Happy Christmas from Gillingham, Dorset

Happy holidays, Dorset style!

We said farewell to our last pre-Christmas guest yesterday and now we’re closed for a few days, whilst we celebrate with our family (there will be ten of us!)

We wish you all a very happy holiday season and we look forward to welcoming you to ‘Sunflowers’ in 2017.  We re-open on December 29th.


And here’s the finished limoncello – it’s absolutely delicious! I’ve tried it in two different cocktails so far, so my Christmas gift to you is a couple of festive cocktail recipes.

Dorset St. Clements

2 measures of limoncello
2 measures of gin
2 measures of freshly squeezed orange juice

Half fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add your ingredients, shake and then strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with a twist of orange peel.

Dorset Lemon Fizz

Dip a champagne flute into lemon juice and then into sugar to create a frosted rim. Add a measure of limoncello and then top up with Prosecco.

Merry Christmas!

How to make limoncello

Home made limoncello

Continuing the blog theme of cooking with fruit … I am currently in the process of making my own limoncello, both to use as an ingredient in cocktails at home and to bottle to give away as Christmas presents.

Limoncello has always been one of my favourite liqueurs – it’s a lovely, lemon infused spirit, which is Italian in origin and can be used in lots of ways. I love it as a drink and my mum uses it to make an absolutely delicious blueberry and lemon tart (I’ll post the recipe here if enough people ask me to!).

I  decided to have a go at making it myself after I had trouble finding it in the supermarket – “how hard can it be?” I  thought. And sure enough,  it is quite straightforward; you just need time and patience.

Taking a Very Sharp Peeler,  all you do is zest about a dozen lemons and then leave the peelings to marinate in vodka for as long as possible. I set mine to infuse on November 5th and the jars pictured here are now sitting peacefully in a dark cupboard, allowing alcohol and alchemy to turn them into limoncello. In about a week’s time,  I will strain the liquid and then complete the process outlined here to add sugar syrup and bottle the resulting sunshiney liqueur.

So, any guests who visit us after Christmas – ask to try my home made limoncello.  As we say in Ireland: slainte!



How to make Dorset Apple Cake

Dorset Tea

Apples are so plentiful at this time of the year that they are often given away for free! Many of my neighbours have a basket of windfall apples available at their gate,  with a sign inviting passers by to help themselves.

One of our beautiful county’s most famous recipes is for Dorset Apple Cake – I often like to serve it to my guests upon arrival,  accompanied (of course) by a pot of lovely Dorset Tea.  It’s delicious served either cold or warm, with a dollop of whipped or clotted cream.

Dorset Apple Cake – pairs beautifully with – everything!

My friend Debbie posted this fantastic photo of her homemade Dorset Apple Cake on her @platespotsandpans Instagram feed the other day and I’m sharing it here with her permission. She used a recipe from Delicious magazine and the ingredients you will need are:

  • 225g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 450g Bramley apples
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 225g caster sugar, plus extra for dredging
  • 3 large eggs
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 25g ground almonds
  • 1 tbsp demerara sugar

The rest of the recipe is here – thanks, Debbie!

More on the power of feeling welcome and included

We were fully booked last weekend, in all three of our rooms; I was delighted to welcome back some returning guests, who first stayed with us last summer and also some new ones, who were in Gillingham to attend a baby shower. Hopefully we will see them again too,  when they come back to the area in the New Year for the baby’s naming ceremony!

Welcome to Sunflowers

I blogged a few weeks ago about the various nationalities who have passed through our doors this year – since then,  we have welcomed a lady from China and a couple from Ghana; but also quite a few extremely local people who needed a place to stay whilst they went out to a Christmas party. It’s always fascinating to hear the answers to the question “So, what brings you to Gillingham?” and this lovely photo, originally shared by a bed and breakfast owners’ group of which I’m a member, completely sums up my hosting ethos: WELCOME.

Celebrating the New Year with Dorset style – check out our special offer

Happy New Year!


This offer has now closed and we are booked for New Year 2016.

All the Twos!

Still planning where and how you might see in the New Year?  Why not get together with some friends and book both of our luxurious double en-suite rooms and the hot tub for two nights over New Year?

We’re offering a fantastic package with lots of little extras, which is sure to help you see in the New Year with a bang.

Our package gives you:

  • TWO nights’ accommodation over New Year: choose either the nights of December 30th and December 31st OR December 31st and January 1st, as long as you book our TWO double rooms for use over the same dates by your group.
  • TWO complimentary bottles of Prosecco, served chilled – provided with an ice bucket and glasses. Want to use it to make a Kir Royale? We have the Kir too!
  • Unlimited use of the candle lit hot tub, complete with the legendary floating drinks tray, pool towels and fluffy robes – can you picture yourself in there at midnight, watching the New Year’s Eve fireworks? pool-towels
  • TWO delicious cooked breakfasts for all four of you – served at a time to suit you and featuring wonderful local produce, freshly squeezed orange juice, smoked salmon and pastries. Want to have it at 12 noon on New Year’s Day and call it brunch? No problem.
  • TWO special offers on check in and departure: check in as early as 2pm on the day you arrive and no need to rush off on the day you leave – we’re extending check out until 12 noon.

This very special package costs just £299 for all four guests, so that’s less than £75 each for your two night New Year’s celebration! Contact us now to book and confirm your dates.