A day out in Dorset: Sculpture by the Lakes…

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A Day out in Dorset: Sculpture by the Lakes

Hidden in the Dorset countryside this is an outdoor art venue with a difference. Sculptures and art installations are dotted amongst the lakes and woodland with nothing but birdsong and the relaxing sounds of the River Frome for company. Set in 26 acres Sculpture by the Lakes is such a peaceful place to escape to for a couple of hours. 

With current lockdown rules now lifting everything is well thought out for easy social distancing. It's the perfect escape from the great indoors! Tickets must be purchased online before arriving and there are anti-bacterial gels by the ticket office. The cafe offers a takeaway service and currently card only to maintain guidelines.

What to expect:

Owned by contemporary sculptor Simon Gudgeon, many of his beautiful pieces can be discovered along with other artists' work. On arrival give your surname to the staff at the ticket office and collect a guide map. This lists the sculptures and outlines a route around the four lakes. Feel free to wander and follow your own path, it's a lovely place to get lost! Allow plenty of time to take it all in, I loved stumbling across the secluded seating areas placed in picturesque spots throughout the walk. Choose to take a pew either facing the river or by one of the lakes. Pack your own picnic and find a secret spot, it was so nice to sit and take it all in.

As well as the lakes there is a kitchen garden with resident chickens and landscaped gardens all found via a tree tunnel walkway.

An image of the sculpture Oberon under trees

Planning for your day out:

Sculpture by the Lakes is currently open Wednesday to Sunday 10am - 5pm, book tickets online before you go. No children under 14 or dogs are allowed due to the deep water of the lakes.

This is a lovely walk with a difference and there is plenty of space to socially distance from others. The sculptures are beautiful and thought provoking. Discovering them in tranquil, natural surroundings rather than in a gallery gives a completely different interpretation of the artwork. Plan to spend at least an hour and a half there. We walked 2.5 miles on our visit and spent around 4 hours admiring the sculptures and lakes. 

Before leaving stop at The Gallery Cafe for a well-earned drink. The cafe is currently operating a takeaway service to allow for social distancing and contactless only payment. There is an outdoor seating area overlooking the lakes, a perfect spot to relax before going home. The cafe is fully licensed, I enjoyed a local cider while taking in the beautiful surroundings. Produce from the garden kitchen are used in the menu and the bread and cakes are all handmade.

Cider, Sculpture by the Lakes, Dorset

Where to stay:

If you want to make more of a trip of it now that lockdown guidelines have lifted, book a stay at one the shepherd's huts at Warmwell House. Not too far from Sculpture by the Lakes they can be found in a lovely, tranquil setting. Read all about my stay here: Glamping in Dorset. This might be useful when planning your stay: What to pack for a glamping trip in the UK

Thank you to Bournemouth Bloggers and Darren Northeast PR for inviting me, I had a great day out!

An image of the River Frome

What to pack for a glamping trip in the UK…

Us Brits are well known for talking a lot about the weather. This is because it can be so unpredictable, March can be good for sunbathing while August might bring torrential rain. We often experience all the seasons in one day too. So when it comes to packing for a glamping trip in the UK it can be tricky to know exactly what type of weather to pack for. Plus this type of adventure means you may need to pack lightly as your chosen accommodation could be tight on space. I've put together a handy list to help you get to grips with what to pack for a glamping trip in the UK.
Glamping:
Glamping is a more luxurious style of camping. I've stayed in some really cool glamping spots, a bus, a Shepherd's hut, a safari tent and campervans. Some have been more luxurious than others but they've all had the same theme: a unique place to stay whilst embracing the beautiful outdoors. It might not be everyone's cup of tea, especially if you aren't used to having to get up in the middle of the night and venture out to the bathroom like the Shepherd's hut I stayed in. But there are so many styles of glamping now from budget to extravagant there's something to suit everyone.
What clothes to pack:
  • Layers: for the ever-changeable weather you'll need t-shirts, long sleeved tops and jumpers for chilly evenings.
  • Leggings: I always pack leggings for relaxing in after a long day out exploring the local area.
  • Footwear: If it's the summer I pack flip flops and converse for the day and Ugg boots/warm shoes for sitting outside at night. If your accommodation is in a field and its been raining you might want to think about packing wellies.
  • Warm jacket: If you have a fire pit then you'll definitely want to be sitting outside under the stars - even in the middle of the summer the evenings can get chilly in the UK so pack a jacket.
  • Big socks: I love being cosy!
  • You might want to pack spare towels for the beach.
Other essentials:
  • Dry shampoo: If there's no electricity your hair dryer and straighteners will need to stay at home. If it's just a few days then I find that dry shampoo is my saviour.
  • Portable charger: Again if there's no electricity take one of these for charging phones and laptops. I just bought this nifty little one for charging phones it has enough juice to do 5 charges: Duracell Portable Power Bank.
  • A small mirror: You may have a bathroom with mirror in your accommodation but if not I always find packing my own mirror is essential for doing hair and make up.
  • Board games: If you can fit it in a game of scrabble is perfect for rainy evenings.
  • Fairy lights: Add a bit of cosy lighting to your setting.
  • Logs: If you have a log burner or fire pit you may need to buy logs. Check with your accommodation as wood may be supplied.
  • Torch: If lighting is limited it's always handy to have your own.
  • Batteries: For the fairy lights and torch.
  • Matches: They may already be provided so double check this.
Food:
Check what kitchen facilities are available before you go and if there is a welcome pack. Depending on your budget most kitchen essentials will be provided which means you can keep your packing list down.
  • Make a chilli before you go - perfect glamping food, easy to re-heat.
  • Buy essentials: Milk, bread, teabags etc.
  • I always take zip lock bags with me, as they are perfect for keeping open food airtight.
  • Marshmallows for the for the fire pit.
I hope this has given a bit of an insight into packing for a glamping trip in the UK. I'd love to hear what glamping adventures you have planned. Let me know in the comments below.
Happy Glamping!

 

My favourite UK Glamping spots:
Warmwell House Huts
Big Green Bus
Shaldon Beach Hut No. 1
For more on my Glamping adventures in the UK head here:
Glamping in Dorset
All Aboard the Big Green Bus
Beach Hut Living
Unique Places to stay in the UK
For Glamping further afield: The Ultimate Glamping Retreat in Bali

 

 

 

My 2018 travel highlights…

I always love reading other bloggers yearly round ups and I always enjoy writing my own. It’s a great way to look back and see all the positives of the year gone, especially if I’m feeling a bit miserable on a cold and rainy day in England! This year I’ve struggled with keeping on top of my blog, I’ve had the work/life/keeping a child alive balance to contend with so writing regular blog posts has been a struggle. Although this might mot sound like a big thing to some, blogging is a huge passion of mine and I’ve made myself feel really guilty for not doing enough of it. But onwards and upwards and into the new year, so I guess my first New Years resolution will be to write more.
I’ve had some amazing opportunities this year from writing for travel companies and working with some very cool brands. I work part-time as cabin crew and have been lucky to explore some fantastic countries. I’ve been to four new destinations this year, Cape Town, Peru, Toronto and Fort Lauderdale in Florida. Read on for my travel round-up of 2018.
January: California and Edinburgh
Matt, Emily and I celebrated the start of the new year up in the air as we flew back from our Christmas trip in California on New Years Eve. We had the loveliest Christmas with family, combined with 10 days exploring the Californian coastline. Starting in San Francisco we embarked on a road trip with Jucy campers. This was Emily’s first experience in a camper van and she loved it. From San Francisco we headed north to Point Reyes National Seashore. It was our first time visiting this part of Marin County and I was blown away by the natural beauty of the area. We stayed right by Tomales Bay, I honestly have never spent time in such a tranquil spot. Waking up to watch the sunrise over the waters edge certainly made jet lag a little bit easier and exploring picturesque spots such as Point Reyes Lighthouse and the Cypress Tree Tunnel were two highlights of our time there. If you’ve not been before I totally recommend visiting. From there the next stop was Monterey, we stayed in the area for three nights. More than originally planned as wild fires shut the campsite we planned to stay at on the beach in Carpinteria. It all worked out fine though and Monterey is a gorgeous spot and has plenty to do with kids. Carmel, the Big Sur, Morro Bay, Santa Monica, Carlsbad and Lake Jennings were all on our hit list too. Read more on our adventures in California here:
Adventures in California with Jucy campers…
Road Tripping with a baby in California…
Back in the UK I got to spend a day in Edinburgh, I love Scotland in the winter. The Royal Mile is a popular tourist designation in Edinburgh, home to Edinburgh Castle and loads of tourist attractions. There are also plenty of coffee shops to keep warm in. Mrs Macintyre’s Coffee House is one of my favourites, views out onto the pavement make it a perfect spot for watching the world go by. The pretty tea cups and saucers add a touch of shabby chic too. I also sampled some Edinburgh gin in a cosy Scottish pub.

 

February: Gloucestershire and Mauritius
A trip to the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire with friends was a lovely way to start February. We stayed in a log cabin with Forest Holidays. Nestled amongst tall trees, big enough for two families and complete with a hot tub, I can’t recommend it enough. There is so much to explore in the Forest of Dean and plenty of picturesque walks. Biblins Bridge and Symonds Yat Rock were two of my favourites. It snowed while we were there too, it was such a novelty to be sat in the hot tub while watching snow fall down between the trees. I loved getting cosy inside by the log burner in the evenings too. Here’s what I thought of our time there: A log cabin break in the Forest of Dean…
I had a work trip to Mauritius in February, being cabin crew I only had 48 hours to explore but boy did I have some awesome adventures! The first evening was spent on a sunset cruise out of the harbour in Port Louis. It was a great way to get a different view of Port Louis and I loved having a few beers while watching the sun go down. The next day some of the crew and I set off to find hidden waterfalls and to see a bit of the island. The highlights of the day were stopping off at Eau Bleu waterfall, hidden off the side of a road near Curepipe it was an adventure just getting to it. Enclosed footwear is definitely recommended for the steep climb down to it. We were clinging onto tree roots wondering what we had let ourselves in for, but it was totally worth it for the beautiful views! Jumping off of Rochester Falls was an experience I won’t forget, being blessed by a Hindu priest at Grand Bassin and a refreshing dip in the ocean on the beach at Le Morne made the day an incredible one. If you are planning your own adventures in Mauritius here’s what I got up to: Chasing waterfalls and other adventures in Mauritius…
March: South Africa
In March I went to Cape Town for the first time. I had an awesome time there and with only 48 hours I crammed in as much sightseeing as I could. On the first day I explored Cape Point and took in the dramatic views of the coastline from the lighthouse, followed by a trip to Boulders Beach to meet the penguins. I had read so much about Boulders Beach so it was amazing to finally visit it in person. There are around 2,200 African penguins living on the protected beach, it’s such a picturesque place and to see penguins on the beach felt like such a novelty. Lunch at Camps Bay, steak for dinner, a tour of the vineyards in Stellenbosch and taking the cable car to the top of Table Mountain made this one of my most favourite trips of the year and has put Cape Town at the top of my list of my most loved places. For more on Cape Town head here: Things to do in Cape Town for first timers…

 

April: Jamaica and Cornwall
A quick 12 hours in Kingston, Jamaica gave me just enough time to take some photos of the gorgeous views from the air, have a beer before bed and get a spot of sunbathing in before flying home. A 12 hour stop over is often the reality of my job. Sometimes it’s so quick I often don’t get the chance to explore or leave the hotel.
Emily turned two in April so we marked her birthday with a trip to Bude in Cornwall. We stayed at Sandymouth Holiday Park in a static caravan, I have no shame in saying that I love a caravan holiday! It was brand new and with views of the sea was just perfect. We enjoyed blustery walks along the Cornish coast and lunch time beers on our terrace overlooking the sea. It even got warm enough for Emily to play in the outdoor splash zone at the holiday resort. It’s a great spot to head to with kids, there’s a soft play area, a pirate ship play park, an indoor pool, kids activities and  the beach is just down the road.

 

May: Peru
Another first for me in 2018 was a trip to Lima in Peru. I’ve yet to write anything up about my trip to South America but I had the best time. Lima is often overlooked as a must do destination as most be people fly into Lima and head straight to Machu Picchu. But there is so much on offer in the city, from the old town, to the markets and the food; there’s plenty to explore. I loved shopping in the Indian markets in Mira Flores, I came home with a gorgeous alpaca blanket and a few mini llamas for Emily! I explored the wonderful architecture of Lima’s old town, had my first pisco sour and also surfed. There is still so much of Peru I need to see, Cusco and Machu Picchu are at the top of my list along with sand boarding in the dunes at Huacachina…watch this space!
June: Menorca
It’s been years since I’ve been away with my parents so a family holiday to Menorca was so nice. I often feel like I need to go half way around the world but actually our trip to Menorca made me realise how accessible Europe is from the UK. The beaches and weather were amazing and we were there in two hours from London. Emily has got harder to ‘manage’ on an aircraft! Being two she wants to be on the move all the time. Even with new toys and books, there’s something about being on an aircraft that makes her want to investigate all the time rather than just chill out with an iPad in front her! So the shorter the flight the better right now for Matt and I!
Anyway it was the loveliest family holiday, we stayed in a four bedroom villa with a pool overlooking the Mediterranean in Punta Prima. Our ten days consisted of spending time by the pool, building sand castles at the beach, a few evening meals out and barbeques by the pool at our villa. Matt and I hired a car for a day while my parents looked after Emily so we could explore a bit more of the island. We had planned to go kayaking along the coast and explore the caves but due to bad weather the night before the sea conditions were too rough. Instead we spent the day leisurely stopping off at glorious beaches and strolled around quaint white washed towns. We stopped off at Cova D’En Xoroi, a bar in a cave, I discovered this place last year on a press trip in Menorca and knew Matt would love it. It’s a stunning place to watch the sunset and enjoy a glass of prosecco or a pomada. One very adventurous trip saw Matt and I along with my brother Chris and his girlfriend Sarah kayak a mile from the beach at Punta Prima to the tiny island opposite known as Black Lizard Island or Illa de l’Aire. There is nothing on the island apart from a lighthouse and black lizards. It was a brilliant little expedition and fun to walk around an uninhabited island.
July: Toronto
In July I got to tick Toronto off my list of must see places and with only 48 hours there I did a lot. On the first morning I went to Niagara Falls which was incredible. I did it in half a day and managed to squeeze in a boat tour going right up to the falls. I had dinner up above the city at the CN Tower, walked all over the city and got a boat over to Toronto Island. The views of the city skyline from there are beautiful.
August: Dorset and Mauritius
In August I turned 34, writing that makes me feel so old! To celebrate my birthday Matt booked at surprise trip for just the two of us to Dorset. I had no idea what we were staying in until we reached the door. Hidden in the Dorset countryside on the grounds of Warmwell House, amongst woodland and rolling hills was ‘Sika’ the shepherd’s hut. The weather was glorious and the trip was so relaxing. This was my first time staying in a shepherd’s hut and I loved every minute. It had a cosy double bed, a small kitchen area, a table and bench seat and a log burner. There was also a separate bathroom hut which I was really impressed with. Waking up in the morning with a cup of Dorset tea in such a tranquil setting was the perfect way to spend my birthday. We explored the Jurassic coast on a walk in between Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove and cooked under the stars on the fire pit by the hut at night. Glamping has alway been one of my passions and the shepherd’s hut really reminded me why. Check out what we got up to here: Glamping in Dorset
Not long after my birthday I had another work trip to Mauritius. This trip was spent relaxing by the pool, spending a bit of time at the spa with a massage, eating curry and watching the sunset on a boat trip. I often feel like I need to always be on the go and explore all the time but I realised on this trip that sometimes it’s ok just to slow down and also save the pennies a little!
September: Toronto and House buying
September saw me back in Toronto, I had so much planned but the weather was horrendous and it rained for the whole 48 hours I wasthere. I still got to see parts of the city I hadn’t already seen on my first trip though. A highlight was visiting the Distillery District. With its quirky cobbled streets it sits in complete contrast to the rest of the city. Dating back to the 19th century the gorgeous red brick buildings now house art galleries, boutique shops, bars, restaurants, micro breweries and tasting rooms. We stopped at Mill Street Brew Pub for lunch and to try their beers which are brewed on site. I also tried Japanese Sake for the first time at the Ontario Spring Water Sake Company.
Matt and I put an offer in on a house in the New Forest and had it accepted which we are over the moon about, we are hoping to complete in January. It needs some work doing to it so we can’t move in straight away but we are so excited!

 

October: New York, Lymington and a spa break in Winchester
On a quick 12 hours in New York I had brunch in Times Square, did a bit of shopping and visited Grand Central Terminal. I know it’s just a train station but it’s a pretty impressive one! I also discovered the Grand Central food market which I didn’t know existed. I love a local market and this one really impressed me, loads of cheese, fresh meat, coffee, some tasty looking cakes, you name it, it was there!
Grand Central Terminal, New York.
Grand Central Terminal, New York.
Back in the UK, Matt and I were very lucky to be the first people to stay in ‘The Snug‘ in Lymington. My lovely in-laws have refurbished a two bedroom town house at the top of the High Street in Lymington on the edge of the New Forest. It is a Grade II English Heritage listed building with a beautiful interior. From the open fire-place in the lounge and bedroom to the roll top bath and Belfast sink, it has bags of character and charm. I loved being able to walk down to the quay in Lymington and with the forest a short drive away it’s the perfect spot for a mini break. I’ve written all about it here: Unique Places to Stay in the UK…
I also spent two nights in Winchester on a spa break with my lovely Mum. We got a great deal through Spa Seekers and stayed at Norton Park. The package included three 25 minute spa treatments, use of the swimming pool and leisure facilities, breakfast and dinner for the stay and lunch on one day. Norton Park is set among 54 acres of Hampshire countryside, it was a beautiful spot for relaxing in and such a nice thing to do with my Mum.
November: Fort Lauderdale, Florida and East Sussex
I’ve been to Florida more times than I can remember with work. Orlando and Tampa pop up on my roster most months but normally only as night stop. I’ve never really had much time to explore apart from inside the shopping malls, so I was really excited when a layover in Fort Lauderdale appeared on my roster in November. I worked with a really lovely crew who were all up for going on an adventure. We chose to go on an air boat trip in the Everglades, although after booking it through at the hotel I realised it was the Everglades Holiday Park we were going to and not the Everglades National Park. I loved riding on an air boat, it was an exhilarating experience whizzing through the wetlands. We were lucky to spot three alligators which was a very cool. Although I enjoyed the experience I’m not sure I would recommend the holiday park, I usually research before I book a trip but on this occasion I only looked into it afterwards. Don’t get me wrong I did enjoy buzzing about on the air boat but there were elements I did not enjoy. One was the ‘gator show, I knew this was part of the day so feel guilty that I contributed towards something that I didn’t feel was right. I may be getting myself into deep water by discussing things like this but I want to put my honest opinion out there to you all. I felt really sorry for the alligator who took part in the ‘show’, it clearly didn’t want to be there. I should explain that The Gator Boys who do the show rescue alligators that are found in residential areas, they would otherwise be ‘put down’. The whole thing just didn’t seem that respectful to me and their enclosure seemed pretty small. Perhaps I didn’t get the full picture on how these animals are cared for. Anyway I’m letting you know so you can make your own decision on visiting. Next time I would make a trip to the actual Everglades. Although I’ve moaned on a bit, I did really enjoy aspects of the day especially the air boat.
Back in the UK, Matt, Emily and I enjoyed the loveliest wintery break in Camber Sands. It was our first time exploring the East Sussex and Kent coast and we loved it. We played in the sand dunes on the beach at Camber, strolled the streets and ate cake in the beautiful old English town of Rye and visited Dungeness.
December: The Maldives and Mexico
My second to last trip of the year with work was a trip to the Maldives a few weeks before Christmas and oh my gosh what a trip it was. Two days on an island was absolute paradise. Snorkelling, sunbathing and stunning blue waters was such a treat! My beach bungalow had an outdoor shower which I totally fell in love with, showering while looking up at palm trees and blue skies was such a novelty. My last trip of the year is on New Years Eve, again with work, I’m off to Cancun in Mexico for two nights and will be taking Matt with me. It’s one of the perks of the job to be able to take someone with me. It doesn’t happen often so I’m really looking forward to having him with me while I’m working and I’m very excited to be in Mexico for the start of 2019.
What have been your highlights of the year? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below…
Happy New Year and happy travels for 2019!

Glamping in Dorset…

Our stay in a Shepherd’s Hut near the Jurassic Coast:

I love a spot of glamping so when Matt surprised me with a birthday trip to Dorset I was so excited.  Even as we pulled up to the very grand Warmwell House I had no idea where we were going to be staying. Serena greeted us, we grabbed our bags and followed her through the beautiful grounds to our home for the next two nights.  A clearing in the woodland revealed ‘Sika’ the shepherds hut. Serena was so welcoming, she gave us a tour and invited us to explore the gardens and maze. She also suggested a visit to the kitchen garden where we could help ourselves to vegetables. Such a lovely little touch.  Glamping in Dorset was going to be a wonderful way to celebrate my birthday.

 

 

The Shepherd’s Hut:

Our two night stay did not disappoint. The hut came with everything we needed and every little detail had been taken care of.  At one end was the cosy double bed with plenty of storage underneath and a very neat table with built-in bench seats. At the other end was the kitchen with everything you could need for a glamping escape. This included a sink, hob, crockery, cutlery, biscuits and some Dorset tea. The log burner completed the coziness of the hut and we loved cooking dinner on the fire pit under the stars.  Behind the hut was a large cool box, logs and bins. Sika has a separate bathroom hut with a huge shower and one of the best composting toilets I have ever used. Matt said his main concern when booking somewhere was the toilet. He knows I’m a little bit fussy with these things after some of the horrendous long drop toilets we experienced when camping in Australia! But I was pleasantly surprised with this luxurious little bathroom and its cleanliness. If this is something that worries you, don’t be put off as Warmwell House has got it covered in a very clean and hygienic way! The setting is beautiful and although very close to all of Dorset’s main attractions it felt secluded from the world, very private and peaceful.

Things to do in Dorset:

Warmwell is a short drive from the beautiful Jurassic coast so over the two days we explored Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door. We walked along the steep coastal path in-between the two, taking in the beautiful views and stopping for a much earned pub lunch and cider at the Lulworth Cove Inn.  In the afternoons we indulged in the art of doing nothing and relaxed at the hut. Reading and soaking up the afternoon sun with a celebratory glass of champagne and two gorgeous evenings by the fire pit. It was the perfect birthday treat.

Dorset is fantastic for walking and hiking and my favourite thing to do is to combine this with pub stops! The walk from the picturesque village of Worth Matravers to Winspit Quarry on the coast is a fun one. The disused quarry is right on the cliff and the views out to see are gorgeous. Don’t miss the Square and Compass pub, apart from alcohol the only food on the menu is pies and pasties. There’s a quirky fossil museum inside too. It’s a great stop after a long walk. Komoot has a list of their top 10 best walks around Worth Matravers, worth checking out for planning adventures.

Durdle Door is another famous beauty spot on the Jurassic Coast, it’s a steep walk down to the beach but the views are beautiful.

For something a little different, head to Sculpture by the Lakes an outdoor art venue set in 26 acres of Dorset countrside.

‘Sika’ is charming, cosy, shabby chic and luxurious all at the same time.  If you are looking for a glamping retreat in Dorset that ticks all the boxes then this is it and having the Jurassic Coast on the doorstep is simply wonderful.

For more glamping inspiration take a look at my other posts on unique places to stay: 

All aboard the Big Green Bus: The Ultimate Glamping Retreat

Beach Hut Living

Unique Places to stay in the UK

What are your favourite glamping spots? Do you have any recommendations for glamping spots in Dorset? I’m always looking for recommendations on unusual places to stay so let me know in the comments below.

 

 

A weekend in the Purbecks, Dorset…

I love exploring locally; sometimes I think it’s easy to forget what’s on the doorstep.  So having had withdrawal symptoms from campervan living in California and with the weekend free, Matt and I decided to head to the Purbecks in our van for a mini adventure.  The Isle of Purbeck or the Purbecks for short is nestled nicely on the Jurassic coast in Dorset.  A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001 the Jurassic Coast got its name due to its impressive geology….and runs for 95 miles all the way to Devon.  You can actually walk the whole thing along the South West Coast Path.
We stayed at Burnbake campsite near Corfe Castle.  The campsite does not take reservations and there are no marked pitches so turn up, pick a spot that takes your fancy and that’s it!  The campground has a small shop on site, a toilet and shower block, washing up facilities, laundry room and a pop up café with a tent and log burner.  The cafe serves up a great English breakfast for £5.  The cost was £12 per night for one adult with a tent and car or campervan plus £6 per extra person.  Burnbake allows campfires but they must be contained, we hired a fire pit for £4 and bought logs from the shop, perfect!

 

Worth Matravers was at the top of my list of places to visit.  It is a tiny village full of Purbeck stone cottages, a duck pond, tea rooms and the Square and Compass pub.  From there we followed the coastal path to Winspit quarry on the edge of the cliffs.  It is very popular with climbers and also has some very dark, eerie caves to explore.  We continued along to the National Coastwatch Institution lookout station and St Aldhelm’s Chapel.  This 13th century chapel is still in use today and has very old graffiti on the stone walls inside, some of which from what I could make out were from the 16th century!  This lovely walk was around 5 – 6 miles and only one thing was on our mind on the way back…a cider and pasty at the Square and Compass.  We made it back to Worth Matravers and went straight to the pub for our well-earned treats!  I love the fact that this pub only serves pies and pasties, so simple!  It also randomly has a small fossil museum inside, a great showcase of all the amazing fossils and artefacts uncovered along this magnificent stretch of coast.
A Sunday stop off at Lulworth Cove and lunch at the Lulworth Cove Inn was a nice way to finish the weekend before heading home.  This perfect horse shoe shaped bay has crystal clear turquoise water and is beautiful all year round.  There are some fantastic walks along the cliff top from the cove, we just had enough time to go on my favourite stroll to Durdle Door before we said goodbye.
More things to do in Dorset...
Corfe Castle, towering high above the village of Corfe this is a great place to stop for a photo opportunity, we didn’t have time to climb up but I loved seeing the imposing ruins on the drive to and from the campsite.
Poole harbour is another great spot for exploring, having lunch or for a weekend break.  We stayed at Hotel du Vin right in the harbour for Matt’s birthday earlier this year: A weekend in Poole, Dorset.  The sun was shining and a lovely boat trip around Brownsea Island rounded off the weekend nicely.
Swanage has a steam railway, which travels 6 miles from Swanage to Norden, one of the stops on the line is Corfe Castle, this would make for a great day out.  Buy a day ticket or spend an evening dining on it,  I’ve not had the chance to go on it yet but I would love to experience the dining train.
Dorset has the prefect mixture for adventure with coast, valleys, rugged cliff tops and tiny village hideaways to explore.  There is so much to do in this beautiful area I still need to go back for more!

 

A weekend in Poole, Dorset…

I squealed with excitement as we opened the door to our very plush room at Hotel du Vin in Poole, I was definitely not expecting a freestanding roll top bath in the middle of the room!  I had booked a night away for Matt’s birthday (last year I organised a surprise weekend away in a beach hut in Shaldon, read more on this here: Beach Hut Living) and I’m pretty certain this room was an upgrade from our original, what a lovely surprise.  Huge sash windows, a king size bed, chez long, a very smart coffee maker (which kept Matt happy for hours) not to mention the lovely Miller Harris toiletries.  I’m a sucker for hotel toiletries and Hotel du Vin did not disappoint in this department!  Along with the freestanding bath there was also a monsoon shower, which by the way was huge plus a separate bathroom.  It was a very luxurious room and I just had to have a G & T in the bath while I was getting ready for dinner…it just felt right!  Anyway, enough about the bath!  We booked a dinner, bed and breakfast package, which came with a three course set meal.  I booked our table at the same time as the room, I’m glad I did as the restaurant was very busy on the Saturday night that we ate there.

The service throughout the hotel was fantastic, including the restaurant.  I loved the extra touches like the Sommelier who recommended wine to go with our meal.  On that note, although wines weren’t cheap, we chose a very tasty New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc; you’ve got to treat yourself once in a while!  I had a gorgeous starter of Bayonne ham, salmon for my main and tarte au citron for dessert.  It was all deliciously French!  Breakfast was equally delicious, freshly squeezed orange juice, toast on demand, a continental spread to help yourself to and a menu to order cooked from, including a full English, crepes and eggs Benedict.  I went for the full English and was not disappointed.
Hotel Du Vin is located in the old town; the waterfront is literally a two-minute stroll along a tiny street past lovely old buildings.  The shops, bars and restaurants are also all within walking distance.  I absolutely loved the interior of the Georgian style building.  The grand staircase, with a very cool chandelier made from wine glasses gave a boutique feel and the bistro and bar with its cosy snug area all made for a wonderful stay.  It is worth mentioning that the hotel has very limited parking, we parked in a multi storey car park a few minutes walk away which was fine.  The hotel charges £10 for parking on site or at one of the car parks they recommend, we just kept our ticket and reception validated it for us.  We wanted to stay on in Poole after checking out so the staff kindly validated the ticket later on in the afternoon which meant we didn’t have to pay any extra for parking.
Poole is a picture perfect seaside harbour town in Dorset.  Famous for its pottery, Sunseeker motor yachts and Sandbanks, one of the most expensive places to live in the world.  Eager to make the most of Matt’s sunny birthday weekend we arrived a few hours before check in to explore.  After a stroll along the quay and a browse in the shops we were in need of some birthday refreshments.  A cool looking bar called Drift caught our eye; I loved the quirky vibe Alex the owner had created with such a tiny space.  The micro bar has its own cider ‘Devil’s Drift’ created with the help of Bournemouth Brewing Company and tables made from surfboards; right up my street and the perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon!

On Sunday after checking out we jumped on a boat trip around Brownsea Island, it cost £10 for a one hour round trip.  It is possible to get off on Brownsea but there is a £6.50 charge to go on the island, a nature reserve owned by the National Trust. (If you are a member of the National Trust entry is free.) Brownsea Island is 1.5 miles long, 0.75 miles wide and famous for being home to the red squirrel.  Poole harbour is the second largest in the world stretching along the coast for around 99 miles, the largest is Sydney harbour.  It was such a sunny day to be on the water and having never really explored Poole it was interesting to see it from a different angle.
If you are planning a trip in the UK, don’t miss this beautiful part of the world.  The Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site is just on the doorstep too.  There is so much to explore in the area, especially if you love the outdoors…I will definitely be heading there again soon.