A Luxury, Perfect Countryside Retreat at The Hideaway, Kingsland Farm, Dorset.

A Luxury, Perfect Countryside Retreat at The Hideaway, Kingsland Farm, Dorset.

What’s it like to stay in an elegant, cosy and fully equipped shepherds hut in the middle of the Dorset countryside surrounded by nature? What’s it like to enjoy a homemade cream tea and chill out listening to the radio whilst admiring bunnies hopping in the fields below? Read on to find out in my review of ‘The Hideaway’ at Kingsland Farm, Dorset.

Welcome to The Hideaway

After spending the day exploring the impressive Exbury Gardens and Steam Railway in Hampshire I arrived at Kingsland Farm near Bridport in Dorset and was warmly welcomed by host Danette.

Danette showed me where to park my car and led me down to The Hideaway –  a beautiful, cute, green-coloured shepherds hut. The Hideaway has its own little path away from the farm which is lined with trees and flowers. The first thing I noticed as we approached the hut were the amazing views over the lush Dorset countryside. It felt like you could see for miles and I later got completely lost in looking out to fields and trees beyond.

Outside the hut, there’s a lovely little garden area which features a picnic table which is perfect for eating al fresco. There was also a deck chair set up ready for me to relax and soak up the view in. It was just the most picturesque setup! I noticed there were lots of pretty pots of flowers lining the steps up the hut and even some seasonal pumpkins which gave me all the right autumn feels!

Danette was so lovely and welcoming and took the time to tell me about the hut and the rest of the farm. Danette told me about interesting local places to visit in Bridport and beyond and let me in on some exciting developments about some new accommodation the farm hopes to offer soon. I had been following The Hideaway at Kingsland Farm Instagram page for a few months and loved seeing all of Danette’s gorgeous pictures of the hut and surrounding area.

Danette had been so good with communication prior to my arrival and had sent information on places to visit and eat locally well in advance to help plan my visit. I always think this is a sign of a great host who wants their guests to have the best experiences possible and is keen to promote where they live. Danette’s enthusiasm for the hut and her commitment to her guests was evident. Her love of the local area and where she lived shone through too.

The Shepherd’s Hut Retreat

After we finished talking and Danette gave me the keys to the hut I was left alone to explore the shepherd’s hut and enjoy my surroundings. On entering the hut I was struck by how spacious it was – I couldn’t believe the hut had room for a full double bed, kitchen area, table and chairs and also housed an en-suite bathroom! Such clever storage was in use to ensure the hut provided guests with all they need without feeling over-cramped.

This might sound odd but one of the other first things I noticed when I entered the hut was how fresh and nice it smelt! I have stayed in similar types of accommodation before and often they can get a bit stuffy and smelly but not here – The Hideaway smelt lovely and added to how welcoming and special it felt.

Inside the hut there’s everything you need for a relaxing stay. There’s a full sized double bed with very comfy mattress, duvets and pillows. Everything is already made up for you so there’s no need to worry about having to bring bedding or worse make the bed – something I hate!

There’s storage under the bed with room to put your belongings along with a basket of blankets to keep you extra snuggly and warm should you need them. A bedside table holds a bedside lamp, DAB radio, some interesting books and colouring pencils. There are games on offer too and bits to keep children entertained which I think is a great extra touch! I really enjoyed sitting and listening to chilled evening tunes on radio two and keep thinking to myself how relaxed I felt – just what I had been looking for!

The handmade kitchen area is so well equipped. There’s an induction hob, microwave/combi oven, kettle, fridge, sink and a host of cutlery and crockery. Multiple types of tea and coffee are provided too along with added essentials such as washing up bits, tea towels and of course a bottle opener!

To make things even better Danette had left me some homemade scones, jam, cream and biscuits to enjoy! These were such lovely welcoming touches and went down very well!

As if that wasn’t enough Danette also provides breakfast for guests. Upon confirmation of my stay, Danette contacted me by email offering me the breakfast options, meaning it would be there ready and waiting when I arrived. In the fridge I found eggs, milk, granola, jam, fruit, butter and cream. I was also delighted to find some homemade bread which was super delicious too! I really like that Danette offers this option and it meant that I didn’t have to worry about bringing breakfast foods. I loved that it contained homemade items and that it felt nice and healthy too! My only regret was I wasn’t able to eat all of the lovely goodies left for me!

Opposite the cooking area is a garden table and chairs all ready for guests to enjoy their meals on. Here, I found the hut’ welcome guide which was full of visitor information and guides for the local area – another nice touch. I sat here in the evening and enjoyed my dinner and a couple of glasses of wine – perfect!

At the other end of the hut to the bed area is a door leading to the en-suite bathroom. I couldn’t believe the hut was big enough to house a toilet, sink and full sized shower.

Left in the en-suite were clean fresh towels on the heated towel rail and some lovely shower and skincare products from local supplier Love to b Skincare. I can tell you that the relaxing scent of the lavender and patchouli natural wash was divine and smelt amazing! Again, these additional little touches really add to the luxurious feel of the hut and really added to my stay here.

Chilling Outside Amid Nature

After exploring the hut and taking lots of photos I sat outside with the homemade cream tea and enjoyed the amazing views. A nice scone with cream and jam is definitely the way to my heart – especially when enjoyed with a good old cuppa and stunning countryside all around me!

The hut is in a perfect location for exploring West Dorset’s gorgeous countryside and also the nearby Jurassic Coast. There’s plenty of nice beaches in easy reach of the hut and the historic town of Bridport to explore too. From the hut, you can see the magnificent rolling hills of the Dorset countryside and Colmers Hill which Danette told me was a great place for a walk. If you like wine then only a ten-minute walk from the hut is  Furleigh Estate where you can enjoy a tour of the vineyard and try their award-winning wine. If I had been here for a longer stay I’m pretty sure I would have ventured down there!

With the September weather providing me with a sunny, warm evening I was able to sit outside the hut for a couple of hours and enjoyed chilling in the deckchair reading my book.

It was great to use the binoculars that I found inside the hut to have a closer look at all the wildlife down in the fields below. I saw lots of different birds and some cute baby rabbits frolicking in the fields too.

It was so peaceful and relaxing, and I found myself frequently closing my eyes, basking in the sun and enjoying the peace and quiet. It’s so nice when you can visit somewhere that’s a real escape from reality and gives you the feeling of freedom to relax and restore. There’s nothing better than breathing in fresh countryside air and hearing nothing but the gentle breeze and rusting of leaves. I believe everyone should have the opportunity to take a break from real life once in a while and experience a retreat like this – it does wonders for the soul and is a real self-care opportunity. Whilst I visited on my own, which was a great solo stay, The Hideaway would be a perfect place for a romantic getaway to share with a loved one. I would love to visit again and bring Nathan with me next time as I bet he would fall in love with the The Hideaway just as much as I did!

After watching the sun go down and a big bright moon rise in the sky, it was time for me to retreat into the hut for some dinner and another glass of wine! The hut was so cosy and warm, and I again enjoyed listening to the radio and being at peace. Following dinner I enjoyed a hot shower in the huts ensuite – the shower was powerful and the water hot – just what I needed after a long day walking around Exbury Gardens.

Snuggled up in the double bed I enjoyed a warm and comfy nights sleep. The weather did turn somewhat stormy during the night and it was really windy! However, I quite enjoyed hearing the thunderous weather outside whilst being safe, warm and tucked up in the hut.

I woke up the next morning to a slightly less warm and sunny day than the day before but pulling back the curtains the view outside of the hut was just as gorgeous. I enjoyed breakfast al fresco outside on the picnic bench and felt fulfilled and ready for my drive home to Devon. I felt so relaxed and renewed I really didn’t want to leave – I only wish I could have stayed for longer!

Final Thoughts

I can’t recommend a stay at The Hideaway at Kingsland Farm more – it’s the perfect Dorset getaway. With the hut being warm, cosy, comfy and stylish it was a delight to escape to. The Hideaway has the added bonus of being surrounded by stunning peaceful countryside and boasts gorgeous views. Host Danette is lovely and welcoming and really seems to go the extra mile for her guests which is very much appreciated. Inside the hut was a visitor book for guests to leave comments in regarding their stay and recommendations for places to visit and eat for fellow guests. The book is packed full of glowing reports for the hut, area and Danette. Many of the reviews comment on how relaxing a stay at the Hideaway is and I read many entries from guests who have visited the hut and returned many times – this is a sure sign it’s a great place to stay!

For more information on The Hideaway and how to book be sure to check out The Hideaway’s website where you will find more details on the hut and local area. Visit The Hideaway’s twitter page too for more glorious photos and videos.

Huge thanks to Danette for having me to stay – I had a wonderful time and felt so relaxed and rejuvenated after visiting. I hope to visit again soon in the future, so I can experience another slice of the wonderful Dorset countryside and indulge in the hut’s peaceful atmosphere and of course enjoy more of those homemade scones and bread!

***Whilst my stay at The Hideaway was complimentary, all thoughts, pictures and opinions are entirely my own***

Exploring Dorset’s Criminal Justice Past at the Shire Hall Historic Courtroom Museum, Dorchester

Exploring Dorset’s Criminal Justice Past at the Shire Hall Historic Courtroom Museum, Dorchester

I visited the Shire Hall Historic Courthouse Museum back in September when I was on my solo tour of the South West. I had researched the museum online and was excited to find out more about the history of justice and visiting the courtroom…

Welcome to Shire Hall

The courthouse museum is located in the centre of Dorchester in Dorset and is easy to find. There is plenty of parking available in the town centre and the imposing building facade really draws you in for sure.

I didn’t know before I arrived, but I had unintentionally chosen to visit on a Sunday where the museum was open to the public for free, otherwise known as the museums busiest day ever! I think it was part of the local archaeological celebration week or something, meaning it was rather busy and there was a queue to enter. The staff did well to ensure they didn’t let too many people enter at once, so it wasn’t too cramped.

Step Back in Time

The museum aims to share stories of people who experienced the justice system in Dorset from days gone by. With lots of history and stories to tell visitors are treated to an insight into what the criminal justice and injustice system meant to people through the ages. It’s probably one of the only chances people can see what prison cells from the ate 18th century looked like and experience what it feels like to walk into a courtroom!

Upon entering the museum a thought-provoking video introduces you to the courtroom and details its history and refurbishment. I found this useful to orientate myself to what I would be exploring and liked hearing it’s really interesting facts.

I found it interesting to learn that Shire Hall was once a real-life courthouse from 1797 to 1955 where it tried many prisoners. Apparently, there was a certain domestic abuse case in 1986 which led Thomas Hardy to write his famous work ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’. If you’re a history buff or simply interested in finding out more about Shire Hall then a more detailed history can be found on the museum’s website.

I really enjoyed looking at the informative exhibits detailing 200 years of justice and injustice to life. There are displays showing people who were tried at the court with explanations of their crimes and punishments– quite different to our criminal justice system today as you can imagine!

Down into the Cells

Inside the museum, there’s a chance to peek into the cells and imagine what it was like to be a prisoner detained here – cold, damp and rather depressing I think! You can take a closer look at some of the inscriptions left by former prisoners too! I can’t imagine this was a very nice place for criminals to await their fate before they faced the dock!

It’s crazy to think that both adults and children would have been detained and tried here, sometimes for what would seem like the smallest of petty crimes these days.

Up into the Courtroom

After exploring both the Victorian and Georgian cells and seeing what it would have been like to be detained at Shire Hall, visitors can follow in the footsteps of previous prisoners recreating their climb up into the courtroom dock. The courtroom is set out fully with the docks, witness stand and seats for the jury and public gallery.

The courtroom is complete with judge’s seat which includes a judge’s wig and magistrates gowns. You can even try these on should you really wish to get into character! I saw lots of children (and adults!) doing this and having lots of fun.

There are lots of old-fashioned hats with accompanying information placed around the courtroom detailing who would have worn the hats and other information about the courtroom.

Under each hat on the hat stands there are little mirrors, so you can check out how you look in the different hat styles! If it hadn’t been as busy I’m sure there might have been some silly selfies of me included in this post! Thinking back I’m glad it was busy to save my embarrassment!

Apparently, the courtroom has been recently refurbished and is now a clean, grey colour. Take a look at the Shore Hall Instagram page to get a sneak peek of what to expect!

I personally have never been into a courtroom before but have seen many on TV and in films and so it was really interesting to wander around it and experience what it would feel like to be at a real court case.

Normally, when the museum isn’t open to the public for free, included in the entry price is an audio guide which you can listen to as you walk around the exhibits. Unfortunately, as it was so busy they weren’t being used on the day I visited which was a shame as I’m a bit of geek and love a good audio guide! I have seen many reviews on TripAdvisor which sing the praises of the audio guides and state they really add to the experience. Apparently, you can follow four interesting criminal cases including selecting the character of a past prisoner to hear their experience of sentencing at Shire Hall. If I return in the future I will definitely make sure I use the audio guide to find out more about cases held at Shire Hall and to get into the stories of the prisoners a bit more.

Some Lunch and Shopping

After leaving the courtroom (luckily I wasn’t on trial for any naughtiness!) I visited the Shire Hall Café for some lunch. I enjoyed a tasty brie and cranberry panini which came with salad and crisps. It was really tasty and well-priced. There were lots of hot and cold food and drink options on offer and some very yummy looking cakes too!

Before leaving I made sure to pop into the gift shop for a look around. There were lots of interesting items including pretty jewellery, Dorset gifts, stationary souvenirs and local food and drink items. Entrance to both the gift shop and café are free so you can pop in there for some shopping or lunch without having to pay to go round the museum should you have already been before.

Additional Visitor Information

Entry to the museum costs £8.50 for adults and £4.40 for children. There’s also concessionary prices and a family ticket available for £20. All tickets include a free audio guide and allow you to free return visits for a year. The museum is open every day 10am – 5pm and has a spacious café and well-stocked gift shop too. Access information and details on groups bookings can also be found online. Check out the Shire Hall Historic Courthouse Museum’s Twitter page for additional information and tweets from the courtroom!

There are various events and activities which happen throughout the year. With half term and Halloween coming up there’s a host of events coming up to thrill the little ones including scary face painting, slime making and spooky storytelling! After Halloween, there are some exciting looking Christmas events planned including Christmas wreath making and the chance to visit  Judge Santa! Aside from festive events the museum also hosts regular behind the scenes tours, workshops and talks. For more information be sure to check out the what’s on page on the Shire Hall website and their Facebook page.

Final Thoughts

The Shire Hall Historic Courtroom Museum is a family fun attraction, suitable for all ages. I enjoyed having a look round the cells and exploring the courtroom. There’s lots of interesting information and a great video to get you orientated for your visit. It’s a great wet weather venue and I think with the added extra of an audio guide is a well-priced attraction. I only wish hadn’t visited on such a busy day as I think it meant I felt a little rushed around and couldn’t see all the displays, as well as I, would have liked. This is not the fault of Shire Hall though and I think it’s good that local people get the chance to visit attractions in their hometowns. I’ll just have to make sure I use this excuse to visit Dorchester and the museum again sometime soon!

Visiting BBC’s Broadchurch, or should I Say West Bay, Dorset

Visiting BBC’s Broadchurch, or should I Say West Bay, Dorset

I visited the home of BBC’s hit drama series West Bay in Bridport, Dorset back in June. I met up with my friends Jess, Frances and Steph, who I went to Bournemouth University with. We had a good old explore of the town and a girly catch up.

The drive from home to West Bay was easy and full of sunshine, however, upon arrival at the car park where we had arranged to meet, the skies clouded over and the sun disappeared! It was a like the weather suddenly made a dramatic change and I was initially disappointed that when we reached the harbour we couldn’t see much because of the sea fog!

We decided to go for a spot of lunch and sat outside enjoying our food – I had scampi and chips which always seems like a good idea when you are by the sea! We had a good old natter and admired  Jess’ new dog – what an absolute cutie!

After filling our bellies we went to do some more exploring and came across many places we recognised from having watched Broadchurch. I am a bit of a telly addict and a big Broadchurch fan, so I found it rather exciting to see all some of the filming locations!

We spent some time on the beach and finally, the sun started to come out which was nice! All beaches look better in the sunshine rather than the cloud and fog, don’t they! Steph is getting married soon and so we talked about all things wedding related!

We wandered around the harbour again and found some Purbeck ice cream. There were so many flavours to choose from that I couldn’t decide! In the end, I went for something a bit different that I felt had a local twist and went for Dorset marmalade flavour. It was, well, different! We sat and did some people watching, observing all the tourists and locals milling about enjoying their weekends before it was time for us to depart and head home.

From what I saw of it, I really liked West Bay. It had a nice harbour and beach, and there were plenty of food and drink options. I really liked seeing the links to Broadchurch, which I can’t help but think must bring a lot of tourists like me to the area!

Have you ever been to West Bay? Are you a fan of Broadchurch? Let me know in the comments below!

Poole Park and a Spot of Crazy Golf – 06.08.17

Poole Park and a Spot of Crazy Golf – 06.08.17

Poole Park

After a hearty breakfast at Oakside B&B we set off to explore a bit more of Dorset before we needed to head home to Cornwall. We decided to head to nearby Poole which is only 20 minute drive from Wareham. I have previously visited Poole Park various times as I lived in Poole for a year when studying for my Masters Degree at Bournemouth University. This was back in 2012 though and Nathan hadn’t been so I thought we would check it out and see if anything had changed!

The park isn’t far from the historic Quay and there’s lots of car parking which is free = winner! We arrived at about 10am so the park was relatively quiet for a sunny Sunday in August. This meant we easily found a place to park and walked along Swan Lake admiring the wildlife.

Swans Swans and More Swans

Poole Park is home to a big lake called Swan Lake which as the name suggests is full of swans! When you stand by the edge of the lake they all swim towards you on mass – obviously hoping you’ve brought some stale bread to share with them. I think swans are really quite beautiful birds and in the sunshine looked peaceful as they glided over the clean blue waters.

Activities a Plenty

There’s lots on offer to do at Poole Park – there’s the miniature railway, a big modern adventure play park called the ‘Ark’ and even a trim trail with exercise points dotted around the park. The spacious park is also home to Rockley Watersports where you can try sailing, windsurfing and kayaking. There’s also pedalos in the shape of swans which you can hire – we were super tempted too but decided not too last minute as we didn’t have much time.

The Kitchen and Scoops

There is a designated restaurant ‘The Kitchen’ situated on the edge of Swan Lake which has an awesome looking terrace with views out over the swans. I’ve heard the food is pretty tasty from here but haven’t tried it myself. There’s also Scoops which is where you can grab an ice cream – too bad we were still too full from our big breakfast to warrant getting one!

A Spot of Crazy Golf

After walking around Swan Lake we made it to Poole Park Crazy Golf . We love a  bit of crazy golf and the usual bets were made! Score cards and clubs at the ready the challenge begun! The course was simple yet fun and took us about half an hour to complete. As we were there quite early we had the course to ourselves bar another couple battling it out. By the time we were finishing there were several more groups joining the course. I’m glad to say I won – this never usually happens at crazy golf so I was more than a little excited! Nathan blamed the fact he had a cold.. what a sore loser!

Celebrating Through the Gardens

We made our way back through the pretty gardens in the park admiring the pretty flowers as we went. I made sure to celebrate my golf win all the way till we reached the car – I stopped rubbing it in Nathan’s face here as we were parked near the edge of the lake and I had visions of him pushing me in to join the swans!

**Poole Park Crazy Golf was £4 per person**

Have you ever been to Poole Park? What did you think?

A Delightful Dorset Stay at Oakside B&B – 04.08.17

A Delightful Dorset Stay at Oakside B&B – 04.08.17

A Trip to Dorset

We had a wedding to attend in Wareham, Dorset and so needed some accommodation to stay in both the night before the wedding and night of the wedding. Initially searches had proved difficult to find anywhere given it was the first weekend of August and Dorset is a popular holiday destination. However we stumbled across Oakside B&B and booked immediately – it looked great and we couldn’t believe it still had availability.

Arrival Apple Cake

We arrived at Oakside B&B after a couple of hours drive from Cornwall. We were tired and hungry and pleased to be greeted by Ruth and Mark who were friendly and welcoming. On arrival they offered us tea and homemade Dorset apple cake in the lounge which was delicious and just what we needed! Ruth and Mark took the time to welcome us to the B&B and get to know us – they were able to advise on local places to visit and eat and appeared interested to find out more about us. The couple run the B&B in the main house and live in a annex at the end of the garden. They mentioned they hope to convert the annex into a holiday let and move back to live in the main house instead of using it as a B&B as it’s a lot of work. The B&B is located in a quiet room near Wareham and there were gorgeous fields with horses to look at opposite. Great location for travelling into Bournemouth, Poole and the surrounding areas.

The Room

After devouring our homemade cake (it didn’t take long as it tasted so good!) we were shown to our room. The B&B offers three rooms – two doubles and one single. We had the biggest double room which featured an en suite. The room was clean, spacious and modern. It had a TV, tea tray with homemade cookies and a small table and chairs. The en-suite was a good size and the shower was warm and powerful. There were fancy complementary soaps and shampoo too. The bed was super comfy too with lots of pillows and cushions to cosy up with. There was free wifi provided however we found it worked intermittently – but this didn’t really bother us.

A Breakfast Feast

Breakfast was a brilliant and plentiful affair. We were placed in the dining room at the main table and Ruth came to cook us a full English – sausage, bacon, eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes and beans. We also had the option of helping ourselves to cereal, fruit and juices. Placed on the table there was fresh bread and Continental pastries. It all went down a treat and it set us up for the day ahead.

5 Stars All Round

Overall we really enjoyed our stay at Oakside B&B. Ruth and Mark were friendly and welcoming and it had a family atmosphere. We enjoyed the chats with Ruth at breakfast and of course the yummy breakfast on offer. We would certainly recommend and would stay again if we visited the area again in the future.

(Our double room was £65 a night including breakfast).

Have you ever been to Wareham? Or can you recommend anywhere nice to stay or visit in Dorset? Let me know your thoughts 🙂