Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited to Dorset, along with 13 food bloggers,courtesy of holidaycottages.co.uk. It was a food blogger trip and as I now blog about food, I was invited along.
You may remember I’ve been on a blogger trip to Devon with holidaycottages.co.uk before (#BloggerHotTub), so I was already aware of what a great time we’d have, but this time round I only knew one person! But in my experience, a hot tub is a great way to get to know someone. But that’s another story.
It took me approximately three hours to get to Dorset from Kent, including obligatory wee/coffee break, and I reached our cottage in Blandford Forum mid-afternoon. It was stunning. And I say ‘cottage’, but the house actually sleeps 16 and is one of four properties within the gated grounds. I was lucky enough to stay in the main house, Ranmoor Cottage, and this house includes eight bedrooms, some of which have their very own private balcony! My room overlooked the swimming pool (yes, swimming pool!) which is heated and available from mid-May.
I met up with the lovely Chris from Thinly Spread, Helen from Casa Costello, and Choclette from Tin & Thyme, and we all decided to take our cameras and have a wander around the grounds. The house is set in the middle of the countryside and you can imagine the panoramic view of the trees and greenery, and I mustn’t forget to mention the alpacas next door which were very well behaved all weekend!
We quickly found a trampoline and badminton net, as you do, and decided to have a quick game. The sun was shining, and the only thing missing was a glass of cold Prosecco.
Which brings me onto alcohol! We were each given a goodie bag which contained some incredible food and drink from Dorset, and two of my favourite items were the Black Cow Pure Milk Vodka and the Conker Gin from Conker Spirits. Now I am no gin expert but I know what I like and this gin was the nicest gin I have ever had … and I’ve had a few gins in my time! Myself and the other bloggers spent a couple of hours sat around the big island in the middle of the kitchen and got to know each other over a gin or two, snacking on cubes of Black Cow Vodka Cheese. Heaven!
Onto dinner. We were lucky enough to have a private catering company, Dorset Fine Dining Company, come to the house to cook us our very own three-course meal. There was a huge dining table so it was more than big enough room for us all to sit together and the food was incredible. I chose cured salmon to start with, followed by pork belly with red cabbage and bubble & squeak for main course, and then vanilla pannacotta for dessert. I can’t say I’ve ever had a private chef cook for me so this really was a great experience and something I will treasure. I felt very special … but that could just be the sparkling wine from Furleigh Estate talking! I don’t drink red or white wine but if they were anything like the sparkling wine I did drink, then i can confirm it is pretty delicious stuff.
After breakfast the next morning we all headed off to meet Sarah from Goldhill Organic Farm, who treated us to a tour of the farm she runs with her husband Andrew, to explain the growing process of the farm, how they harvest rainwater and how they work closely with the Soil Association. We then met the very lovely Nick and Jane from Goldhill Organics who talked to us about the new veg box business they have just started. They will be branching out into juice and soup boxes soon and if you are in the Dorset area, I can definitely recommend their produce, as we were treated to the most delicious bean stew and salad.
We popped over to one of the other businesses that is situated at the farm, Tea & Sympathy, and were treated to some fantastic Dorset apple cake made by Sharon – with lots of cream of course! It’s a great cafe that sells secondhand retro crockery and although quite small, it’s perfectly formed with a fantastic atmosphere and the most delicious food on offer. It’s the type of café I wish was closer to where I lived!
You would think that we had had enough of cake by then but you would most definitely be wrong, because when we arrived back at the house, Bethellbridge Bakery had arrived and put on the most magnificent spread of Afternoon Tea and, being food bloggers, we managed to find room to eat their lovely sandwiches and cakes – what troupers we really are! They even supplied the prettiest teapots, tea-cups and plates, and it really was the most wonderful way to spend an afternoon with my new friends.
I spent the afternoon in a cake coma in my bedroom but managed to roll myself downstairs in time for a late dinner that night, courtesy of Dorset Pies, who were kind enough to send us lots of pies to try out. Lots of the other bloggers are vegetarian so there was plenty of vegetarian pies to also choose from. Dinner was rounded off perfectly by some ice cream from Purbeck Ice Cream – beetroot sorbet and marmalade ice cream being particular hits with everyone.
And just to prove I did use the hot tub …
The lovely Sus from Rough Measures, was kind enough to cook up a big batch of bubble and squeak for breakfast on Sunday morning and then it was time to leave. I was sad to say goodbye to everybody, but I think I probably had the longest journey home so needed to set off quite early.
A big thank you to Emma and Sarah from www.holidaycottages.co.uk for making the weekend so wonderful for all of us and it really was a great opportunity to meet new bloggers, explore A part of the country I don’t know very well, talk to local businesses and sample food and drink but I know I will definitely buy again. If you’re ever in Dorset, make sure you have a look out for these brands if you don’t know them already, you won’t be disappointed.