Pulling out all the (organ) stops in Gillingham, Dorset as part of #GillFest

david-briggs-flyer-july-1-2016Lovers of popular classical music should add Saturday 1st July to their diaries, when, for the third and final time, an audio-visual spectacular show featuring star organist David Briggs and a host of special effects including pyrotechnics, lights, smoke and lasers comes to Gillingham Methodist Church (GMC).

Presented by the Music at GMC team and forming part of community festival GillFest, the evening promises to be a classical spectacular as would normally only be staged in London venues.

Music at GMC organiser Gordon Amery explains:

“Our aim is to bring top quality music to Gillingham and the surrounding area by inviting musicians to come and perform for us. We have previously hosted performers from all over the world and look forward to welcoming renowned concert organist David Briggs back to Gillingham to play for us on July 1st.”

And David Briggs told us:

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be returning to Gillingham, Dorset for my seventh concert at GMC. I’m always struck by the warmth and enthusiasm of the audience and this makes for a very enjoyable and communicative experience. The past two Organ Fireworks have been great and the atmosphere is so electric. This year I’ll be playing a similarly fun and varied programme, with ample opportunity for audience participation. Last year the massed singing was incredible – it was all I could do to match the volume, even using ten fingers and both feet. I’m looking forward to ‘pulling out all the stops’ again on 1st July!”

This will be a wonderful opportunity to hear popular classics played on Gillingham’s historic, heritage restored William Sweetland organ, which simulates a full symphony orchestra, in a setting featuring lasers, pyrotechnics and indoor fireworks.

At only £15 per ticket, with discounts available for groups of four or more, the audience will be able to enjoy such classical favourites as the 1812 Overture, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Clair de Lune, the Ride of the Valkyries, Jerusalem and many more, all accompanied by an exhilarating light and sound show.

The July 1st show starts at 7.30pm at Gillingham Methodist Church on the High Street. For further information and tickets, please call 07817 379006 or email organ1234@btinternet.com.

Need somewhere to stay during GillFest? Click to book!

Recipe share: a delicious gluten-free, dairy-free breakfast idea

One of the many businesses who call Gillingham, Dorset home is the Guild of Fine Food, organisers of the prestigious Great Taste awards (the world’s largest and most trusted food and drink awards, so a pretty Big Deal).  We are honoured to be on their preferred list of accommodation providers and we host members of their judging panel when they travel to Gillingham to blind taste test the widest range of food and drink you could possibly imagine.

We recently met a judge who was here to judge the “free from” category of foods and as she was herself gluten-free and her  travelling companion was dairy-free,  so was my breakfast offering!  Here’s the overnight oats dish I made for them – quantities used may vary, based on the containers that you use, but this is what I did for two portions.  The great thing with this recipe is that it can be flexed so many ways, based on people’s preferences; use regular oats instead of gluten-free,  cow’s milk yoghurt instead of soya or coconut, switch around the fruits.

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Gluten and dairy-free overnight oats

Gluten and Dairy-Free Overnight Oats – serves 2

60g gluten-free oatmeal
200ml vanilla flavoured soya yoghurt
150g mixed berries, with a few reserved for decoration

Method: the night before, take two tall glass containers (I used sundae glasses) and fill them with layers of yoghurt, oats and fruit, ending with a layer of yoghurt. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The following morning,  remove from the ‘fridge about an hour before you wish to serve or eat the dish. Top with a layer of fresh fruit and perhaps a sprinkle of cinnamon.

I was delighted that our guests loved it and they kindly left us this feedback:

We stayed at Sunflowers Bed & Breakfast Dorset for one night and were impressed with such high standards and the warm welcome. Thanks for going to so much trouble to cater for our gluten free and dairy free diets. A magnificent breakfast! We know where to stay when we return to Dorset!

Do you also have special dietary needs or preferences? No problem – just let us know when you book and we’ll happily cater for you – right down to the chocolates and treats we provide in the guest rooms.

Gillingham Dorset – B&B feedback from The King!

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Thank you Elvis!

This week,  we had a fabulous guest by the name of Elvis staying with us for One Night (only), although as you can see from his feedback,  he did promise to come back again (thank you very much).

He stayed here on his own and we hope he wasn’t Lonesome Tonight, or All Shook Up when our Hound Dog Peggy came over to say hello.  As he was travelling on business, he wasn’t wearing Blue Suede Shoes, unfortunately.

You can see from the guest book comments that he had a great time here and didn’t regard us as Heartbreak Hotel – phew.

We loved meeting Elvis – he booked His Way so if you’d like to do the same and be treated  like a King (or Queen), It’s Now or Never to be sure to get your preferred dates – just click here !

(These song title puns are going Way Down now,  so I’m going to quit while I’m ahead).

So, as the King himself would surely say: thank you very much – we look forward to meeting you soon.

Hold the front page! We’re in the Gillingham, Dorset News!

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Gillingham News – June 2017

We were delighted to be featured in the June copy of Gillingham, Dorset’s local newspaper, The Gillingham News. The article runs alongside a piece discussing tourism in North Dorset and references our part in supporting visitors to Gillingham with our bed and breakfast.  You can read the story online here (choose the June edition, then scroll through to page 16) or it’s reproduced below for easier reading.

I’ve always said that I used to travel the world and that now the world comes to me – but even I was surprised when I worked out that we’ve hosted guests from over twenty countries so far!

Gillingham is open to the world

North Dorset may be low on the Dorset scale of visitor numbers, but Cleo Thompson’s bed and breakfast in Gillingham has played host to visitors from around the world.

‘Since we opened our doors, we’ve hosted nearly 600 people from 20 different countries including Italy, Portugal, Turkey, New Zealand and South Africa, and this summer we’ll be adding visitors from the USA, Thailand and Australia to that tally,’ says Cleo, who used to travel the world in her former corporate life but who now runs Sunflowers Bed and Breakfast in the Wyke area of Gillingham.

‘I always ask people what brings them to Gillingham and the range of reasons is really interesting – it’s a microcosm of the town’s life.  We’ve hosted lots of guests who are here due to an event or an activity at one of the schools; these have ranged from actors performing in a play at the high school, the cast of the Inside Out Dorset festival, a cyber security expert and a speaker from BBC Bristol.

‘We get a lot of cyclists, so far from the UK, Holland, Belgium and France, who are cycling National Route 25. We’re also starting to see a lot of walkers who are on the Stour Valley Way or using us as a base camp to walk the Blackmore Vale or around the Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  A recent big trend is people staying here to research their family history – that was true of the New Zealanders two weeks ago; they had ancestors buried in Mere and Motcombe churchyards and also of the Australian who checked out this morning after three nights.’

Garden fans are also visitors, visiting Stourhead and the Capability Brown-designed gardens at Sherborne Castle. ‘We also get dog owners who stay whilst their dogs are competing in various agility/other dog shows,’ says Cleo. ‘There’s apparently a Crufts 2018 qualifier show at the Showground in July – I have two dogs (and their humans) booked in across seven nights for that!’

Cleo also gets business visitors staying for one or two nights. ‘They are usually having business meetings with one of our key local employers such as Dextra, 918 Coffee, Neal’s Yard Remedies and Sigma-Aldrich.’

Cleo is a dedicated supporter of other local businesses. ‘I’ve sent almost 100 customers to Ristorante da Massimo at the Buffalo Inn,’ she says. ‘We also source as many of our breakfast items as we can from local suppliers; our guests particularly love 918 Coffee and Dorset’s answer to Greek yoghurt from The Dorset Dairy Company in Stalbridge and it’s not unheard for them to go home via the Udder Farm Shop to stock up on the yoghurt. 

‘All of our guest rooms are fitted with black out blinds supplied by Sewards on Gillingham High Street,  we provide complimentary dog treats made by Dorset Dog Delights, our locks were installed by Three County Locksmiths and our promotional material has been designed and printed for us by Wyke Print.’

www.sunflowersbedbreakfastdorset.com

Continue reading “Hold the front page! We’re in the Gillingham, Dorset News!”

Dorset Food and Drink – Foodie Cycling routes: on the doorstep here in Gillingham, Dorset #dorsetpedals 

Dorset Pedal bannerTalk about a match made in heaven – the clever people at the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty website have put together eight food routes which encourage you to use “Dorset Pedal Power” to ‘explore the culinary delights our lovely county has to offer’.

Or, in other words – go for a bike ride around some stunning countryside, pausing as you do so to admire the view and take refreshment at some suggested eating and drinking spots.

Gillingham lies at the northern edge of route four, ‘Shaftesbury and the Blackmore Vale’, described here:

“Explore the Blackmore Vale, described by Thomas Hardy as ‘The Vale of Little Dairies’. Slow right down with this tranquil ride through the Blackmore Vale. Still a very rural area of dairy farms, you can relax and enjoy the seemingly endless landscape of lively hedgerows, lush fields and … lots of cows! The puff – or push – up to Shaftesbury is well worth the effort. Take a break to get your breath back on Gold Hill, with its vast views over the Vale. Then onto Turnbull’s cheese shop to appreciate all those dairy farms first hand, including our delicious Dorset Blue Vinny Cheese.”

Download the map and full list of suggested foodie stopping points here (PDF) and plan to take the full route of twenty miles or a more leisurely version of three miles. Two of our favourite foodie spots are listed on the map: The Udder Farm Shop at East Stour (where you can buy Dorset’s answer to Greek yoghurt, as made by our friends at The Dorset Dairy Co) and the Orchard Park farm shop and deli here in Gillingham.

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Recent guests Jenny and Tom at the start of their Dorset cycling holiday!

And please click here to book your bed and breakfast stay in Gillingham, Dorset – cyclists are very welcome and we can store your bicycles for you overnight in our secure, locked garage.