A magical kindness

25Jun

Wow! The happenings at Domaine Du Sourire!

Last week we noticed strange rings on our lawn, so we set about investigating what it was all about.

Some said aliens, some said some sort of fungi, some said witches, dragons and yet some said fairies dancing has caused it.

Believing it to be a fairy ring we sat one night to watch and see and sure enough it was not long before we saw something. We weren’t sure at first what it was, it was like sparkling in the night around the ring, it looked so magical. Then it seemed to disappear, and we thought perhaps we had imagined it. But suddenly, a buzzing and a beating of wings and a tiny fairy landed on Terry’s knee. She told us her name is Titania and she was so gracious to allow us to interview her for our blog. Read on and see just what the fairies are doing here at Domaine Du Sourire.

Terry: So Titania, that is quite the famous fairy name in our world and a royal one at that, how did you come by your name?

Titania: I am a fairy princess, and my mother is Arabella queen of our fairy nation, we live in Butterfly Springs. We are descendants of the great Titania of whom you speak. So, my name is what you might say “a family name”.

Terry: O you say you are a princess, that’s exciting.

Titania: Yes, and one day I will govern our Fae folk in Butterfly springs or Champagne et Fontaine as you know it in your world. I am in training to be queen which is why I have been allowed to talk with you tonight.

Terry: You don’t say girl, what are you learning?

Titania: I’m learning how to be responsible. Being a fairy queen is a very responsible role, it involves looking after all the fae folk, young, old or in between, sick or well, at peace or war, o yes, it is a very responsible role.

Terry: O I see, and you probably get to make a few laws then do you!. Is there anything you would like to change when you are Queen?

Titania: Definitely, yes indeed I would, there are many things I would change and one of them is to rid this place of cats! My mother says they have a purpose but other than chasing us to eat us I have yet to see that purpose. Then I would encourage all the young fairies and the elves to dream big and work to make those dreams come true – even the silly ones like growing ice lollipops in the garden all summer long.

Terry: Mmmm. Sounds great. I’d dream of a garden of lollipops easy enough. So, is it true then that fairies love sugar?

Titania: Yes, yes yes! We love sugar but its not so good to have too much! (or so I’m told!) So, we eat lots and lots of vegetables and fruits and we love cream and milk too when we can get past those pesky cats to get some!

Terry: Titania, tell me this then, why were the fairies dancing around and making rings in my garden?

Titania: Some things I cannot tell you, but so you know it is good. I am able to speak with you because you have been careful and not broken our circle, and well I’m soo excited… I will just tell you some of our dancing has to do with my getting engaged to my wonderful Aerwyna, he will be Lord of the fae folk and rule with me!

I should say no more!

Terry: Well congratulations girl, glad to hear that and thank you. Can I ask why you chose the garden of Domaine Du Sourire?

Titania: You can ask but I may not answer.

Terry: Oh, okay then. I’ll ask Jackie if there is anything else, she would like to ask you.

Titania: Well I didn’t say I wouldn’t answer! I was just testing you to see if you would be rude and push me for an answer. Many big people are very rude! But you have been patient and gracious to me, and this is the very reason we chose Domaine Du Sourire because of what you do here.

Let me explain, we Fae folk are kind, compassionate, gentle yet noble folk. We love family and community is so important to us. Helping others is what we small but not insignificant people do.

You are like that at Domaine du Sourire. We see your hospitality to all and especially to those who have a disability. We think your wheelchair swing and sensory room are just fantastic. So thoughtful. And kids, they will just have the best time here.

Because you put others first, we chose this place and even though you won’t often see us, we see you, you and your guests and the fun they have on holiday and we have such pleasure here too albeit mostly unseen!

Terry: Thanks me girl for those kind words, you’ve just made my night! And well, that’s good that you have fun, that’s what we want for people when they come here on holiday to relax, enjoy their time and make loads of happy memories to share with family and friends for years to come.  Do you think any of our guests will ever catch a glimpse of you?

Titania: Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps if a little one believes enough, perhaps!

Terry: I think your fiancée is waiting in you. He looks handsome.

Titania: Thank you, he really is, but I must fly now. Perhaps we will meet again, if it is to be so I will leave you a sign. You will know it. Goodbye Terry, Goodbye Jackie. Domaine du Sourire is now a friend of the Fae folk. Be blessed.

We waved her off as she disappeared as quickly and invisibly as she had appeared. How lovely to have met Titania and maybe if you are to come to Domaine du Sourire you might just catch sight of the fairies of Butterfly Springs but be careful to not break a step into their fairy rings.

PS Titania said we were not allowed photos, so we took some from google (free copyright of course) to brighten this article.

Reasons to Book Direct

05Feb

How can you be sure you are getting the best holiday deals? Even in the age of online booking with price comparison sites it can be hard to know what truly the best way is to find that perfect holiday home. From considering location and facilities to budget, there is a lot to think about! Sometimes, to ensure you have the most seamless experience as possible, it is best to go straight to the source and book direct. We have put together a few good reasons why booking direct is best.

#BookDirect cut out the middle man and save

The best reason to book direct is the money you will save! Many online holiday booking sites like Booking.com, AirBnB, Trip Adviser, HomeAway and so on add fees to your booking total. This can amount to a lot of ££££££’s. Imagine what you can do with the money you save – a vineyard tour, extra spends for the market days, a visit to Chateau? The list is endless.

Because of the cost of using the big sites, some of the best holiday homes can’t be found on the major websites. By limiting your search to these websites, you might be missing out on the best accommodation for your family or group.

However, while online travel operators and comparison sites are useful to see what accommodation is available for your chosen destination, when you cut out the middle man, you cut out the commission and fees they charge! Many holiday rentals have a “best price guarantee” for booking direct, so it’s always worth having a look to see if there’s a better deal available and booking direct.

#BookDirect to build that relationship and tap into great local knowledge

Not everything in life, or in holidays, comes down to money. There are a wide range of benefits to booking direct that can’t be summed up on a receipt. A direct exchange between buyer and seller inevitably results in a closer connection and builds that worthwhile relationship.

Owners have intimate knowledge about the destination and accommodation, they know the property and the area better than anyone and can help you plan a better holiday experience, optimising dates and budgets to suit your needs.

They can send you to the best activities, restaurants, and local sights.

When booking a holiday accommodation, peace of mind is vitally important.

Want to know if there is a water-park, a hot-tub, a supermarket close by? Want to know where the best markets are and on what days? Want help to book your excursions?  When you book direct, you can find out many of these important questions and more before you commit to booking.

From events and activities to special rates to onsite services, with direct communication with owners, you get the insider knowledge and the best offers!

#BookDirect – accommodating your special and travel needs

Travellers with special needs and requests can work directly with the owner in a much more personal way to give you assurances before you commit to booking and to help you create a guaranteed amazing holiday experience.

If your trip doesn’t turn out exactly as you planned and you need to change dates or even cancel your accommodation outright, you will often find that holiday rentals are far more accommodating with direct bookers. Booking through a comparison site may leave you at the mercy of their terms and conditions, which are designed to protect their commission. Whereas booking direct can often have far more favourable conditions, especially if you’re a valued loyal customer.

Return guests are truly welcome, owners love to welcome you back again and often reward your loyalty with special discounts and offers.

It’s easy!  #BookDirect gets better results, better value and a better holiday!

Now you are here, look around our website and see what we have to offer. In short, we have 4 gites, 3 are fully accessible as is our pool, soft play room, games room and sensory room and our grounds. We pride ourselves on doing what we can to meet your needs so you have the holiday you deserve. although you can book direct online, we are happy to chat with you by phone or email anytime through the process. We look forward to hearing from you.

Our Guests – POPSY charity small group holiday at Domaine du Sourire

29Jun

Woohoo, we survived our very first guests. A group booking filling all 4 of our gites. It was a challenging but wonderful experience which has inspired us right at the outset of our journey.

POPSY (parents of partially sighted youngsters) is a support group for parents and carers of youngsters who are blind, have ‘special needs’ and with life-limiting conditions. It was set up by Tymandra, mum to Arwen Poppy who has a “special” syndrome ‘Warburg Micro Syndrome’, an extremely rare genetic condition (only 1 in 230 million people in the world diagnosed so far). Tymandra says she set up the group to keep herself positive and as an attempt to empower others who may feel out of control or are not sure what to do next and who feel alone.
Tymandra tirelessly works hard to support families of children who are blind, have special needs or life limiting conditions as well as fundraising for and organising day trips, activities and holidays for families.

5 families and 2 bus drivers arrived on a Saturday afternoon. The sun was shining so they wasted no time in offloading their belongings, which believe me were extensive, and headed straight for the cool azure blue shimmering waters of the newly installed “heated” pool.

As they were splashing around and having the time of their lives I received a phone call from my friend in the neighbouring region of Charente to say a storm was heading our way. No sooner had I set the phone down and headed towards the pool to let the newly arrived guests know when the storm suddenly appeared out of nowhere and it really hit us. Parasols blew into the water, pool toys upped and away. As our guests quickly scampered to the safety of their dry and comfortable gites we sorted the pool and things getting well and truly soaked but thankfully managed to avoid being struck by lightning.

What a start to their week and what a start to our new life in “sunny” France.

 

Thankfully the sun did return, and our guests had some lovely outings including Brantôme, Oradour-sur-Glane and Aubterre-sur-Dronne.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This group’s holiday and outings would not have been possible without the amazing JUMBALANCE a cross between a bus and ambulance. How the drivers, Brendan and Gary, managed to manoeuvre it along the, sometimes, very tight track roads in the Dordogne and through the tiny narrow streets of the French villages amazes me.  This amazing bus provides accessibility to people who may not otherwise be able travel. Visit their website and support them in this amazing job they do. www.jumbulance.org.uk

A full programme was organised with morning and afternoon activities as well as evening entertainment, we even managed to bag a celebrity to do the disco nights, we were thankful to Dawn Camilli one of the Candy Stripes (@frenchcandies- look them up on Facebook and Instagram) singers who lent us the lights and DJ’d for us. On rainy mornings the group were able to take advantage of the “games” room which converted to an activity hall by day and a disco by night. Activities included an art workshop and craft making. We arranged patisserie tasting, fromage tasting and a wine taster as well as Cognac v Armagnac, Cidre v Calvados and Fizz v Champagne evenings. We included a walking trip to a local dairy with ice cream tasting.

Disco Divas dancing the night away

Cidre or Calvados? a little tasting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

French knitting with granny wendy

Lets do this inside it’s a bit chilly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last day for this group was truly amazing as it was a special boy’s 9th birthday, he enjoyed a pool party, then some scrummy goodies and a fabulous cake baked by our local boulangerie and finished off with a BBQ. The sun shone marvellously that day and a fantastic time was had by all.

 

 

POPSY – Domaine du Sourire just can’t wait until you’re back again next year!

POPSY is a small charity that deserves support –you can help by sponsoring- sponsor forms are available.
Or if you would like to make a donation, please get in touch: popsycharity@hotmail.co.uk or via Facebook.
Check out their website at www.popsy.org.uk

At Domaine du Sourire we aim to make your holiday as fun and as welcoming as possible. We can work with you to arrange packages for groups. Whether your group booking is for a holiday or retreat we endeavour to be as accommodating as possible to suit your needs. We can accommodate creative writing, artists, wellbeing, business or church/spiritual groups as well as groups of family or friends just wanting a great holiday together. Whatever your needs are chat to us and we can work out a programme of activity with you. And if you are not a group don’t worry each Gite is self-contained; individuals and families, alike, are welcome.

L’Herrison

The property: What is unique about Domaine du Sourire #4

22Jun

Will Domaine du Sourire suit me for a holiday, will it meet my wants and needs for that well-earned break and why should I choose Domaine du Sourire?

Jackie and Terry, the hosts at Domaine du Sourire, would answer that first question with a maybe. They passionately tell you that Domaine du Sourire has amazing unique things on offer that will readily meet a variety of expectations and needs for that perfect holiday, however, they equally readily admit it will not meet everyone’s desires and needs and it is wise to consider what it does offer before making a commitment to book.

Jackie advises that you should know what you want when you are choosing and yes it can be hard when so many offer the same thing: great location and stunning views, clean and comfortable gites with all mod-cons, lovely welcome pack and gated swimming pool.

So what sets Domaine du Sourire apart? What makes Domaine du Sourire unique?

Whether you are an individual or a family or a couple, there is something at Domaine du Sourire for you.

Each of the gites have their own private patio for those alone moments or family time but what is wonderful at Domaine du Sourire is the courtyard which all guests share. This is an amazing spot and Jackie and Terry have furnished it with a massive table – which was made by Jackie’s dad, Sandy, who has since passed away, (you can read about the beginnings and the hope of Domaine du Sourire in another blog) and he made it from the original barn doors.

The courtyard is a space where families and strangers can come together in the evening or the morning or during the day to share fun times, have bring-your-own meals together, or do a BBQ and put on some homegrown entertainment. You never know what talents others have as well as taking the opportunity to showcase your own. Jackie and Terry do love a karaoke and maybe you can persuade them to hold one. These are what makes the amazing holiday memories and where long-lasting friends are found.

Domaine du Sourire is a place where one visit is never enough, you will want to come back year after year.

What makes Domaine du Sourire unique? The passion and commitment to ensure you have the best holiday experience whatever your ability. Jackie has said, “You are what makes us unique, each and every guest.”

You can read about other facilities we offer on our website and check out the other blogs in the series.

The property, What is unique about Domaine du Sourire #3 – Groups and Retreats

22Jun

Holidays should be wonderful experiences and going on holiday with a group be it family, friends or yet to meet friends is always a great idea.


If you are planning a holiday, retreat or business get together for a large group, Domaine du Sourire may be just the place to suit your needs. Of course, we offer the same as so many “gites” in this area such as stunning views, great location to get around the area from with so much to see and do, our accommodation is clean and comfortable with all the mod cons including free Wi-Fi and the hosts/owners live on site.

So, what is so unique about Domaine du Sourire that you want to choose it for your group holiday?

 

We have 4 gites, which can accommodate up to 24 people in total, situated together in our enclosed and extensive grounds. The advantage of Gite accommodation is you can have individual time too if the activities of the group all gets a bit much! 3 of our 4 gites are wheelchair accessible with downstairs bedrooms and wet-rooms making it accessible for all so no one needs to be excluded.

The layout of our site features a central courtyard with a large outdoor dining or meeting area; all 4 gites are situated around the courtyard with easy access. France, and the Dordogne, is known for its sunshine but we do occasionally get rain and if you have group activities planned then fear not, at Domaine du Sourire we have a room, which is wheelchair accessible, for your group’s activities should the weather make outdoors unpleasant! There a few smaller rooms which can on request be adapted to meet the needs of your group’s programme.

     

 

Relax on the sun loungers or cool down on those hot sunny days, splash and play in the large heated pool which has a ramp making it wheelchair accessible should that be required. The pool is enclosed and gated for safety and is set to the back of the gites in our extensive and beautiful grounds. For the more energetic we have a selection of bicycles available for you to take in the wonderful scenery surrounding you at Domaine du Sourire.


We live on site and it is our passion to ensure you have a great holiday or retreat and we know that planning for a group can be a daunting task! At Domaine du Sourire we know every group is different and the needs of groups vary so we would recommend you chat to us about your needs and we will endeavour to find a way to meet these where possible or if we can help in planning your itinerary with you we would only be glad to do so.
Recently we had a group of families come to stay for a week and as they travelled by bus it made getting the breakfast fresh croissants and pain au chocolat impossible for them. We organised a bread run to the local boulangerie every day, we also took shopping lists and did their shopping at the nearest supermarket. The lanes around our property are very narrow and it made it impossible for their bus to have room to park so we agreed on their behalf with the Mairie of our commune for the bus to be parked safely in the village.


All that is left is for you to book and enjoy! Going on a group holiday, retreat or get together is so much fun so go with the flow, let us take the strain while you enjoy each other’s company.
What sets Domaine du Sourire apart from the rest? The passion and commitment to ensure you have the best experience for every member of the group. Jackie, the owner of Domaine du Sourire, has said, “You are what makes us unique, each and every guest.”

 

The property: what is unique about Domaiane du sourire – child friendly #2

15Jun

Choosing where to stay on holiday can be a bit of a minefield with the myriad of options tantalisingly floating before your eyes.
Why choose Domaine du Sourire, what sets this place apart when it offers the same clichés as many others – great location, comfortable gites with all modern amenities, beautiful views and lots that you can do or see?
Jackie, your amazing host at Domaine Du Sourire, says “We are perfect for families with children.”


The grounds are extensive and fully enclosed providing a safe play area for children to run around freely and safely leaving mums and dads, grannies and grandads to worry a little less about what the kids are up to.


Nature is on your doorstep. There are some fruit trees and the children can pick when in season, the cherries are very popular but watch they don’t eat too many! Children love to dig around and plant things and they can do just that in the sensory garden area. They can collect pine cones and things from one of the many woods within short stroll of Domaine du Sourire. Terry said they have even been visited by a baby owl who is very friendly.

The gites are spacious and give you much more room than a hotel room when you have young children. Depending on family size and which gite you choose the children could have a room each meaning you don’t have to creep around in the dark to get another drink or snack or even get to the loo. Instead of being confined to a balcony as you might in a hotel in the evenings, you can use the kitchen, living area, bathroom, patio or courtyard all without disturbing your sleeping cherubs, making it a wonderful holiday for you as well.


Meal times are much simpler as you can cook what you like when you like. French dining can be somewhat intense with the preferred 3 courses at lunch which may not be great for the kids. Although there are some good dining options such as the night markets which are really very child orientated, the flexibility to self-cater and enjoy a BBQ in the sun is what makes this a great place for families.
There is plenty to entertain the children with the garden and play area outside, the grounds where they can play football or chasing with their new friends from some of the other gites. The indoor soft play area is a great hit with the little ones and will keep them happy and amused for hours. New experiences can be had in the sensory room which will thrill the user through the interactive space full of light and sound. It will stimulate them and encourage communication. And we haven’t even mentioned the pool!


The benefit of being an enclosed complex of 4 gites gives children and parents alike a freedom that is safe and enjoyable for all, and most important the opportunity to make new friends from faraway places and yet it is big enough to not be overcrowded.
What sets Domaine du Sourire apart from the rest? The passion and commitment to ensure you have the best holiday experience for every member of the family from the littlest to the biggest! Jackie has said, “You are what makes us unique, each and every guest.”

The property: what is unique about Domaine du Sourire # 1

06Jun

It’s time to answer that question that you are no doubt asking as you are searching for that perfect place to holiday, “Why Domaine du Sourire?”

What is it that is unique about these gites compared to all the others?

We are in an ideal location, we have magnificent views, Jackie and Terry live on site and are friendly hosts. So far so good but so the same as many others in the region (apart for Jackie and Terry who are unique!)

So, what is different at Domaine du Sourire?

I believe what is unique at Domaine du Sourire is the space Jackie and Terry have created so you can experience the best time of your lives whether you have a disability or not. It is their passion to ensure that the needs of a disabled child or adult are met as well as the needs of other family members.

One of the biggest differences is the accessibility for people with disabilities. Three of the 4 gites are fully wheelchair accessible, fitted with wet-rooms and specialist equipment is available or can be hired.

Even the swimming pool has a ramp which enables wheelchair users to safely and easily enter the water and have as much fun as others.

 

Holidays are fun, busy and noisy and fun, busy and noisy. Sometimes a different environment is much needed. The sensory room provides that often needed space to relax and reduce anxiety and stress in a safe place when it gets all too much.

At Domaine du Sourire Jackie and Terry recognise the world is changing and families or individuals who face disability deserve the same opportunities and they are proud that they provide that opportunity at Domaine du Sourire.

What makes Domaine du Sourire unique? The passion and commitment to ensure you have the best holiday experience whatever your ability. Jackie has said, “You are what makes us unique, each and every guest.”

Welcome – have a look around….

05Mar

Welcome to Domaine du Sourire, make yourself at home, relax on the sofa with your favourite beverage and have a look around our complex. And then stop by the website,  for more information if you like what you see.

An early picture of the courtyard entering through the front gates, not quite ready for opening to guests…almost

 

Come across the courtyard looking back towards the front gates viewing the Games room and the front of”Le Faon” then around the back.

Staying around the back view of “Le Faon” taking in the cool of the pool. Notice the ramp which makes this pool accessible for wheelchair users.
 
Imagine a lazy, sunny afternoon lounging by the pool sipping iced tea or fruit punch…….

 

 
Next door to the rear of “Le Faon” and overlooking the pool is “Chez Sandy”, the home of the late inimitable Sandy Mair,  who dedicated the final years of his life to helping his friends Mark and Dawn and Teresa Camilli restore and build Domain du Sourire.  I may well share some wonderful anecdotes later about him, he was our dad.

 

Keeping to the back see the extensive grounds where there is lots to do for the children, including a wheelchair accessible swing and some lovely planting areas where you can plant your own flowers.



          


To the top of the grounds where there is plenty of space for a picnic or games. It will be Terry’s job to keep all the grounds well mown and weed free!

 

 

 

Inside the Sensory Room

And finishing this short tour with some views around the complex. Jackie and Terry are so excited for their new adventure to truly start when the make the final move in April 2018 to reside at Domaine Du Sourire and host at these wonderful holiday gites where they sincerely hope to see you.