Staycation in Dorset with Sykes Cottages*

As the Summer holidays are drawing to a close we thought we’d squeeze in one final adventure before Jasper embarks on his biggest one yet – starting school! Last week me and the family headed to Marnhull, a small village in Dorset about an hour from the coast, to get some quality time in and of course – do a spot of exploring!

We were so kindly hosted by Sykes Holiday Cottages who rent out over 11,000 stunning holiday cottages across the UK and Ireland. After narrowing down our choice of location to Dorset – close enough to drive without the boys getting bored and surrounded by glorious nature, we found the perfect little spot for us – Tick Tock Cottage

As part of an old working farm Tick Tock Cottage underwent huge renovations a few years back to make it the beautiful property that it is today. As a grade II listed building there is still so much original character but with modern fixtures and homely touches. It was also fully stocked with absolutely everything you could need to feel at home and with a corner shop a 30 second walk away – we really didn’t have to go far.

The cottage was let from Friday to Friday and it was really nice because the first couple of days were spent myself, Pete, the three boys and my mum; then we had a couple of days just my Mum, myself, Jasper and Jenson and for the remainder of the trip my Dad joined us! That really is the beauty of a staycation, you can access it so much easier and Pete even considered travelling into London each day from there to work but decided it was probably a bit too far! 

While we were in Dorset we wanted to have a really relaxed time living the village life, so most days we played boardgames in the cottage, let the boys run around in the paddock picking apples and talking to the cows; and spent some time exploring the quaint village of Marnhull.

There was also a fantastic local play park that had been funded by the national lottery so we spent quite a lot of time there – typical life of a parent always searching out the local park!

On a couple of days during our trip we decided to seek adventure and find some less popular attractions to explore. Places like Peppa Pig World were close by but the thought of Summertime queues, overpriced attractions and busy crowds just wasn’t appealing so we went off the grid a bit and headed to Tyneham Village and Monkey World. 

Tyneham Village is a ghost village in South Dorset near Lulworth Cove with a population of 0. During WWII on Christmas Eve 1943 the government forced the villagers to temporarily leave their homes so that the village could be used as a place to train the forces. Thinking it would be temporary they left this note on the Church door reading:

‘Please treat the church and houses with care. We have given up our homes, where many of us have lived for generations, to help win the war to keep men free. We will return one day and thank you for treating the village kindly.’ 

However despite there still being a handful of evacuees alive today the government still haven’t released the village and it remains a tourist attraction. 

The village has a school, rectory, post office, church and homes and where some of it is preserved as a museum much of it is in ruins adding to the eerie and honestly quite sad story – for the kids though it’s super fun especially those that love a bit of history!

Our second adventure to Monkey World was something that I was particularly excited about because I’d been before when I was younger. I’d adopted Gordon the baby orang-utan and tried to convince Jasper that we were going to see his older brother when we got there! 

Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre is situated near Wool in Dorset and is home to over 250 rescued and endangered primates. The 65 acre monkey sanctuary was set up in 1987 as a home for abused chimpanzees that had been used as props by beach photographers in Spain. They’ve since rescued hundreds of primates from all over the world including an incredible rescue mission of 88 capuchin monkeys from a laboratory in Chile. They’d been kept in solitary confinement for up to 20 years and the Chilean Air Force even flew the monkeys to Bournemouth airport! It was deemed ‘ The world’s biggest rescue mission of it’s kind’ by The Guardian which is pretty awesome and really takes away any worries that the animals aren’t being treated well!

The rescue centre also has a few outdoor play areas for kids which are basically smaller versions of the orang-utan enclosures with climbing nets, slides and swings.

As a family you get so much fresh air and exercise walking around the rescue centre (even through the lemur park where you actually get to walk among the lemurs!) so your children are guaranteed to sleep well that night – my two certainly did! 

We really had the loveliest time exploring Dorset’s hidden attractions and it was made all the more special by our stay at Tick Tock Cottage. We’ve already said that we’d love to go back as a family over Christmas one year as everything was just so easy, like a home from home! My mum and I kept saying to each other that we really couldn’t fault the service, accommodation, facilities, welcome – it really was the perfect staycation to round up our Summer holidays before Jasper starts school! 


Do you tend to staycation with your family or go abroad? I’d love to know your experiences of it and if you’ve ever visited Dorset!


Thanks for reading,

Jess x


*This post is in collaboration with Sykes Holiday Cottages but all content and opinions are my own


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Hi I’m Jess, Single Mum, Accredited Life Coach, NLP Practitioner and Beauty Business owner.

I chat about all thing female empowerment, spirituality and positivity