry if you so wish.
Other highlights of our week included going to Thrigby Hall which is a small zoo only 15 minutes away. It wasn’t too busy and despite not looking like much upon arrival, it was probably one of the best zoos we’ve ever been to for the kiddies. It had lots of different animals and some really unique and fun ways of viewing them, as well as a great play park and soft play area. Such a great day out! Keeping with the animal theme, we ended our week on a high by visiting the local beach at Horsey which had hundreds and hundreds of seals as far as the eye could see. As ever, with animals in their natural habitat, one can never predict what they are going to do, so the anticipation of ‘will they be there/will they not’ only led to the excitement and glee when we first spotted them. It was absoultely magical and it would have made for a stunning walk along the coast, with the ocean and seals to one side and the sand dunes to the other, but by now we had learnt from our first trip to the beach and decided to keep things slightly less ambitious this time round! The barn is also an hour away from Norwich city centre, which is well worth visiting for the day as it is full of beautiful indie shops and cafes, historical buildings and wonderful lanes you could get pleasantly lost in for hours.
As our first little family holiday for the four of us, we really couldn’t have asked for anything more perfect. The weather was beautifully sunny and bright all week, the Eco Barn so comfortable, light, and spacious, and, apart from one mega tantrum (tis real life, even on holiday, you guys!) we all absolutely loved exploring the coast as well as enjoying what the farm had to offer. The children enjoyed playing with all the toys, the pop-up circus tent and swinging chair, and running along the gallery landing across the double-height living room. Meanwhile we loved the log-burner, power showers, watching the sun set across the fields from the comfort of our bed, and spending our evenings with our phones out of sight, completing puzzles together and dreaming about living in a converted barn one day! All in all, Mill Farm Eco Barn was a totally wonderful place to escape to for a few days and we couldn’t recommend it highly enough.
Please do take a look at their website for more pictures and information on what the barn has to offer and other local attractions you can enjoy whilst staying there. You can also follow them on Instagram @millfarmecobarn for regular updates and magical pictures of the local wildlife and beaches which will have you longing for a coastal getaway in no time! The photos and opinion in this blog post are all from our own experience holidaying at the Mill Farm Eco Barn and I am so honoured to be able to offer everyone a chance to win a three night stay there. The giveaway is open from Sunday 19th November – Wednesday 6th December 2017 and can be entered via the JustGiving Page. All money raised from the giveaway will be going directly to The Preemptive Love Coalition who are a charity on the ground in Syria and Iraq, helping refugees caught up in the conflict to rebuild their lives.