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Recipe share: A Warm Salad of Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas (vegan)

welcome-to-sunflowers-dorsetHere’s our new leaflet, which sums up in one handy piece of A5 exactly what you can expect to see and find when you stay here at ‘Sunflowers’ – what do you think?  It was designed and printed for me by graphic designer wizard Kevin of Wyke Print Solutions and I am really pleased with it!  Please feel free to right click on the image and save a copy.

In other news, we recently hosted a charming gentleman who stayed with us for one night – a Sunday – and arrived so late (and in horrible winter weather) that he wasn’t readily able to source a vegan evening meal. I settled him into the guest dining room with a glass of wine and made him this warm salad of roasted cauliflower and chickpeas. When I posted the photo on my Facebook page,  lots of people asked for the recipe, so here it is.

wp-1488373921719.jpgIngredients (makes 2/3 servings)

1 400g tin of chickpeas, drained
1 large head of cauliflower, broken into even sized florets
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus  more for serving
Coarse salt, to taste
80g tahini paste
Juice of a lemon

Chopped parsley, to serve (optional)

Method

  1. Add the cauliflower florets and a pinch of the salt to a large saucepan of boiling water and cook on a high heat for 8-10 minutes.
  2. Pre-heat your oven to 250C/230C fan/gas 9. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  3. Remove the cauliflower from the pan with a slotted spoon and arrange on the baking tray. Drizzle over the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt. Roast for 25 minutes, or until parts of the cauliflower have turned golden brown.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the tahini paste, 120ml water, the lemon juice and a pinch of salt, until smooth.
  5. Remove the cauliflower from the oven, cut the florets into 2 cm thick slices and place in a large serving bowl. Gently mix together the drained chickpeas, cauliflower pieces and half the tahini sauce. Serve with the rest of the sauce and a further tablespoon of olive oil.
  6. Enjoy!

I love to make and serve warm salads – let me know in the comments if you try this one out and if you can suggest other recipes!

Vegetarian, dairy-free or gluten-free breakfasts in Gillingham, Dorset? No problem!

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Congratulations!

Last weekend,  we were honoured to play host to Sally, Chris and their blended family upon the occasion of Sally and Chris’s Gillingham wedding – here are the bride and groom, standing outside ‘Sunflowers’ before they left for the Town Hall!

(Incidentally,  in the language of flowers, sunflowers represent “longevity” – I’ve always thought that this was a lovely sentiment to be connected to a marriage and so when Steve and I got married,  we gave each of our guests a small packet of sunflower seeds and asked them to plant them and send us the pictures; we were lucky enough to receive photos of sunflowers grown in many different gardens for quite a few years.)

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Gluten and dairy free raspberry and lemon cake

Sally and Chris are also gluten, dairy and soya free,  so I was able to flex my breakfast muscles and make sure that our breakfasts were suitable for them.  This meant serving up gluten free bread, non-dairy spread, almond milk and coconut yoghurt,  as well as my home made fruit compote. And because I love to bake,  I also tried my hand at a dairy and gluten free cake which I served upon arrival – it’s a raspberry and lemon cake from the book Simply Nigella and it was really good. I’ve never made a dairy free cake before but this recipe was both delicious and very easy – I will definitely make it again and may try it as a different variant next time, perhaps with blueberries and orange?

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Good morning!

My standard breakfasts are all vegetarian,  but sausage or bacon may sometimes make an appearance (although can very easily be substituted or replaced) in one of the “Special Breakfasts” which I enjoy whipping up from time to time. Check out my Facebook album for more  food photos to tempt you and whet your appetite.

So, when you book your Dorset bed and breakfast stay with us,  please do let us know if you have food allergies or preferences – I’m sure I’ll be able to prepare something delicious for your breakfast!

Staying at Sunflowers Bed and Breakfast in Gillingham, Dorset – some recent feedback!

We love to make people feel welcome and at home in our home – so far at this point in 2017,  we have hosted just over 50 guests this year,  who have travelled to Dorset from all over the UK, as well as from Holland, France, Italy, Portugal and China.

Our booking calendar is already looking forward to welcoming bed and breakfast travellers from Germany, Sweden, Belgium and New Zealand (who may find themselves receiving a special gift for being our most far flung guests!).

And we also love to get feedback – read some here on our main feedback page and here’s a few of the lovely comments we’ve received in recent weeks:

wp-1483517050541.jpgDear Cleo – thanks for the lovely stay. I’ll recommend you in Holland! Great breakfasts and I loved the wonderful dinner you made me. Dank je wel! Simen, The Netherlands

 

A real home from home, with a lovely comfy room, a great breakfast and a charming host. Thank you! Paul, Berkshire

 

Thank you so much. The perfect getaway – a lovely room and a real treat to use the hot tub! ObrigadaMarta and Rita, Portugal

 

Thank you for an amazing stay – I had a very peaceful and restful night. Just perfect! Mark, West Midlands

 

Thank you for a lovely stay and a delicious dairy free breakfast! What a great room – we have the feeling we will be coming back again soon. Justin and Diana, Lincs

 

A warm welcome and a lovely, peaceful stay. Mike, Bristol

 

Thank you for a fantastic weekend – warm, comfortable and very well looked after! My third return visit and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Elizabeth, Kent

 

Thank you for fitting us in at such short notice after our car broke down! A fantastic stay in a warm and comfortable room. Hope to see you again soon. Ann and Ian, Essex

 

wp-1486645313818.jpgA lovely stay; we were very well looked after by a fantastic host whilst in the area on a house hunting trip. We were all made to feel very welcome, especially Harry aged 2½. We hope to be back soon. The Mitchells, Kent

 

Very welcoming and very comfortable. A fantastic night’s sleep. Lovely to stay in a cosy home rather than in a hotel when away on a business trip. Simon, London

Want to come and stay? Just give us a call or drop us a line with your dates and let’s make it happen. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Launching GillFest 2017 – a community festival for Gillingham, Dorset

The tireless team who organise GillFest 2017 have just launched this year’s programme of events and performers – and there really is something for everyone. If, like me, you are amazed and amused to see the names Pam Ayres, Rick Wakeman and The Manfreds appearing on the same festival programme – then don’t miss out: contact us to make a provisional booking for your accommodation and then book your event tickets online.

Most of the event venues are a short and easy walk from ‘Sunflowers’,  so you don’t even need to worry about parking. Or come to Gillingham by train – it’s a direct and easy journey from London Waterloo on the South West Trains Exeter St David’s line and we are a short walk/cab ride from the railway station.

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The Town Meadow in Gillingham, Dorset

In addition to a very diverse range of musical performers (one of whom is already booked in to stay with us!), GillFest will also offer an organised ramble (Gillingham is a ‘Walkers are Welcome’ town – take a look at our walking page for further details about what this means)  on Saturday 1st July and a town fete on the Meadow, pictured here, on Saturday 8th July.

We’re excited to showcase our lovely town and some of the talented residents during GillFest 2017,  which runs from 30th June to 9th July.  Please contact us to book your bed and breakfast accommodation and we look forward to meeting you.

Planning a trip to Gillingham, Dorset? Take a look at our events calendar

Today we launch our local calendar page of forthcoming events and activities, aimed at helping you plan your trip to this beautiful corner of north Dorset.  If,  like Suzanne who left us this feedback, you’re also looking for a reason to come and stay at ‘Sunflowers’, then take a peep at the calendar,  which features details and links to events in Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire.

Cleo made us feel incredibly welcome in her beautiful home. There’s not one thing she hadn’t thought of. Would thoroughly recommend and am thinking of a reason to return to Gillingham so we can stay again!

We’ll be updating the calendar throughout the year,  so if you don’t see something which appeals or if the dates don’t work for you,  keep checking back to see what’s been added.

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2016 Winner!

We do already have guests booked in at various points right the way through to October 2017, so please don’t miss out if you do fancy attending the Gillingham and Shaftesbury Show on 16th August or the incredibly popular (and totally brilliant, award winning) Sturminster Newton Cheese Festival on 9th and 10th September, to name but two of the events for which we were fully booked last year.

And – as huge foodies ourselves,  we know that attending Dorset’s amazing food and drink festivals is as much about what you buy to take home with you as it is about tasting the lovely local produce when you’re there.  So if you do go to any of the food festivals,  we’ll be happy to store your shopping safely in the fridge until you check out and/or provide you with plates, glasses and tableware if you want to have a picnic here. Just ask!

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Many of the events are dog friendly

Please check out the calendar, decide what sounds fun and then contact us to book. We look forward to chatting soon.

A Dorset breakfast recipe: layered raspberry granola pots

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Breakfast – Gillingham, Dorset style!

I recently made these cute little fruity breakfast pots and posted the picture on social media – where they very quickly became one of my most popular posts. Lots of people asked for the recipe in the comments,  so here it is for you to make and enjoy at home – or to have made for you by me when you come and stay at Sunflowers!

I love to cook and really (really) enjoy making special breakfasts,  either because people are celebrating or to accommodate different dietary preferences or food allergies. I have some guests booked in for February who eat a paleo diet, so I am currently researching delicious grain and dairy-free options for them; I’ve also recently catered for vegan, nut free and low carb guests. So do please just let me know what you need when you book – and I’m sure we’ll be able to create something delicious for you.

Just to whet your appetite – here’s a few photos on Facebook of previous breakfasts.

Recipe: raspberry granola breakfast pots – serves 4

200g fresh or frozen raspberries (or your berries of choice – I think this would work beautifully with blueberries or fresh strawberries)
8 tablespoons of granola (I like to use Dorset Cereals’ version!)
250g cream cheese
100g Greek yoghurt (from the lovely Dorset Dairy Co in my case – see my blog post from last year at their launch event)
2 tablespoons of runny honey
Mint leaves, to garnish

4 ramekins or small glass dishes

Method:

  • Divide the granola equally between the four dishes.
  • Using an electric mixer, whisk together the cream cheese, yoghurt and honey. Spoon over the granola to create a lovely creamy layer, then cover each pot with cling film and refrigerate it until you’re ready to serve.
  • To serve: remove the cling film and add an even layer of fresh or defrosted berries to each pot. Garnish with mint leaves and serve.

Enjoy! And feel free to request this when you book – I’d love to make it as part of your Dorset breakfast.

Visiting Gillingham, Dorset on business and need a place to stay?

We continue to meet a fascinating range of guests who are in the Gillingham, Dorset area on business and who want to stay somewhere that has a bit more personality than a chain hotel – but yet which appreciates the need for flexibility when it comes to dealing with business travellers.

In recent weeks,  we’ve hosted guests who work for such a diverse range of entities as the NHS, our local coffee roastery (918 Coffee – check it out in Waitrose!), the National Trust and an international charity, as well as guest speakers and performers at many of our local area schools.

Feedback from 918 Coffee who often use us to host their guests:

“They said they really enjoyed their stay and felt very pampered by you – I really appreciate it.”

And from the guests themselves: “Thank you for a good night’s rest after a busy working day.  A beautiful house with very welcoming hosts.”

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(c) Francis Frith Collection

Some of our locally based companies include Dextra, Sigma, Neal’s Yard and vintage photo company Francis Frith (owner of this lovely photo, taken in 1965,  which shows the road around the corner from ‘Sunflowers’) – so if you have Gillingham, Dorset area based business dealings with these or any other local companies, please do keep us in mind for your accommodation needs.

We offer fast wi-fi as standard and are happy to check you in/out and to serve breakfast at times to suit your business commitments. We also have a private guest dining room where you are welcome to work outside scheduled meal times. Please call Cleo via the link on the page to discuss – and we look forward to meeting you soon.

Will you be attending a wedding in the Gillingham, Dorset area in 2017?

It’s often said in the hospitality trade that people don’t travel in January – but that they PLAN to travel.  And I’ve certainly found this to be true this week;  the phone has been ringing off the hook with people making enquiries and booking as far ahead into 2017 as October!

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Image from NotontheHighStreet

It’s very exciting to see the names filling up on the booking system and the #1 reason that people give at the moment when they tell me why they’re coming to Gillingham is … to attend a wedding. It’s such a beautiful area that I can absolutely see why happy couples would choose to get married around here and obviously lots of brides and grooms-to-be sent out their “save the date” reminders and invitations with their Christmas cards.  So we’re looking forward to welcoming lots of wedding guests to ‘Sunflowers’ this year – please do give me a call and book in as soon as your plans get finalised,  as the summer Saturdays are filling up fast!

Remember, our direct bookings always get the best prices as well as lots of little extras, such as an early check in if needed (we understand that you want to get ready for the wedding) and perhaps a glass of Prosecco to help get the party started. Please contact us – let me check the calendar and then you can tick that job off your January “To Do” list and start planning your outfit!

 

 

Happy New Year from Gillingham, Dorset!

wp-1483517050541.jpgHappy New Year! We hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and New Year break.

We were fully booked from December 30th and had five wonderful guests staying with us, who took advantage of our special New Year package and enjoyed  complimentary cocktails in the hot tub (I made a big jug of Poinsettias – here’s the recipe), a very special New Year’s Day breakfast (pictured: triple cheese strata, local sausages and oven roasted tomatoes) and a late check out.

Both sets of guests had dinner on New Year’s Eve at our local restaurant South Street Kitchen and came home raving about their delicious food and cocktails!

Sharon was kind enough to leave us this feedback:

We spent two nights at this lovely B&B for New Year’s and it was the best experience we’ve had. Cleo and Steve were so welcoming and the rooms made us feel right at home! The beds were very comfy and the rooms had everything you need for a pleasant stay. The breakfast was delicious, as Cleo had invested the thought and time to bring in local produce for us to try and on New Year’s Day she even made us a very yummy cooked breakfast. We were very happy to discover the beautiful, quaint town of Lyme Regis and have a nice dinner at South Street Kitchen in Gillingham, which is 10 minutes walking distance away from the B&B – which was all recommended by Cleo, for which we are very grateful.

Peggy the dog is the cutest ever and we were so pleased with how well she got on with our daughter who is two. Not only that, but Cleo even thought about providing some books, DVDs and toys for Amelie (our daughter) to enjoy. The hot tub was definitely one of the highlights of our trip – we can not fault this place in any way and will definitely be returning when Amelie is older and then she can sign the guest book too. Thank you so much again for everything, Cleo, Steve and Peggy :).

wp-1483525435233.jpgAnd the second photo for today is the guest book review in both French and Italian from Florien and Claudia!

My goal for 2017 is to continue to host lots of lovely guests from all around the world and we are off to a flying start so far; our first visitor of the new year drove here (with his dog!) from Holland and we already have guests from Portugal and Belgium booked in. So, whoever and wherever you are as you read this – here’s to a wonderful 2017 and we look forward to hearing from you when you’re ready to make your booking!

 

 

Happy Christmas from Gillingham, Dorset

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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.

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Cheers!

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!