Dorset’s Delicious Bits | Moreton Ford


bridge over ford

… the bridge over the ford …

I have some very vivid childhood memories of this place.  I would imagine (through my 7 year old mind) that it was possible to catch a glimpse of a unicorn gently strolling through the shallow water.  Crazy thoughts, but the magic of this place seemed to inspire such things.

Although I could picture the scene clearly in my head, it has taken me quite a lot of research to find where this magical ford actually is. Situated quite close to Bovington, you reach the well-signposted village via beautiful tree-lined lanes. Here is a map if you like a bit more detail.

moreton ford 1

moreton ford 2

After the recent downpours, the ford was flowing quickly and although shallow enough for horses to wade through (which they regularly do), we had to take the route across the footbridge. We spent the obligatory few minutes (*ahem* half an hour) searching for fish, while also watching littlies with their fishing nets seeing what they could catch and whooping with joy when success had been had.

By both banks the water was shallow enough to experience it first hand.  So we stood on the shingle, watching the water flow past our wellies, amazed at how clearly we could see the details underneath our feet.

After all of that fresh air, a cup of tea was needed and thankfully there is a charmingly lovely tea-room, just at the top of the lane.  Walk past the black bin offering free use of fishing nets and children’s boots and you won’t miss it!

welly boots

Go on… have a paddle!

How To Give Your Pots Some Personality

painted pot face1

I am starting to bring some of the succulents further inside, towards the warmth, as the weather turns colder and wetter. The slugs are beginning to stir again and would like nothing more than to graze on the juicy petals of an echeveria.

It’s always a bit of a juggling act when the plants come inside. Some have more specific light and warmth requirements than others and as I only have limited windows that face west or south, Mr D-F often finds himself waking up to the sight of a large palm or some other frondy-leaved plant waving around in the window by his head… he doesn’t even question it any more!

We have family and friends staying over Christmas and the guest bedroom window has an excellent success rate for keeping succulents happy over winter.  I didn’t want our visitors to feel as if they were living in a jungle for the Christmas period, but instead that the plants were an intentional addition to the room’s decor!

potface collage1

After collecting together some white ceramic pots and painting terracotta planters in various shades of Farrow & Ball, I set upon them with a permanent marker pen (I used a sharpie pen with a medium thickness nib). I have seen pots with sweet little expressions on the internet and wanted my plants to have their own personalities as well.

succulent collage

When it came to re-potting the succulents I used an equal mix of cacti soil, perlite and sand. Each pot also had a nice layer of stones placed into the bottom, to aid drainage.

pot people

They look like a little succulent family now and will hopefully entertain our friends while they are all roomies over the holidays!

Have a great day!


Dorset’s Delicious Bits | A Festive Fayre

local food

Shillingstone Christmas Fayre

~ Saturday 6th December ~

I am already very excited about this event and have been ensuring that all of my friends and family have written it firmly into their diaries! The Fayre seems to have grown into something that promises to be very special, with a huge range of local suppliers available to help you finish off (or in my case, get started) with your Christmas list.

Over the past few years, the lovely people of Shillingstone have run a Christmas bazaar with the aim of raising money for their church and funding their valuable outreach programmes.  However, they had ambitions to run something even better and even more special for local people and visitors alike. At the last count the Fayre planned to host over 35 stalls selling local food, drink and crafts by some very well-known names. These include Angel Organics free-range turkeys, hot-roasted chestnuts from Living The Cream, Sam’s Fudge, home-made delights from The Wobbly Cottage, Emsie Sharp’s stunning glass designs and Ed Duckworth’s incredible pottery.  You will also be able to buy beautiful handmade wreaths to take home and get your house ready for the party season.

festive crafts

All of this loveliness will be wrapped up in some serious Christmassy atmosphere, for both adults and children.  Visitors will be greeted with home-made, hot mince pies and mulled wine.  Santa has promised to visit and meet the children, giving them the opportunity to buy some reindeer food. He may even bring along his trusty, antlered friends!

The Fayre runs from 11am – 5pm and more information can be found on the website, here.  I can’t wait to see you there! I’m sure you will be able to spot me buying some reindeer dust or making a beeline for the raffle (there are some truly exciting prizes – and I’ve got my eye on spending a day with alpacas)!!

Have a great weekend!

Dorset’s Delicious Bits | Featured on Film

Clenston bw

… St Nicholas, Winterborne Clenston …

If you are looking for some breathtaking quintessential English loveliness, you need to take a trip down the Winterborne Valley.  Where, as you emerge from columns of trees lining the road, you will see St. Nicholas church in Clenston.  Set back, in amongst the fields, it is almost as if time has left this building completely untouched.

This church is so charming and unspoilt that it was used for the wedding scene in the 1996 film, Emma, starring Gwyneth Paltrow. Mr Knightley and Emma actually walked down this aisle to their happy ending!

clenston 2

… beautiful architecture …

clenston view

… the gateway out onto the car park …

If you fancy a visit, you can park in the grassy car park before walking through the wrought-iron gate and down the sweeping path.  Take some time to look at the amazing countryside that surrounds the church before going inside and having your own little Jane Austin moment!


The Highlights

house warming

… a happy new home …

This week has been full of excitement so far… Our friends moved into their long-awaited, beautiful new home and we were invited round for our first visit.  We all sat in the kitchen with heaps of cakes and tea to talk about where the sofa should go, which wall the prints and photos would be best displayed and how to choose paint colours for a calming, yet motivational home office space.  It was so nice to see our besties with grins of happiness at finding a house that they love so much already!

rose pruning

garden plan

For the remainder of the weekend, I spent the unseasonably warm days pruning back the roses quite vigorously. My aim was to leave four or five of the largest ‘trunks’ before removing any side stems back to the first healthy bud.  I also removed any stems that were looking leggy or unhealthy.  Any shoots that now appear will be left until Spring, when they can be pruned, less dramatically, to start to build next year’s shape.

All these long days in the garden, had me scheming of a new garden design for next year.  There are still some parts of the garden that aren’t working for me.  I need a planting section that can deal with some shade, as well as a re-design of the main outdoor sitting and eating place.  As the measurements have all been taken, I can spend some of the winter batting ideas around and mixing things up a little before a final decision is made. Of course, I will let you know what I decide!

Have a great day!

Dorset’s Delicious Bits | A Mediterranean Feast

ban the bland2

… Olives Et Al, Sturminster Newton …

The Olives Et Al shop in Sturminster Newton is like a refuge for me.  It’s the place I go to, not only for the great products but to soak up the atmosphere.  I linger, just to bask in the whole wonderfulness created by the friendly people and the delicious food.

The Olives Et Al headquarters is to be found just on the outskirts of the town (please see map and info, here). There is lots of parking and they are open from Monday to Saturday, 9am – 5:30pm.

The shop is just one part of a rapidly expanding, exciting business and, as locals, we are able to take full advantage of sampling the delights, almost as soon as they are created.  Seemingly, the shop sprang up as a bit of a happy accident due to people arriving at the factory doors and asking, very sweetly, if they could try bits and pieces and possibly buy some while they were there.  After mentioning this fact recently to my Mum and Dad, they looked a little sheepish and admitted that they had been guilty of doing just that!

great gifts

The shelves are lined with jars, boxes and packages, all with engaging labels and wrapping, making the deli my first stop when finding gifts for those who love their food.  While under the guise of choosing presents to go in a Christmas, birthday or house-warming gift hamper, you can secretly treat yourself to trying the huge variety of imaginative oils, nuts, bread and other tasty snacks.

find your favourites

The main hub of activity is around the ‘olive station’.  Bowls and bowls heaped with glistening olives are ready to be tried.  There is a very Mediterranean attitude towards shopping in this deli, as tasting and trying are positively encouraged.  How else can you decide whether you will love the olives with stuffed tomato more than the feta-filled variety? Complete strangers can be overheard comparing notes and views over the different flavours and bonding over the slightly naughty feeling you get when you try ‘just one more’ before buying the biggest pot on offer!

taste test

Everyone seems to have their own special favourite, which is put into the basket automatically, while actually on a mission to find something else.  Simon, the manager, is partial to the Putney Sauce (incredibly delicious with soft cheese), Mr D-F loves the Tapenade Provencal, while I cannot get enough of the Raspberry and Mint dressing, which enhances almost everything, including salads and fish dishes.

wow your guests

I was completely in awe of these beautifully coloured, massive meringues, all stacked up and looking tempting. The next time that I am in need of a pudding with wow-factor, I’ll definitely be dropping in to pick up one of these beauties!

save the date

To make matters even more exciting… Olives Et Al are hosting their annual Great Big Huge Dorset Feast on 22nd November.  Taking place from 10am – 4pm, they promise a huge tent, full of local food and drink producers, where tasting is a necessity.  I’ll be taking my Christmas list and my camera and will no doubt, see you there!

Dorset’s Delicious Bits | The White Mill

white mill 1

… White Mill at Sturminster Marshall …

Goodness this is a beautiful building, completely tucked away down a narrow lane.  The perfect, peaceful place for a walk and a chance to relax.  It is a National Trust building and it is possible to have a look around at the original mill workings (take a look at the website here, if you’re interested in opening times).  It wasn’t open when we went, but it was just as lovely to walk around, while there was no one here, we shared the space with a pair of Egrets by the water’s edge.

We also had a walk over the incredible White Mill Bridge, where there is only just room for single file traffic.  Despite the cold wind that seemed to be blowing us sideways, we spent some time peering over the edge looking for fish (we didn’t find any)! The rule in our house is that if there is water, we have to look for fishes… Honestly. Sometimes we spend at least ten minutes inspecting deep puddles!

oldest bridge 1

This is definitely worth a trip, if you’re in the area.  A real hidden piece of lovely Dorset! Have a wonderful Sunday x

oldest bridge 2

Yarn | Organising The Stash

organise the stash1

This little piece of organisational joy happened quite by accident. It sort of evolved as I was thinking through a problem.

I have a bit of difficulty when planning a new project. As far as I am aware, there isn’t a shop near to me that has a wide range of yarns to go and have a look at, leaving me having to buy online.  Although this is brilliant because I get an exciting woolly delivery, it does limit me in terms of seeing colours in real life.

After collecting up all of my oddments of yarn and balls that hadn’t quite been made into anything yet, I set about making up some granny triangles.  Nothing fancy and not too big.

Once each triangle was finished, I labelled them with their colour and make.

organise the stash2

… all labelled up …

I now have lovely little stacks of colourful triangles, all labelled and ready for reference. I did spend five minutes arranging them into little crochet sandwiches  … but that’s because I got sidetracked!

Now, when I am pondering over the next blankety colour scheme, I get out my triangles and see which ones take my fancy, before I place my yarn order online.

Hooray for organisation (…and for playing with crochet sandwiches)!

organise the stash3