If you’re making a cup of tea early in the morning whilst watching squirrels and wild rabbits foraging in the beautiful garden fifteen metres from where you’re stood, you must be in a pretty special slice of the world. Recently, I was fortunate enough to be staying in Gamekeepers Cottage at Dominey’s Yard which is located in the depths of the Dorset countryside. Adele and Nigel Murray are the proud proprietors of four high-spec self-catering cottages, Gamekeeper’s being one of them. Whilst the dramatic rise in self-catering holidays in the UK have proven to be increasingly popular, Dominey’s Yard stands out head and shoulders to the numerous ones I have stayed in previously; exceptional in all aspects.

Adele and Nigel have carried out an extensive modernisation and refurbishment project on all four cottages since purchasing the business in December 2019. Each property has its own private patio area which opens out onto the most wonderful extensive garden. Three of the four cottages sleeps four and the largest dwelling is designed to comfortably sleep six guests. As a foodie, I love having the opportunity to cook in different kitchens. I’ve certainly had to improvise on some occasions; trying to cut fresh crusty bread just bought from the local bakery with anything other than a bread knife is near on impossible. That is certainly not the case at Dominey’s Yard. As food-lovers themselves, the owners have ensured that the kitchen was fabulously equipped and had an impressive array of kitchen utensils and bakeware. Adele has adorned the cottages with the most wonderful tasteful accessories and cleverly used colour to compliment the natural exposed beams giving a calm and cosy ambience.

Whilst Dominey’s Yard have been welcoming visitors for eighteen months, I walked into the cottage feeling that I was the first to stay there as it’s spotlessly clean and wherever my eye fell it looked and felt untouched and brand new. Rarely have I actually been acquainted with the owners of places that I have stayed; being text the key code a few hours before arrival. Whilst this is more than acceptable, there’s something rather special about being greeted and given some personal tips and knowledge of the local area. Adele and Nigel are uber-keen to share their love of the area and eateries that they have tried and tested, as well as local artisan events, such as the Bridport Vintage Market that we were signposted to. Having met Adele and Nigel, it wasn’t a surprise to learn of their extensive experience in the hospitality industry having run hotels in the Bournemouth area for a number of years.

It’s always interesting to learn about the layers of history behind an area and Dominey’s Yard is no exception. The name itself ‘Dominey’s Yard’ being case in point as it was from the surname of the owner in 1845 and ‘Yard’ whilst being self-explanatory, describes the area at the end of the lane where the family sold and traded their bakery and grocery items to local families.

If history is your quirk, then a visit to Cerne Abbas with the obligatory gawp at the 55m ‘tall’ giant that has been carved out of the chalk countryside is a must. Perusing the bookstores, kitchenware shop and café’s in the nearby Sherborne was how we spent a good few hours. We finished off the afternoon wandering about the wonderful garden back at base and then sat and read my newly purchased recipe book whilst in the sunshine eating a rather generous slice of Adele’s Apple cake that was awaiting our arrival in the cottage the previous day. Had I been slightly less ravenous I would have donned my swimming attire and had a leisurely dip in the pool that is available for all guests, luckily for my taste buds, the cake won.
Adele and Nigel themselves deem Dominey’s Yard to be “idyllic and a perfect holiday setting for guests to relax, feel at home and make wonderful memories”. I have to whole-heartedly agree with them and hope to make another booking in a different season so to fully incapsulate what this part of the world has to offer.