Hello, autumn – the days are growing shorter, the trees are shedding their leaves onto my lawn and my neighbours are kindly leaving bags of windfall apples at their gates, free to anyone who cares to take them home.
This time last year, I shared a recipe for the very popular local Dorset Apple Cake, as made by my friend Debbie – give it a try, it’s delicious! And for 2017, here’s another recipe for an apple cake, this time from Ireland.
Earlier this month, we took a short holiday of our own and spent a few days in Ireland – my family home and a place which is very dear to me. While we were there, I took a class at the highly recommended Dingle Cookery School and so spent the day with owner Muireann and chef Caroline, learning to make scones, traditional Irish brown soda bread, Dingle (lamb and vegetable) pies with hot water crust pastry, a locally caught fish dish with seasonal greens in a thyme dressing and finally – Kerry Apple Cake.
The cake is quite similar to the Dorset variety but has the addition, as you can see from my photo (taken on the day) of flaked almonds on the top. It’s absolutely delicious and is lovely cold or warm with some fresh whipped cream. Here’s Muireann’s recipe, shared with permission – enjoy.
You will need:
225g self-raising flour
110g butter, softened and cubed
4 large cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons of milk
1 tablespoon of Demerera sugar
25g flaked almonds
A 9″ deep greased tin
Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees C
Cream together the butter and sugar; beat in the eggs one at a time and add the milk. Sieve and fold in the flour. Stir in the peeled and sliced apples.
The mixture should be quite wet, like a thick batter; if a little dry, add a splash more milk.
Place in a cake tin and top with the flaked almonds and the brown sugar.
The Grill House is the most recent addition to the selection of restaurants available here in Gillingham – and today we paid it a lunchtime visit in order to check it out and report back.
Based on South Street, an easy walk from ‘Sunflowers’, The Grill House opened in June 2017 on the site of what was the very popular SSK restaurant. The old building still retains many of the stripped back SSK features (exposed brick walls, vintage light fittings, lots of wood) and has a warm, welcoming atmosphere.
The Grill House is currently running a very good “early bird” promotion; from 12 noon to 6pm, there’s a choice of a number of popular main dishes (burgers, mac and cheese, chicken, lasagne and so on) available for £10 including a drink (beer, house wine or a soft drink). The full menu is available to view here.
We tried out the burger (huge, and supplied with fries, onion rings and coleslaw) and the BBQ chicken and chorizo skewer (served with fries and a large green salad). It was all very filling and was delivered by a really friendly waitress who provided us with great, prompt service.
We’ll definitely be happy to send our guests there and to add The Grill House to our list of suggested local eating spots.
As always, our blog reviews are unbiased, are our own personal opinions and are based on a personal self-funded visit to the venue. Thank you to our recent guest Rebecca for her shot of the burgers!
The Grill House South Street Gillingham Dorset SP8 4AP
Tel: 01747 824 278
Open: Wednesday to Sunday, 12 noon to 9pm (8pm on Sundays). Booking strongly recommended for Friday and Saturday evenings.
Website: www.thegrill-house.com – and there’s currently some money off deals on the home page (as at September 2017)
This recipe, which currently appears on our Weekend Special Breakfasts menu, is inspired by a “traditional” (ie, made in a frying pan) French toast recipe from the mighty Jamie Oliver; his version contains pecan nuts rather than almonds and is fried, not baked.
My ‘Sunflowers’ interpretation is made in advance, left overnight and then oven baked the following morning; it creates a beautifully light and fluffy “stuffed” dish and looks amazing when the bread starts to rise and puff up in the oven. I usually make an individual serving, as shown in the first photo, but to make it for two people, I’d make it in a 22cm diameter dish, as pictured in the second photo.
(This image shows a two person serving of my Orange Croissant Baked French Toast – another very popular Weekend Special; please comment below if you’d like me to share this recipe!)
Stuffed French Toast with Bananas, Honey and Almonds is extremely popular as a Weekend Special and I’ve been repeatedly asked for the recipe by both guests and social media followers, so here it is – my own version of:
Stuffed French Toast with Bananas, Honey and Almonds
8 small slices of white sliced bread (use gluten-free bread to make this GF friendly)
2 bananas, peeled and sliced
50g flaked almonds
4 large eggs
2 cups of full fat milk
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Oil or butter to grease the baking dish
To serve: crème fraiche, maple syrup, fresh berries
The night before:
Select an oven-proof baking dish measuring 22cms in diameter. Use a small brush and oil or melted butter to coat the inside to prevent the bread sticking.
Take your 8 small slices of bread and spread each slice with honey. Add the sliced banana to 4 of the slices, then sprinkle with the flaked almonds. Top each slice with a slice of bread in order to make 4 sandwiches. Cut each one into four triangles.
To make the custard: beat together 4 eggs, then add the milk and cinnamon and beat again.
Arrange the 16 mini sandwich triangles in your baking dish, then pour the egg custard mixture over, making sure that all the bread is completely covered. Use a fork to press the bread down. Cover with foil and refrigerate.
The next morning:
Remove the dish from the ‘fridge. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C fan. Remove the foil and then bake in the oven for 45 minutes, taking care in the last 15 minutes that the top of the bread doesn’t scorch – if this is looking likely, loosely cover the dish with foil.
Serve with separate small dishes of crème fraiche, maple syrup and your choice of fresh berries.
We have now opened the doors of our bed and breakfast to guests from 27 different countries! In August (2017) alone, we welcomed visitors from France, the UK, Sweden, Germany, Poland, Russia and Australia. Thank you all.
Margaret and Ian from Australia stayed with us for two nights whilst visiting distant cousins in Gillingham and Shaftesbury and wrote us this review:
“This charming B&B hidden away in the little town of Gillingham is perfectly located for exploring Shaftesbury and the many picturesque villages nearby. Cleo is a delightful hostess who takes extra care to ensure that her guests have every comfort.”
Saxon hill-top town Shaftesbury is of course famous for the iconic 1970s advertisement for Hovis Bread – here’s a reminder of the commercial, complete with the voice over which led many to believe that it was actually filmed in Yorkshire, rather than on Shaftesbury’s Gold Hill!
The actor who plays the young delivery boy still retains an association with Shaftesbury; he was here a few years ago to turn on the town’s Christmas lights and then again more recently in order to recreate the original commercial by way of using an electric bicycle in order to ride up Gold Hill – read all about it here!
Book securely and directly with us for the best price, delicious breakfasts and lots of little free extras –check availability here. Our online calendar is always up to date.
Book securely and directly with us for the best price, delicious breakfasts and lots of little free extras –check availability here. Our online calendar is always up to date.
Fans of classic, vintage and current European motorcycles should definitely plan to visit the newly opened Mirus55MotoCorsa dealership, which opened up here in Gillingham, Dorset last month. It’s only a few minutes’ walk (or ride) away from ‘Sunflowers’ so we went along to take a look.
Mirus55isa specialist motorcycle dealer, working with some of the most exclusive, desirable and exciting motorcycles in the world. The showroom is home to some exclusive British and Italian motorbike brands, from Brough Superior to Aprilia, Norton to MV Augusta and many more. The setting, a former brewery building, has had a ‘no expense spared’ makeover and it is amazing; it feels like a cross between a vintage bike museum (complete with original posters and other motorcycle related memorabilia) and a modern-day showroom. The bikes showcased there are spectacular – it’s definitely worth a visit for any motorcycle fan.
As well as bikes, there’s also a mezzanine level which sells motorcycle clothing and, at ground level, leading into the garden (home to a full size fibreglass model Bugatti car) and courtyard, you will find the cutely named – and DOG FRIENDLY – ‘Cafe Newt’.
Not that as a guest of ‘Sunflowers’ you would have need of an all-day breakfast, but one is on offer in the cafe, as well as the usual range of coffees, teas, cakes, sandwiches, pasties, sausage rolls and jacket potatoes. Like us, Steve the cafe manager is passionate about using local produce, so the cafe supplies such local goodies as 918 Coffee, Dorset Teas, cakes from the Gillingham based Lavender Blue Bakery and sausages from Lagan Farm. They also have a good range of gluten-free options and drinks can be made using soya milk.
Both the cafe and the showroom are open Monday to Saturday, 9am to 5pm (although the cafe stops serving at around 4pm or so).
You’ll find Cafe Newt referenced on our list of recommended and personally curated eating and drinking places and the showroom is also well worth a visit.
Looking for a motorcyclist/biker friendly place to stay? Bikers are always welcome at ‘Sunflowers’ and we look forward to meeting you (and your bike!) soon. Click here to view our current calendar and make your secure booking.
The Osho Leela Centre is a personal development centre with a strong community focus, based in Gillingham, Dorset – an easy ten minute walk from ‘Sunflowers’.
The centre runs workshops, meditation events, festivals and residential programmes on a wide variety of personal development topics. Many of their events are residential and they are able to provide delegates with a limited amount of accommodation in shared rooms and dormitories. However, if there is insufficient space or the communal living aspect doesn’t appeal, then why not come and stay with us at ‘Sunflowers’?
We have hosted many Osho Leela delegates and course organisers, from countries which include the UK, Ireland, France, Sweden and Spain (so far!). The Osho Leela kitchen provides vegetarian food free of grains and animal fats and we are able to mirror this, upon request, with the dishes we provide for breakfast here.
As we are an easy walk from both the Gillingham (Dorset) railways station and the Osho Leela Centre, we provide a very convenient base for anyone who’s attending a course and travelling by train rather than by car – although of course our ample parking here is also available.
So if you are considering a visit to Osho Leela and need a place to stay at either the beginning, the end or for the duration of your personal development programme, please make your booking today – we look forward to welcoming you to ‘Sunflowers’.
Book securely and directly with us for the best price, delicious breakfasts and lots of little extras –check availability here. Our online calendar is always up to date.
Breakfast, petit dejeuner, ontbijt, frukost, desayuno, brekkie – it’s half the reason you come to stay here! It’s also an important part of your experience and your time with us, so we want to make sure that you start your day with a great meal.
The highlight of the stay had to be Cleo’s cooking: she clearly loves what she does and is very good at it, offering a great variety of very yummy things at breakfast time! David, Sheffield
We are pleased to provide you with a variety of breakfast options during your stay with us. Our room rates include a wide range of lighter breakfast ideas or you can choose to upgrade to a more substantial full cooked breakfast. Upgrade when you book or decide when you arrive – the choice is yours.
We are also happy to provide gluten-free, dairy-free and de-caffeinated options upon request, such as gluten-free bread, almond and soy plant ‘milks’ and dairy free spread. Our porridge, cereals and dishes such as our very popular home-made Fruit, Oat and Yoghurt parfait can also be provided as gluten and/or dairy-free if required. Low-carb or Paleo? No problem – we can do that too.
STANDARD BREAKFAST OPTIONS:
Continental Breakfast: choose from a selection of cold cereals (or porridge/oatmeal), warm pastries/toast, preserves, a cheese and ham platter, separate dishes of local Greek style yoghurt, fresh fruit or home-made fruit compote (based on seasonal availability) or one of our extremely popular Fruit, Oat and Yoghurt parfaits, available in either Tall or Mini sizes. Served with orange or apple juice and your choice of tea or coffee.
Light Bites: choose from a selection of cold cereals, followed by baked beans or baked, fried or scrambled eggs with your choice of brown or white toast. Served with orange or apple juice and tea or coffee.
Breakfast to Go: available Monday to Friday. Wrapped and ready for you to take away, with a napkin, a bottle of water and a warm sandwich of either bacon or halloumi cheese (v). You are also welcome to grab a quick bowl of cold cereal and a glass of fruit juice if you have time.
OR UPGRADE TO ONE OF OUR DELICIOUS COOKED BREAKFASTS:
Perhaps theFull Cooked Dorset – eggs scrambled or fried, local sausages and bacon (vegetarian sausages and halloumi cheese are available as vegetarian alternatives), tomatoes, mushrooms and baked beans.
Trout Florentine: locally smoked Mere trout or smoked salmon, served on a toasted muffin, with wilted spinach and creamy scrambled eggs.
AND AT WEEKENDS, HOLIDAYS OR IF YOU’RE CELEBRATING – HOW ABOUT ONE OF OUR SPECIALS?
We currently offer –
Toasted Waffles with a Warm Berry Compote, Maple Syrup and a Lemon Ricotta Cream –pictured here
Oven Baked Frittata/Omelette, served with Roast Tomatoes and your choice of Spring Onion/Scallions, Pancetta/Bacon, Cheese,Mushrooms or Spinach – pictured here
Oven Baked Stuffed French Toast with Banana, Honey and AlmondsOROrange and Cinnamon Croissant French Toast – pictured here
Mixed Berry Croissant Bake(our most popular special – we’ll even add a candle for your birthday!)
Breakfast in a Mushroom – a Portobello Mushroom stuffed with Pancetta and served with creamy Cheese and Chive Scrambled Eggs and Roast Tomatoes(request it without the pancetta for a vegetarian option)
Raspberry Chocolate Brioche Bake(because chocolate at breakfast time is sometimes A Really Good Idea)
Overnight Croque Monsieur with local Cheese and Ham; request it with a fried egg to convert it to a Croque Madame!
Mushroom, Halloumi Cheese and Tomato Stack – served on a toasted muffin(vegetarian; gluten-free muffin available)
STOP PRESS!Due to a cancellation, we now have a two night break available (Friday 25th and Saturday 26th August) on the last Bank Holiday weekend of 2017. So, if you’re looking for a reason to visit beautiful Dorset and check out some of the famous ‘Sunflowers’ hospitality, why not click now and book yourself into room one (Church View) for a two night stay?
The Special Offer is:
Two nights in our spacious Church View en-suite room, complete with lovely private bathroom, Freeview TV and DVD player, fast wi-fi, complimentary tea, coffee, biscuits and bottled water
A complimentary bottle of chilled Prosecco, which will be awaiting your arrival in the guest fridge
A FREE upgrade for two people to one of our equally famous cooked breakfasts – choose from the Full Dorset, OR Smoked Trout and Creamy Scrambled Eggs with Hollandaise Sauce OR perhaps one of our weekend specials, such as Raspberry Chocolate Brioche Bake, Stuffed French Toast with Strawberries or even Breakfast in a Mushroom
Complimentary use of the hot tub – we provide fluffy robes and towels, just bring your swimsuits.
We only have ONE double room available for these dates (Friday 25th and Saturday 26th August) and when the offer’s gone, that’s that – no more Bank Holidays until December! So please click now to book and we look forward to meeting you soon.
We are proud to be supporting this year’s Gillingham Walking Festival and we are a key advertiser in the Festival’s programme, as pictured here. The Festival, which runs from 2nd-10th September 2017, offers a range of walks of varying lengths, all designed to showcase Gillingham’s Royal Forest heritage and to introduce the White Hart Link.
This is a very exciting new initiative, launched in April 2017 and is a 50 mile/80 km walking route which links the five towns of North Dorset – Gillingham, Stalbridge, Sturminster Newton, Blandford Forum and Shaftesbury – using footpaths and quiet lanes.
Many of the Festival walks, which are led by local groups, are free and there’s also a range of other activities occurring during the Festival, including a cinema showing of the film “The Way”, a quiz night and a cheese and wine evening.
To read more about the Festival, to download a PDF copy of the programme (and to see our advertisement!) please click here.
And to book your bed and breakfast accommodation during the Walking Festival, please use special offer code BOOTS when you book directly online with us, to receive a discount on stays of two or more nights in rooms one and/or three. We look forward to welcoming you soon.
PS: the code BOOTS is available to all walkers, not just during the Walking Festival.
Breakfast, petit dejeuner, Früstück, ontbijt, frukost, desayuno, brekkie – it’s half the reason you come to stay here! It’s also an important part of your experience and your time with us, so we want to make sure that you start your day with a great meal.
We’ve always had great feedback on our breakfasts and enjoyed spoiling our guests with our legendary Special Sunday Breakfasts, but we’ve now launched a new menu which offers lots more choice, a much wider range of breakfast options (you can even get a Breakfast To Go if you need an early start on weekdays) as well as a mouth-watering range of weekend and celebration options. Check out the full menu here and start planning your visit. We look forward to meeting you and cooking for you soon!
And there’s more. To celebrate the launch of our great new menu, we’re making a Delicious Dorset Breakfast Offer: all direct bookings made during July 2017 (through our website) will receive a FREE UPGRADE to one of our special breakfasts during one morning of your stay. No codes, no catches, no minimum stay: just make your booking before midnight UK time on 31st July 2017 for any future date and you’ll get a fabulous breakfast upgrade!