As part of my solo South West tour of England back in September 2018 I stayed at the incredible Hideaway at Kingsland Farm – a gorgeous shepherds hut retreat just outside Dorset. Check out my full review of my wonderful stay.
What’s On Bridport
Whilst in Bridport I was sure to check out the town and see what it had to offer. Parking my car was easy and I enjoyed walking through the town’s high street. I reached the tourist information office and of course brought a couple of postcards!
I made my way to the Bridport Museum – a free museum detailing the history of Bridport and life in Dorset. There are lots of interesting displays telling visitors all about the market town and stories from days gone by. There’s a gallery dedicated to Anglo-Saxon times and an interesting display of rocks and fossils.
There was lots to learn about the town’s famous net and rope making industry and some interesting machinery to look at. There are over 800 years of history to read about and some interactive display points to keep people interested too.
Considering the museum is free to enter I think there is so much to see and learn and it was really well maintained. If you’re looking for something free to do whilst in Bridport then it really is a must!
Home Front Home Exhibition
Back in September when I visited the museum there was a really interesting temporary exhibition called ‘Home Front Home’. The exhibition was commemorating 100 years since the end of World War I and focused on telling women’s stories from the war and how they experienced the time in Bridport.
Display boards told stories of 7 different women who lived through the war and tells you all about their different roles and responsibilities. It was so interesting to hear about the local women and see pictures of where they lived and worked.
Bridport Arts Centre and Philip Sutton Exhibition
After enjoying my time at the Bridport Museum I stopped off at the Bridport Arts Centre – a centre featuring art exhibitions, cinema shows, and other arty events. I stumbled across an art exhibition – Philip Sutton at 90 – which celebrated the artwork of Philip Sutton.
The artwork was really incredible and there were several pieces I really liked. I appreciated the bright colours of the paintings and would have happily brought a couple for my flat if I had been able to afford the price tags!
After all that walking around and learning I was in need of a cuppa tea and a tasty snack. I stopped off at one of the many tempting cafes along the main high street and sat outside watching the locals going about their daily lives. I can’t remember what was in this cake but it was so bloomin tasty – I know that! I enjoyed it whilst reading through some local leaflets I had picked up from the tourist information office and planned to head to some of the nearby beaches.
Have you ever been to Bridport? What did you think? Did I miss anything out?
Sandbanks Beach in Poole, Dorset has got to be one of the nicest beaches in Dorset, if not the whole of England! It’s sandy dunes, gentle waves and long stretches of sand make it a lovely place to visit for a relaxing day on the beach.
I enjoyed a couple of hours relaxing on Sandbanks Beach during my solo South West tour of England back in September. The weather was still quite warm and despite the clouds, it was very pleasant to sit and watch the waves. There were quite a few cheeky seagulls to keep an eye out for too!
I lived in Poole for a year whilst I was doing my master’s degree at Bournemouth University so I have visited Sandbanks quite a few times. I was able to sit and reminisce on my masters days and think about all the fun I had.
After some time spent relaxing and reflecting it was time for me to leave the beach and head to my Air B&B for the night. The accommodation was not far from Sandbanks and was clean, cozy and had all I needed. I enjoyed an evening chilling out in front of the TV before heading to explore Exbury Gardens and Steam Railway in Hampshire the next day. I am sure I will return to Sandbanks again one day!
Have you ever been to Sandbanks beach or any of the other beaches in Dorset?
Weston Super Mare – a classic seaside town in Somerset popular with tourists and those seeking a great Brittish seaside summer holiday. I visited last year during my South West tour of England and had a great time! Weston has a bit of a mixed reputation and I’ll be honest I had heard some negative things before visiting but was keen to check it out for myself.
Welcome to Weston
My main reason for visiting was to go to the Weston Sand Sculpture Festival which runs every summer – it was so amazing and definitely a winning thing to do in Weston Super Mare. Check out my favourite top 10 sand sculptures here.
After an afternoon exploring the sand sculpture festival, I stayed at the Seafarers B&B which is a great and modern B&B only a ten-minute walk from the seafront. I had a great stay which you can read all about here. I also had my first solo dining dinner experience at Pizza Express too!
It was nice to see Weston lit up at night and I enjoyed walking back through the town and along the seafront seeing all the lights and the pier lit up. Luckily the weather in Septemeber was still quite warm and so I didn’t have to rush home because of the cold!
Down to the Beach
After a good nights sleep and hearty English breakfast at the Seafarers B&B, I headed down to the seafront to explore the beach. Weston is famous for its lush sandy beach and I certainly made sure I had a walk across the sand – it was far too cold for a paddle in the sea though! As you can see from the pictures it was a rather cloudy day but I think this just added to Westons great British seaside feel!
Fun on the Pier
As with any classic British seaside, Weston has a traditional pier. The Grand Pier is open 364 days of the year and costs £1 to enter. There is loads on offer once on the pier including adventure play areas, arcade games, theme park rides and many places to grab a bite to eat. It also offers some great views out to sea and over the beach and I really liked the information points along the pier telling you about the history of Weston and it’s landmarks to look out for.
The Grand Pier wasn’t too busy when I visited, probably because it was a Sunday in September but I can imagine it gets very busy during the summer. I believe it has lots of events throughout the year and something for all ages!
As I was on my own on this solo trip I didn’t engage in any of the arcade games – playing the 50p challenge wouldn’t have been quite the same on my own I don’t think! I did have a walk around though and it looked like there were tonnes to machines and games for people to play – I bet some visitors spend hours using up all their loose change!
The Museum of Memories
As well as the great views from the pier and the huge range of arcade games on offer, what really interested me on the pier was the Museum of Memoires. This is a clever little exhibition that follows the journey of social history and Britains consumer history. The museum is made up of items that would have usually been thrown away such as postcards, product packaging, and magazines.
The museum is £3 to enter and in my eyes, it is well worth the money. I really enjoyed walking around the displays seeing all the old fashioned packing, toys and music people have enjoyed through the decades. I love any type of museum that shines a light on bygone days and so this was right up my street! I also had the exhibition all to myself so I could take my time walking around and reading all of the interesting information boards. You aren’t allowed to take any pictures inside so apologies I can’t show you any of the displays – you will just have to go and see it for yourself!
After all that exploring on the pier, it was time for me to have a sit-down and I enjoyed a hot chocolate overlooking the seafront. Here I sat watching the world go by and the town slowly starting to get busier as the morning wore on. There were plenty of dog walkers exercising their dogs on the beach which is always nice to see. On the way back to my car I stopped off at the Weston Arch – a granite archway at the entrance to Weston’s Seafront and a rather impressive local landmark.
I really enjoyed my time in Weston Super Mare. The Weston Sand Sculpture Festival was awesome and I loved the Museum of Memories on the Grand Pier too. I had a comfy and relaxing stay at the Seafarers B&B and generally, my overall impressions of Weston were positive. It just shows, don’t let other peoples opinions of somewhere put you off – if you want to visit then visit and make your own mind up!
Last year during my small tour of the South West of England I stayed at the lovely Seafarers B&B in Weston Super Mare, Somerset. It is such a lovely little B&B and I couldn’t fault my stay!
I stayed in an ensuite double room which was spacious, clean and stylishly decorated too. There was good storage available, nice decor and a big window for looking down towards the town and seafront.
The room had all the usual amenities – TV, hairdryer and bedside lamps. The TV had plenty of channels and there was a nice modern dressing table too. I really liked the nautical themed artwork as well.
My ensuite was clean and included a bath with an overhead shower. I always really enjoy having a relaxing soak in the bath when I am away – especially as you have more time than in everyday life. I also really needed to soak my tired feet after exploring the Weston Sand Sculpture Festival! Mini shower gels and soaps were provided which is always good in case you forget your own or like to try a different range.
After a good nights sleep it was time for the main event! The breakfast at Seafarers was tasty and well cooked. It is served in the pleasant dining room and is a self-serve buffet style. I started off with some muesli, yogurt, and fruit before helping myself to a full cooked breakfast. I enjoyed the additions of fried bread and hash browns – so naughty but nice!
If you are looking for a well located, modern place to stay in Weston Super Mare then be sure to check out Seafarers B&B. It was clean, comfortable and only a 10-minute walk down to the seafront which was ideal. The staff were friendly and parking is included in your stay. I would definitely return should I plan on staying in Weston again in the future.
Housed in Taunton’s 12th-century castle the Museum of Somerset is a fantastic free attraction to visit with lots to see and learn. I visited last September and enjoyed an hour or two wandering around all the exhibits and immersing myself in Somerset’s history.
The Museum of Somerset is located right in the heart of Taunton which is such a cute little town to wander around, especially in the sunshine. The museum can be easily reached from various car parks and is accessible for wheelchair users too.
Amazingly the museum is free to enter as it is run by the South West Heritage Trust. Of course like any charities, they welcome donations so drop some change you have if you visit as it really is worth it in my eyes!
The Tree of Somerset
I just loved this beautiful sculpture of the tree of Somerset. Apparently, the sculpture is 175 years old which is pretty amazing in itself! It must have taken a lot of love and hard work to make and really is stunning to look at.
Foundation Stones Gallery
After entering the museum the first gallery you come to is entitled Foundation Stones. It displays how Somerset’s landscape was created 400 million years ago and shows the changing climates it experienced.
So apparently this fossil below is the first complete plesiosaur skeleton to be found in Britain for more than a century! Never heard of it myself but it looks pretty cool! Apparently, it was found by a Somerset fisherman in 2003 – it makes you wonder how long it would have been waiting around to be found!
Claiming the Land Gallery
Next up as you follow the downstairs of the museum is the Claiming the Land gallery. This details the history of how people started to farm the land and the beginnings of human dwellings in Somerset.
Making Somerset & Discovering Galleries
Heading upstairs you will find the next few galleries called Making Somerset and Discovering. There’s a lot of moody lighting in here which adds to the storytelling of the Anglo-Saxon era in Somerset. The Discovery gallery details Somerset’s landscapes and traditions. There’s certainly a lot to look at and read about too!
Look at all those skulls – they are a bit creepy looking aren’t they!
Going Places Gallery
Next, I explored the Going Places gallery which tells you all about Somerset after 1750 and the introduction of transport. It was cool to look at all the old-fashioned bikes – can you imagine ever riding a penny farthing – looks like it would have been impossible!
Another dark and moody gallery is one that tells the story of the rebellious reputation Somerset had in the 17th century. It details stories from the Monmouth Rebellion and the Civil War. The models were a bit creepy in here!
Growing up in Somerset Exhibition
The museum often has lots of changing exhibitions and events. You can check them out on their website to find out what’s on. When I visited there was an excellent exhibition called Growing up in Somerset which was all about what life was like growing up in the county. There was information on going to school, what toys people enjoyed and general day to day living in Somerset.
I always love going to museums and exhibitions like this as I can imagine what my life would have been liked decades ago and compare how different it would have been to my childhood.
I’ll admit that despite being on my own I did sit down a have a quick go on Mario Kart – I mean who can resist?
There was also a lovely section displaying photos from Stanley Kenyon. The World Before Yesterday display showed copious amounts of photos taken between the 1930s-1970s. The pictures of local businesses, events and daily Somerset living really brought the exhibition to life.
Somerset Military Museum
Housed with the Museum of Somerset is the Somerset Military Museum. Here visitors can see displays full of military uniforms, weapons, and memorabilia. There are displays and information on Somerset infantry and yeomanry and was really interesting. The museum also explores why soldiers want to fight for their country – something I think is always interesting to consider.
Just look at all those medals! Quite the collection!
After exploring the museum it was time for some lunch. I grabbed a bite to eat in The Castle Cafe. There was lots to choose from including cakes, afternoon teas, and homemade lunches. I enjoyed a ham and cheese toasted sandwich with a can of fizz and sat outside in the castle courtyard.
I had a really good visit to the Museum of Somerset and would certainly recommend it to people visiting the Taunton area. It’s free to enter and you can certainly spend at least an hour or so exploring all the different galleries and exhibitions. The shop and cafe are nice too and it seems like a great place to amuse children for a while! I particularly enjoyed the Growing Up in Somerset exhibition and seeing the amazing Tree of Somerset. Highly recommend!
Sometimes you just really need to treat yourself, don’t you? And what better way to treat yourself than head to a Hilton Hotel for a posh spa weekend with a best friend? This is exactly what I did back in August with my good friend Katherine. Read on to hear more about the spa and what we got up to on our grown-up girly weekend!
I drove from Devon to Southampton and it took bloody ages in busy summer traffic! By the time I arrived (late!) at the Ageas Bowl Hilton Hotel and Spa I was hot, sweaty, stressed and very much in need of some relaxation! Lucky I found myself the right place for some proper R&R.
Katherine was waiting for me, having already checked into the spa and was enjoying a glass of Pimm’s on the sun terrace! I got myself checked in, completed the health form and we were ready to rock! Or should I say relax!
The Spa Facilities
The facilities at the spa were really good; large changing rooms with plenty of mirrors and hair dryers to check you still looked human after lounging around all day! After changing into our swimming gear and utilising our free flip-flops and bathrobes we explored what the spa had to offer. I headed first to the foot spa as I love all things feet treatment-related, whilst Katherine tried out some of the funky rain showers and even the ice cold one – she is mad!
We moved on to enjoy the pool which had some very relaxing jets in – we laughed hysterically though at how the jets blew up our swimsuits making it looked like we were balloons being blown up! The spa wasn’t very busy and so it felt really chilled and like we had the place to ourselves really. This made me feel much more comfortable as I’m not really someone that enjoys taking my clothes off and wandering around in swimwear!
After lounging around, enjoying the facilities and doing way too much gossiping, it was time for our afternoon tea in the before spa kitchen. This was included as part of our spa break package and it was totally scrumptious. The restaurant has a chilled vibe and guests using the spa can enjoy a light lunch or afternoon tea whilst being cosy and comfy in their bathrobes – ideal!
The afternoon was delicious and we were stuffed by the end of it. I’m not actually sure we were able to finish everything which is very unlike both myself and Katherine! There were little sandwich rolls, a variety of tasty little cakes and some lovely filling scones with jam and cream – perfect! The kitchen overlooks the golf course at the hotel and so there were some lovely views of the lush green course and we enjoyed spotting all the golfers – some of who were clearly more successful than others!
Next, we headed to the relaxation room to chill out in preparation for our spa treatments. This was a really chilled out room with super comfy chairs and relaxing music – I could have easily had a nap there! The spa deal included one spa treatment each and Katherine and I both opted for neck, shoulder and back massages which were super relaxing and just what I needed after a stressful few months at university. My massage therapist was really friendly and I had noted on my health form that I sometimes suffered from some anxiety and claustrophobia and she was really sweet in broaching this with me and checking the room, temperature and music were all OK for me. This helped put me at ease and I allowed myself to really (about 85%!) relax which is a rarity for me! I think I enjoyed my massage more than Katherine did which is a shame as I had hoped we would both feel the benefits of it afterwards.
We spent the reminder our time checking out the other spa facilities and doing yet more gossiping. We must have sat in the outdoor hot tub for a good hour just chatting and catching up which was great. We spent more time in the indoor infinity pool as well as trying out the heated relaxation room, saunas and steam rooms. I, of course, made sure I went back to the foot spa bit!
There were various different groups of people using the spa including mothers and daughters, small groups of friends and couples. I couldn’t help but think a spa day or break would be a lovely thing for Nathan and me to do together as I don’t think he has ever been to sap or had any professional treatments before! He, like me, isn’t one to take his clothes off and parade around either so he might take some persuading!
After enjoying our afternoon in the spa and re-dressing (it’s amazing how used to chilling in a swimsuit and robe you get) it was time for us to check into the hotel and see out room. We did this with ease and were pleased to find we had a lovely big room with twin beds. There was an en-suite bathroom with shower and all the usual amenities including complimentary tea and coffee and a huge TV. The room also had huge floor to ceiling windows and we were quite high up so I was glad there were net curtains to obscure the drop down to outside somewhat!
For dinner, we decided to check out the onsite restaurant owned by cricket legend Sir Ian Botham- BEEFY’S. BEEFY’s offers great British food and boasts awesome views over the cricket ground. There was actually a cricket match on the night we stayed so there were lots of people outside enjoying a local game – I personally don’t know much about cricket but this was the closest I had even got to a cricket ground so I found that pretty exciting! Despite there being a match on the restaurant wasn’t too busy and we were seated straight away. I loved the decoration and the huge chandeliers in the restaurant, it had a good vibe and people seemed to be having a good time. Katherine and I were both excited by the menus and ordered ourselves some cocktails and main courses. Unfortunately, that was when the excitement ended for us both with my drink arriving way later than Katherines and after our food arrived. After all the water and fun in the spa, I was super hungry and excited to dive into my huge chicken burger only to find that after a few bites the chicken breast was raw in the middle! We immediately sent it back and the waiter asked if I would like another one however I had been somewhat put off by the chicken and opted to have a replacement beef burger instead. This came very quickly and was cooked this time which was great but I had lost my appetite a little and then was fretting a tad about being poorly which ruined the meal for me really. I think Katherine enjoyed her dish however they didn’t seem to be much of it for the price and it felt a little overrated. We were equally unimpressed when the bill came with an already included 12% tip which we did refuse to pay given a slow service, the difference in timings with the drinks and the raw chicken burger! What a shame as I reckon the restaurant and food could be so much better here!
We made our way back to our room and chilled out watching some rubbish on the TV and chatted putting the world to rights. The beds were really comfy, the hotel quiet and we both slept well.
In the morning we headed down to BEEFY’s again where the included breakfast was served. It was buffet style and wow there was so much on offer! There were tables full of hot and cold food including all your full English breakfast items, fruit, cereals, pastries and more! There were plenty of juices on tap too and tea served to the table. It’s times like this when I am presented with all you can eat oodles of yummy food that I wish I was more of a ‘breakfast person’. I never feel I can eat much in the mornings and feel I don’t do justice to what is on offer. We enjoyed our breakfasts and I was glad to see everything was cooked fully!
We checked out and then it was time for Katherine and me to go our separate ways and head home! I really enjoyed our spa break at the Hilton Ageas Bowl in Southampton and would return for their spa facilities, afternoon tea, the nice hotel rooms and plentiful breakfast. The only downside was the experience at BEEFY’s but I guess maybe the restaurant was just having a bad night! The whole spa break cost us £150 which I think for a night in a posh hotel, spa treatment, use of the spa facilities and breakfast isn’t bad indeed! I look forward to the next spa break Katherine and I treat ourselves too!