Three Great Dog Friendly Pubs near Gillingham in North Dorset

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!

The Ship Inn, on the A30 at West Stour

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Our dog Peggy at The Ship Inn

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.

The Coppleridge Inn, Elm Hill, Motcombe (between Gillingham and Shaftesbury)

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The view from the Coppleridge Inn, looking towards Shaftesbury

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)

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Menu options

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!

 

 

Gillingham, Dorset is a Walkers Are Welcome Town

And Sunflowers is a Walkers Are Welcome bed and breakfast provider!

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Walkers are Welcome here

Gillingham was the first town in Dorset to be assessed as a Walkers Are Welcome town, meaning a place which has something special to offer walkers.  At Sunflowers, we proudly display the Walkers Are Welcome sticker on our window and partner with the local walking group to make a stay with us a must for walkers visiting the Blackmore Vale, the Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) or walking all or part of the 64 miles of the Stour Valley Way (which actually passes our door).

In addition to providing walkers with our famously comfortable beds, delicious breakfasts (read the feedback!) and a safe, locked storage place for walking poles, we can of course also offer the legendary hot tub – what could be nicer than recovering from a long day of walking with a backpack than a dip in the tub?

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Walking routes around Gillingham, Dorset

As part of our partnership with the Gillingham Walkers group,  they have kindly supplied us with sets of cards which outline eight suggested walking routes, all of which can be started or concluded here at Sunflowers. The routes, which run in length from just over a mile to 6.5 miles, are also available to download online or we can provide you with a hard copy when you visit. The cards are really helpful and well thought out; they contain a map on one side and the reverse contains route directions plus notes of historical interest and observations on what you’ll see as you walk.

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2017 Gillingham Walking Festival

We’re also supporters of the 2017 Gillingham Walking Festival,  which takes place this year from 2nd – 10th September and offers 20 guided group walks. We’d love to meet you if you want to come and stay on your Dorset walking trip – please contact us with your dates or check availability online.

 

 

Review share: Sunflowers BnB, Gillingham, Dorset, as reviewed by Luxury Travel Diary!

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Room 3 – Blackmore Vale views

Wow! We’ve been reviewed by the team at the Luxury Travel Diary website and are delighted to read what they have to say about us. Here’s the highlights – accompanied by a photo of room 3, as taken by London Backline Photography on our recent professional photo shoot with them:

A peaceful, luxury boutique retreat awaits in the beautiful north Dorset countryside at Sunflowers Bed and Breakfast.

Location

[Sunflowers] is located in the beautiful town of Gillingham, the most northerly town in Dorset. It is the perfect base for a trip exploring the West Country; lying on the borders of Somerset and Wiltshire. Gillingham is located close to Shaftesbury, on a direct train line from London Waterloo with a journey time of under 2 hours. The B&B is a short walk from the railway station, or ten minutes’ drive from the A303.

Style & Character

This boutique B&B is set in a beautiful contemporary house which inside oozes country chic. It is luxurious, comfortable and stylish. The stunning gardens and the views of the surrounding countryside add a lot to the appeal of staying here and make for a relaxing stay.

Service & Facilities

There is ample free private parking here, a beautiful garden, a private living room and dining room space that includes Sky TV and a DVD player, complimentary Wi-Fi and the pièce de résistance; a hot tub; set in a private, covered area of the garden it is the perfect place to enjoy a glass of something chilled and bubbly while soaking the day away. They even provide the fluffy robes and towels, just bring your swimwear! It’s the little homely touches that you really notice when staying here; be it the complimentary dog treats (this place is definitely dog-friendly and they’ll spoil your four legged friends rotten given half the chance!), the Dorset Tea served in the guest rooms or the toys and books that are available for little guests. You are guaranteed to receive a wonderfully warm welcome at Sunflowers; depending on when you arrive, you’ll receive a fresh pot of Dorset tea served with locally made biscuits or cake, or maybe a glass of wine if the hour is right! They have a comprehensive pack of local information for you to pore over to help you decide how to spend your days in this delightful part of the country.

Rooms

There are just three en-suite rooms at this intimate B&B. All include high thread count cotton sheets and plenty of pillows; black out blind; Freeview TV with built in DVD player, tea, coffee and hot chocolate making facilities (with a choice of bottled water and fresh milk), fluffy bath robes, hairdryer, alarm clock and assorted toiletries. Room 1 is a large en-suite double room with a view looking over the church, Room 2 is a single room looking over the garden and Room 3 is also an en-suite double room with views over the Blackmore Vale. Rooms 2 and 3 are right next to each other and are popular with families, Room 1 is the largest (plenty of room for a travel cot or an extra single bed which they will provide) but my favourite would have to be Room 3.

(c) Luxury Travel Diary 2017

Want to come and see for yourself? Please check availability online here, contact us or call – we look forward to welcoming you to our “peaceful, luxury retreat”.

Celebrating Easter in Gillingham, Dorset – with a very special recipe for Easter biscuits

Today’s very seasonal recipe share is from one of my very favourite members of the Dorset Farmers’ Market gang – Lizzie the Baking Bird.  Lizzie pops up on assorted Fridays and Saturdays each month and sells her delicious food at markets in places like Sherborne, Wimborne, Dorchester and Bridport,  as well as at various Dorset foodie events throughout the summer. Check out her website for details of where you can be like me and stalk her in order to buy her goodies.

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Photo by Lizzie the Baking Bird, with thanks

So, what are Easter biscuits? They’re made all over the UK but I’d never really encountered them until I moved to Dorset. Traditionally, they are served after church on Easter Sunday, and are presented in a bundle of three biscuits to represent the Holy Trinity. They are eaten alongside hot cross buns, Simnel cake and chocolate eggs as part of British Easter festivities. Easter feasting comes at the end of Lent, so the taste of rich foods is supposed to come as a treat. Similar biscuits eaten before Lent commences are known as Lenten biscuits, and are made to use up eggs and sugar in the way that the Shrove Tuesday pancake does.

As with recipes for lardy cake and other regional delicacies, there are more country-wide variations than there are days in Lent, so perhaps this is a recipe with a central ‘theme’, but for which there are unlimited variations. The theme is spice and fruit. All Easter biscuits are spiced, either through a small addition of mixed spice or ground cinnamon. The fruit is either solely currants, or can be mixed dried fruit, as used here.

Here is Lizzie the Baking Bird’s recipe,  for those of you not lucky enough to be able to buy them from her in person.  Thank you, Lizzie. Happy Easter!

Lizzie the Baking Bird’s Easter Biscuits

Makes c. 12-15 large biscuits

150g butter
125g caster sugar
Grated zest of one lemon
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon mixed spice
250g plain flour
40g mixed fruit
Egg white and caster sugar for finishing

Preheat oven to gas mark 4/180C

Beat the softened butter with the caster sugar. Add the lemon zest and beat again. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating until incorporated.

Add the flour and mixed spice and beat until just incorporated and then pop the fruit in and mix again.

Lightly flour the work surface and pop the dough in the centre. Roll out to approximately 5 mm thickness.

“I do re-roll the leftovers!! So repeat the rolling and cutting.”

Cut out the biscuits (typically, they are c. 7cm square) and place on a baking tray.

Glaze the top with egg white and sprinkle a little caster sugar over.

Put in the oven for approximately 15 minutes and pull them out when they are slightly firm and just turning brown.

Allow to cool completely before transferring to an airtight tin to keep.

Recipe share: Lorraine Pascale’s blueberry and limoncello drizzle cake

British Summer Time 2017 has now arrived in Gillingham, Dorset – hurrah for longer days and lots of delicious, fresh, local produce, including berries, asparagus and new potatoes.

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Home made limoncello

I’m always on the look out for new-to-me cake recipes and so I was delighted to see this recipe by TV cook Lorraine Pascale shared in local paper the Dorset Echo; I love to cook with fruit and I am still working my way through what feels like gallons of home made limoncello as made and bottled by me before Christmas!

The ingredients for the blueberry and limoncello drizzle cake are:

For the sponge:
Spray oil
125g caster sugar
100g unsalted butter
100g ‘Greek’ yogurt (I’ll be using the Dorset version from my friends at The Dorset Dairy Company)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
250g self-raising flour
4 egg whites
2tsp baking powder
½tsp vanilla extract
Finely grated zest of two unwaxed lemons
200g blueberries

For the topping:
50g icing sugar, sifted
2tbsp limoncello (or lemon juice)

And the remainder of the recipe is available on the Dorset Echo’s site.

Let me know if you like the sound of the cake and I promise to bake it for you when you come and stay at ‘Sunflowers’!

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!

 

 

How to make Dorset Apple Cake

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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.

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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!

Thank you – and a few thoughts on inclusion

2016-08-07-15-16-22Today my friends and former/future guests in the USA are celebrating Thanksgiving. So I give my thanks to everyone who has stayed with us since we opened up the doors of our home – I am truly grateful to you all.

And a few weeks ago, people of Indian/Hindu origin celebrated Diwali,  the festival of light; I’ve spent a lot of time in India and Diwali has always been one of my favourite celebrations. Thinking about these global traditions also coincided with Airbnb publishing its “Community Commitment”, which reminds hosts to treat people fairly and equally and to not display bias or discrimination towards potential or actual guests.  As somebody who spent a long part of my corporate career in a senior diversity and inclusion role, thinking and behaving in an inclusive and welcoming manner is very much in my DNA; now that I’m a Dorset B&B landlady, this is proving to be the most wonderful part of my life.

Today, we received a booking from a lady of Chinese origin,  who will be in the area on business – she will be our first guest from that country. Looking back through my guest book,  I can see “thank you” written in about six different languages and I note that we have hosted  people from countries which include all four corners of the UK, the Republic of Ireland, Nigeria, France, Russia, India, Zimbabwe, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Poland.

So,  thank you again to all of our wonderful guests – we have loved hosting you and we look forward to all that the future may bring.

 

 

 

 

On a favourite local eating spot

wp-1479763153517.jpgToday I walked past local restaurant South Street Kitchen and snapped this picture as I did so.  It’s one of our favourite places to eat and drink here in Gillingham and is just a short walk from the house;  this of course makes it very popular with guests who fancy trying one of SSK’s legendary cocktails or who are in the area without a car due to arriving by train, bicycle or foot!

I saw the SSK team comment on Instagram today that they’re now doing certain menu items (burgers, I think) to takeaway,  so I must find out more about this and see if they have menus that I can share with our guests.  Jane and Terry who stayed here last week came home raving about the delicious pulled pork and squid and chorizo dishes they had at SSK – I need to make a booking and call in again myself!

Check out where else we recommend that you eat and drink when you’re staying with us – there are some absolutely fabulous pubs and restaurants in the area.

 

 

 

 

Congratulations to our competition winners!

wp-1479763429123.jpgEarlier this year,  we ran a competition on Facebook in conjunction with a local lettings agency, where the prize was a free one night stay with us.  To win the prize, Facebook users had to ‘like’ both of our business pages and then add a comment indicating what they most liked about Dorset. Jenny from the agency administered it all and the eventual winner from the prize draw was Jane from West Sussex. Jane had only been using Facebook for a few weeks when she won her prize (which just goes to show that it’s always worth entering!) and she was absolutely delighted to win her free stay.  She and her husband Terry decided to add on a few extra nights and, as I write this, they are half way through their visit, having now spent time in Shaftesbury, at our glorious local stately home Stourhead (pictured) and with plans to visit Sherborne Castle and its Capability Brown designed gardens.

wp-1478262217407.jpgHere are Jenny, Jane and Terry with me, drinking tea out of sunflower mugs!

(You can also see a glimpse of the book lined guest dining room to the right of the photo).

Keep an eye on our Special Offers page,  as we will definitely do more giveaways like this in the future.  And please click on the links to follow us on Facebook and Instagram.