IF YOU go down to the woods today, you won’t find any old roadside café.
Frustrated with the dining choice available at the roadside, caterer Mark Jones came up with an idea that would entertain all the family.
His café based on the design of a fairytale gingerbread house is hidden in a copse on farmland behind the layby on the A35 at Stinsford near Dorchester – and it’s already creating a stir.
Theatrical designer and artist Phil Coombs, who works for Mr Jones’s Whole Hog event catering company, spent almost two months making the unusual exterior.
He used a range of materials including wood, fibreglass, polystyrene and expandable foam to create a fairytale-like scene featuring liquorice sweets, candy canes, a nougat layered roof and even a witch sticking out of the chimney. Mr Jones said: “It’s certainly turning heads. Everyone who comes here wants to photograph it.”
He added: “It’s something the kids will remember from their journey when they’re on holiday.”
The gingerbread house is actually a shipping container previously used by the Ministry of Defence as a field kitchen.
Mr Jones bought it to replace a catering trailer which used to be at the site.
He said: “We used to take the trailer backwards and forwards every day on to the farm and after about a year I decided to get something else because it was so much hassle and a lot of mud was being created in the winter.
“I discovered the container on the internet.
“It’s ideal because it’s totally hygienic and very secure.
“We thought about turning it into a log cabin at first before deciding on the gingerbread house idea.
“We’re in a clearing in the woods so it’s a perfect setting.”
Mr Jones explained how he cleared the site of fly-tipped rubbish and created a picnic area before starting the catering venture, known as the Farm Stop, last year.
He uses local suppliers to source his bread, meat, eggs, honey and ice-cream.
No polystyrene is used and only Fairtrade coffee and tea are served.
Mr Jones said: “The roadside café is a thing of the past and nowadays there isn’t a lot of choice for people on the road.”