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

It’s been a while!

Having not blogged since before the last half term there is a mountain of stuff I could go on about, but a brief update is probably best and then I can resume normal service!

Moving in blooms at Teal House

Moving in blooms at Teal House

Morning views, a very sunny house.

Morning views, a very sunny house.

The main reason for my absence has been that we moved house – across the field from our cottage so not too far, but is has completely consumed every spare minute outside of kids and work so my little blog has been slightly neglected.
I am starting to feel much more at home and the main chunk of work has been done to make the new house feel like home, we all absolutely love it and are very happy.

The Manor House is looking stunning at the moment, our head gardener at The Walled Garden, Tim Newman has done the most wonderful job of pruning this year and the house is covered in lilac blooms, we have a wedding this weekend and I really hope that the flowers are still in one piece as they would make a wonderful backdrop for photographs…

Wisteria season at The Manor

Wisteria season at The Manor

Beautiful facade to the house

Beautiful facade to the house

The one thing I regret is not blogging more when the spring blooms were abundant in the garden at The Manor, it really is a beautiful sight. Banks of daffodils followed by carpets of purple, lilac and white Bluebells (or Snowbells as Clementine calls them!) then, just after it all calmed down we had a week of glorious sunshine combined with torrential rain which encouraged all the trees along and the Wisteria and now it looks like mid summer and the lawn is needing a lot of mowing. All beautiful, such a great time of year.

Bluebells & *Snowbells* at The Manor

Bluebells & *Snowbells* at The Manor

Bluebell woods at Moreton

Bluebell woods at Moreton

April & May are very busy for us as a family as we celebrate so many family/ friend birthday’s, (I counted 12 off the top of my head but I think there are a few more!) so we have had lots of parties and celebrations, all of which have been great fun.
Jude turned 5 and had a great time with all his pals, he didn’t really want a theme for his birthday or bouncy castles etc so we had a garden party with friends from school and they played football, I think we ended up having three parties over the weekend of his birthday!

The boy one turned 5!

The boy one turned 5!

Birthday boy!

Birthday boy!

I had the most perfect birthday in late April, Harry organised lunch with my parents at Summer Lodge in Evershot (a must visit for anyone new to Dorset, it’s worth the drive!) and then my darling friend Sophia hosted a dinner for me with lots of my nearest and dearest there, it was so much fun. We finished the weekend off visiting friends up near Bath, which was the best way to round off such a brilliant weekend.

Lunch at Summer Lodge with Harry, Mum & Dad

Lunch at Summer Lodge with Harry, Mum & Dad

Birthday celebrations at Sophs.

Birthday celebrations at Sophs.

My friend Louisa Loasby is an incredibly talented chef and cooks for dinner parties at The Manor frequently, a lot of our guests re book year on year and always make sure that Lou is free before they do so! This April Lou organised a hen weekend for one of her best friends Donna, it sounded like they had a very fun weekend. Lou organised a chef for the first night but decided to dress the table herself as a treat for the party, I had to include this on the blog as it really did look stunning and is such a great idea for a celebration meal – the photos do not do it the justice it deserves! Lou is now offering a table dressing service as part of her business. FYI future guests!!

Beautiful new service from Louisa Loasby

Beautiful new service from Louisa Loasby

The Manor!

The Manor!

Hello February

February feels like such a relief. We are all a little too tough on ourselves in January, something I really would like to change!

When we get around the corner to February it feels like we suddenly have all sorts of things to look forward to, pancakes, valentines, half term and spring blooms to name but a few.

We just had a really lovely weekend, which definitely felt like we were over the January hump. It started with a birthday lunch for my sister in law Charlotte at Rick Steins new restaurant in Sandbanks.

We had a really wonderful time, the restaurant has changed a great deal over the years, my first visit was on my 18th birthday! The decoration is spot on and the staff delightful. We were given a great table with a view over the harbour and all enjoyed the delicious food. I decided on the crab and wasabi starter and then had the lamb cutlets with sides of greens & pumpkin. Completely delicious. Highly recommended!

The rest of the weekend included walks, rugby, delicious supper in the village with friends and a great day in West Dorset exploring the country lanes ending up at Mapperton House to have a walk through the garden.

Mapperton House

Mapperton House

Formal garden at Mapperton

Formal garden at Mapperton

Although it was a really grey day we were all so impressed by the beautiful gardens, there were lots of nooks & grottos for the children to explore and secret ponds full of frog spawn. We followed the map given to us to spot all the crocuses, snow drops and daffodils. I can only imagine how stunning it looks in spring and summer and I can’t wait to go back and do more exploring and have a look at the house, which opens from the end of March.

We are really lucky that both the children are happy to accompany us on these days out and don’t whinge too much! It is so important for us that they appreciate our county and all it has to offer, and that they are able to take pleasure in nature, walking the dog and spending time as a family. We are not yet at the gaming / computer / mobile phone stage and I really hope we can fend it off for quite a lot longer! They were bribed along this walk with the reward of tea & cake in the pretty Sawmills Cafe at the end which they both enjoyed very much, as did I, amazing courgette and pistachio cake!

We then went along to Corscombe to visit the children’s godfather, and had a quick drink in the quaint village pub. Massive log fires and traditional ales..

The children are always asking to go to a pub (we do not have one in the village so do not often frequent one) and this one was exactly what I think they thought it would be. I do love the idea of a village pub and the sense of community having one would bring, but in some ways it is probably a blessing not having one!

We are now planning our pancake recipes for tomorrow, so far the requests are ranging from traditional style with lemon & sugar to american style with bacon! for me it’s traditional style all the way, it can’t be beaten.

Hearts & flowers for Valentine's

Hearts & flowers for Valentine’s

Roses for Valentine's

Roses for Valentine’s

With Valentines falling on a Sunday the children are wanting to get fully involved and are making heart wreaths and planning the day. I am getting them all cards from papier.com which have brilliant designs. We already have spring flowers in the garden so the kids will be picking posies and making cookies. I think Harry and I will save our time for supper in the evening!

T xx

Weekend escapades

Good morning, happy Monday! It is a grey day here in Moreton and I am needing some serious motivation to get myself up and running, literally running, in the woods with little Plum.
We have had an interesting few weeks with our little Plum, quite traumatic and to be honest I don’t think I am entirely recovered.

part of the family

part of the family

Harry & Plum

Harry & Plum

Last Saturday we took Plum for a brief walk at a local wood whilst the kids played football and she was there one minute, gone the next! We searched for hours and must have walked miles to find her.. it was absolutely awful. The forest we were in is huge and I was fearing the worst. Luckily a wonderful couple found her, popped a lead on her and took her to the vets to have her chip scanned. We got the call and were so relieved! keeping her very close for the time being, thank goodness for technology and the kindness of strangers!!

We have been getting in lots of lovely new produce at The Dovecote farm shop and most of it is grown on site. It’s lovely to be able to pop in and have a coffee, read the papers and pick up some yummy bits and bobs, we enjoyed some delicious Seville marmalade over the weekend as well as veggies and sausages. The menu in the cafe has had as revamp and I enjoyed some lovely lunches there last week, soup, cassoulet and fishcakes..

Yummy soup

Yummy soup

Seville Marmalade made at The Dovecote

Seville Marmalade made at The Dovecote

We had a lovely Friday evening with our great friends Sophia & Mike, and on Sunday enjoyed a muddy and windy walk along the hill at the top of Ringstead, down to St Catherine’s Chapel by the sea and back. The sea mist was blowing in and we all got VERY wet and muddy, but the fresh air blew away the cobwebs. The views at the top are amazing and you can see along the coast and across to Portland. A highly recommended walk for anyone visiting Dorset.

After the walk we got the car stuck in a very muddy patch in the car park and needed rescuing by our friend & neighbour Scott and his trusty Defender, it was not quite how I had planned our Sunday on going but we redeemed the day by paying Scott & his family back for his time with a delicious supper of Osso Bucco and some lovely red wine.

I will be able to reveal the new interior scheme for our bedroom at the manor this week and will hopefully get started on the decorating by Wednesday.

I know what colours I think I want to use but they are not officially released until this afternoon – I think I need to run the idea by a few trusted friends first!

T x

More about us…

I realise I haven’t really done that ‘all about me’ thing on the blog yet so I thought now as good a time as any. Blogging through The Manor house site It tends to be more about the house but the family feature a great deal too! They are an important part of our journey with The Manor house so here is a little more about The Schofield’s…..

The Fam

The Fam


Abi & I x

Abi & I x

Harry & I met in 2007 and we moved to Moreton in late September 2008 – it was always our dream location, at the time directly in the middle of our parents and families, close to our home town of Dorchester but also deep enough in the countryside to satisfy us both. My best friend Abi had secured a cottage on the estate a month before and I was insanely jealous of her beautiful home, a chance phone call and a speedy viewing with our neighbour Ivy and I said yes to the house before Harry had even seen it. We moved in just over a month later with our baby daughter. Living in the same village as Abi has been a blast ever since, she is so dear to me and we have shared an enormous amount of experiences over the last 18 years of friendship. Always on hand in an emergency (and for a Friday glass of wine) I think I will always want to live “across the field” from her.

Chickens followed, the house changed here and there, as did the garden, life moves at a slow and seasonally based pace.. in 2011 our baby boy joined us and bedrooms were created to make room for him. A few changes of career paths happened and then in 2012 the most recent addition of our little family arrived, Plum.

Plum

Plum

Bumble kitten

Bumble kitten

Plum is a mini goldendoodle and a huge part of our family. We have both always had dogs in our family but wanted to wait until the latest baby was up on their feet before we thought about getting our own. She is an absolute treasure.. more about her and her recent escapades tomorrow…

We had been enjoying the Manor for a few years as some very dear friends of ours had lived there before relocating to Australia. When the opportunity came up with the house we took a huge leap of faith and took over the house. 2014 saw some changes for me in my career and I was doing lots of commuting with my job, really missing the children and all the extra stuff that comes when they join first school so we decided to open the house as a holiday home & wedding venue and I finished my job. We had a few months of furnishing the house (dream) and planning where everything was going to go, decorating and preparing. It was so much fun and I would love to do it all over again.

The last few years at The Manor have been great fun and we have met some lovely people along the way. it is a great job and flexible enough to mean I can get along with all our other projects and be there for the school run. The kids love the house and offer a critical eye on some of Harry & I’s furnishings and ideas!

Valentine

Valentine


Summer at the cottage

Summer at the cottage

We continue to enjoy living in the cottage, have more chickens and two gorgeous cats Valentine and Bumble.. as well as a stray know only as Skanky cat who sleeps outside in the shed and steals food. I could add to the animals constantly but they will soon out number humans in the house so we will just stick with adding chickens to the hen house!

T x

A wonderful way to end the week…

We have had a super busy Friday – I met with three sets of wedding couples this morning all booked in for their big day this year.
I absolutely love a wedding and get a real buzz helping different couples plan their special day. It is always a really happy meeting at The Manor, even when it is pouring with rain like today I was met with smiling faces. What is really nice that for most couples it was their second visit to the house and they said it was even better than they remembered which is lovely to hear. One couple had never seen the house in person and booked anyway – and they were delighted with their visit which was a huge relief!

Our little family

Our little family

Lots of happy wedding couples at The Manor today

Lots of happy wedding couples at The Manor today

I received the sweetest gift from a couple from the Netherlands as a thank you – it meant a lot! Myself, Harry and the children will be enjoying delicious waffles as we snuggle over the weekend xx

The cottage is filled with the most spring like scent of Hyacinths and we have lots of Tulips over at The Manor. We have returning guests this weekend which is lovely. They have the very talented Louisa Loasby cooking for them over the weekend which is a great idea to give the group the treat of not cooking whilst they enjoy the house.

Plans for the weekend include a long overdue night out with friends, football training, a visit to Kingston Lacy, walking, reading the papers and a lobster supper.. I can’t wait!

Weekend of relaxation sorted!☀️#food #weekend #flowers #tea

A photo posted by Tabitha Schofield (@tabsschofield) on

T xx

Dates & Paints

Movie date night was highly anticipated – (I know its only the flicks but January hibernation is long) I had booked us in to see The Revenant after watching the trailer and thinking it looked like a good ‘cinema’ film. Hell NO. It was the most traumatic 2.5 hours of 2016 so far.. Don’t get me wrong, it is beautifully shot, cast and set but it was so grim! Leo spent most of the film dragging himself across frozen ground unable to talk. The poor guy.
It was the kind of movie that made me want to get in to bed with each of my children for a long cuddle as soon as you get home – which is exactly what I did. It made me so tense I must have checked my phone at least 20 times in case the babysitter had called (weird Mamma anxieties going round in my head, fitting, high uncontrollable temperatures, house fires, cat suffocation, fingers in plug sockets to name a few).

A beautiful morning at The Manor

A beautiful morning at The Manor

Our morning at the cottage

Our morning at the cottage

We have had unbelievably beautiful frosty mornings this week, unlike any before -6oc this morning. I have so many photos of Moreton looking like something out of a painting – I really need to learn how to use my big camera properly soon, iPhone’s are great but I think I could get better shots!
Plum and I have been on lots of long walks across the ford and up through the forest making the most of the gorgeous weather.

We have been wanting to do some redecoration at The Manor for a while but have had to plan it quite closely to find a long enough gap between guests to get the work complete, we are starting in early Feb with one of the beautiful front facing bedrooms and a bit of work in the drawing room. With a house the age of The Manor a lot of TLC is needed so we have to take our time!

New Farrow & Ball colours released in a few weeks

New Farrow & Ball colours released in a few weeks

One of the bedrooms is getting a makeover

One of the bedrooms is getting a makeover

I am a huge fan of Farrow & Ball and their colour palette, the cottage is head to toe greys, minks and elephants huff. So I was thrilled to hear they are launching new colours in a few weeks. I popped in to our F&B shop in Dorchester today and the manager gave me a little sneak peek of the new colours ahead of their launch and they are beautiful! There is a fab little catalogue coming out with inspiration on how to match the new colours with others they have and I will definitely be taking tips from that. I will keep updating with developments but I am really looking forward to starting the project.

Meanwhile back at the cottage I have been having a great declutter and spruce up – it’s sometimes a little strange going from working at The Manor and the huge rooms to our little cottage nest, but it is home and I love where we live. I would need to have all my friends move in with me to fill The Manor on a daily basis, or have more babies… nudge nudge Harry!

The boy one had his first school disco this evening, bittersweet! My baby boy got himself all dressed up in his new shirt and was so excited to be taken back to school in the eveing (almost alone, big sis was on standby for emergencies) it was beyond sweet. He has grown up so much since starting school in September and is catching up with the girl one in so many ways. I am proud & blessed!

Sibling love x

Sibling love x

T xx

No snow Monday

On this day three years ago we woke up to a thick blanket of snow in Dorset – it was beautiful. This morning is dark, wet and very cold! I am still hopeful for some snow this winter, I love the kids taking a snow day – sledging, lighting the fire and having fun outside… Well – I like it for a day and then I need to get to the shops, or go to a meeting, the kids get bored and wet, the snow gets sludgy and brown and it all becomes a bit of a drag.. but ONE snow day would be perfect please.

Snowy Cottage

Snowy Cottage

Sledging in Moreton

Sledging in Moreton

We had a fun weekend. The boy one started football training on Saturday, it was very sweet to watch him playing with his buddies and he did so well, it was bloody freezing though so I don’t think I will become a regular sideline soccer Mom observer!

Our guests at The Manor booked The Dovecote for a birthday celebration so the team there were busy preparing on Saturday night, the pizza oven was lit and fairy lights were a plenty. It looked great.

The group enjoyed freshly cooked wood fired pizza, Mediterranean salads and petit four deserts.

Back at The Cottage we enjoyed a lovely brunch on Sunday – drop scone pancakes and fresh fruit and smoothies for the kids and smashed eggs with avocado for Harry & I. The egg recipe is one of my go-to favorites – it is from Madeline Shaw’s cook book.

I love Sunday brunch – I allow myself to make what ever everyone fancies – loads of mess – take my time – no rushing!! If I stretch it out long enough I can constitute it as lunch too so that works out for me. The girl one was on smoothie making duty (she is becoming very handy in the kitchen!)

We spent most of Sunday exploring Durlston near Swanage. There is a wonderful castle and some great walks and views, Guillemot spotting and lighthouse exploring. I reccomend it for a day out. The sea was a wonderful silvery green and you could see for miles.

Girl & Boy one enjoying the view at Durlston

Girl & Boy one enjoying the view at Durlston

Lovely sea greens

Lovely sea greens

We explored the castle at the end of our walk – it has received lottery funding and is very well designed. There was plenty of interactive stuff for the kids so they were well entertained. We had tea and milkshakes in the cafe before returning home for a lazy afternoon.

I am planning some new interior renovations at The Manor which I will be sharing this week. I have been on an online interior design course for what feels like an eternity so I am pushing myself to get it finished this year. As I am lucky enough to have The Manor as my blank canvass so I am going to start one room at a time. I am going to collaborate with a new launch at a well know local company so it is all very exciting. I am working on mood boards today so will reveal more and which rooms are on the hit list later this week.

T x

Friday, Netflix & Food

Friday, my dear friend, we have made it. Another full week of work, meetings, catch up’s, kids, family and to do lists (mainly not ticked off I must add). Glorious sunshine hit Moreton for most of the week with crisp frosty mornings – my favorite type of weather. The sunshine looks set to continue over the weekend which is not only good for our guests arriving but also for us as we celebrate my pop’s 70th birthday this weekend.

GP celebrating his birthday last year.

I have been busy at The Manor preparing the house for the weekends guests, pottering around that house is most agreeable – painting, sorting, adding this and that moving stuff around. It’s lovely to think about how the guests will be using the space in the house. The Manor is in a great situation and when the sun shines the front of the house gets the full hit…

It is oh so tempting to just lie out on one of the beds and sunbathe like a cat but I am always busying about. I am determined to carve out a weekend stay there myself next year. Here is a view of the house when walking back from The Dovecote at The Walled Garden.

Just lovely.

We are looking forward to starting our weekend, the plans start mid week for the kids as they work out what what food they want to cook (weekend food is pretty important though hey?) They have chosen to marinate ribs for this evening and then they would like to do GP an afternoon tea tomorrow. Nanu is baking a cake so we will be getting other tea related things ready, I think a special birthday crown will also be needed for such an auspicious birthday.
Sunday we hope to do a coastal walk at Dancing Ledge – Harry is suffering with man flu so we need to get him fighting fit first.

But this weekend will mostly be – NETFLIX – I do not know how we have missed the last 7 or so years of this phenomenon. SKY blinkers were on I suspect. But, wow.. considering this is January and we are hibernating it is just perfect for us. Harry received Apple TV for Christmas and it is brilliant but Netflix is the shining star. Currently obsessed with Bloodlines, Narcos & Making a Murderer.. I know there is heaps of other stuff to start too but I don’t think I could cope with any more.

Have a great weekend.

T x

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