Boutique style bed and breakfast in the heart of the beautiful Dorset Blackmore Vale – a B&B with en-suite rooms, parking, wi-fi, a covered hot tub and delicious breakfasts. Family friendly, dogs welcome, 5* reviews, easy online booking for the best prices and lots of little free extras.
We run special offers and discounts all year round, so do keep an eye on the Special Offers page which is where you’ll find the codes you need in order to grab a bargain when you book directly with us.
As the end of the year approaches, the code you’re going to want to use during November and December 2017 is WINTER. Just use it when you book with us and each member of your group will receive a FREE BREAKFAST UPGRADE for each morning of your stay. So easy but so good!
There’s no catch or small print. No minimum stay, no room restrictions. Just make your booking directly with us, come and stay on any of our open dates during November and December and boom – enjoy a Free Breakfast Upgrade to such popular dishes as Trout Florentine, a full Cooked Dorset Breakfast or even one of our legendary Specials if you’re here over a weekend or if you let us know that you’re celebrating.
And? If you have family or friends in Gillingham, Dorset and want to squeeze in a seasonal visit over Christmas or the New Year, we’re currently open and taking bookings from December 26th onwards (and yes, the Free Breakfast Upgrade offer applies over the final week of 2017, too).
Ready, steady, click and we look forward to meeting you soon!
Warning: these tasty little savoury biscuits are so extremely easy to make BUT so extremely addictive that I don’t recommend making them if you’re on a diet, trying to cut down on snacking or feeling like you ought to avoid cheese. Or carbs.
If, however, none of the above apply, then here’s the recipe, originally published in Nigella Lawson’s Italian inspired recipe book Nigellissima. I last made Parmesan Shortbreads a few weeks ago and served them to my weekend guests with some complimentary Prosecco; they were a huge hit and are the perfect thing to offer with a welcome drink.
I make the dough in the mixer, then roll it out and chill in the fridge for a few hours. Then simply slice, bake and serve. So, so good. Consider yourself warned!
We love dogs – and of course, we’re a dog friendly bed and breakfast! So we enjoy meeting your canine friends and making everyone in your group feel welcome and at home. Your dogs are welcome to join you in the bedroom and we even provide complimentary dog treats, handmade with love by my friend Julie at Dorset Dog Delights. Please see our dog friendly page for more details and remember to use offer code MYDOGGY to receive a discount on stays of two or more nights in Room One – Church View. Click here to book.
Our eating out page contains suggestions of local Dorset eating and drinking spots and those which are dog friendly are marked as such. But here’s a couple of pubs which we really recommend as being both dog and human friendly!
This is our personal favourite pub – we go there a lot and always take our own guests for meals or just a drink. It’s an independent pub with a wide range of beers available (it won the Wessex CAMRA Pub of the Year award in 2016) and it even has a gin menu! The food is also great and booking is a must. We love it for Sunday lunch – Steve is a big fan of the three meat roast (and so is Peggy, our dog!). Open daily, but closed for dinner on Sunday evenings. Dogs are welcome in the bar (not the restaurant) but the food, service and menu are the same in both. It’s owned and run by Gavin, a really friendly and welcoming bloke. The car park is opposite the pub and you’ll need to cross the A30 on foot to get to/from your car. There are some nice fields opposite the pub for a pre or post pub visit dog walk.
It’s worth visiting this pub just for the superb drive – the daylight views between ‘Sunflowers’ and your destination are absolutely stunning and you get a beautiful view of the Blackmore Vale once you arrive. (Ask us for directions, as your sat-nav/GPS may send you a different way). Another favourite of ours, again for Sunday lunch or weeknight specials. Booking suggested at weekends. Dogs are allowed in the bar and conservatory. The restaurant area is quite ‘old school’ in terms of décor and atmosphere, so previous guests have told us that they prefer the vibe in the bar and conservatory; you may also prefer to book a table in there instead. Beautiful views towards Shaftesbury, a lovely lane for a dog walk and lots of on-site parking.
The Grove Arms, Ludwell, near Shaftesbury (on the A30)
Boutique style pub on the A30, just outside Shaftesbury on the road to Salisbury. Fairly standard pub grub on offer for humans but there’s a special doggy menu available, with a “doggy dinner” on offer for £3.95!
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, poached, 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, egg 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 FULL COOKED BREAKFASTS:
Perhaps theFull Cooked Dorset – eggs scrambled, poached 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.
Or a fluffy Three Egg Omelette, filled with your choice of pancetta, cheese, mushrooms and tomatoes.
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)
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)