Spring updates and podcast enlightenment

With the weather finally warming up and the rain holding off for a few days here and there we have been steadily completing our ‘to do’ list of bits and pieces at The Manor.

The first and most important task to tackle has been the refurb of the tennis court. Lots of pressure washing, sweeping later we are finally nearing the final stages and it is looking fab. Trees have been removed that hung over the court meaning that we now have less of an issue with the dreaded moss.

All the exterior paint work has been re done giving the house a nice fresh facelift and as I type all the fencing surrounding the garden is being taken away and replaced. All in all it is looking great.

We gave the games barn a good old clean up the other day, it’s still a barn, but a tidy barn!

I have to mention the magnolia tree at the Manor ( I fear I am becoming a magnolia bore, but hey, it’s only ever for a brief time in the year!)
Last year during a storm the guests using the house called to say a branch had fallen in the driveway, it wasn’t obstructing the drive but they wanted to let us know. After check out I went to assess and at the time it didn’t look great, a large branch has splintered and was on the ground, barely attached to the tree. I asked Harry to get round with his chainsaw pronto to get it removed and sawn up for logs. It got added to the never ending list of ‘to do’s’ I have but over a few days it didn’t look quite so bad so it fell to the wayside. After a week or so I noticed that the branch was still very much alive so I decided to leave it be in the hope that I would be rewarded with floor height sweeping magnolia to enjoy. We haven’t been disappointed, it looks amazing.

Whilst on the subject of flora I discovered a very lovely farmers market held on the fourth Saturday of each month on the high street in Dorchester (15 mins away from the Manor) – I tend to avoid ‘town’ on a Saturday as it’s always busy and we are usually ferrying kids to football or walking the pooch. On this occasion I was underprepared for Mothering Sunday so needed to do a quick trip in to get bits and bobs before collecting my nephews for a sleepover. We ended up in town at about 9.30 and it was nice and quiet, easy to park. We discovered the farmers market which I would highly recommend. There were loads of lovely stalls selling delicious produce and we took advantage of trying lots of stuff. My absolute favourite stall had to be this flower stall where I managed to find some beautiful Parrot Tulips and Ranunculus for Mothers day (myself & my mummy!!) I will be going again!

We had a lovely Mothering Sunday in the garden enjoying the sunshine. I was given lots of lovely cuddles from the kidlets and Harry cooked us all his speciality lasagne which was delicious.

As well as getting things spruced up at The Manor I have been working hard at home to get the decoration finished. Having been here for a year now I felt it was time to crack on now that I understand the light and how the spaces work. I am still stuck in a very white place as it’s so easy to touch up and add to or take away from. I am branching out in to other variations of white though and am using Farrow & Ball Strong White in most of the rooms other than hallways. It is a lovely subtle colour and very calming. I am so sick of painting now but am persevering as my goal is to be finished by the end of May and that is well within our sights.

I was trying to focus on the ground floor only when we inherited a lovely new bed from some friends. After a massive Ebay trawl I managed to purchase a brand new barely used mattress for it (for a tenner!!!) and so commenced the great British bed swap where Harry had to take down and move not one, but three beds and travel about for a whole day to satisfy my whims. Whilst we had an empty room for a few hours I finished painting the floor which has been a ambition for a while. I lOVE it. It’s totally impractical and a nightmare to keep clean but it’s my dream bedroom and I just like looking at it, which in my book makes it worth it.

In the midst of all the tennis court work / decorating etc we have been doing, I needed to find a decent distraction from the drone of the pressure washer or relentless and depressing news updates on the radio. I can’t remember who suggested podcasts, I think I may have seen one talked about on Insta but I am now fully obsessed and finding more and more brilliant ones to subscribe to and enjoy. They are engaging, topical, current and FREE! easier than reading as you can carry on about your daily work and still enjoy them. I am yet to listen in the car as I am mostly in the car with the children and we are in an unbroken cycle of Ed Sheehan and Musical Times Table (yawn). Here is a list of my current favourites, in no particular order.

* The High Low – Pandora Sykes and Dolly Alderton
* Desert Island discs – Radio 4
* Any of The New Statesman ones
* Letters to my fanny – Cherry Healey

I love them all and they are a treat to listen to. I am looking forward to discovering more.

We are also planning more stuff for the garden, I want to grow more of our own produce this year and learn more about it. My dear friend Abi has the most amazing poly tunnel that her and her husband Scott spend most of their summer in which is very inspiring. We are not at tunnel standard yet but on the hunt for a unused green house to adopt on free cycle. Knowledge is coming in book form from the very clever and talented Hollie Newton who recently published “How to Grow” – it is a stunning book and we are really enjoying it. You may also notice her name from the many Newspaper clippings and articles that are being published about her at the moment.

Happiness planning

Keeping top of New Years resolutions, or resolutions at any time of the year is a toughie! I promised myself after the Christmas break to finish the interior decoration at our home and make a few tweaks at The Manor House too. I really wanted to hone my weekly organisation and time we spend together as a family.

At the Manor we are now preparing the garden for summer and touching up bit and bobs in the house. Harry and I have plenty scheduled at The Manor and work starts this week, more of this over here for updates https://www.instagram.com/manorhousemoreton/

But other than work based bits I really want to finish the rooms at home, do more varied exercise, complete some units of my interior design diploma, and also eat supper with the children on a more regular basis and have family home evenings where neither myself or Harry are distracted by work emails!

Being self employed means I have to really try and schedule my days clearly else I can get super distracted and end up completing only half my to do list. So any methods to aid daily organisation are always welcome to see if they stick and work with us as a family.

I find that eating our evening meal together aids free and easy conversation with the children and they open up a lot more than when I am rushing in and out not paying full attention. I tend to do a meal plan on Monday morning, using up what I have from the weekend and grocery shopping for the rest of the week from there, it’s not a ridged plan and sometimes we see family or mix things up.

The benefits are great, I am spending less on shopping and have far less veggie waste than before, both the children are helping me prepare the meal, laying the table and eating more varied meals – no more beige freezer rubbish and more colourful vegetables. A friend has recommended a Riverford Organic box that she gets delivered, I really like the idea of this and am going to be doing some investigation on that front. I think would prefer to get one from a local supplier if possible?

On the ‘planning’ theme I also received a really sweet Happiness Planner from Harry for Christmas, this is so cute and came in pretty hues of pale blue and light pink. I have never been a dedicated diarist and tend to do all my work & personal organisation on my iPhone calendar and to do lists on the note’s feature. The Happiness planner has a positivity based premise and has daily sections for schedule (helpful as a diary) to do lists and areas to focus on gratitude, positive elements of the day and things that make you happy. It does make me focus on the little things that get overlooked and to be more positive about them, I am (almost!) writing it every morning and it gets you off to a smiley start. ♡

Dorset half term holiday roundup ♡

We decided on more of a ‘staycation’ vibe for our half term holidays this February – living and working in Dorset is obviously great and we as a family really appreciate what is has to offer but all too often we get stuck in a rut and go on the same walks to the same places or don’t leave the village at all for days out and just walk through the forest (which is beautiful too!)

So for the last week or so we have been reacquainting ourselves with our beautiful county. It helps that the weather has been kind to us and inspires you to get out and go exploring.

Just before half term we took an after school trip to Ringstead Bay, it has to be one of our favourite local beaches. It is only a 10 min car ride from Moreton and is very beautiful and a good safe beach for the kids. On this afternoon the sun was shining and there were rainbows to welcome us. The waves were actually quite big for Ringstead and we were lucky enough to have some surfers too watch whilst the sun went down. The girl one collected sea glass (her new obsession when on the beach) and the rest of us enjoyed the views!

For valentines we made cute tassle bunting and homemade cards. We had our favourite breakfast of Rye, scrambled eggs, goats cheese & capers (sounds weird, tastes divine) which is a recipe from the fantastic Rosie Londoner blog ♡ http://www.thelondoner.me/2016/02/goats-cheese-caper-scramble.html

We then headed over to Freshwater Holiday Park – which is in Burton Bradstock. We had been told about the Jurassic Fun Centre which is a small water park with slides and flumes, initially not my idea of a romantic valentines but it was fantastic for the kids, great value and clean. They played for hours and we were rewarded with a trip to The Anchor Inn at Seatown – which is my favourite local pub at the moment, and that was romantic! Check it out – http://www.theanchorinnseatown.co.uk. It is right on the beach with fabulous views and has a delicious menu, cocktail list and open fires.

I am a huge fan of The National Trust and am on a mission to use our family subscription over the year as much as possible without the trips becoming repetitive for the kids, personally I could visit most of our local NT places all the time and never get bored.

We managed not one but two NT visits over half term. I spent a lovely day with two friends and our 9 children at Corfe Castle, it never disappoints and there are always really good activities for the children to enjoy. We managed a picnic in the gaps between rain and warmed up with hot chocolates in front of the wood burner in the visitor centre afterwards.

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We also visited Kingston Lacey with a crew of friends and kids and it was delightful. The sun was shining and the snowdrop garden was in full bloom, the kids ran about the gardens and explored whilst the adults ambled along behind them. We headed up to the kitchen garden where there is a small play area for the kids, it is quite basic with a couple of Wendy houses and mini tractors but they all absolutely loved it and played for ages until the sound started going down, the coffee hut closed and the adults lost enthusiasm!

The next day we continued our tour of Dorset to Kimmerage. I went with a neighbour and five of our children. It was a really lovely little trip and we were happy to discover that the new Etches Collection museum was now open – http://www.theetchescollection.org/home a beautifully designed museum and it contained a great exhibition, the children all loved it. We then had our own fossil hunting expedition on the beach.

We ended the week spending time with visiting friends and on Saturday decided to make the most of the glorious weather and head to Lulworth cove for a walk over Stair Hole in to the cove.

Sea paddling on a sunny Saturday ⛵️🍭

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We stopped for lunch, OUTSIDE! before heading back to Moreton. The children had not expelled all their energy and decide to go to the Ford where we played in the Kayak and watched the sun go down. On the return home everyone had warm baths before cosying down for the evening. It was the perfect end to a lovely week in Dorset.

T x

Happy New Year from The Manor House

Wishing all visitors to our blog a very happy New Year!

2016 saw many fun and interesting events at The Manor and we welcomed some lovely guests to the house. It is lovely to see many returning guests year after year and to see all the fun ideas that people come up with in ways to use the house.
We have had Uni reunions, hen parties, art exhibitions, Mexican fiesta’s, English Country Garden themed weddings, tennis tournaments, grand weddings for 200 and a small perfectly styled intimate wedding for 50, a spooky Halloween themed party and a blissfully relaxed yoga retreat for a group from London. All in all a varied and eclectic mix which goes to show how the house can be used in plenty of different ways.

We have more to look forward to in 2017 starting with a fitness boot-camp this month and plenty more after. If anyone has any other ideas to put forward please do not hesitate to get in touch via email. We still have a few weekends left in the Spring and more later in the year.

As ever we are constantly working on little improvements in the house and out in the grounds and we hope to work in conjunction with some local suppliers to re decorate rooms and keep the house in tip top condition.

I am hoping to bring more information on places to visit in Dorset when staying with family and friends, good eateries, beautiful walks and the occasional seasonal recipe to indulge in.

Here is a pretty taken of The Manor on a winters morning –

Good morning from The Manor House

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Watch this space….

T x

Autumn in Dorset

SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run….

Ah Keats, you nailed it there. Autumn in the countryside is just perfect, my most favorite season.

As beautiful as summer is there is something about September and the start of Autumn that feels much more like a new year than “New Year”. There is a clear change to the season, new diaries, kids back at school and the all exciting feeling that Christmas is just around the corner.

We have a new year plan to discover more of Dorset and the Purbeck’s on foot. We love walking and having Plum gives us an added excuse to get out there and see more of our beautiful county.

Last week we decided to explore Mupe Bay – to the west of Lulworth Cove, with no real plan we just headed down to the beach to see what happened. We nipped in to the tourist information center (which is fab by the way, with a really cute little coffee kiosk and geological info) to pick up a map and discovered that access to Mupe Bay is across the Army ranges which are only open weekends and school holidays. Plans scuppered for another day we had a look at the other maps offering 6 routes around Lulworth. We chose route 1 which starts at Lulworth Castle and takes you on a 5k loop around the estate.

The walk starts at the front of the majestic Lulworth castle (parking £3 per day in car park). You then head through the deer park full of amazing trees, a little further on past the gate house and a farm, across a field or two and you arrive at the Lake. Who knew there was a lake on the Lulworth estate? Not us, what a find. It’s so pretty, there are swans drifting by and an amazing Fort built on one side. You can walk around it and the route then takes you back across parkland to the castle.

I am so pleased we found this walk, one to do with all the family one weekend, rounding off with a drink in front of the fire at the Weld Arms on the way home.

I’ll share more discoveries as we find them.

T x

End of the summer at The Manor

As we are now officially in to Autumn I feel the need to give a brief summer round up before the inevitable influx of Autumn posts hit the blog.. (it is my most favorite season)

Summer was hugely busy, fun and memorable. We had plenty of wedding celebrations at The Manor house. Festival style, English country garden style, big weddings, small weddings! All beautiful with lovely couples. It is such a wonderful thing to host and be part of their special day. Our last wedding of the season is this weekend and it already looks set to be as fabulous as those before it.

There were also lots of lovely families staying through the summer, enjoying the local beaches and exploring the countryside.

During the first few weeks of September we managed to squeeze a few days in at the house with our decorator Rich who has been giving the house it’s facelift, getting all the exterior paint work re done. It now looks all smart and happy with it’s new make up on.

As a family we had a great summer, a lovely holiday in France with our hosts the Shell’s and Loasby’s and lots of camp outs, boat trips, sleep overs, BBQ’s and beach trips.

Oh so pretty Monpazier

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Children of the wine farm – still chirpy after an hour & a half drive to try some more! @louisaloasby

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I’m now nursing my first (and only!) cold of the Autumn whilst the rain lashes down outside so all these sunny throwbacks seem like a distant memory.

Sorry for the lack of photos, my laptop has taken a dislike to my phone, so insta links are all I have at the moment!!

T x

One Saturday at the Ford…..

I had received a phone call from a friend to tell me that I HAD to get the children to the Ford asap as there was something very cool about to happen. As mentioned in a previous post this could be literally anything as the Ford seems to draw in the weird and wonderful of the world…

I was packing for a trip away upstairs when she called and not long after I heard a rumbling, getting louder and louder and closer – I called the kids and we hot footed it to the ford, without shoes I might add as we were in such a rush – to find the most amazing procession of war vehicles I have ever seen, they were on route to Bovington tank museum across the forest and had started at a village fete.

Just another Saturday in Moreton

Just another Saturday in Moreton

Various vehicles in the procession

Various vehicles in the procession

I was such an amazing sight, there were probably nearly a hundred vehicles, ranging from tanks to jeeps to little buggies – everything you could imagine. Everyone was dressed up in the full regalia and were having an amazing time. They took the procession through the Ford and carried on up through Moreton Drive to Bovington. I expect the dog walkers and runners in the woods had a shock when they went passed them!

If I had been a little more prepared it would have been nice to be wearing shoes (it was VERY muddy and we must have looked pretty feral) to have put the dog on a lead, and to be better positioned to take photos as I was kind of squeezed in to a bush. The unexpected surprise was lovely though, and the look on the Boy One’s face when he saw it all was priceless.

Stuck in a bush shot

Stuck in a bush shot

Full dress up

Full dress up

Another Saturday, another village event. This time at The Walled Garden’s Royal Picnic organised by the welcome comittee at our local church, St Nics.

Now I am a great lover of any type of English Fete, village fair, picnic etc. I love the little stalls, the games, colours, cream teas and ice creams. It usually rains at some point and the dog show’s can be chaos but I think they are brilliant and we try to attend as many local one’s as possible. The kids love them and it’s a lovely day out.

Will dressed up

Will dressed up

Sunshine & horse racing

Sunshine & horse racing

The Royal Picnic was just brilliant, and had been very well organised by neighbours in the village – they had hired a great jazz band and local sea shanty singers (amazing!) and there were games, treasure hunts and of course a torrential down pour.

We then went back to our neighbours for a lovely supper in the sunset and had a great evening. The kids played on space hoppers. A perfect village day.

Clem & Olive

Clem & Olive

Sea Shanty Singers

Sea Shanty Singers

We are avidly trying to watch as much tennis as possible and have been keeping the tennis court at the manor spruced up for the guests this week who are looking forward to playing this weekend.

T x

The Priory, Wareham – Eating Out

With wedding season upon us Harry & I have been working flat out at The Manor and Walled Garden to make sure everything is looking great and that our lovely wedding couples have the perfect day.

Depending on the weather, which has been temperamental at best the last few weeks we are painting, fixing, pruning and clearing. Harry has continued to amaze me with his ability to fix pretty much anything with the skill of a professional and we have a great team on the estate who have been working under tight time frames between guests to get essential maintenance completed.

Art Expo at The Manor

Art Expo at The Manor

Kids play / adults work!

Kids play / adults work!

We managed to squeeze a lunch date in one Friday, did our best not to talk shop and had a delicious lunch at The Priory in Wareham.

Wareham is a very pretty town a 15 minute drive from Moreton. It has lots to see and do on a day out and is situated on the river Frome, offering a pretty quay with boat trips and hire through the warmer months. There is a great pub on the river called The Granary and our favorite fish & chip shop “Chipperies” is well worth a visit too.

On this occasion we chose The Priory as it was lovely and sunny and they have the most beautiful terrace and garden which slopes gently down to their jetty and the river. There are 4 acres of beautiful cottage style gardens and various little gardens to discover. It has been privately owned for 40 years, which you can really tell in the loving way it is looked after. The flowers were in full bloom and as we didn’t have the children with us on this particular visit ( no under 12’s allowed unless at a private function ) we decided to make the most of it.

Garden at The Priory

Garden at The Priory

Harry on the terrace at The Priory

Harry on the terrace at The Priory

The menu is varied with a focus on seafood, Harry had Moules and I went for the dressed crab. It was all absolutely delicious. The staff are knowledgeable and friendly and knew where our food was sourced. After lunch we took our coffee through the gardens and ended up getting caught in a rain shower – luckily there was an amazing pod to escape to, all glass so you can watch the boats go by and relax.

Riverside pod

Riverside pod

Escaping the rain

Escaping the rain

If you are coming for a visit to Dorset and can get a reservation I would highly recommend a trip. In the past Harry and I have had wonderful romantic dinners in their wonderfully restored historic cellar, with canapes in front of the fire before hand. My next visit has to be for afternoon tea as I have heard they are delicious too! I now just need an excuse to go…

You know you are a certain age when…..

It has been creeping upon me quite slowly but recently we succumbed to getting a National Trust membership. It is not something I actively tried not to do, it always just seemed something that older, more sensible people do – getting the membership rather than paying high prices every time you visited a National Trust spot ( which we often did, utter madness)

So on a Sunday morning trip out Harry & I decided to take the children over to Studland beach for breakfast at Knoll Beach cafe and a nice long walk across the sandy beach towards Shell Bay.

The beaches are beautiful and long, there are great sand dunes and shelved safe waters for the little ones to pay in. The National Trust look after the beach and offer great activities in school holidays. The cafe serves yummy food but I would always suggest a picnic for warmer visits as it does get very busy, arrive early in the summer to avoid traffic!

We always head to either Middle Beach or Knoll Beach, both have excellent views of Old Harry’s Rocks and bathroom facilities.

If you are lucky enough to get a table treat yourself to lunch on the terrace at The Pig on The Beach (book waaaaaay in advance!) it has a delicious locally sourced menu and fantastic views on the sea. When we have been before we walk down from the hotel after lunch for a paddle and some rock pooling at Middle Beach. It is a bit quieter that end but equally beautiful.

Rock Pooling on Studland Beach

Rock Pooling on Studland Beach


I have this thing with floors! Pig on The Beach

I have this thing with floors! Pig on The Beach

On this particular visit we could not get a table at The Pig so hopped in the car and decamped to Corfe Castle, which is a 10 minute drive away from the beach. We arrived just in time to take part in the medieval reenactments that were taking place as part of an event. The boy one absolutely loved this and it has sparked a fascination with armor and medieval weapons.

The moral of this little tale is that without the membership this trip would have cost a lot more and we have since discovered plenty of other spots local to Moreton that are part of the national trust. Clouds Hill is a walk through the forest away. Hardy’s birthplace at Thorncombe woods and his later home at Max Gate. All our on our list of ‘to do’s’ this summer holiday’s.

We have a busy Bank Holiday coming up with a lovely wedding at The Manor House, a birthday sleepover for the girl one and party for Harry too. Exhausted just thinking about it!

T x

‘The Vale of great Dairies’

Thomas Hardy described the fields and farms that make up the surrounding areas of Moreton as ‘the vale of great dairies’ which is pretty accurate, there are a lot of dairy farms, lush fields and plenty of cows!

There is so much more to Moreton though, I have loved this village since I was a small child and would visit from a neighboring village with my Mumma through the summer.

The main focal point for visitors is our beautiful Ford, which is the longest in the south of England, it is a beautiful place through the whole year and it has become a important place for us as a family. We walk across the Ford every day, in the winter when it’s frosty it looks so beautiful at sunrise and is still and peaceful, at other times when we have had heavy rainfall the water level comes up almost to the bridge you have to be really careful if the dogs want to swim (as my dear friend Abi found out when she had to jump in to the freezing water to rescue her exuberant pup Hunter!)

Once the weather starts to warm up a little, around late April we start to visit a bit more with the children, they would literally spend hours with their river shoes on having a paddle, playing on boogie boards and charging over to the little island that appears when the levels are lower. When the weather is super nice we wait till early evening when the crowds have gone home, take a picnic supper and (sometimes!) a glass of wine and spend the last hours of the sunshine there.

Supper picnic at the Ford

Supper picnic at the Ford


Boogie Boarding

Boogie Boarding

You will see tractors, ponies, horse & carriages, soldiers and all sorts of other things crossing the Ford at different times in the year, I met a dog walker there the other day who remembers when the cows would cross daily from the fields beyond the Ford to go down to the dairy to be milked. Yesterday there was a puppy obedience class taking place on the waters edge and through the warmer months you see a lot of Brides & Grooms from the church there after their wedding having photographs taken.

Nature wise I often see the kingfisher when I go for a run at dawn and more recently herons too. Swans, plenty of ducks and jumping fish (not entirely sure what they are).

Most importantly though, it is Plums MOST favorite place in the world. Especially when there is a ball or stick being thrown for her. She spent a great deal of last weekend slipping out of our gate, trotting of down the street to the Ford where she knew there would be plenty of kids playing and happy to throw sticks. This caused me many a panic attack until I realised where she was…..

The resident Pooch of the Ford!

Beyond the Ford up in to Moreton forest there are some brilliant walking / running cycling trails. You can get to Clouds Hill and to many other pretty areas of Dorset. There is the Jubilee trail goes across the stile up in to the Forest and on through Oakers wood. Currently there is a very pretty copse on this route full of Bluebells, if the rain holds off I am heading that way today!

T xx