After many a Google of ‘weekend breaks within 3 hours of London’ we decided to spend the recent bank holiday exploring Dorset, or more specifically the Jurassic Coast. I tend to use bank holidays to visit my family in Devon, but as it was my birthday I thought it was a good opportunity to rent a cottage somewhere I’ve not been before.
It’s always hard going away with a group of people, even family. With different personalities and varying ideas around what makes a holiday, I find it a good idea to plan what we’re doing in advance so there’s something for everyone. My parents are walking-off-the-beaten-track outdoors people, whereas I enjoy taking my puppy for a walk which ends with lunch. I’m quite happy to have cosy nights on holiday in providing there’s good food and wine, but my partner will always choose to eat out. Dorset is a great county to explore for all kinds of people, and I always think if you find the right accommodation you’ll have a great time.
Here’s a few things we got up to:
1. English wine tasting
We did a delightful vineyard / wine tasting at Melbury Vale Vineyard for just £18.50. It was fairly quaint – I kind of got the impression that it’s ranges from a weekend hobby to all hands on deck over the year – but the host was a real character and very knowledgable about English wines (which should always be called English rather than British, we were told). And actually when you go to French vineyards they are often ghost towns but with a certain joie de vivre to them.
It was a great chance to hear more about the intricacies of English vineyards and we must have tried 7 different wines, including a couple of sparkling (of which a couple of bottles may have ended up coming home with me). The light lunch snack included in the price was an added bonus – some lovely local cheeses, chutneys and meats. It was about an hour’s drive from where we were staying but I’d really recommend it if you’re on an adults-only trip.
2. Following the tourist trail
Dorset’s known for some picturesque sites but you can guarantee that almost all of them will be swarming with people during the bank holiday. But after rumours of snow, there’s nothing more British than crowds rallying together to enjoy a bank holiday walk and make the most of the sun finally coming out and the guaranteed ice cream van (99s all round), followed by a roast in a village pub. The puppy certainly enjoyed it!
3. Food fest in tropical gardens
I love a food festival but going to one at Abbotsbury Tropical Gardens was a first. It wasn’t the best food festival – it was the first time in that venue so it was quite small as I’m sure a lot of stallholders had more established bank hol events to attend – and the parking was a bit of a disaster, but the proximity to Chesil Beach and the £5 fee which included entry to the tropical gardens meant there was actually quite a lot to see. Plus there were two seafood stands and I’m happy wherever there’s a crab sandwich to hand! I’ve been to a few of the Foodies events (in London and Brighton) and they are great fun but definitely cost more than £5!
I always look at what’s on when I go somewhere – not just on TripAdvisor, but also by googling the dates with the location or looking at Groupon (where I originally found the vineyard tour but booked direct). There’s so much out there that isn’t well publicised but often they are the most memorable, and I love to do something a little bit different!
Have you had any adventures in other parts of Dorset that you can share (as I’m sure I’ll be going back)?
If you like Dorset, then you’ll love North Devon. Here’s why.