Thomas Hardy Country

After a gorgeous breakfast overlooking the ocean C and I set out on our long drive from Brighton to Dartmoor National Park. We had planned to go camping, which was increasingly looking like a terrible idea what with temps around -1, a wind chill factor of -10 and half of the country experiencing snow. In fact, it was actually snowing in London the day before just as we were setting off on our first leg of the trip.

Combine that with C having a terrible cold and worrying chest infection, and both of us a little on the hungover side from our pub crawl, and we were starting to agree that we might need to can the whole camping idea. We had carefully planned our camping trip so that we’d be staying in lovely surroundings, the first night was near the National Park on a farm and the next two nights were intended to be on another farm further south-west in Penzance.

During our drive we called the two places to see if they had some form of glamping option like cabins or bunkhouses or static caravans to no avail and then the panic started to set in. Finding accommodation, within our budget, last minute on Good Friday in that part of the world was proving to be very difficult. Not to mention the fact that the traffic was again terrible – we were facing a 5 hour drive anyway to get to our destination but it took us that long just to get a little over half way… we were really starting to worry as we realised we probably weren’t going to arrive until well after dark and if we did have to fall back on our tent we’d be setting up with no lights and in the freezing cold.

We stopped briefly in Dorchester which looked to be a lovely little town that we would have liked to check out for a little longer – it had historic old stone buildings and looked like it was a quaint little place. We briefly entertained the idea of checking it out for last minute accommodation but decided we’d probably be unsuccessful and then have wasted an hour so we climbed back into our packed car and set off hoping for salvation!

Driving a little further down the highway, we were passing through a TINY town called Winterbourne Abbas and happened to spot a ‘Vacancy’ sign outside a B&B so quickly pulled over. It was a little over our budget but we were lured by the thought of a hot shower, a proper meal and a decent bed so decided to throw caution to the wind and our wallets and stay.

For the book lovers out there, Dorchester and the surrounds is Thomas Hardy country and you can certainly see where he got his inspiration from. We were surrounded by little stone cottages and rolling green hills and I for one was really pleased to have discovered this little part of the UK that we wouldn’t have otherwise have visited. C was relieved too as his chest cough was rapidly getting worse.

The woman who presumably ran the pub we were staying above was lovely, welcoming and friendly and after getting ourselves warm, showered and rested we ventured down for dinner and a few drinks by the crackling fire.

Winterbourne Abbas

fire

I was thrilled to discover that the kitchen here did, wait for it, homemade GLUTEN FREE PIZZA! It was funny because just the day before I had remarked how I’d missed pizza so much and should have included it on my mourning list. The pizza was not only gluten free but delicious with incredibly toppings. C had the gluten free base option as well so we could share and we sat there warm and snuggly with happy bellies while we sampled their various local ciders (for me) and beers (for C).

gluten free pizza

We kicked off the next day with a walk around some of the farms – in the UK there are public footpaths that go through people’s properties – and I soaked up Hardy’s England before we went back down for a cooked breakfast again by the crackling fire during which time we also did some last minute planning to find alternative accommodation so we could relax in the car.

Although it was a long drive just to get that far, it was a beautiful one and we managed to pass a couple of castles and check out some of the countryside. It just felt like we were never going to make it to Cornwall as we still had a BIG drive ahead. But overall we were glad we had stopped here to recharge. It was a lovely spontaneous visit and as you can see from the pic below C was well pleased with the outcome!!

Happy Husband

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