May at Launceston Farm and around…

As the Spring calving comes to an end, May is the lull month on the farm.  Everything is at its greenest and most vibrant so it’s a beautiful time to visit.

wood small

As if that wasn’t enough to take in, May is jam packed with amazing stuff to do in Dorset and Wiltshire kicking off this weekend with the Dorset Knob & Frome Valley Food Festival (3rd) and Harmony Artisan Fair at Larmer Tree Gardens (3rd-4th) phew!

With the release of Far From the Madding Crowd this month we are going all Thomas Hardy, taking in the delights of Hardy’s Wessex.  Start at Hardy’s Cottage near Dorchester where you can see two of Bathsheba’s costumes from the film on display and take a stroll through the surrounding heathland and woodland which inspired many of his novels and poems. For avid fans book a ticket for the Thomas Hardy Talk (28th) at the Dorset County Museum.

Far From the Madding Crowd

The Wylye Valley Arts Trail gives you the chance to meet and talk to artists and crafts people throughout South Wiltshire and hunt for art, sculpture, ceramics and jewellery to take home. We will be finishing off the month with some cheese racing up Gold Hill at the Shaftesbury Festival of Local Food (31st) – phew!


Sarah’s prize winning marmalade

Marmalade on toast at Launceston Farm

So having just knocked up a fresh batch and collapsed into marmalade induced rapture I thought it was only fair to share…

You will need:
6 Seville oranges (this is the most important bit)
1 unwaxed lemon
1 unwaxed regular orange
3kg castor sugar
7pints water.

Halve the fruit and remove the pips. Chop in a food processor until coarse cut.

Pout the water into a large pan and set to boil. Add the fruit and simmer for 1 hour until the liquid has reduced by 2/3.

Add the surgar and boil for another half an hour until the marmalade has reached setting point. Use a jam thermometer if you have one.

Ladle into sterilised jars whilst still warm.

Enjoy with thick cut toast and butter…

March Events in Dorset

The sun is starting to shine here in Dorset and Spring is most definitely on it’s way, so the perfect time to book a trip to Launceston Farm! As well as all the beautiful walking, exploring and eating that can be done on a stay with us, here is our pick of the best March events to go to.


Purbeck Antiques and Collectors Fair

Sunday 1st March

This is one of Dorset’s leading antiques and collectors fairs held in the beautiful area of Purbeck. After you have picked up a bargain you could go for a beautiful coast walk at Kimmerage and then pop into the Weld Arms in East Lulworth for a pint and something to eat (I can highly recommend their burgers, they are delicious!).

Sherborne Castle Spring Bulbs and Daffodils Weekend

Saturday 28th-Sunday 29th March

View spectacular spring colours in one of the finest ‘Capability’ Brown landscapes. Explore the magnificent gardens and grounds surrounding the 50-acre lake. When you have finished looking at the castle and gardens then head into the beautiful town of Sherborne for some retail therapy or a cup of tea and slice of cake in one of the many great cafe’s.


French Bread Making Course at The Pannary

7th March

The Pannary is our local bread making school. It is run by Paul Merry, a master craftsman and an expert in baking using traditional wood fired ovens. The Pannary is base at Cann Mills run by Stoat and Sons, who mill the best flour, made excellent by the fact that some of  their flour is made from our organic wheat!


Wimborne Farmers Market

21st March

We love Wimborne Farmers Market. Wimborne is a lovely market town, with the architecture regarded as one of the foremost collections of 15th, 16th and 17th-century buildings in Dorset. Once you have finished at the market and exploring the town, their are many lovely little cafe’s and pubs to try, No 9 On the Green is one our our favourites.

February Events in Dorset


February is the perfect time for a winter retreat to Launceston Farm, not to mention a great place to come on a romantic Valentines weekend. Spend the evenings in front of our roaring fires or chin deep in a hot bubble bath. During the day get a blast of lovely fresh Dorset air whilst out exploring. Here are our top recommendations of things to do whilst staying at Launceston Farm this February.

Green Woodworking

22nd February


Fancy doing learning a new skill whilst spending the day in the woods? Milborne Wood are holding their first course of the year, green woodworking. The course is held in beautiful ancient woodland and is run by Rodger Lanigan, a highly skilled craftsman who has been working and teaching in woods for over 20 years. During the day you will make a piece of rustic furniture or another item to take home with you. Lunch is provided and usually includes vension from the woods that is hot smoked during the morning, yum! Launceston Farm is excited to be able to offer a night in the B&B and the course from just £115pp. Book here.


Dorchester Festival of Real Ale

6th-7th February

Head down to the Corn Exchange in Dorchester to quench your thirst at the 27th annual real ale fest. With a selection of 80 real ales and ciders from all around the UK, as well as some festival special brews, it sounds like it’s going to be a real ale lover’s dream. Don’t worry if you take on too many ales, Sarah’s full English breakfast is a tried and tested hangover cure!


Shaftesbury Snowdrop Festival

13th-22nd February


Shaftesbury has started a unique project to create Britain’s first ‘Snowdrop Town’. The people of Shaftesbury have planted thousands of snowdrop throughout the town and public areas to create many scenic snowdrop walks. During the festival their are many events on including exhibitions, workshops, a parade and on Saturday 21st there will be a country living and garden market. If you are looking for somewhere to have a coffee or a bite to eat we can recommend Turnbulls Deli, it is filled with delicious goodies.

Valentine’s Day at Corfe Castle

14th February

Explore the romantic ruins of Corfe Castle on Valentine’s Day then enjoy a delicious Valentine’s Day Tea including smoked salmon sandwiches, heart shaped shortbread, chocolate dipped strawberries and a mini Victoria sponge cake.

Corfe Castle is on the Isle of Purkeck and close to some stunning coastline so you could even fit in a cliff top walk or jump on the steam train to Swanage.

Purbeck Literary Festival

This lovely festival aims to explore the landscape through literature. It is holding a variety of creative, comedy and blog writing workshops, poetry, performances and events featuring the works of Enid Blyton, T.E. Lawrence, Thomas Hardy and contemporary authors many of whom lived in or were inspired by Purbeck. We are expecially looking forward to the Arty Bazaar at the Boilerhouse Gallery.

Semely Auctioneers

Sale – 21st Febuaury

A sale at Semely Auctioneers is one of our favourite events of the month and not to be missed. Auctioning antique furniture and objects, you never know what might be in the sale until you get there. Semely Auctioneers is one of Sarah’s best kept secrets and is where she has spent many hours bidding on furniture for Launceston Farm.

Countryside Alliance Point-Point

22nd February

This Point-Point, at the beautiful Badbury Rings, provides some of the most exciting horse racing of the season. Not only is there racing but there are also local food stalls, a shopping village and licensed bar.  Don’t forget to try your luck with the bookies, you may come home with pockets heavy with your winnings!

Launceston Farm is a luxury five star B&B and Self-Catering nestled in the heart of Dorset.

Friday night is wine night

Of all the beautiful, if slightly random barn conversions, this is a particular favourite to hang out at especially as colder, darker evenings are drawing in. No 8 Wine Co – handily located at the end of our road! – houses an impressively extensive range of wines and devilishly trendy spirits.  We love their Friday night wine tasting evenings from 4-7pm.  If you are coming down on a Friday and fancy a pre dinner tipple it’s definitely worth stopping off.No8 Wine Co

10 unmissable things within 10 miles

Cheered by the onset of brighter weather we are looking forward to summer and getting excited about all the fabulous things to do.  So here are our ten favourites, all within easy reach of Launceston Farm:

1. Explore the Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  By far the easiest, most rewarding and greenest option is to ditch the car and set out from the farm gate by foot or by bike on one of our explorer trails.  All our trails vary in length and difficulty but all of them incorporate a visit to at least one watering hole along the way. We have bikes you can borrow and stabling for horses.  Our new dog house means the most important member of your family can also come along.


2. Dorset Arts Week. 24th May – 8th June. The largest open studio event in the country brings together hundreds of artists from all over Dorset to showcase their work at galleries and museums but mostly in their own homes so you can meet the artists in person. Over 80 exhibitors are within 10 miles of Launceston Farm.


3. Chalke Valley History Festival 23 – 29 June.  Talks from over 100 eminent historians, 4 acres of Living History encampments with music and food from through the ages and a stunning air show. Grab tickets to ssee Damian Lewis  talking about the making of the highly acclaimed World War II drama series, Band of Brothers.  Make sure you book tickets ahead to avoid disappointment…


4. Larmer Tree Festival and Gardens. Various throughout the summer.  Sir Tom Jones – yes, the living legend himself – is part of this year’s line up at Larmer Tree Festival (16th-20th July).  These enchanting Victorian gardens also set the scene for open air theatre, craft fairs and plenty of live music this summer.  If none of that sounds appealing, the gardens themselves are open Sunday to Thursday and are a beautiful place to while away a day.

5. Blandford Forum, our nearest market town, is the best example of preserved Georgian architecture in the country which actually makes it very beautiful.  The River Stour and surrounding Stour Meadows nature reserve present plenty of opportunities for a stroll.  There are a few boutiques worth a visit and a couple of nice spots for lunch. Blandford Town Museum and the Cavalcade of Costume Museum complete with Dorset cream tea – wonderfully random – are our favourites. On your way back to the farm stop in at Blandford Camp to visit the Royal Signals Museum.

6. The North Dorset Trailway runs for 12 miles along the route of the old Somerset and Dorset Railway line, slicing beautifully through the Blackmore Vale from Spetisbury to Sturminster Newton.  The trail runs along a flat surface so its perfect for cycling and an easy walk and there are handily placed watering holes at regular intervals.  A firm favourite and still relatively undiscovered – brilliant!

North Dorset Trailway


7. Kingston Lacy and Barford Ice Cream. We have grouped these two together as you simply can’t do one without the other.  If you – like me – can’t resist a lavish, country mansion complete with ornamental Japanese gardens then Kingston Lacey is a must. Take your bike and head out the 8500 acre estate from Iron Age forts, to colourful heathland, water meadows, a Roman road and an ancient beech tree avenue. Barford Ice Cream garden is handily on the estate and provides a very welcome and very delicious pit stop.  Farmers Wendy and Chris Pope make all their ice cream by hand using milk from the local dairy.  Take a rug and a newspaper.

8. Wimborne Minster and The Tickled Pig.  Another beautiful, nicely laid out Georgian market town to explore.  More interesting shops than Blandford – it has a Waitrose darling – but the real highlight is lunch or dinner at The Tickled Pig. This is passion for food taken to a whole new level.  Ingredients are so fresh and so very local they pretty much walk themselves to the door.  Coordinate your visit with the full frolicking frenzy of the Wimborne Folk Festival 13-15 June.

The Tickled Pig


9. Sturminster Newton Cheese Festival 13-14 September. Well if you love cheese…? Thomas Hardy fondly referred to Sturminster Newton and the surrounding Blackmore Vale as the ‘vale of little dairies’.  This annual cheese fest celebrates 100 years of dairying history in Dorset and attracts cheesey (and non cheesy) exhibitors from all over the country.  Simple, rustic and delicious.

10. The Great Dorset Steam Fair 27-31 August.  This one is as much of a “warning to avoid” as a “must see”.  If you have passion for steam engines, or even just a general appreciation for them, there is no better place on earth – literally – to be. The farm will be taken over for this five day long festival celebrating everything steamy; from steam tractors to an old time steam funfair, threshing, woodsawing and lots and lots of heavy hauling.  Jimi loves the tractor pulling.  If you do decide to take the plunge, you will have a truly unforgettable time!

Great Dorset Steam Fair

Cath’s Wild Garlic pesto


So, having successfully foraged for something (!) I am thrilled with the results. I have been slapping it on pizza bases, slathering it over new potatoes, stuffing it into lasagne…everything is getting garlic infused at our house but it’s so FREE that I am managing to cope!

Blitz the following for a minute or two and hey pesto!

1 large bunch of wild garlic, washed
1 small bunch of basil or curly parsley
60gms pine nuts
60gms parmesan cheese
150mls olive oil
squeeze of lemon juice
salt and pepper




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