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. ♡

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

A photo posted by T A B I T H A (@tabitha_in_dorset) on

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

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

New Years Walks in Dorset

We love our walks with Plum and this Christmas break we decided to make the most of our beautiful Dorset. This is Stair Hole, just up the hill from Lulworth, it was a chaotic stormy day but the sea looked dramatic and wonderful! I would highly recommend a trip to Lulworth & Durdle Door for anyone visiting.

On the last day of the Christmas holidays we decided to make the most of the limited good weather and headed to Thorncombe woods, it’s our local favorite and such a wonderful place for a walk. Thomas Hardy was born in a cottage on the edge of the wood, which can be visited during the summer. It has a truly magical feel in this wood, and we always discover new paths and bits we have not yet noticed. There are wild white ponies which look like unicorns strolling around – ponds and a mix of forest and woodland to enjoy. There is also a fab new cafe ‘Under the greenwood tree’ (catch the Hardy reference?!) which is a great place to stop at the end of your walk and have a well deserved refuel.

View of Bockhampton from Thorncombe woods #family #walks #thorncombewoods #dorset

A photo posted by Tabitha Schofield (@tabsschofield) on