The lovely people at Travelodge sent us on a brilliant literacy adventure last weekend. Following in the footsteps of the Famous Five and Enid Blyton, we went to The National Trust’s Corfe Castle and on the steam train to Swanage. A #literacylegacy trip to celebrate World Book Day, which was just a couple of days before our trip.
We hadn’t been to Dorset before, so really loved getting the chance to discover somewhere new. Corfe Castle is somewhere that Enid Blyton visited and apparently Kirrin Castle in the Famous Five is based on the castle.
I was a big fan of The Famous Five books as a child and so the chance of finally getting to take part in one of their adventures was too good to miss. Sadly there were only four of us on our outing, as I didn’t think to borrow a dog from somewhere … There was also a distinct lack of ginger beer. There was however a lot of sunshine and someone did manage to get into a bit of trouble, much like the Famous Five used to.
The sunshine is very deceptive in these photos, as it doesn’t capture the crazy wind that we also had there. In the lower parts of the castle it wasn’t too bad, but as you climbed higher and had less protection from the elements, it was some of the worst wind I’ve ever been outside in.
It really added to the atmosphere though and I’m one of those odd people who love it when the weather is a bit wild and blowing in your face. The air always seems that bit fresher and it makes you feel … this is going to sound cheesy as heck … alive. Cheesy, but true.
The boys loved it there, with all sorts of nooks and crannies to investigate. Being a National Trust place, there was also a quest to complete and a booklet to fill in as we walked around. Very fitting with the Famous Five feel of our trip for them to have a mystery to solve and information to find out.
You can see for miles when you are within the castle grounds, as it is set high up. It helped that it was such a clear day and we could see green fields in every direction. Obviously no where will ever replace Cornwall as my favourite place, but Dorset is definitely a very beautiful place.
After competing their quest at the castle and receiving their National Trust band bracelet, we walked into Corfe Castle (confusingly the village is also called Corfe Castle) and found a bakery for lunch. We didn’t have a picnic on the scale of one of the ones that the Famous Five have in the books. We did however have a nice lunch whilst sat in the park, which the boys also enjoyed playing in.
After lunch we headed for the next bit of our adventure, a steam train to Swanage. I had never been on a steam train before, so I was really excited about it. It was a lot more bumpy than a normal train and a lot more fun. For anyone wondering, they allow dogs on the train. So if we had been full on Famous Fiving it, with Timmy the dog with us, he would’ve been able to come too.
I have a distinct lack of photos of Swanage other than the one below. This is because as soon as we arrived in Swanage, the weather decided to change completely. It rained ridiculously heavy rain all over us. Hence why most of our time in Swanage was spent inside of shops and making one brief quick walk to the sea.
Swanage seemed lovely though and we are definitely planning to visit again at some point. There were plenty of shops, loads of places to eat and even a Cornish bakery. I can imagine it’s very popular in the tourist season as it really is such a perfect spot to stroll around. There’s a pier that we didn’t make our way over to, as the sky was looking threatening again and so we only stayed an hour in Swanage before getting the train back.
We then headed to our Travelodge hotel in Poole, which wasn’t a very long drive away at all. It was really easy to find and lovely and cool inside with a nice big window. Si is someone who hates being too hot – he’s a welder, which was possibly not the best career choice … just saying. Usually if a hotel room is too hot neither of us gets to sleep, as he can’t sleep and I can’t sleep and he keeps waking me up to tell me that it is too hot to sleep … Thankfully the temperature was perfect and the beds comfortable.
This meant that we mostly got to sleep well. Apart from one of the boys having a nosebleed all over their bed covers at 3am. I apologised at check out and the receptionist was really kind and understanding about it thankfully. We don’t usually leave hotel rooms looking like a scene out of a horror film honestly.
Our room was really quiet, which surprised me as we were facing the road and it was a really busy road. As soon as we shut the window though, we could hardly hear a thing. The hotel is also really close to the Dolphin Shopping Centre, which we enjoyed having a look around the next day before we went home.
Our room was great, I think my only minor complaint would be that whoever had refilled the coffee in the room had only put decaf coffee in. Honestly caffeine is the whole point of drinking coffee in my opinion.
In the morning we popped down for breakfast and it was one of my favourite hotel breakfasts so far. Considering it is a budget hotel, I was surprised by this weirdly.
It was the first buffet breakfast in a long time, where they did a brilliant job on the mushrooms and the scrambled eggs. The scrambled eggs actually tasted of something! They tasted really good, usually I end up leaving the scrambled egg even though it’s my favourite as everyone just does it really badly.
There were options of fruit salad, yoghurt, cereals and croissants there as well. The Travelodge breakfast gets another huge thumbs up from me as well, as for the cereals there was Soya on the side as well as regular milk.
Fin couldn’t cope with dairy when he was small due to chronic eczema and despite ‘growing out’ of it and being able to have dairy now, he hates the taste of milk and will only have Soya. We didn’t think to tell the hotel in advance, so the Soya was just there ready for anyone to use and I love that.
We had such a fantastic weekend, that we are planning to go back to Dorset at some point for a longer holiday. It really is so beautiful and there looks to be a lot to do as well. I want to go back to Swanage and enjoy it in the sunshine and have another family adventure in Dorset.