Thursday, 22 April 2021

The Old Thatch Wimborne - Review

It's always good to find new local pubs to visit, especially after not being able to visit one in so long! The Old Thatch Wimborne recently opened their (beer garden) doors to the public after being closed over lockdown and it's great to see a business back on it's feet with brand new ideas, and amazing food. 

The Old Thatch is located opposite Stapehill Abbey and is just off the Castleman Trail which links Wimborne to Ferndown and Ringwood to Poole. Dating back to the 17th Century, it's even rumoured to have it's own ghost! Nick Pestana has been the landlord since 2018 and recently he joined forces with multi-award winning restaurateur Andy Lennox to transform The Old Thatch into an elegant Gastro Pub, Kitchen and Country Store. 

Nick Pestana and Andy Lennox

The Country Store will stock an array of freshly baked bread and cakes, local meats and dairy produce as well as general household items.

The pub menu will be locally focused and will include a balanced selection of butchery, seafood and veg served in a relaxed environment. 

It was our first ever visit to The Old Thatch although having driven past many times. It's a stunning character building set back from the main road, and has a large beer garden at the front which now has a canopy/heaters for wetter and colder visits! 


There are lots of covid measures in place - no indoor seating obviously- but hand sanitiser available and plenty of space between tables. All the staff were wearing masks too. 

Now, onto the food. The menu features lots of pub classics such as bangers & mash, fish & chips and steaks, and there is also an option of some yummy sounding sharing platters. I've got my eye on the "Local and Melted" option for next time - melted cheese and chilli jam to dip you bread into! I imagine once the pub is fully open in May, the menu will be expanded but I found there to be lots of choice and even some vegan options. I'd had a sneaky peek at the menu before our visit and everything sounded lovely but myself and my Mum both decided to have the burgers. Well....what can I say. It was a burger like no other!! Firstly it was absolutely massive, a homemade 8oz burger in a toasted brioche bun. Topped with cheese, bacon and all the trimmings. It was absolutely delicious! It came with spicy slaw and skin on fries which were perfectly seasoned. 

The Old Thatch Burger

We debated about having a pudding but we couldn't resist the brownie, especially as it came with salted caramel ice-cream. And it was just as good as it sounded! 


We had a really lovely lunch at The Old Thatch and were thoroughly impressed with the food. The members of staff that we encountered were all very friendly and helpful. I can't wait to bring the family back, I know the children will be excited to hear there is a play area! 


*Disclaimer - We were invited for a gifted meal in exchange for an honest review. Those yummy food pictures do not lie ;) 

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

A Visit to Portland Bill, Dorset

 Now that we are allowed to venture a bit further, we have enjoyed exploring parts of Dorset that we've not been to for a while. One such place is Portland, the southernmost part of Dorset and we took a visit here over Easter weekend. 

The Isle of Portland is connected to the mainland by Chesil Beach. Famous for it's stone, Portland Stone has been quarried for many years and can even be found in St Paul's Cathedral. Although the island is only 4 miles long and 1.7 miles wide, it has lots to offer and makes the perfect day out for a family. 

We started our Portland visit by stopping at the viewpoint at the top which faces out towards Chesil Beach. On a clear day the views are amazing and you can see all along the Jurassic Coast. 


Situated at the very tip of the island is Portland Bill and this was our next stop. In normal times, you can go in the visitors centre and even have tours up the lighthouse but due to Covid these have been put on hold. They are hopeful the Visitors Centre can open from 17th May but please check the PB website for more updates. 

We decided to follow a circular walk (this is the route we followed) which began in the carpark - at 3.5miles long it was perfect for the children and very scenic along the way. We headed up towards the cliff with the lighthouse behind us and could see as far as Charmouth and Lyme Regis. 


The walk then headed inland where we crossed straight across the Island and back down towards the South West Coast Path. As you can see we made some friends along the way!


The final section of the walk led us along the craggy coastline, past the quarries of long ago and again with stunning scenery of the Jurassic Coastline. 



Along the path you can see the remains of the cranes - these would have been used to load Portland Stone onto the barges where it was then shipped to London. 


Soon we were back at Portland Bill Lighthouse and it was time for a bite to eat. At our time of visiting, the Lobster Pot were serving takeaway food and drink. I did think the prices at the Lobster pot were quite high (£3.95 for a portion of chips) but this didn't deter visitors and there was a steady stream of people in the queue. 


If you're heading to Portland, other places that are worth a visit are Fancy's Farm and the Sculpture Park at Tout Quarry. The South West Coast Path runs all the way around the Island and there are lots of walking trails available. 

Have you ever visited Portland Bill? 



Thursday, 4 March 2021

Feeling Spooky at Exbury Gardens & Steam Railway, Hampshire

 Our October Half Term was a bit of a weird one last year. Obviously we had  lockdown to contend with but with the rules relaxed somewhat, we wanted to have a few covid safe days out to make things as normal as possible! 

We love a spooky day out and my kids love nothing more than donning fancy dress so it was with great excitement that we booked a day out at Exbury Gardens & Steam Railway in Hampshire for their special Halloween festivities. 

Managed by the Rothschild Family, Exbury Gardens has over 200 acres of beautiful walks and gardens, suitable for all ages. With the Steam Railway on site, it's the perfect family day out if you're visiting the New Forest area. 

We raised a few eyebrows as we pulled up with the Grim Reaper sat in the back of the car! We had pre-booked our tickets online and it was nice and straightforward getting in. We loved the spooky decorations in the foyer, one of those witches looked awfully familiar...

Once inside, we made our way over to the Rock Garden where the Halloween trail was. This was a big hit with the kids and we spent lots of time looking for the clues and letters. The decorations were brilliant and really spooky, but without taking away how pretty the gardens were. 



It was soon time to board the ghost train and we were all excited/a little nervous about this! The train station was decked out in fantastic Halloween decorations and I loved all the little details like the spooky posters. 


The steam train began it's journey and we were entertained by the ghoulish characters on board who told jokes and sang for us. Along the way we caught glimpses of more spooky characters who popped up alongside the carriage! 



The route around the gardens takes in Summer Lane Garden, Rock Garden, Dragonfly Pond and even through a creepy, dark tunnel. The little ones weren't too keen on the tunnel, especially when the witch appeared and chased after the train! 



Look carefully at the far side of the lake! 

There are a couple of options for food and drink at Exbury - obviously these depend on Covid regulations and seasonal openings. When we visited, Mr Eddy's Restaurant was offering take-away only but there were lots of  options for families and reasonably priced. We picked up some chicken goujons and fries (plus a giant burger for Elliot!) and were able to find a bench outside to eat on. I also spotted a vegan pop up kiosk near the entrance that seemed to be busy! 




We spent the remainder of the afternoon exploring the rest of the gardens and taking in all the gorgeous Autumnal colours. It really is a photographer's dream here in October with so many vibrant colours. 




We had a fantastic spooky day out at Exbury Gardens and will certainly return to explore the bits we didn't get to see. We loved the Halloween event, and we won't forget the ghost train in a hurry! 


At the time of writing, Exbury Gardens are currently closed due to Covid-19 restrictions but are due to reopen on March 29th 2021. The Steam Railway is scheduled to open on Monday 12th April. If you're planning a visit, please check the website before you go to ensure they are open. 











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