Monday, 20 April 2015

Bring me sunshine…!

Oh me, oh my! How lucky were we with the weather over the Easter holidays - and beyond! It's been glorious - and I love it!

We had a really nice break although I have to confess we didn't do too much exploring of Dorset this time around. We did things like the beach, Upton, Farmer Palmer's and went to visit my family in the Cotswolds. And we had a few days at home, painting and pottering in the garden, which is always nice. 

It felt like a really long break, I don't know if that was the weather or the fact that our holidays ran differently to most of the country (hurrah, less crowds!) but it felt like we squeezed a lot in and that was good. 

And now it's back to reality with the school run, work, routines… But hey, at least it's sunny!

And we can think ahead to the May half-term. So who's going to tell me their top tips for places to go then? 

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Far From The Madding Crowd

If anyone's looked at the other section of my blog - My reading list - you'll have realised that I am a book geek. I LOVE reading. I really, really do. The only thing I miss about living in London is the fact I don't have the hour or so commute where I would bury my head in a book and lose myself for a while.

Dorset and its beauty has inspired many a novelist and one of the county's favourite famous sons is Thomas Hardy. Having studied Far From The Madding Crowd at school and grown to love it, I was keen to see where this literary genius grew up and got his inspiration from. So last weekend I took a trip to Higher Bockhampton, near Dorchester, to see where the great man lived (and as it was Easter, it had the added bonus of offering an Easter Egg trail to keep D1 entertained!)

Owned by the National Trust (membership comes in VERY handy in Dorset), the property is your archetypal chocolate-box cottage. It's beautiful. Set in woodland, which you can walk through to get to it, it has lovely gardens with trees, flowers, vegetable patches. And when we arrived, a fire was burning in the parlour, so we even got to enjoy the smell of woodsmoke as it curled up into the air… Bliss!

The cottage is as you'd expect for something built way back when - so tiny that you can't imagine how a family lived it. But somehow they did, and it's in this little oasis of tranquility that Hardy sat and gazed out of his window as he penned FFTMC amongst others. There's even a replica of his desk that you can sit at and perhaps gain some of your own inspiration!

But as a mum worried about how her 4yo is going to enjoy something a bit more mature, the best bit had to be that you can actively get involved. You can touch objects, you can interact and explore your surroundings - and the staff on hand were brilliant at drawing D1 (or Flopsy as they named her thanks to her Easter bunny ears) into conversation and pointing out things in the rooms she would love. OK, so the trail was great because she knew she would get an egg at the end of it, but 'Flopsy' was genuinely interested in who Hardy was and I think she would have enjoyed the cottage regardless of the chocolate incentive. 

Just a walk away from the cottage, by the car park for the property, the National Trust has built a new visitor centre with a cafe (good scones!) and the adjacent woodland nearby was popular with families, dog walkers and cyclists. It's definitely an unspoilt bit of Dorset that I'll be returning to again - and not least because Clouds Hill, where 
T E Lawrence, Lawrence of Arabia, retreated when he wanted some peace and quiet, is nearby. I told you Dorset was rife with writers!

For more information about Thomas Hardy's birthplace, see

Monday, 23 March 2015

Me Time

Like most mummies, I spend a lot of my time – and energy – making sure everyone around me is fed, clothed, watered, nurtured, happy, clean, comfortable, provided for… The list goes on. And like most mummies, this leaves me with very little time to look after myself.

So you can imagine my delight when I got to enjoy not only an hour to myself – but an hour enjoying a relaxing hot stone massage at that! 

I've never had a hot stone massage before – not for want of trying. The first time I had to cancel after discovering I was pregnant, the second time the spa I was at had a power cut and couldn't heat the stones! But thanks to Paula, owner of Garden Room Therapies in Ferndown, I now know that my first hot stone massage won't be my last. 

Yes, I know, having hot stones placed over your body doesn't sound like the most relaxing experience ever, but trust me. It is. The heat of the stones helps to relax the body in a short space of time, which releases tension and boosts circulation. Combined with soothing oils and colder stones, it's also good for relieving pain and reducing stress. Sounds like a winning combination to me.

Paula's therapy room is at the back of her home and as you'd expect, it's a calming space, filled with light and soft music. Paula is a multi-talented masseur and her professional qualifications are proudly displayed. She exudes a calm, confident manner that instantly puts you at ease and under her expert hands, I could feel my tensions melting away. Unfortunately parental duties meant I couldn't enjoy a full 90 minutes, but Paula was extremely accommodating, conscious of my time constraints and ensured I walked out of her house a hell of a lot less stressed than I was when I walked in.

But hot stones aren't just for stressed-out, exhausted mummies - a massage with them can also help muscular pain, rheumatic conditions, fibromyalgia, back pain and insomnia. 

And hot stones aren't the only massage Garden Room Therapies offer. Paula's hands can also work their magic with Swedish, deep tissue, pregnancy and aromatherapy massages as well as Shiatsu and Reiki. 

A 90-minute hot stone massage costs £20 – blue light workers and senior citizens can get a discount too.

To find out more, see

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Fun at the Farm!

There's been rather a lot going on at Dorset Mummy towers so once again I find myself apologising for the lack of posts. I've certainly got more than enough to write about so when I can get back up and running regularly, the posts will come thick and fast!

But in the meantime I wanted to do a little write up on Farmer Palmer's as I've had a few fun days there lately. Back in January, FP's came up with a fantastic offer on its annual passes - if you bought one within the specified time period, it would be valid from when the park opened in early February this year until the end of the February half term next year. Ok, so it's closed from the end of December for 5 weeks or so, but for £40 (when it would normally cost me £8.75 a visit), this still seemed like an absolute bargain, especially as D2 is free being under 2.

And we've certainly been making use of it, even if the weather's been a little on the 'fresh' side. But the nice thing about having an annual pass is that you don't have to spend all day there - you can just go for a couple of hours if you like, which is exactly what we've been doing.

The nice thing about Farmer Palmer's is the variety of things to do. From bouncy castles to animals to soft play to the play park, there's enough to keep the kids entertained. And let's be honest, us adults too. I wasn't sure how much D2 would get out of some of the entertainment – she's only 16 months – but it's been a good opportunity to explore her limits and see what she's ready for and what she's not ready for. 

Pony grooming
So the cuddling of guinea pigs has been a reasonable hit, although a couple of the poor creatures have been subjected to a bit of fur-pulling (sorry…!). She's not quite ready for the feeding of animals but is happy to watch Mummy or D1 do it. Bouncy castles are a bit of a no-go – mainly because she doesn't actually know how to jump yet! The play park's a massive hit though, as is the soft play. But the nice thing is that as the year progresses, she'll progress too and we'll be able to enjoy more and more together. And as the weather gets warmer, we'll be able to spend time enjoying the outdoor space more. Hurrah!

To find out more, visit I'll see you down there this summer!

These piglets were just a week old when we saw them! Awwww!

Monday, 9 February 2015

Queen of the castle!

It was such a beautiful day yesterday, so we decided it was the perfect time to visit Corfe Castle. We've driven past its stunning ruins on numerous occasions so it was nice to get up close to this ancient building. And once we'd walked the half mile or so to it, we were rewarded not just with the castle, but the amazing views its position offered.

I'm not a history buff, but Corfe Castle has a rich and varied background that we all found fascinating. From siblings fighting over the throne to imprisonment to being a favourite of the rich and powerful, its seen it all.

And the view was spectacular. We could see Poole, Bournemouth, the Purbecks. I love Dorset for its coast, but the country element of our stunning county shouldn't be overlooked either.

There was enough to amuse D1, who happily followed the shield trail, did brass rubbings, clambered over stones/hills/stairs and exhausted herself (hurrah!) And she was pretty chuffed with the medal she received for her hard work too!


Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Do you wanna build a snowman? Er, no…

It seems that since Christmas most places around the country had experienced snowfall of some kind. I was hoping that we'd avoid it being so far South, so you can imagine the look on my face when my hubby told me we'd had snow this morning… 

Let me make one thing clear. I don't like snow. Actually, I don't like cold. I am NOT a winter person. I like hot weather, hot holidays, summer clothes and the feel of the sun on my face. I do not like not being able to feel my toes, wrapping up in 20 layers and not being able to get out in my garden. I think I've made my point.

So the fact that we'd had a couple of inches of snow overnight was not met with joy by me this morning. Unlike some, I was praying that the school would be open and the sun would come out and melt the snow away. (I got both my wishes, hurrah!) Sadly D1 hasn't inherited my hatred of the wet stuff and gleefully pelted me with snowballs ALL THE WAY TO SCHOOL. 

I then attempted to go somewhere 10 minutes away in the car. It took me 30 minutes. 

I'd diligently cleared ALL the snow off my vehicle, unlike some muppets who could barely see through their snow-covered windscreens. 

On the way home, my car slid across some ice. 

Then the sun came out and melted it all away.


Monday, 19 January 2015

So much to do, so little time

Obviously I had all good intentions of blogging regularly and brilliantly when the year kicked off, and like many resolutions, it's obviously slightly waned… There just never seem to be enough hours in the day. I don't think my time management is especially poor, but I do have a little lady who likes to power nap, so unlike some mums, I don't get to enjoy a two-hour stint to get things done. If I get over 30 minutes, I count myself lucky! But what I end up doing while she's snoozing is madly trying to squeeze what I can into that time and being reluctant to start any job that's too big, because I may end up leaving it unfinished.

Somehow I managed to work four days a week, keep a household fairly in check and still find time to go out and have fun. These days I'm working sporadically in the evenings, my house looks like a bomb's hit it most of the time and I spend my evenings thinking I'll get lots achieved then find myself dozing off in front of the TV far too early.

Am I the only time-poor mum out there? And what are your tips for keeping on top of things, other than bribing the grandparents to give you some time off from time to time?! Please share!