17 July 2013

Holiday in Dorset- or was it Provence?

A summer heatwave has swept across the United Kingdom. To my delight, it coincided with a visit to a dear friend's family home in Dorset. 

I felt giddy over the weeks leading up to the long weekend. With the promise of sun, Ouisie and I headed south a day early. After a 1.5 hour drive we arrived at Wyke Hall, a Grade II listed property, in the elite village of Gillingham. 

Parts of the building can be traced back 500 years. Its varied architecture offers clues about when expansions and refurbishments took place over the last centuries. Today the Estate is comprised of ten private residences. 

As Ouisie and I drove down the long gravel entrance I recalled my last visit (almost three years ago) for my goddaughter's Christening. I was then five months pregnant with Ouisie. The manicured grounds were as I remembered. I suddenly felt sentimental as I told my toddler the events of that special day. Ouisie, and I, were keen to park the car and play hide n' seek around the grounds.

We beat the heat with daily swims in the Estate's pool and alfresco dining in the shade of trees.  The pool is bordered by pine, spruce, and oak trees, and a manicured hedge. Aside from Ouisie's squeals of delight, the only sounds heard were grazing sheep bleating in the neighbouring meadow and singing birds. With crystal blue skies and hot breezes, it felt as though we were in Provence, not an hour south of our cottage. 

We enjoyed day trips to Stourhead Garden, a National Trust treasure trove and Farmer Palmer's Farm Park. You can read more about Stourhead Garden in my post and see how two cowgirls got on at Farmer Palmer's in its post. 

Chef joined us on Sunday with the most mouth watering provisions. As last Sunday was Bastille Day, we had the perfect excuse to throw an all day party at Wyke Hall and enjoy eating, relaxing, and toasting France the whole day through. 

Leave it to my pyro-pal to spontaneously uncover some fabulous sparklers for the evening's grande finale! Ouisie's expression at the sight of the little torches was priceless...

There are several sandy beaches within an hour's drive of Gillingham. We gave them a miss on this trip as the amazing weekend weather sent the whole of England down to the coast. With a refreshing swim just a few steps from the house we nixed traffic queues.

Sunday rolled into Monday and after a leisurely breakfast we wandered the ancient apple orchard, cooled off in the pool, and enjoyed a most heavenly lunch prepared by Chef. 

The lunch left us full and the beating sun sent us to the shade for afternoon naps before waving au revoir to our quiet retreat and beloved friend. 

Four days felt like four weeks. How luxurious it is to have no set agenda, switch off computers, and just enjoy good company and great weather. 

With the forecast looking to hold for another week, I am planning more fun sunscapes to make the most of this scorcher! Happy summer at (long) last!

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