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February 2023 Newsletter

Greetings from Bedchester, Fontmell Magna, Shaftesbury, Dorset, England!

We do hope you’re well and looking forward to your 2023 vacations! We know everyone’s feeling the pinch in one way or another but if you are here reading this then you, like us, know the importance of prioritising your vacation!

This month, we bring to you a little taster of what there is to look forward to here at the English Cottage Vacation of a lifetime. Yes we are slightly biased!!!!

But for good reason we believe! You see, this year we have received 3 re-bookings from guests who have stayed with us since opening our cottage doors in 2021!

We like to think that this says something very important and positive about what we offer and we wanted to share this with you. Not to boast but to let you know that you are in for a real treat!

Laura and Nathan serving guests outdoors

In this month’s newsletter

  • Survey Says: A resounding ‘Yes’ to English Cottage Vacations!
  • Snowdrop Season: Beautiful blooms decorate the landscapes all around us!
  • Dreaming of Summer: A collage of photos to remind us that the best is yet to come!
  • Northern (?!) Lights: The aurora borealis seen from southern England!
  • Green for Go! The veggie garden prep has begun!
  • Continuing Down Memory Lane: Part 11 – ‘From Sea Boss to being our own Boss!’
  • Guest Voices: Reviews & testimonials
  • Featured FAQ: Can you help me plan my stay in London? (spoiler alert: Of course we can!)
  • Last Word: Our final thought!

Survey Highlights: Enthusiasm Soars for English Cottage Vacations!

Thank you to everyone who completed our survey last month and received our $1,000 USD OFF of their future English Cottage Vacation!! Don’t forget to mention this when you come to making your booking with us so that we can be sure to apply it to your total. all-inclusive price (please note that it does not apply to single room bookings).

The results of the survey were outstanding and on the whole showed that folks are still eager to book for this year and next (yay!); and are happy to pay in the range of *$5,000 to $7,000 USD pp for our unique, all inclusive packages. This is great news as we offer some packages from as low as $3,250 USD pp so we are happy that there appears to be an option for everyone’s budget!

If you weren’t aware of this please do get in touch so that we can share with you all of your options, even if you’re travelling as a couple, solo, as a group or if you have enquired before. We have quite a few more options this year!!!

*Please don’t forget, we can also price in other currencies

England’s Early Bloomers: Celebrating Snowdrop Season!

Snowdrops in the garden at Well Cottage

These beautiful white flowers line our bushes and hedgerows at this time of year, and
Shaftesbury is well known for its glorious snowdrops. There are many varieties to keep
a look out for but from afar you’d be hard pushed to see a difference.

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Album of Memories Has Us Dreaming of Summer!

Looking back on fond memories of last year and what we have to look forward to this year with our precious guests!

ecv garden view lawns and fields

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ecv Durdle Door Jurassic Coast Dorset beach people sunbathing and swimming

summer memories collage 1

summer memories collage 2

summer memories collage 3

Jubilee Joy And Coronation Celebrations!

Last year’s memories of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations have us chomping at the bit to join our fellow parishioners at the King’s Coronation Celebrations this year, and our lucky guests will be welcomed with open arms!

ecv Jubilee Celebrations 2022 Laura and Guests ecv Jubilee Celebrations 2022 collage 1

This week is still available so perhaps the lucky ones could be YOU!

Enquire now to book this week of pageantry and celebrate like locals in REAL ENGLISH STYLE!

Featured Recipe: Laura’s Divine Dorset Apple Cake!

Laura's Delicious Dorset Apple Cake

A delicious, traditional teatime snack served best with a lovely cup of English breakfast tea!

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees
  • Bake for 30 – 45 min


  • 225g cooking apples, peeled and chopped
  • The juice of half a lemon
  • 225g self-raising flour
    115g butter, diced
  • 165g sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2-3 tablespoons of milk
  • ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1 apple, sliced for the top


  1. Start off by preheating your oven to 180 degrees, then grease a round cake tin and set aside.
  2. Cut up your apples and toss them with the lemon juice, set them aside to marinate.
  3. In a new bowl, sift the flour and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  4. Stir in 115g of the sugar, apple and egg mixing well and adding a little of the milk at a time to make a soft dough.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the tin.
  6. Slice up your remaining apple and in a bowl, mix with the remaining sugar and cinnamon, arrange on the top of the cake mix for the decoration.
  7. Bake for 30 – 45 minutes.
  8. Once cooked, push a knife through the centre, if it comes out clean, the cake is ready. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for ten minutes.
  9. Once cooled, serve either on its own or with a healthy dollop of delicious Dorset clotted cream!

The Northern Lights… In The South of England!

The northern lights aka aurora borealis seen from Dorset

We were treated to a showing of the aurora borealis earlier this week in the south of England – a very rare sight!! Credit to Laura Basham for this photo overlooking Shaftesbury from the Cranborne Chase.

The Veggie Garden Prep Has Begun!

It’s time to start preparing our veggie patch ready for the months of planting ahead. Here is a little insight into what we spend some of our time doing in the winter while we are waiting and preparing for our guests to return in the Spring.

Our veggie patch is very important to us as it it where we grow our own fruits and vegetables that Laura uses in many of her recipes. Her favourites are black and red currants, broad beans, potatoes, onions, parsnips and carrots. French beans also grow very well at Well Cottage, and Laura just loves them raw or blanched or sautéed with almond slivers. Yum!!!!

Continuing Down Memory Lane: Part 11 – ‘From Sea Boss to being our own Boss!’

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When reminiscing about our yachting career, it seems since hurricane Irma in 2017, that every time we returned from vacation, the same question was always in the air, had the yacht survived the hurricane season? In this case, in the summer of 2019 hurricane Dorian ripped through the Abaco islands in The Bahamas, while Sea Boss was lying in Nassau. We were very worried as ‘Dorian’ was unfortunately taking aim for the Bahamas, so the owners of Sea Boss flew out to bring her back to Fort Lauderdale to safety.

While at home on vacation in the UK we had finally found our perfect English Cottage! To say the stars were aligned is an understatement. We could write an entire book about how everything fell into place like a perfectly played game of Tetris when it came to setting up our new future business, but there is just not enough time today!

We had guests waiting to book, we found the perfect, most quintessential chocolate box cottage! Everything was lined up for the interior redesign the following year, and our upcoming year on Sea Boss was looking to be a bumper year which meant getting some much needed finances behind us for an exquisite and high end launch of English Cottage Vacation! We returned to Sea Boss in extremely high spirits, excited for the future together!

We arrived back to Florida after our vacation and prepared for a busy season ahead, what would be the infamous 2019-2020 season.

After a mini maintenance period in Fort Lauderdale, we started our long journey down towards the British Virgin Islands. This particular trip took us well over a week, nearly 2 weeks in fact. We had to stop a few times while we waited for weather windows, and some of the long legs were borderline whether we should actually be offshore in the conditions. Certainly, the trip from Long Island in The Bahamas to The Dominican Republic was a long, tough 16 or so hours, made worse as it was an overnight sail. After a 48 hour layover to again wait for better weather and to do some essential repairs, we then headed east past the DR, south of Puerto Rico and on towards St Thomas, USVI to eventually arrive and regroup.

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We dusted ourselves down, made our way to the BVI and prepared for the annual broker charter show. This was another successful show for us as crew and for Sea Boss and we were extremely chuffed to come away with an award in the motor yacht class. This set us up well for the start of the charter season and we were looking to be extremely busy through Christmas and up until the new year. Of course, little did we know our lives were about to change in a way none of us could have envisaged.

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By now the world was keeping an eye on China as they were making their way into the media headlines for all the wrong reasons. Our season continued on as normal as we maintained our usual outstanding charters and positive attitudes, even with the ‘noise’ coming out of Asia.

And then it all changed…

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As we entered March 2020 things escalated quickly. We were approaching the end of our current charter and there was considerable discomfort and realisation about how intense things were becoming.

Our guests at the time became anxious about getting home, their children’s schools were making contact requesting that they do not bring them to school, they were chatting to their parents who were back home on US soil and things were changing by the hour! We started conversing with the broker for the next charter which was starting in the next day or 2, and to be honest, we were still saying “yes – the guests can fly down to the USVI”.

However very soon the entire industry changed from a ‘we must never cancel under any circumstances’ to a ‘every single charter is being cancelled for the next 3 months, no questions asked’ just like that!

Within the next 24 hours our guests were flying out early and we spent most days of the next week on the phone to brokers trying desperately to reschedule cancelled bookings for a time in the future we felt sure would be safe and everything was back to normal.

But how wrong we turned out to be! We were heading into a Caribbean lockdown…

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Turbulent Times And Triumphs: Watch This Space!

Next time, we’ll tell you all about our lockdown on board Sea Boss in the USVI. How different our lives became in paradise, our up and down summer running from storms and avoiding covid, the fear that we endured as we planned to leave the industry to launch our own business in the most inhospitable moment in the history of time for international travellers. The faith we maintained and then finishing our yachting career to move back to England still hoping that the world would return to what it was and to the place that was still lingering in our dreams.

This next and possibly final chapter will be the most intense for us to share yet, so please join us as we share with you some of the most difficult and best moments of our careers and lives yet!

If you missed any of the other chapters in our previous newsletters, you can check them out here.

Guest Voices: Reviews and Testimonials

First hand reviews from our guests who have stayed with us at the cottage are so powerful! They confirm our promise and trust for our future guests. Here are a few links to various sources of where guests are leaving glowing reviews about their time spent at Well Cottage here in the English countryside!

Website Reviews
Google Reviews
Tripadvisor Reviews

Please remember that we offer much security and flexibility within our agreement, including our cancellation and rescheduling policy. You can even find our business – Appanage Vacations Ltd – on the UK Government Website “Companies House” if you would like a little further peace of mind.

Featured FAQ: Can you help me plan my stay in London?

Of course we can! We are familiar with good areas to stay and what to do while you are visiting London. In addition to this, we have an affiliation with a London Tour Guide company and they can plan your time in the city, recommend hotels, suggest unique things to do and organise London transfers. Remember, Nathan will take care of the transfers to and from the cottage!

To view our other Frequently Asked Questions, click here!

Our Final Thought…

Every morning is the dawning of a new day. New opportunities not to be missed, new skills to be learned, new friends to be made and new memories to be remembered. Every day we look forward to your emails, notes, thanks, love and of course your enquiries and bookings because it keeps us doing what we love and that is to provide the most wonderful, stress free vacations here in the heart of the REAL, LOCAL ENGLAND sharing our knowledge and our home, striving to make you happy, relaxed and full!

See you soon and please do bring your friends!

Much love.
Nathan and Laura

Laura and Nathan beside the working well at Well Cottage