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

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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.

 

Celebrating the arrival of Spring at Stourhead House and Gardens, Wiltshire

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Stourhead’s lake

It will soon be time to change the clocks in the UK and “spring forward” by one hour, welcoming in longer, brighter days.  Here at ‘Sunflowers’,  we may be based in Gillingham in north Dorset but we are so close to the counties of Somerset and Wiltshire that it’s no wonder that so many local businesses have the words ‘Three Counties’ in their name.  And one of our very favourite places to visit is just over the county line in Wiltshire – the magnificent National Trust property of Stourhead house and gardens.

The grounds are absolutely stunning all year round but never  more so than in spring – what could be more glorious than a walk around the lake or a hike through the woods to admire the bluebells?  Based just a few miles from Gillingham,  it’s one of the most  popular places for our guests to visit and in fact we have a visitor booked in with us for later this summer who is specifically coming to stay here just so that she can visit Stourhead.

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Stourhead gardens, spring 2016

The photos accompanying this article were taken by me at Stourhead in spring 2016 and I’m looking forward to going back there again soon to take some more shots.  Take a look at the National Trust website to plan your trip to wonderful Stourhead and contact us to book your bed and breakfast stay.

PS: if you come around Easter time,  you can join in the Stourhead Easter egg hunt – see our calendar for details.