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Bankes Arms Beer Festival

We all know I love a good beer festival. The atmosphere, the folk music and of course the array of local ciders (which just so happens to be my favourite tipple). With Scotts mum over from New Zealand, we needed no excuse to show her our favourite pub in all its glory. The Bankes Arms Beer Festival showcases over 150 real ales and 50 different ciders over a usually sunny weekend in Studland.

All that was needed was transport. Drinking and driving does not mix folks. Luckily the clever people over at Wilts and Dorset buses introduced the open top double decker  “number 50″ which will take you all the way through to Swanage if you fancy. So for a mere £8 we jumped on, skipped the enormous chain ferry que of tourists and arrived on the other side of the harbour in a little less than an hour. The pub is set just off the main road through Studland and its views are really spectacular. I think they even rival the Scott Arms! The pub garden is transformed into the main festival dance floor and it of course homes the enormous beer tent.

We squeezed onto the few remaining seats and sent Scott to the bar with his beer tokens.

First up was a ginger cider.

Which had profound effects…

And then onto the more serious “scrumpy” of the bunch. You know the stuff that tastes of apples mixed with a little nail polish remover? Yeah that 8% stuff isn’t for me, so back on the fruity ciders it was!

Cider makes you thirsty so off I went on the hunt for food.

Any you can’t really get much better than a greasy mustard and tomato ketchup covered hotdog. No sir, never.

As the afternoon went on, the field dissapeared beneath more and more beer festival revelers. We left before the mayhem really hit (got to keep that Daguhter in Law charn going and it’s certainly not so effective under the influence!) so we jumped back on the bus, headed for top deck and played tourists all the way back to Bournemouth.

The Bankes Arms Beer Festival is really the king of all Dorset beer festival. Its a mere tradition for most locals, but if you’re visiting or wanting to take the family along it really is a great day out for everyone (ok, mainly the adults)!

happy campers, corfe castle

It feels insanely good to be back, and I’ll tell what’s even better than getting home at a reasonable hour and eating normal food…being sat around a camp fire with best friends, exchanging stories of travels and adventures. Hey, happy campers!

Camping is one of my favourite hobbies and as the weekends weather forecast was beyond perfect, we packed up the tent, flung a text to some friends and met in the Dorset countryside for a weekend of adventures. No sooner than the sausages began to sizzle on the BBQ, the tents were pitched and the beers were poured. We talked and drank the night away tucked under blankets and called it a night after trying to identify every twinkling star in the sky.

Morning came around too quickly (who knew it’s that light at 5am), so I snuggled up to this little fella while eating my bacon and egg muffin, slurping on a large cup of coffee. As soon as we’d fuelled ourselves up for the day, we hit country path in search of Corfe caste.

Nordon Farm Campsite is a working farm. Cows and their calfs graze in the fields alongside the tents, and geese, peacocks and chickens rule the roost at the front of the site. The goats were particularly friendly, probably because of the constant petting from the fan-base of children they’d gathered around the pen.

I’d thrown on my new favourite H&M fedora, some trusty SPF and Havianas.

Out we popped through the woodlands into a great opening of meadows. And there she was perched on the hill in front of us, Corfe Castle herself.

We danced like fairies amongst the flowers and chased the dogs until it got a little too hot and sweaty in that jacket.

Dancing Dave learnt a few tricks too.

Back on track and with the castle right besides us, I started telling the story of Corfe Castle to the kids. It goes a little something like this…

“Built by William the Conquereur in the 11th century, Corfe Castle had a hard, hard life. Besieged twice by parliament and infiltrated by the enemy from within the castle grounds, it was finally demolished. It’s remains were used by the villagers as material to build their homes.”

Fascinating huh?

The village is a toy town. Tiny cottages line the narrow streets set in the valley beneath the castle ruins. Every time I visit Corfe, I fall in love just a little bit more with its charm. 

Anyway, enough of the culture and onto the Greyhound pub garden which…another fact coming your way…is one of the most photographed pubs in the world due to it laying just beneath the castle. 

Have I mentioned my love for my new bag and jacket? I can’t seem to find the H&M jacket on their website but I’m sure they’ll be in stores. The bag can be found on the Next website here.

It was a blisteringly hot day and no better excuse to spend the whole afternoon drinking cider and Pimms in a sunny beer garden.

On our trek back to the campsite, there was no doubt about it. The adults were drunk. 

Back to the tent for a short nap…

And back to BBQ’ing. We were all so tired from the previous night’s antics and a whole day in the sun, so we set up our fire fit and warmed up before heading to bed to the sound of the cows grazing.

Sunday morning came around with the warmth of the sun burning through the tent. Gosh, I’d miss this wake up call. We begrudgingly pack away our tents as the kids protested in their car shouting “we don’t want to leave!”. Me neither.

Our last adventure of the weekend was a short trip to Swanage. You already know my love for this traditional English seaside town and even on a slightly overcast day, it is still my favourite. I grabbed a large bag of chips and curry sauce and then moved to the Purbeck Icecream stand for some honeycomb goodness.

It was the perfect weekend for the perfect adventures.

Scott Arms, Kingston

I don’t think I’ve mentioned before that in July, I will be embarking on a challenge not for the faint hearted. The infamous Three Peaks Challenge.  I won’t bore you with the details but you’ve probably figured it entails climbing three mountains, so in preparation I’ve been trying to get out walking as much as possible.

Obviously to keep ourselves going, food fuel is essential and before our walk yesterday we made a stop at the Scott Arms in Kingston. A stones throw from Corfe, it is the perfect location for a Sunday stroll stop off. In the summer, you can imagine this place to be bursting with eager drinkers, soaking up the sun while stood in awe at the remains of Corfe Castle that is in such perfect sight from the beer garden. And beyond the castle, Poole’s glistening bay shines in all it’s glory. No, my pictures do not portray a beer festival in the sun, but if you close your eyes for just a minute, you can just imagine it.

We made a b-line for the bar.

A local cider caught my eye. Not your conventional pub cider, but a local cider made from locally grown apples. Joe’s Cider tastes like apple juice. Deliciously refreshing and perfect for a gloomy afternoon.

The menu is full of traditional pub-grub. Using locally sourced and seasonal produce, you can indulge in a home-made pie or bangers and mash. We chose the smoked salmon starter from the specials board.

Oh boy, this was delicious. Juicy smoked salmon in it’s plenty with a tangy salad and mixed leaves. I could have eaten this alone, it was filling and utterly amazing.

For our “main” dish it was the local meat platter which won us over from the menu. Home-made baguettes served with a selection of locally sourced and dried meats.

Scott started a competition for the winning combo. I won, obviously. The food really was impeccable.

An hour had passed before we reared our heads from the Scott Arms.

And it was raining. Damn it, no one wants to walk in the rain.

So we hit the road. A full belly and tipsy head, 1. Three Peaks Training walk, 0.