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Dorset Holiday Weekend

Our “monkeys” at Monkey WorldWhat a fantastic weekend we all had. We headed down to a cottage in Dorset for a mini-holiday courtesy of granny. It was one of her Christmas presents to the boys — and oh boy! did they (and us) every enjoy it. So much so that Tolii was in tears leaving the place at the end of our fabulous journey: he kept saying he wanted to come back (in fact, he didn’t want to leave at all).

Daddy took a ton of photos, as usual.

Monkey World

A monkey at Monkey WorldOn Friday, we drove straight to Monkey World. We had the place practically to ourselves. Having been there back in May 2005, we know it can get quite crowded on sunny summer days. It was such a treat this time. The monkeys were just as playful and the play park was all ours to enjoy.

Swinging like a monkey at Monkey WorldThere’s plenty of climbing frames for Tolii and Tosha to go ape on. The swings are wonderful: they are huge baskets, Swinging Grannywith room for both of them to fit into. Tolii even helped Tosha clamber in before he pulled himself in.

Granny even got into the swing of things! Just look at her playing around like a 50 year old!
Granny and Tolii share a laugh at Monkey World

Huge climbing frame for our “monkeys” at Monkey World

Our “monkeys” doing flips at Monkey WorldThe best part for our “monkeys” is the huge climbing frame at the far end of the park. It is gigantic – especially when there’s no one else on it! It was a bit of a challenge for Tosha to get to grips with the ropes to walk on, but he soon figure it out and got his balance. Then he was his normal self: no fear; and don’t you dare try to help me!

A snake of a swing at Monkey WorldBeside that was a huge, well, its either a Russian Swing for all of Moscow or its a snake, or was it catepillar. Anyway, it was a rope that about 20 kids could sit on and then swing. You have to see it to understand it.

Our Cottage

Greenwood Grange Cottages - Casterbridge apartment gardenAfter tiring everyone out, we drove off to our holiday home booked through Cottages4You.

Greenwood Grange Cottages - Casterbridge living room

We used them to book our get-away in November, at a cottage near Welles. It was a lovely place, so we had high hopes for this cottage, too.

Greenwood Grange Cottages - Swimming poolWe chose Greenwood Grange Cottages based on the fact that it had a swimming pool and was in a beautiful country setting. We booked their Casterbridge apartment. Their website had not been updated for a while; and, worse, we found some less-than-flattering reviews on TripAdvisor just before setting out on Friday…so it was a very pleasant surprise to find our apartment completely refurbished and modern looking! We found out that they had just had a change of owners back in September 2007.

Greenwood Grange Cottages - Courtyard Pond

The indoor pool was just the other side of the apartment’s private garden’s gate! There were a few mad dashes between home and pool in just our swim outfits and a not-so-warm towel!! There were change-rooms inside the pool building; we just couldn’t be bothered since our place was on its doorstep.

(You can read our review of the cottage at TripAdvisor)

Map showing the location of Greenwood Grange.

Lulworth Cove

Lullworth Cove - tossing stones back to sea (looking out to the bay)On Saturday it was off to the seaside at Lulworth Cove. No sunning ourselves, though. The weather was March-dreary and the weather forecast was for severe gales (turned out to be in the evening and to be the worst weather in a long time to hit southern England).

Lullworth Cove - tossing stones back to seaTolii and Tosha spent a good while trying to throw all the stones on the beach back into the sea. They even came across a (dead) crab on the beach, which must have just washed up earlier that morning.

Granny was desperate for a softie. So, after a lunch at the beach-side tea room, it was off to find an ice cream store. The one store that sold softies had an “out of order” sign on their machine though 🙁

Thomas Hardy

Tosha feeds a horse - only to be tickled in the process!Back to the cottage and then off for a stroll in the surrounding countryside.

Rear of Thomas Hardy’s cottageTwo horses in the nearby field devoured the carrots that the boys fed them. The horses’ lips tickled their hands as the food was taken. A short stroll up the road led us to Thomas Hardy‘s cottage. It was all closed up for the season and only the nearby monument let you know that you had reached it.

A Deli-cious Dinner

That evening, Katya and Andrew headed into Poundbury near Dorchester for a nice dinner. If you haven’t heard of Poundbury, then you probably should: its a great example of nicely thought-out architecture for housing; all thanks to Prince Charles. National Geographic magazine wrote an article about Poundbury in May 2006.

ToliiThe restaurant, actually a deli, butchers and bistro restaurant, is called Wyndhams.

p1690627-large.JPGYou could tell it was still finding its feet but it was packed and still served up good food. We started with a sampler from the deli (a deli store is attached to the restaurant). Then it was time to dig into our steaks (after a bit-too-long-of-a-wait). It is worth checking to make sure you get the wine you expect (our delicious Chilean turned out to be from Argentina); and that your steak is cooked right (they gave Katya the rare and Andrew the medium).

Swange Choo ChooMeanwhile, the ferocious storm started booming outside – complete with horizontal rain. Luckily, it let up a bit when it came time to leave the restaurant.

Dorset Winter Holiday 2008 - kids on Swanage beachThe weather improved a tad on Sunday. We later found out that it was merely a lull in the storm, or actually, between storms.

Swange Choo-Choo

Swange Wooden Choo Choo Climbing Frame

We packed up our stuff and headed to Swanage, on our way home, to enjoy a lovely day on the steam train and exploring the sea-side town. Again, we’ve been there before, once long ago before Tolii and Tosha (nor even the wedding rings!); and again in 2005 with just Tolii (Tosha was brewing in mummy’s belly).

Tosha and Evie meet by chance in SwanageWe had a tasty lunch without too much fuss; and then it was off to play on the beach. Granny sniffed out a softie ice cream shop, so we all took a break and headed over to it. By chance, we bumped into one of Tosha’s friends from nursery: Evie!

Now that Granny and the kids had had their deepest desire fulfilled, it was time to give mummy and daddy their treat: a wonderful cappuccino!

Tolii enjoys a softieFinally, we headed to the nearby play park for a short play on the swings and slides (the kids mainly) before heading back to the train station to catch the steam train back to the car park, 20 minutes chuff-chuff away.

Disembarking the choo-chooLuckily, daddy had his GPS ready for the trip home: there turned out to be a very good route home through the towns and around the severe congestion on the M3 (due to an earlier accident). Two hours later, we were home to greet the cats – who were just over the moon to learn that they had not been abandoned (and that there was more food coming!).

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