The Wonder of Awards

It’s been a truly fantastic awards season for us here at Greenwood Grange as we’ve added two major industry accolades to our trophy cabinet in the last few months.

In November we were crowned gold winners at the Dorset Tourism Awards in the Self Catering Accommodation Provider of the Year category.

Just last month at the South West Tourism Awards we won gold in Self-Catering Holiday Provider of the Year category, beating stiff competition from across the entire region including entries from Dorset, Devon and Cornwall.

In previous years we’ve also won gold at the Dorset Tourism Awards in 2013 and 2014, not forgetting scooping bronze at the South West Tourism Awards in the 2013/14 season.

So what does Greenwood Grange winning these awards actually mean for our guests? We thought we’d explain in a little more detail…

Fantastic staff

Award winning tourism businesses not only attract more visitors, but they also attract the best of the best in terms of staff.

At Greenwood Grange winning awards highlights how much pride we take in what we do and in turn that attracts individuals who want to work for us.

We consider ourselves extremely lucky to have a fantastic team at Greenwood Grange, from our housekeepers to our general manager Zoe, every member of staff feels passionately about working here.

For our guests that means we go above and beyond, so we’re more than happy to arrange flowers and champagne on arrival, organise babysitters or dog sitters, advise on places to visit in Dorset, including attractions and restaurants, arrange for your horse to stay on site. If you can think of something you’d like to make your stay extra special, we can help!

Pursuing excellence

Ensuring our guests enjoy their stay with us is hugely important to all the staff at Greenwood Grange. We think Robin Barker, from Services for Tourism, sums up how we strive for excellence…

Robin said:

“Excellence is elusive. It takes creativity, commitment, investment, and persistence to achieve. Standards have to be maintained for every guest, in all situations, at all hours of every day. Achieving excellence is one thing, maintaining it in a world of ever-rising expectations is an even greater challenge.  So well done to all of this year’s (South West Tourism Awards) winners – you are at the cutting edge of this region’s top industry and are genuine business icons.”

 

Constantly improving

One of the key criteria for awards ceremonies is that a business must show it is constantly striving to improve.

At Greenwood Grange we have been carrying out a range of renovations and upgrades to the cottages and grounds over the past 12-18 months. This includes beautiful new bathrooms and kitchens, improving our fantastic outside spaces. We’ve installed a new hot tub outside our gorgeous Durbaville property and added lovely new outdoor furniture to our cottages.

All of our properties have been redecorated inside and upgraded with new soft furnishings.

Judging

We think Greenwood Grange is an amazing place to stay and visit, when the judges agree you know you’re not just taking our word for it, but the word of the most respected individuals in the tourism industry.

Judging for awards ceremonies is a serious business; a team of independent panellists including previous winners, industry leaders and experts in their field are brought together to assess which tourism providers provide outstanding quality and service to their guests.

Judges are chosen for their impartiality, experience and suitability for each category.

Greenwood Grange will soon discover if we’re eligible to enter the national VisitEngland awards this year, where our fantastic properties will compete against businesses from across the UK. We’ll keep you updated!

Myths and Oddities of Dorset

What do you do when you accidentally dig up a cadaver that, by some divine sin, hasn’t decomposed and has a rosy, somewhat jovial complexion? You assert that it is, of course, a vampire and deal with it in traditional manner, as the proper doctrine of dealing with surprisingly healthy cadavers dictates! It was not the first time that poor William Doggett, vampire or not, disturbed in the midst of his eternal slumber and hastily staked and burned to make sure he does, in fact, stay dead, was likened to some kind of spiritual entity of the night.

He is Dorset’s very own Vampyr, Nosferatu, archfiend rascal and malignant spirit! Lacking a cape, he sported knee breeches with a fastened yellow ribbon – and is known to appear in both ghost, and material form. There are many characters of myth and legend in Dorset. From the giant Mer-Chicken of Portland to the Shapwick monster (literally just a crab that a fisherman accidentally left behind in a village), Dorset has her fair share of myths and oddities, we’ve prepared a few for you below!

The Mer-Chicken

Half chicken, half salacious bearded manwoman with legs ‘halfe a yard long’. The Mer-Chicken, giant poultry – possibly the imaginings of hungry, lonely sailors, is said by Raphael Holnshed, chronicler of England, Scotland, and Ireland to have risen from the seas of Portland, ‘Hauin a great crest vpon his head, and a great red beard, and legs halfe a yard long.’ The creature is said to have stood ON the water, crowed four times and then beckoned like a pheasant frantically bobbing its head at each point of the compass before retreating back into the sea. This story was met with skepticism. We cant imagine why.

Next time you’re crossing the road that borders the sea from Weymouth to Portland, you keep an eye out.

Location: Portland Coastline – Dorset

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The Shapwick Monster (a crab)

In 1705 in the Parish of Shapwick a live crab being transported by a fishmonger from Poole to Bere Regis fell off of the cart and was found not far from East Farm. The villagers, upon finding the creature, and not having seen anything like it before deduced it was, in fact, Satan incarnate, and with the guidance of the village elder armed themselves with pitchforks to drive the beast away. Eventually the fishmonger realised he had lost a crab and returned to the village to find everything in a state of commotion. With great amusement he picked up the crustacean-satan and casually popped it back in his basket. From then on the word was spread that the villagers of Shapwick were a bit dim-witted.

Location: Shapwick – Dorset – or your local Sainsburys.

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The Moigne Down UFO

On a dark October night in 1967 two policemen in Dorset chased a huge, illuminate object that flew through the skies in the resemblance of a cross, they said that UFO was made ‘of a translucent material’ with shadows spread along the bottoms of the fuselages and center chamber. This encounter was itself the beginning of a huge range of sightings in the area, an event that would later be compared to the 1561 ‘celestial Nuremberg battle’. The official statement was that the initial sighting was just a ‘floater’ – those floaty things you see in the corner of your vision every now and then. When Brooks went to his optician who decidedly declared that such an idea was poppycock The London official, in quick riposte, stated that the floater and the recent UFO publicity simply triggered a ‘dream state’ while Brooks was asleep.

You were just dreaming, essentially.

Location: Moigne Downs, near Holworth

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The Cerne Abbas Giant

You might be familiar with the famous chalk visage lying on the a hill in Cerne Abbas, the giant measures a whopping 180 feet high, and carries a huge knobbled club, which measures 120 feet in length. Theories regarding the giant vary, from views that he is a representation of Hercules, to a prank on an Abbott by the name of Thomas Corton. Local folklore suggests that the figure is actually a representation of a great Danish giant leader, who raided the English coast before falling asleep on the hill. Local villagers immediately went to action and cut off his head, drawing a line in chalk to present where he was finally defeated. Legend has it that some nights he rises from the dead to quench his thirst in the local stream. Not in blood – just water. Quite a peaceful viking giant ghost.

Location: Cerne Abbas

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William Doggett – The Ghost and the Vampire

William Doggett, before he had a stake hastily driven through his heart, was the steward of Eastbury House in Tarrant Gunville in 1786. The tales go that he took a great deal of the house apart after his master moved abroad, then sold the building materials and shot himself upon hearing that his master was returning to England – he really hated his master. Apparently the blood stain that remained could not be removed, and soon stories were whispered that a ghostly visage had begun to stalk the village – an entity with a blood-covered face at dark, who liked opening and closing doors. Repeatedly.

A man by the name of Charles Harper wrote in In 1907 that: “Generally at the stroke of midnight, a coach with headless coachman and headless horses drives out and picks up Doggett, down the road.”

“If you see an old-world figure at such a time, stepping into that horrid conveyance, you will recognise him as Doggett by his knee-breeches, tied with yellow silk ribbon. The headless coachman asks (out of his neck ?), “Where to, sir ?” and the ghost says, “Home”; whereupon the horses are whipped up, and they drive back to the house. The shade of Doggett, entering, proceeds to the panelled room where he shot himself a century and a half ago – and shoots himself again !”

Location: Eastbury House Park Gates, Tarrant Gunville

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Halloween Events in Dorset

There’s a whole host of Halloween events this October half-term in Dorset. We’ve prepared a list of the spookiest!

Corfe Castle 22-30 October

Hear the tales of professional storyteller Granny Cousins at 11am and 1pm everyday throughout the half-term.  Have a go at the fearsome Zip Wire Challenge at 10am to 3pm and witness the mighty Warwolf II, their castle trebuchet in action, launching at 11.30am and 2pm.

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 Studland Beach 22nd October + 8 other dates

There’s going to be multiple Halloweeny events this half-term at Studland Bay, from explorations of the dunes and shoreline to seasonal crafts. In addition, there are more opportunities to get crafty on Sunday, October the 23rd with Woodland Walk and Draw. Children and adults can enjoy walking, drawing, geocaching and even charcoal making.

10:30 – 15:30. Beach-side Halloween Trail and seasonal crafts £2.00.

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 Halloween week – Freaky Streets

Hunt for the Freaky Streets characters from 22nd-30th October!

Follow the trail’s clues to collect the correct answers from creepy characters on walls and buildings in Weymouth’s streets and be in with the chance of winning PRIZES!

Pick up a a trail from the Weymouth BID Office, 15 St Alban Street or download a form online from 22nd October.

Drop your completed form to the BID Office by the 31st October to be in with the change of winning!

Steven May staff members Stephen Bithell, Chloe Markin, Lynne Stokes, Elisa Summers, Claire Stokes and Emma Brookman outside their salon to promote Weymouth BID's Freaky Streets halloween event - 101014, Picture GRAHAM HUNT HG12433

Lulworth Castle

Scary, atmospheric fun this half term at Lulworth Castle.

There are a whole host of activities to keep you and your little ones entertained this Halloween…. Visit the fairytale Lulworth Castle and wander through the Spooky Basement. Be entranced by Merlin’s Magic Shows and get creative at the Craft Table.. Explore the Park and woods with your Quiz Book on their special Spooky Trails, stopping at Hansel & Gretel’s Gingerbread House on adventure.

Open Daily from Weds 26 Oct – Sat 29 Oct. From 10.30 to 5.00. Last entry one hour before closing. Free Parking.

You can buy tickets online here and use the pre-booked queue. Or you can buy tickets on the door.

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Sea Life Center

Weymouth Sea Life Adventure Park will be turning the spotlight on scary critters of the deep this Halloween.

Meet creepy spider crabs, batfish, ghost knifefish and other appropriately named creatures!

The Park’s special package of fright-fest’ entertainment running from Saturday 22nd to Sunday 30th October will also highlight the horrors that pollution, over-fishing and other human follies are inflicting on the marine world.

There will be lots of fishy fun too, of course…including a novel pumpkin hunt, spooky fact finding, lantern making, scary crafts and fancy dress all included in admission.

Separate tickets apply for the Enchanted Cabin Experience secure your place at the cauldron, book now.

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Farmer Palmers

Halloween Spooktacular family fun from the 24th to the 28th! Let their dressed up “BOO CREW” entertain your little ones. Daily activities, fancy dress, dancing, face painting, mini monster hunt and extra spook-tacular events throughout the week!
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Have fun from all the staff at Greenwood Grange!

Sport & Leisure

Bike Hire – Weymouth Bike Hire will deliver bikes for all of the family to your cottage, including all safety equipment. Tel 07973 751393 or via the website www.weymouthbikehire.co.uk – you are welcome to bring your own bikes and we have some wall mounted bike hoops to which they can be secured (please bring your own locks).

Electric bike hire and half day guided tours – www.jurassic-electric.co.uk Tel; 07796 135256 From £30 per person for a half day.

Max Events – run activity days and outdoor pursuits and are just 10 minutes down the road www.maxevents.co.uk

Treasure Trails are a great way of exploring the local area while solving a murder mystery ! Visit www.treasuretrails.co.uk or call 07867 800897 for further details of the local trails to Greenwood.

Horse riding – Pound Cottage Riding School, Milton Abbas 01258 880057

Fishing – Higher Kingcombe Lodge, Toller Porcorum, Dorchester www.higherkingcombelodge.co.uk/fishing 01300 320537

Clay pigeon shooting and go karting is available nearby – Tel 01935 83625 or www.southerncountiesleisure.com

Bowling in Weymouth – Lakeside Superbowl, St Nicholas Street, Weymouth, DT4 8AD Tel; 01305 871444

Dorset Wildlife Trust run Kayak Safaris in the clear, shallow waters of Kimmeridge Bay. Led by qualified BCU kayak instructors the trip will use clear bottomed kayaks and purpose made goggle viewers to open a window into the secret underwater world. Booking is essential, contact 01929 481044 or email kimmeridge@dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk

When the weather isn’t so good why not take the family to Monkey Bizness in Poole,Soft indoor play areas for children aged up to 12. www.monkey-bizness.co.uk has all of the details.

Award winning Farmer Palmers Farm Park in Organford is one of the most popular day out for families with children upto the age of 8. www.farmerpalmers.co.uk has a full list of the events throughout the year, opening times and prices.

Plaza cinema Dorchester ; independantly run cinema in the centre of town. www.plazadorchester.com Tel 01305 262488

Odeon Cinema – Brewery Square, Dorchester. www.odeon.co.uk

Eating Out

Our favorite places to eat are:

The Wise Man – West Stafford. The closest pub to Greenwood Grange is a 5 minute car journey away. Booking in advance recommended. www.the-wiseman.co.uk or Telephone 01305 261970.

The Blue Vinny – Puddletown. Just a short journey away – Booking advisable www.thebluevinny.co.uk Tel 01305 848228. Wonderful food – great beer garden with climbing frame.

The Frampton Arms at Moreton. www.framptonarms.co.uk Tel 01305 852253

Yalbury Cottage – Lower Bockhampton. www.yalburycottage.co.uk Tel 01305 262382 – Award winning restaurant specialising in local produce. Booking advisable.

If you prefer to eat in we have menu’s from local takeaways who will deliver direct to your door available here. Alternatively, we can recommend local caterers who will cater for parties in our larger cottages from formal dinners to bar b ques and cream teas!

Events

Springtime in Dorset is a great time to immerse yourself in some special events to soak up the beauty of the county and art and culture it has to offer. We have picked a few ideas to help you plan your stay.

18 March: Radio 4’s Simon Evans at Dorchester Corn Exchange Also star of Live at the Appollo, the Corn Exchange has a wide range of events so have a good look around their site – a trip into Dorchester is less than 3 miles.

25th March onwards: City Cruises Poole, check their website for details of the Poole Sea Train Adventure perfect for train enthusiasts, plus keep an eye out for the Cruise & Dine events launching March according to the listing on visit Dorset.

From May: Bird Watching Cruises from Swanage Gain a new perspective of the county from the water and learn about the wildlife on the shores during this evening cruise. There are other day cruises and from nearby Poole too.

Changing exhibitions / events:

Town Mill Arts, Lyme Regis – slightly further afield, you will find a changing programme of artist, sculptors and exhibitors.
Durlston Country Park & Nature Reserve – nr Swanage and about 45 minutes drive – a lovely day out, plus look out for the stargazing events

The Visit Dorset website is also a good source of ideas and events in the county.

Nature & History

Experience the wonders of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site www.jurassiccoast.com for details of events, boat trips and nature trails in the area.

Jurassic Safari – Guided tours of Dorset in 4 x 4’s Tel 01305 772324 or email mail@jurassicsafari.co.uk for further details.

Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty www.dorsetaonb.org.uk walks, cycle rides, nature trails, events and details on how to be a greener visitor

Dorset’s Natural Nature Reserves www.naturalengland.org.uk for information on all the county’s nature reserves or Dorset Wildlife Trust www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk for more local events and information. Forest Schools are being run every Thursday during the summer holidays, for more information follow the link www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/forestschool1

Thomas Hardy’s Birthplace – just a 5 minute walk away. Open Wednesday – Sunday and Bank holiday Mondays 11am – 5pm, also within 10 minutes car journey is Max Gate – a house designed and lived in by Hardy – Alington Avenue, Dorchester, DT1 2 AB. The new visitor center for Thorncombe Woods and Hardys cottage, which is just on our doorstep is due to open in September along with a cafe onsite.

Dinosaur Museum – www.thedinosaurmuseum.com is the only museum on mainland Britain solely devoted to dinosaurs and their world, located on Icen Way, Dorchester. Tel 01305 269880

Teddy Bear Museum – www.teddybearmuseum.co.uk is a family run museum tracing the history of the teddy bear from its origins to modern day. Eastgate, Dorchester. Tel 01305 266040

Thomas Hardy

Visit Thomas Hardy’s Cottage 

Thomas Hardy's cottageGreenwood Grange is ideally located in the heart of Hardy country with Thomas Hardy’s birthplace  just a short five minute walk away, down a picturesque lane. The thatched cottage, in which the internationally acclaimed author was born in 1840, is owned by the National Trust Hardy’s Cottage and open to the public from March – November. It was from here that he wrote some of his most popular short stories, poems and novels including ‘Under the Greenwood Tree’ and ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’.

Visitor CentreBoth the cottage and lane remain virtually unchanged since they were built in 1800, with the exception of the new National Trust Thomas Hardy visitor centre  which serves as the gateway for visitors to discover more about the life and works of Thomas Hardy and the local landscape. The centre is also home to Under the Greenwood Tree Café which serves up a fantastic range of freshly made food, including breakfast, all using locally sourced produce – and all just across from our main entrance!

Thomas Hardy's cottageRunning adjacent to the cottage is the ancient Thorncombe Woods, a woodland and nature reserve that open out onto heathland and the beginning of Hardy’s Egdon Heath. These historic woodlands are home to a host of fabulous wildlife and it is well worth joining a wildlife-spotting walk led by the woodland management team. Aside from the rich wildlife there is much to explore including a well preserved Roman road which would have once run from Dorchester to Badbury Rings. There are also a number of paths which are popular with dog walkers, and, for most of the year, dogs are able to exercise off lead in the woodland.