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March 2024 Newsletter

Greetings from Well Cottage, where Spring has truly sprung!

Our March issue is brimming with English inspiration, celebrations, exclusive offers, and luxury experiences!

Share our joy in our latest win in the South West England Tourism Excellence Awards, grab an extended summer stay (a whole day & night FREE!), secure your 2025 escape with a simple deposit and discover if you’re the lucky winner of our luxury picnic basket giveaway!

Plus, embark on a visual journey through historic Shaftesbury, reminisce with classic British TV in ‘The Darling Buds of May’, and learn a quirky British saying that might just surprise you!

Get ready for an enchanting excursion to Stourhead House & Gardens, delight in Laura’s latest gourmet masterpiece, and hear firsthand the glowing testimonials from our cherished guests!

This month’s FAQ answers all your questions about hotel pickups for a seamless transition to countryside bliss. (Spoiler alert: Your chauffeur-driven chariot (aka an executive Mercedes people-carrier) awaits!)

Away we go!

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  • Another Trophy! We Won Bronze At The South West England Tourism Excellence Awards!
  • Exclusive Opportunities: Secure Your Stay! Pay A Tiny Deposit To Lock In 2026 Dates!
  • Lucky Reader! Our Luxury Picnic Basket Winner! Is it YOU?
  • Watch! England’s Historic Shaftesbury And Gold Hill
  • Telly Talk: Great British TV – The Darling Buds of May
  • Featured British Saying: “Bob’s Your Uncle!”
  • Featured Excursion: Stourhead House & Gardens
  • A Taste of Well Cottage: Laura’s Featured Easter Recipe!
  • Guest Voices: Reviews and Testimonials
  • This Month’s FAQ: Can You Pick Me Up From My Hotel?
  • Last Word: Final Thought from Nathan & Laura

Celebrating Our Win at the South West England Tourism Excellence Awards!

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Nathan and Laura accept their trophy at the South West England Tourism Excellence Awards

Following our Gold win at the Dorset Tourism Awards, we are thrilled to announce another outstanding achievement: a Bronze award at the South West England Tourism Excellence Awards! The glittering ceremony, held in the Great Hall of Exeter University on March 14, showcased the best in regional tourism, with an original field of 500 entrants from the picturesque locales of Dorset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Bath, Bristol, Somerset, Devon, and Cornwall.

Earning Bronze in such a competitive arena speaks volumes of our dedication and commitment to providing an exceptional guest experience!

The South West England Tourism Excellence Awards, renowned for their rigorous judging criteria, highlight the pinnacle of tourism excellence. This accolade underlines our team’s relentless effort, creativity, and passion in every aspect of your stay, from arrival to departure at our authentic, luxurious 18th-century thatched cottage!

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank the organisers of the Dorset Tourism Awards and the South West England Tourism Excellence Awards, and of course respective award sponsors VisitDorset, and EV charging point experts VoltShare!

Join us at English Cottage Vacation, where every visit is celebrated, and every stay brings a new achievement. Together, let’s continue creating unforgettable memories and experiences that last a lifetime! 🏆🥂

Celebrate with us in person – reach out right now!

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Get a Free Day & Night with Our Special Offer!

Dive into the heart of summer with an offer that’s as golden as the rays of the sun! From July 31st to August 12th, 2024, English Cottage Vacation invites you and up to 5 guests to savour an extra day and night with us—completely free. Yes, you read that right! Book a stay for any 7 to 12 nights within this period and unwrap a day and night of pure bliss on us.

Picture this:

A serene retreat nestled in the enchanting Dorset countryside, where every day is a canvas waiting for your touch. Whether it’s exploring ancient castles, ambling through lush gardens, or simply unwinding in the luxury of our 18th-century cottage, your stay is custom-crafted to ensure unparalleled joy and relaxation.

Click HERE for full details!

Limited Edition WWII focused Itinerary

And for those with a penchant for the skies, we’re including PLATINUM tickets to the spectacular ‘Golden Age of Aviation’ Compton Abbas Air Show on August 10th or 11th. Witness the elegance and excitement of vintage aircraft as they dance across the sky, a testament to the timeless allure of aviation.

This Limited Edition Experience caters to all—aviation enthusiasts or not! However is could be the perfect accompaniment to all WWII aficionados who might opt to indulge in a week back in time along side the usual outstanding service and indulgence at Well Cottage.

Click HERE for full details!

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Don’t let this opportunity fly by! Extend your summer adventure with an extra day and night at no additional cost. Book your luxury, tailor-made, all-inclusive English Cottage Vacation now and prepare for a summer filled with discovery, relaxation, and moments that will linger long after the sun has set. Because here, the extraordinary is part of the everyday.

Your tailored, unforgettable summer starts here! Click to secure your spot and embark on a journey beyond the ordinary!

Special Offer Alert: Reserve Your Dream 2026 Getaway with a $1,000 USD / $1,300 CAD Deposit!

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We’re thrilled to present a unique chance for you to plan your dream 2026 getaway with unmatched ease! For a brief period, we’re waiving our standard 25% deposit requirement.

Instead, you can now secure your dates for an unforgettable escape to the English countryside with just a US$1,000 / CAD$1,300 deposit. It’s our way of making your future luxury, award-winning, English Cottage Vacation even more accessible and worry-free!

Why You’ll Love This Offer:

  • Ease of Planning: Skip the wait and book your ideal vacation dates now! With this special offer, a spectacular 2025 escape awaits you at English Cottage Vacation!
  • Incredible Value: We’re opening the door to luxury with a significantly reduced deposit, making our tailor-made, all-inclusive English countryside experiences even more attainable – at today’s rates!
  • Guaranteed Peace of Mind: Beyond a vacation, you’re securing a collection of unforgettable memories, complete with the flexibility and reassurance you deserve!

Booking over 12 months in advance increases your chances of securing your desired dates without compromise. English Cottage Vacation is now so in demand we encourage you to book more than 12 months out from your vacation to ensure you secure your perfect dates and the best price possible!

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Discover the Ultimate English Countryside Experience

Nestled in the heart of Dorset, our enchanting, authentic 18th-century thatched cottage marries traditional charm with modern luxury.

Whether indulging in sumptuous meals crafted by our resident gourmet chef Laura, exploring breathtaking landscapes with Nathan, our dedicated chauffeur and guide, or simply unwinding in tailor-made luxury, your stay is guaranteed to be exceptional!

Limited Time Only

This unparalleled offer is only available for a limited duration and covers all bookings for the year 2026 and beyond. Take advantage of this opportunity to secure your spot, ensuring a vacation filled with luxury, adventure, and blissful tranquillity!

Eager to embark on a vacation that promises timeless elegance and unparalleled service? Click HERE to find out more about your options and/or secure your slice of paradise at English Cottage Vacation!

Exciting News: Announcing Our Luxury Picnic Basket Winner!


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We are absolutely thrilled to reveal the first lucky winner of our exclusive newsletter subscriber giveaway – Mary Williams! Our special winner has bagged themselves the quintessential accessory for idyllic countryside escapes: a luxurious, handcrafted picnic basket designed for two!

This exquisite basket, expertly woven from lightly steamed willow and adorned with elegant tan leather straps, promises to elevate any picnic to a delightful dining experience amidst nature’s splendour!

Measuring L 40cm x W 30cm x H 19cm, it’s the perfect size for a romantic outdoor feast! Crafted for lovers of both leisurely country strolls and relaxing park lounging, this basket comes equipped with everything needed for a picturesque picnic, including a detachable cooler bag for your gourmet indulgences, sumptuous savoury treats, and sweet delights!

The set comes complete with:

  • 2 fine china plates
  • 2 wine glasses for toasting to the beauty around you
  • A cosy picnic blanket in matching orange tartan, easily attachable to the basket’s side
  • A bottle opener for effortless refreshment
  • Soft napkins for a touch of dining elegance
  • A cooler bag to keep your delicacies fresh
  • Stainless steel cutlery, ensuring a taste of luxury wherever you are

Congratulations to Mary Williams! Please contact us via email to claim your basket, confirm your registered winning email and send us your address so that we can send your PRIZE out to you as soon as possible. Simple!

We can’t wait to hear about the beautiful moments and memories you’ll create with your new picnic basket! For those still dreaming of their perfect picnic, stay tuned – more picnic baskets and other prizes on the horizon for our cherished subscribers! And you are all in with a chance TO WIN just by stay subscribed to our Newsletters!

Here’s to many more wins and wonderful picnics in the picturesque English countryside!

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VIDEO: Discover the Charms of Shaftesbury and Iconic Gold Hill!

Dive into the heart of England’s picturesque landscapes with our top video pick this month, courtesy of ‘Memory Seekers’. Explore the enchanting town of Shaftesbury, nestled high above the Blackmore Vale.

Famous for its steep, cobbled Gold Hill and stunning countryside views, Shaftesbury encapsulates the essence of rural England’s beauty and tranquillity.

This walking tour isn’t just a visual treat; it’s a journey through history. You’ll wander past quaint independent shops, delve into the town’s rich past at the local museum, and uncover the story behind the iconic Hovis Bread advert from the 1970s that put Gold Hill on the map. The ancient ruins of Shaftesbury Abbey, founded by King Alfred the Great, add a layer of mystique to this already captivating tour.

Whether you’re a history buff, a lover of scenic walks, or simply in search of England’s hidden gems, this video is a must-watch. Soak in the charm and beauty of Shaftesbury and let it inspire your next adventure with us.

👀 Watch the video below and be transported to one of England’s most beautiful spots, a reminder of the unique experiences that await with English Cottage Vacation!

A Nostalgic Journey: Follow the Trail of ‘The Darling Buds of May’

In the annals of British television history, few series have captured the essence of English rural life with as much charm and affection as ‘The Darling Buds of May‘. Based on H.E. Bates’ beloved novels, the series unfolds in the picturesque settings of Kent, known as the Garden of England, during the idyllic post-war era of the 1950s.

This heartwarming tale of the Larkin family, with their simple, joyous approach to life, left an indelible mark on audiences, becoming Britain’s highest-rated television series during its broadcast in the early 1990s.

The trail, a collaboration between the Kent Film Office and various agencies, marks the series’ 20th anniversary and serves as a testament to its lasting appeal. Visitors can explore Pluckley, the village that stood in for the fictional home of the Larkins, and discover locations like the Black Horse pub, St. Nicholas Church, and the real Home Farm, known as Buss Farm, among others.

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Additionally, the trail extends beyond filming locations, inviting explorers to experience the local culture, history, and natural beauty that typify Kent’s landscape.

For those who remember the series fondly, this trail offers a chance to step into the shoes of Pop, Ma Larkin, and their lively brood. For newcomers, it presents an introduction to a world where, despite the absence of modern frills, life is rich, colourful, and, as Pop Larkin would say, “Perfick!”

So, whether you’re a fan of the series, a lover of English heritage, or simply in search of a unique adventure through the British countryside, The Darling Buds of May Trail promises a delightful journey back in time to an era of simplicity and joy.

Featured British Saying: Bob’s Your Uncle!

Ever been bewildered by British banter? Here’s a fun tidbit: when a Brit says “Bob’s your uncle,” no, they haven’t suddenly discovered a long-lost relative named Bob in your family tree. This whimsical phrase means “and there you have it” or “it’s that simple!”. It’s the Brits’ way of wrapping up instructions with a flourish.

According to Wikipedia, “The origins are uncertain, but a common hypothesis is that the expression arose after Conservative Prime Minister Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury (“Bob”) appointed his nephew Arthur Balfour as Chief Secretary for Ireland in 1887, an act of nepotism which was apparently both surprising and unpopular.”

So, next time you nail something, just say “Bob’s your uncle,” and watch the confusion unfold. It’s as easy as pie—no actual uncle required! And, to be fair, it’s also a possibility that “Bob’s your auntie”!

Featured Excursion: Stourhead House & Gardens

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In the heart of Wiltshire, nestled amidst sprawling countryside, lies Stourhead House & Gardens – a marvel of 18th-century landscape and architectural design that stands as a testament to England’s rich heritage. This 1,072-hectare estate, with its Neo-Palladian mansion and the iconic village of Stourton, presents a timeless journey through meticulously crafted gardens in the classical English landscape style.

The story of Stourhead begins with the Hoare family, who, over two centuries, amassed a remarkable collection of heirlooms, art, and literature, encapsulated within the grandeur of Stourhead House. Despite a devastating fire in 1902, the house was lovingly restored, preserving its history and grandeur for future generations. In 1946, the estate found a new guardian in the National Trust, ensuring its preservation and public enjoyment.

The gardens of Stourhead are a living painting, with each turn offering vistas that seem conjured from the brushstrokes of Claude Lorrain or Poussin. Inspired by Gaspard Dughet’s utopian landscapes, Henry Hoare II transformed the grounds into an Arcadian paradise, centred around a magnificent lake. Classical temples, including the iconic Pantheon, frame views that lead the visitor through a narrative landscape, echoing tales of antiquity and inviting contemplation.

Among the myriad excursions offered by English Cottage Vacation, a visit to Stourhead stands out for its blend of natural beauty and historical depth. Let Nathan, our dedicated chauffeur, guide you through the English countryside in our luxury Mercedes, to this jewel of garden and architectural design. Upon arrival, a gourmet picnic basket, lovingly prepared by resident chef Laura, awaits. Nathan sets up your picnic with table and chairs in an idyllic spot within the gardens, allowing you to dine amidst views that have inspired poets and painters alike.

Stourhead House & Gardens is but a glimpse of the unique experiences that English Cottage Vacation curates for our guests. From the serene beauty of Dorset to the majestic landscapes of Wiltshire, let us take you on a journey through England’s storied past and breathtaking present! Stay tuned for next month’s featured excursion: An enchanting journey through The Cotswolds.

Explore all of our amazing excursions – click HERE!

Recipe of the Month: Laura’s Lovely Hot Cross Buns!

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  • Prep Time: 3 hours, 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 22 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 45 minutes
  • Makes: 14-16 buns


  • ¾ cup (180ml) whole milk, warmed to about 110°F
  • 2 and ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast or instant yeast (1 standard packet)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoons (71g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature and cut into 5 pieces
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and ¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon (see note)
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3 and ½ cups (438g) all-purpose flour or bread flour (spooned & levelled)*
  • 1 cup (140g) raisins or currants*

Flour Cross

  • ½ cup (63g) all-purpose flour or bread flour
  • 6–8 tablespoons (90-120ml) water

Orange Icing

  • 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons (45ml) fresh or bottled orange juice
    (or use milk and a splash of vanilla extract for plain icing)


To make the dough, start by mixing together the milk, yeast, and granulated sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer. Cover the bowl and let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes until it becomes foamy on top. If you don’t have a mixer, you can use a large mixing bowl instead. In the next step, you’ll need to combine the dough using a sturdy wooden spoon or silicone spatula.

Now, add the brown sugar, butter, vanilla extract, eggs, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and 1 cup (125g) of flour. Use the dough hook or paddle attachment and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds. Pause to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then add the remaining flour and the raisins. Continue mixing on low speed until the dough forms and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl, which should take around 2 minutes. The dough might still be a little sticky and soft, but if it’s excessively sticky, gradually mix in more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you reach the desired consistency.

Once the ingredients are mixed, continue to knead the dough for a full 5 minutes. You can do this either by keeping the dough in the mixer and beating it for another 5 minutes, or by kneading it by hand on a lightly floured surface. If the dough gets too sticky during kneading, sprinkle a teaspoon of flour at a time onto the dough or work surface to maintain a soft, slightly tacky texture. Avoid adding too much flour as you don’t want the dough to become dry. After kneading, the dough should still feel soft. To check if it’s ready, gently poke it with your finger—if it slowly bounces back, it’s good to go.

For the first rise, lightly grease a large bowl with oil or nonstick spray. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it to coat all sides with the oil. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours or until it doubles in size.

Prepare a 9×13-inch baking pan or two 9-inch square or round baking pans by greasing them.

Shape the rolls by first punching down the dough to release the air. Then, divide the dough into 14-16 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball. Arrange the shaped rolls in the prepared baking pan.

For the second rise, cover the shaped rolls with a clean kitchen towel. Let them rise until they become puffy, which should take about 1 hour.

Preheat your oven to 350°F (177°C).

For the cross, whisk together the cross ingredients, beginning with 6 tablespoons of water. Aim for a thick paste consistency that can be piped easily. If necessary, add more water gradually until you reach the desired consistency. Transfer the paste into a piping bag. Pipe a line down the centre of each row of buns, then repeat in the opposite direction to form crosses.

To bake the rolls, place them in the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until they turn golden brown on top. Halfway through baking, rotate the pan for even browning. If you find the tops browning too quickly, loosely cover the pan with aluminium foil. Once done, remove the rolls from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes as you prepare the icing.

For the icing, whisk together the icing ingredients until smooth. Then brush the icing onto the warm rolls. Enjoy!

Serve the hot cross buns immediately for the freshest taste.

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Featured FAQ: Can you pick me up from my hotel?

Yes, of course! We always state that we can pick you up from the airport but if you’re staying with us before or after, we will pick you up and drop you off in the executive comfort of our Mercedes people-carrier!

Chauffeur Nathan with guests

To view our other Frequently Asked Questions, click HERE!

Our Final Thought…

“And Spring arose on the garden fair, Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere; And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.” – Percy Bysshe Shelley

As the English countryside awakens with the vibrant colours and tender blooms of Spring, this classic verse captures the essence of rejuvenation and new beginnings at Well Cottage. It is a time when the beauty of England unfurls in its full glory, promising new adventures and ever more heartwarming experiences for our guests.

In the light of our recent victories and heartfelt guest testimonials, we’re reminded of the evergreen cycle of growth and renewal. Each accolade and word of praise is a stepping stone on our path to providing an unparalleled English Cottage Vacation, pushing us to continually refine and enhance every aspect of our service.

As the seasons change, so does our commitment to excellence, blooming anew with each guest’s journey. We’re inspired to create a haven where every stay is not just a vacation, but a tapestry of unforgettable moments and personal discoveries.

May this Spring herald a season of joy, exploration, and cherished memories for all who join us in the picturesque Dorset countryside. Together, let’s celebrate the beauty of the present and the promise of what’s yet to unfold.

Embracing the endless possibilities of the season,

Laura & Nathan

Laura and Nathan laughing with guests