Congratulations to Tadej Pogacar, winner of Tour de France

Not our usual subject matter but not your usual Tour de France – down to the wire!

We just wanted to congratulate Tadej Pogacar on a thrilling and spectacular win at the Tour de France. Like many folk, we though Team Jumbo Visma had the race tied up in the outstanding form of Primoz Roglic, but his Estonian compatriot Pogacar pulled out an extraordinary ride to snatch the winner’s jersey., for Team UAE Emirates.

Team Jumbo Visma leading the way up a mountain stage in 2020
Tadej Pogacar in yellow on “Paris Sunday”

We also wanted to mention Thomas de Gendt. He always provides plenty of entertainment in the Tour and this year was no exception. He is a great trier and a huge character. We hope he keeps riding for many more years. (Sorry – no photo)

Salisbury Cathedral

Britain’s tallest Cathedral Spire

Salisbury Cathedral in Winter afternnon sunshine from the South lawns

Salisbury Cathedral has the tallest spire in England (404 feet, according to Wikipedia). The Cathedral Close is also the largest in England: it has one of the oldest working medieval clock in the World (1536) and it houses the best-preserved copy of the Magna Carta, the foundation of Laws in Britain.

Our friends (BA in History) tell us that Lincoln Cathedral spire was taller at 524 feet, until destroyed by a storm in 1548. The Fire of London (1666) destroyed the Old Saint Paul’s Cathedral (at 493 feet). Taller Cathedral spires remain in Europe (e.g. Ulm and Cologne).

The Cloisters and Chapter House

Salisbury Cathedal is also said to have the largest cloisters in Europe (unclear whether in floorplan or volume) and these offer a gentle walk with splendid views framed in every archway. Numerous historical figures are buried under the stone floor and there are two sets of stocks (presumably to punish anyone else who tries to steal the Magna Carta!)

The Magna Carta

In the Chapter House, South of the main Cathedral building and East of the Garth Cloisters, there are cassocks of previous Bishops and other notables of History, as well as a small tent where the best of four copies of the Magna Carta is housed. “Guarding” this treasure on our visit was a delightful elderly Cleric gentleman, who explained it all in detail and with great enthusiasm. (Strictly no cameras – plenty online if you want)

In the Refectory and shop, it is possible to purchase both drinks, snacks, curios and mementoes for your visit. Guided tours of the main building sare £7:50pp at the time of our visit (small discount for OAP’s and education).

Salisbury – The City

Outside the Cathedral Close and grounds, the City itself is quite compact but we did not have time to explore shops on the day we travelled (29th November). We did spot a Stag atop The White Hart Hotel, more or less opposite an ancient pub, describing itself as “The New Inn – refurbished in the 15th century”.

Salisbury Cathedral is just an hour’s drive from Weymouth, along the A354 past Blandford Forum. If you have time, we have heard Blandford Camp is worth a visit, too, with interactive exhibits re signals intelligence and wartime coding (we are told). Winchester Cathedral is just another 30 minutes further.

Winchester Cathedral – Christmas Market

Winchester Cathedral – the longest Nave among European Gothic Cathedrals

Winchester is a pretty city, about 12 miles North of Southampton and about 1.5 hours drive from Weymouth. We chose to visit Winchester Cathedral on the first day of the Christmas Market (26th November). According to Wikipedia, Winchester has a history dating back to the Iron Age, later Roman (Fort Venta), then laying foundations for the first Cathedral around 660 ad (Wintan-Ceastre).

Around Winchester Cathedral is a large “close” district, mainly lawned, with a few benches and a couple of statues, plus a refectory and shop. Outside the refectory is a memorial to William Walker (born William Robert Bellenie, 1869) who performed enormous labours as a diver, to emplace cement and stone underpinnings via hundreds of pits in total darkness, to support the Cathedral against subsidence in the peaty subsoil.

Around the East and South sides of Winchester Cathedral on the day of our visit, was a Christmas Market, said to be one of the largest in Europe (although we think Salzburg is bigger and more interesting!) There were about 300 stalls, selling all manner of goods, with a very welcoming Mulled Wine and Doughnuts stand at the entrance. There was a large skating rink and a large crafts area. The town itself is compact but houses a number of fine eateries and many independent shops to tickle the wallet. Driving is not much further than Swanage or Purbeck. Salisbury Cathedral is just a short drive also.

International Market in Weymouth – 10th till 14th April 2019

International Market in Weymouth Town Centre
International Market in Weymouth Town Centre

On 10th April, an International Market arrived in Weymouth. This was one of dozens of events happening in Weymouth right throughout the year.There were a couple of dozen stalls stretching along St Thomas Street and around into the main shopping square. Several food stores tempted the passers-by – our favourite was the Churros stand! There were also jewellery, souvenirs and carved garden ornaments among the offerings –

Carved wooden garden ornaments
Carved wooden garden ornaments

Nearer to Debenhams, there were stalls selling clothing, shawls, bags, belts, watches and craftware, including polishing “gem”-stones – Something for everyone.

More market stalls in front of Debenhams store
More market stalls in front of Debenhams store

We believe this is probably the biggest (and best!) street Market in Weymouth since the Millenium “Stone” was laid – although the Christmas Market at Winchester Cathedral is much bigger, just over an hour away.

The Millenium stone in front of Debenhams in Weymouth
The Millenium stone in the Town Centre in Weymouth

We are looking forward to the next market and all the other events coming this year, including the Nyetimber Seafood Festival in July..

Updated room and new bathroom – February 13th 2019

New double room where the old twin room used to be

New double room where the old twin room used to be

Updated Room

At Aaran House, we constantly improve, redecorate and try to innovate. We decided over Winter to switch our former twin room on the top floor with the former double room alongside. We purchased brand new beds, mattresses, bedding, fitted new curtains – in short we replaced nearly everything in both updated rooms. In particular, we put in a brand new bathroom in the new double, our updated room 5. It cost us a lot but we think it was worth it

Brand new bathroom in room 5 - first guests arrived 24th February.

Brand new bathroom in room 5 – first guests arrived 24th February.

We also upgraded the corner bath with new surrounds, taps, shower, shower curtain, resealed all round and upgraded water supply and outflows.

We also upgraded the corner bath with new surrounds, taps, shower, shower curtain, resealed all round and upgraded water supply and outflows.

Five Star Reviews

Our first guests loved the updated room 5 – see their review –

The very first guests in our new room 5 loved it

The very first guests in our new room 5 loved it

Our 2nd guests in the new updated room also loved their stay

New room 5 - first guests on 24th February - their lovely review

New room 5 – first guests on 24th February – their lovely review

Google and Trip Advisor cheerfully published libel

The fourth guests in this room wrote the 10/10 review below. They were followed, two days after, by a rather unpleasant guest (Aayesha Mohommad). She wrote a scurrilous and potentially libellous review on google and trip advisor, because we did not serve her breakfast in bed! Her first 3 attempts were taken down by google on legal grounds. So she posted more reviews under the name cameron stichbury. She claimed the brand new bathroom was mouldy – REALLY! Trolls have no imagination.

Trip Advisor repeatedly refused to take down the Stichbury review but, suddenly after some weeks it disappeared. We reviewed TripAdvisor and they immediately contravened all their own policies. They bullied Trust Pilot to take down our genuine review, demanding to know our identity. Famously, TripAdvisor guarantees reviewer anonymity (Hah!)  You just cannot please some people!  Ironically, removal of that troll review boosted our ranking and we won a Certificate of Excellence Award for 2019 – and here it is –

Certificate of Excellence for 2019

Certificate of Excellence for 2019 from Trip Advisor

At least our 4th guests loved the updated room, 2 days later-

Another lovely review for our new room 5, 2 days after the unpleasant Aayesha left

Another lovely review for our new room 5, 2 days after the unpleasant Aayesha left

Update

We just received a Yelp review for the same updated room, dating from a few days before booking.com allowed us to change the name of the room online on 13th February – and it’s another 5/5 fabulous score –

Yet another great review for room 5

Yet another great review for room 5. This time on Yelp

-Following implied threats, false accusations and abuse from several major internet companies and SEO “Gurus”, we have stopped trying to report fake reviews. Basically, the internet is determined to protect its income, however it may be derived.

On a different theme, just yesterday, (16th July 2019), we were surveyed by drone, externally, following internal detailed surveys. Hopefully, the detailed reports will add further weight to our theme of developing Room 5 to the best potential.

Covid-19 Update – 24th April 2020

We have been in lock down and self-isolating since 22nd March 2020, 1 day before UK Government made it official. We are still here and hope to welcome all our old friends and new guests as soon as the crisis is over.

Wareham Quayside

Wareham Quayside – a short drive from Weymouth

Wareham Quayside is a delightful area, just North of the town. There are several pubs and restaurants clustering alongside the Quay and around a small square. We sampled drinks and food from The Old Granary – an imposing large pub right on the water’s edge. There is also an Italian restaurant, two other pubs and a souvenir shop. In Summer, one can take a steamboat ride from the Bridge out to the Estuary. Magical! In Winter, the Old Granary provides fleecy blankets for guests sitting outside, in the square.

A day out in Purbeck

A day out in Purbeck

Purbeck offers the visitor many sights and places of interest to visit. On the way from Weymouth, one drives near Moreton Tea Rooms, past Monkey World and the Tank Museum. We stopped off at Lulworth Cove (though we were not energetic enough to make the climb up to see Durdle Door). (We used some older photos here for this post)

When you reach Wareham, you should really stop and enjoy the interesting shops in the High Street. Or the Roman Walls or the picturesque Quayside and its large, fine Pub. On some days, the lost village of Tyneham may be open (not the day we travelled, sadly). The village was evacuated on the orders of the Army during WW2. It remains an eerie and somewhat spooky testament to the upheavals of wartime. Tyneham is off a right turn from the main road leaving Wareham for Corfe Castle.

At Corfe Village, one can only marvel at the huge and imposing castle ruins. The Castle has been standing guard for many centuries over the locality. Head into the small and “cosy” Village Square for a choice of Pub (The Greyhound) or cafes to fortify you for the walk up to the ruins. (Entrance fee at the National Trust shop and Tourist Centre). Across the road to Swanage lies the Railway Station, with regular Summer trains from Norden to Swanage. These often run magnificent Steam engines through the tight and twisty scenery of Purbeck. From PUrbeck, it is just a moderate drive to Winchester Cathedral or Salisbury.

 

Studland and Swanage

The Studland road from Corfe twists and climbs gradually to give a panoramic view towards Studland Bay, overlooking Brownsea Island, Sandbanks and Bournemouth. Turnings take you to Kimmeridge, with its “nodding donkey” oil wells and the nature reserve at Arne, with its splendid variety of birdlife. Other openings take you to beaches along the lower headland and eventually to the Ferry across to Sandbanks and Poole Harbour (toll road and Ferry fee applies). We turned South to Swanage instead.

Swanage is a small seaside resort, nestling by white chalky cliffs and with a narrow sand and shingle beach. The town is compact but absolutely buzzing with numerous quaint and fascinating shops, selling curios of all kinds. I guarantee, anyone could spend all day (and all the wallet) “grazing” among these little emporia. There is also a fine fish and chips shop and a doughnut stand in the tiny seafront Town Square, to relax and soak in the relaxing atmosphere. (But please don’t feed the seagulls – they are VERY friendly already!)

Moreton Tea Rooms – Perfect for a real Dorset cream tea

Moreton Tea Rooms

Dorset cream tea. Those words conjure up an image of a quaint little village, deep in the peace of the Countryside. Perhaps there is a little stream with a footbridge. Maybe also a church with a slightly overgrown graveyard. Throw in the grave of Lawrence of Arabia and you have Moreton Village and the Tea Rooms.

An easy drive out of Weymouth, through Warmwell to Crossways and along a leafy lane to Moreton, brings you to the Old School. Here lies the Moreton Tea Rooms and the gateway to Dorset cream tea heaven. When we visited, to celebrate an 80th Birthday and a Wedding Anniversary, it was a hot September afternoon. Wasps droned lazily among the flower beds but were kept occupied by wasp lures, thoughtfully hung around the gardens to minimise any vespine nuisance.

Inside the tea rooms, it is easy to imagine the Old School in its heyday but equally hard to imagine just how good the cream tea treat is that awaits visitors. We pre-ordered a range of sandwiches (4 different tastes in our group!) and were not disappointed. We enjoyed a feast of delights, starting with crispy sausage rolls and cheese-straws on the top deck. The middle tier comprised smoked salmon with cream cheese, ham and a variety of delicate triangles to tempt the palate. Finally, a selection of cakes to assuage our culinary lusts – vanilla and ginger scones, mini-chocolate cakes, flapjacks, brownies and Vicoria Sandwiches – all dainty and delicious.

The service was excellent – the food even better and the price – probably best of all. The whole was incredibly good value and well below standard touristy prices. Definitely worth a trip for anyone – although it is advisable to book a table beforehand, at least in high season.

Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre

Monkey World near Weymouth

Monkey World is Britain’s best known ape rescue centre. The centre is a short drive out of Weymouth, near Wool. The park is home to about 25 species of primate, including chimpanzees, orang-utans, lemurs, spider monkeys and gibbons. The paths winding around the park are gently sloping but also fairly long, so the infirm may need to hire a mobility scooter to get around. The monkeys generally prefer warmer weather therefore it is best to visit on sunny days if you can.

Ring Tailed Lemur at Monkey World

Ring Tailed Lemur at Monkey World

As you enter Monkey World, there is a very large enclosure in front which houses the largest group of chimpanzees outside Africa. Guided tours take you round 5 species of gibbon, 2 species of orang-utan, capuchins, marmosets, tamarinds, spider and squirrel monkeys. There is a wildlife wood walk where it is sometimes possible to spot deer, badger and foxes.  There is an enclosure where the noisiest inmates live – the Ring-Tailed Lemurs. All around the park, there are benches and several cafes where you can sit and relax between “safaris”.

Ice skating at Christmas

Ice skating during Weymouth “Christmas Sparkle”

Ice skating has been a feature of Weymouth Christmas celebrations for several years. It is anticipated that a bigger rink will come to town this year (like the 40 metre rink at Winchester Christmas Market). However, the previous one has provided much fun for kids and adults alike. The ice rink forms one of the “Christmas Sparkle” attractions. These include mulled wine, festive market stalls, Peruvian Pan Pipes, live music and late opening shops.

Its Christmas

Its Christmas

Ice Skating near Debenhams

Ice Skating near Debenhams