For this year’s family holiday, we decided to visit Dorset in the West Country. Although Cornwall will always have a special place in our heart, Dorset is a lot closer (a beautiful 3 hours from Brighton in comparison to 5-6 hours with good traffic) and is in close proximity to family. Plus, we hadn’t taken T to Dorset before outside of Camp Bestival!
Dorset is now becoming a very close second when it comes to the West Country. The beaches are gorgeous, the lifestyle is just as relaxed as Cornwall, and the cider is a pretty good compromise. I would move here in an instant and whenever we visit I always end up talking to Sharon about our imaginary house which is located near Sandbanks.
For this holiday, we decided to stay at a local Haven site in Weymouth. Last time when it was just me and Sharon we stayed in Poole, which is only a 40-45 minutes away so not a massive distance, but it meant certain excursions (eg. Monkey World!) were a lot closer this time round.
Arriving on the Friday afternoon after one of the easiest journeys we’ve had whilst heading on holiday, we arrived at the Holiday Park, unpacked, and then went and did our food shop. This is always fun as we treat ourselves to a few naughty bits like evening snacks, ‘kids’ cereal, and picnic sides for our lunches. That being said, we were surprisingly restrained this year and didn’t get half as much as we used to (much to my disgust later on during the week).
The park itself is one of the smaller parks in comparison to others we’ve stayed at, but it meant that we were encouraged to visit the neighbouring park which was only a 10 minute walk away. In addition, our park had a fab connecting path that lead straight to a beach! Our particular caravan had an amazing window that looked onto some fields which were home to a variety of wildlife. In the week we stayed we saw a Barn Owl, Deer, and lots of rabbits!
As we were so close to some of Sharon’s family, we decided to dedicate our weekend to catching up with them and their children – all four of them. T adores his cousins on Sharon’s side and despite some of them having a huge age gap, they all get on so well. It was wonderful to watch.
Our first outing after arriving at theirs was a trip to Sandbanks. It’s starting to become a tradition that we visit here when we visit them, not that I’m complaining. Although it was a little foggy with a crisp wind, it was still gorgeous thanks to the soft sand and stunning views. By the time we made our way to the beach and collected a few shells, the fog had cleared and the blue skies emerged.
After arriving in #Dorset on Friday, we started our holiday by visiting family near Poole for the weekend. One of the best things about the west country are the beaches – they’re one of many reasons we’d move here in an instant – so we did just that on Saturday. T had a brilliant time building sandcastles with his cousins (all four of them on this occasion!!) and we enjoyed catching up over old memories. The weather started out really foggy, but ended on such a high with gorgeous skies. I could never get sick of this view.
We then ended the day with a BBQ which was really fun, and watching all the kids plough into burgers and hotdogs whilst laughing with mouthfuls of food really made my heart swell. I’m still so envious of the large family T is gaining.
Completely forgetting that we were meant to stay over, we drove back home Saturday night and then met up with everyone again the next day in Swanage to take a trip on the railway.
For our family, no trip is complete until you’ve visited at least one local steam railway, and thankfully one was on our doorstep. Arriving around lunchtime, we packed our picnics and took a ride from Swanage to Corfe.
Arriving at Corfe, we then had a relaxing browse around the village, took a few pictures of the castle, drank a quick pint, and then got back on the train. We also squeezed in some time to have a mooch around the vintage station and museum.
Following on nicely from the previous day, we decided to go back to Corfe (via car this time!) and visit the castle. The castle is a National Trust location, which suited us just fine as we are still members; meaning that we had little spend that day!
Arriving at the base of the castle within a dedicated car park, we took a pleasant walk through woodland and past rivers to the main castle entrance, which is located back at the village. The weather was starting to get quite nice so we took off our coats and enjoyed the sunshine. Finally arriving at the peak through the gorgeous castle grounds, we stopped for our picnic and then took some wonderful photos.
We even got to see the steam train again, but from a different angle this time! We also managed to catch it again when we were back at the car park – this was probably my favourite viewpoint.
The weather took a funny turn on Tuesday, although still relatively dry, so we decided to make Tuesday a day for the Sealife Adventure Park in Weymouth. Unlike other Sealife Centres, this location is more spaced out and the viewing areas are spread across a much larger park/complex with their own dedicated areas as opposed to one large aquarium.
The reason why it’s called an adventure park is because it also boasts lots of lovely play areas and water play zones. It was a little chilly that day, so we swerved the water fountains, but T thoroughly enjoyed playing in the play park after lunch. There’s also a hands-on rock pool and plenty of talks throughout the day.
Maybe it was due to the size of the location, but I was really amazed to see Penguins, Seals, and Turtles here in addition to the usual spectacular underwater tunnel at this site. There’s a reason we were here for the majority of the day.
After visiting the Sealife Park, we then took a quick scoot along the seafront to Weymouth town centre and did a bit of shopping at our favourite clothing shop – Saltrock, We don’t have Saltrock in Sussex so I always make a point of visiting when we’re in the West Country (I know I could visit online, but there’s no where near as many items as the shop (or deals!))
The weather changed yet again on Wednesday and was glorious by 8am, so we decided to make hump day our highlight day and visit Monkey World. If you didn’t watch Monkey Business or Monkey Life when you were a kid (or an adult for that matter) you didn’t live. It was such a great show and ever since watching I always wanted to visit in person… again… and again.
Monkey World prides itself on being a rescue sanctuary for abused primates from across the world; from chimpanzees and orang-utans, to smaller primates such as marmosets and capuchins. There’s also a large variety of gibbons that live in one of the wildest habits I’ve seen in a sanctuary. The park doesn’t fall short on education and I learn something new every time we visit.
We arrived here before the park opened and left an hour or so before closing. Not only did we spend as much time as we could just watching the monkey’s in their groups, but we also enjoyed other places to explore on site such as the woodland walk and play area. There’s also a wonderful Lemur walkthrough – which T found incredibly tough not to interact with.
One of the things I love about Monkey World is that they integrate the enclosures with the public, so quite often you’ll see large viewing galleries above enclosures or walkways across paths for the monkeys to walk across.
Being a gorgeous hot day, we also treated T to an ice cream. It was at this point that I saw one the co-founder Jeremy Keeling. A little star-struck, I did absolutely nothing and gawped as he walked past. During our visit I also saw Alison Cronin which again left me speechless.
Thursday was probably our worst day, not due to the excursion, but because my car decided to break down yet again. I won’t bore you with the details of the past few months but she’s cost me a small fortune recently. You have no idea how anxious I feel driving her now.
Car drama aside, when we were waiting for the mechanic to become free we decided to carry on with our day and visit Farmer Palmers. We actually broke down a few meters down the road from Farmer Palmers anyway, so we got her to the car park where we left her until it was time to leave.
Although our visit was pretty short, the farm was lovely. Although a little pricey, I think if we had been allowed to stay here all day we certainly would have got the most out what’s on site. As well as your usual farm animals which are dotted around the outside enclosures, there’s also a lovely indoor barn, which at the time housed lots of new lambs and baby goats.
When we arrived the petting session was just finishing, so we squeezed in a quick cuddle with a guinea pig. T was surprisingly gentle and kept incredibly still.
Once we got outside, we saw a variety of play areas for T to stretch his legs. These included sandy playgrounds, a bouncy castle, ride-on zones, as well as a rather large hay barn that housed a variety of slides of differing heights. We also found a short 20 minute woodland walk to do whilst waiting for the tractor rides to start.
Surprisingly, we managed to squeeze all this into the two and a half hours that we had, after which point it was back on the road and onto the garage. Thankfully, our family came to the rescue and pointed us in the direction of a good garage who looked at the car (who decided to start working again!) and charged us nothing for the efforts.
When we return to Dorset we will no doubt visit again as there was lots of things T missed out on.
Making up for lost fun time though, we finished our day with a trip to the local beach where we ate ice creams, had a paddle, and built sandcastles. By the end of the day we managed to calm down again and enjoy the remainder of our holiday.
Not letting the 🤬 car ruin our holiday, we walked down to the local beach near to where we were staying for the afternoon. It wasn’t as nice as the other beaches nearby (it was in between a sand and small shingle beach) but we still had fun building sandcastles, paddling in the water, and eating ice creams (stupidly, in that order – sandy teeth anyone?). Plus, we think we caught the sun! #pixel2
And just like that it was our last day. I always hate going home, not because I dislike our home, but because I really enjoy the quality time we have together doing all the fun stuff without the boring mundane stuff like work and housework. Thankfully, Dorset isn’t that far for us to travel to, so hopefully we’ll be able to squeeze in a few more trips this year – even if it’s a long weekend.
With T being that bit older, holidays are even better now and will no doubt improve with age (until a point I guess). There’s so many more things for him to see and do, and he starting to understand what holidays are all about and how special they are. He stayed up late and got away with loads more treats than normal, and you know what? It was great.
I can’t wait until our next holiday.
I’m going to be writing in greater detail about our days out in case you want to visit, but for now let me know where you like going in Dorset. Have you been to any of the locations mentioned? What have we missed?