In early March the English countryside and weather can be kind of bleak.
Spring might be peeking out here and there with a few snowdrops and crocuses and possibly a primrose or two, but often it's grey, bitterly cold and we frequently get flurries of snow right into April.
However, I rather like bleak.
I blame it on reading too many Bronte sisters and Thomas Hardy novels as an impressionable teenager and not enough Jane Austen!
So, booking Bramble Cottage in Cerne Abbas for the third time felt great. We love the cottage. It is cosy, the heating is inclusive of the rental price and the kitchen is well-equipped and big enough for my sister and her family to join us for big family lunches.
However, booking it for the week of my birthday felt a little foolhardy! It's always cold on my birthday.
But, we stiff upped lipped Brits laugh in the face of a little freezing weather and have learnt to wear layers and carry everything imaginable in case of all kinds of weather.
Four seasons in one day, indeed!
As it turned out we did get all four seasons, but over a week rather than every day.
Cerne Abbas is a truly pretty little place, famous for the chalk figure of a giant on the hill just behind the village. He is a shocking sight at times and can make many a man feel inadequate, especially on a cold day ... ahem. If you do click on the link then please do scroll down a bit to see the fantastic folly of a Homer Simpson chalk figure on the hill next to the Cerne Abbas Giant. I loved this! Talk about green advertising (it was done to promote the Simpsons movie a few years back) and it really suits Homer so well being carved onto a hillside. He is gone now as the grass grew over him.
The village has three pubs and a tea room.
There is a fantastically well-stocked little shop selling fresh bread, baked goods, dairy, postcards, newspapers (even a Die Welt for passing Germans!) wine, chocolates and flowers. It's open every day until 6pm. For a countryside based holiday that makes a huge difference to me as it means I can get the daily shopping there and do not have to go to any supermarkets for a whole week.
I don't even need to go to a town.
I can truly be away from urban living.
Our friends Steve and Beanie joined us for four days of this trip and it really was so good to have them in the cottage with us.
Frank rather loves them (they are indeed almost unnaturally lovable!) and they didn't know Dorset well.
We may well rope them in on future trips as they were such good and easy company.
Steve and Beanie, you have been warned ...
|fork in the path at Cerne Abbey|
|a pretty corner of Cerne Abbas|
|was there ever such a beautiful-looking pub?!|
|another lovely inn|
|mothers' day posy|
|on a mama/son walk|
|my birthday ring|
|steve and beanie amuse the children|
|my birthday pancake stack cake, courtesy of my sister heather|
And my birthday was celebrated in the cottage.
Due to flurries of snow outside I did not feel like to beach day I had hoped for and instead we lit the log fire and made lunch with leftovers and Heather made me a stack of pancakes for my birthday cake.
Her two daughters, Matilda and Nancy, get on really well with Frank and so there was much fun had and much food eaten.
Turning 46 that week turned out to be just the right age and the right place to be.