Planting a Wild Flower Bank

wildflower seeds

…wild flower seed mix…

At the front of the Finca there is a sunny bank. It’s mossy and green and lovely but I’ve always felt that it has never been developed to its full potential. I gave some serious thought to what we would all like to see out of our front windows. What would I like visitors to be welcomed by? When I open the front door, what would give me the warm and fuzzies?

I started imagining a bank full of wild flowers, shifting in the breeze or sending out scent on a hot summer’s day. I dreamt of a bank that changed with the seasons and always held something of interest. I wanted a view that I would want to spend lots of time looking at and enjoying.

snowdrops on bank

wildflower bank

As we are currently in February I realised that I needed to start with two things… winter/early spring planting and sowing seeds ready for later in the year. I split some large clumps of snowdrops and planted them (in what I hope) was a natural looking arrangement on the bank.  After the snowdrops, I dug up some primroses that had spread themselves wildly in other parts of the garden and added them to the mix. The bank was already starting to look like something…

In terms of the flowers for late spring/summer, I bought some cowslip and harebell seeds, as well as a wild flower mix. Choosing the right seeds took a bit of time. I had to carefully look at the maximum growing heights and chose plants that would only be a maximum of 40 – 50cm tall. They also needed to be sun lovers as the south-facing bank gets pretty mediterranean in the summer. The final consideration was to ensure that the insects and birds would enjoy this new part of the garden as much as we would, so flowers encouraging pollination and those that produce tasty seeds were a must.

This project has really excited me and I can’t wait to see how it shapes up. The seeds are all in propagators to give them a headstart and although there’s nothing happening above the surface of the soil, I can just feel that there is already something going on underneath. I just know it!

Shall I keep you posted? Have a great day x

 

P.S. Dorset’s Delicious Bits will be back from next Sunday… The post schedule had to be changed slightly due to the spruce up of the site- I hope you like it! 

 

SEE YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE…

hold on tight

I know I don’t usually post on a Monday evening, but I was worried I’d miss the boat and wouldn’t get a chance to explain what will be happening over the next few days.

It’s possible that the usual Wednesday post may have to be postponed for a few days. I am really pleased with it and I can’t wait to show it to you, but there is a small chance it may get lost en route…

…the blog is going to have a little bit of a freshen up and to allow more freedom, it is going to move over to a self-hosted wordpress.org site. Hopefully, the change should be seamless and you won’t notice a difference at all. The web address will look the same, the blog will look the same (for a few days at least) but what’s going on underneath will be a little bit more exciting.

So please hang on in there for the ride, especially if there are a few adjustments that need to be made in the first few days.

See you on the other side! x

Dorset’s Delicious Bits | MILTON ABBAS

 

milton abbas

… Milton Abbas village …

If you have ever bought a set of Dorset postcards, I bet you this iconic sight was featured on at least one of them.  White cottages with thatched roofs and manicured grass lawns line the road on either side, creating an almost artificial look.

I had a peek at the village website here, for some background information and discovered that the village was built in 1773, when the former residents of Middleton (who lived in the grounds of Milton Abbey) were relocated.  Lord Milton, who was the occupant of Milton Abbey at the time, didn’t appreciate the town being so close to him and wanted the inhabitants to be slightly further away from him! Charming!

milton abbas waiting for sun

Every year, the village holds its famous Street Fair. The wide range of exhibitors include craft stalls, dancing, music and local food. This year the date for the fair is the 25th July, from 11am – 5pm and it’s already in my diary!

Have a great Sunday x

A tiny note – just to say, of course I don’t get any money for blogging about the gorgeous gems of Dorset – I do it for the love! 

 

 

A THOUSAND THANK YOUS

1000 thank you

This rather took me by surprise… I was looking over the blog the other day, trying to decide whether I wanted to mix things up in the visual department, when I noticed…

1003 followers

WHAAAAT?!

One thousand and three. Yes, I wasn’t experiencing an internet mirage. That little number of such great significance was correct…. and was just standing there looking at me, all expectantly.

I was so overjoyed and decided that a whole post needed to be dedicated to this momentous moment.  It got me thinking about all of the things that I utterly love about the blog… here are my musings:

1. Taking photographs and sprucing them up at the editing stage really does it for me. I can get so completely wrapped up in the whole process that I can miss whole events happening around me – like the cat making off with the freshly made loaf of bread. 

2. Writing the blog gives me the opportunity to meet exceedingly creative local people. I love seeing inside the spaces in which people work and I always leave thinking that their job/hobby/home/shop is the best and maybe I should do that instead!?!

3. I have made friends with people from all over the world who also blog… and quite a few have been with me right from the very beginning of the Finca, when the pictures were all wobbly and blurry and I hadn’t quite worked my niche out yet. I really appreciate all of their support and kindness. You know who you are! :)

4. Comments and likes! I know, I know. It’s not all about the stats/comments etc… but for me it is! The Dorset Finca, in no way, has to be the coolest blog on the block but when you get a post that has lots of comments and conversation or a squillion views, it gives you the confidence to think that you might be entertaining people, which is sort of the point!  

5. I get a tingle when someone says ‘oh, are you Dorset Finca?’ I mean…. how cool is that? Indulgent, sure. But cool!

 There are so many more things, but I expect you’re desperate for that cup of tea now and a sit in the garden. I’m now off on a jolly for this weekend’s delicious bit.

Have a brilliant day!

This humungous thank you obviously also includes all of the lovely people who follow TDF via another method… bloglovin, Twitter, Facebook… Huge, huge thank yous!

Dorset’s Delicious Bits | DORSET SNOWDROPS

 

dorset snowdrops

As I write this post, the snowdrops are at their most beautiful and are appearing in clumps and swathes all over the county.  Seeing their crisp, fresh colours always reminds me that although we are still feeling the wintery chills, Spring will shortly be with us.

I have been spending some of the afternoons (when the ground has been soft enough) digging up some of my larger clumps to separate.  Apparently, snowdrops should always be separated while they’re ‘in the green’ and sure enough, my newly planted little clumps have settled in nicely to the wildflower bank that I am creating this year. Now that is an extremely exciting project – which I will devote some posts to very soon.

dorset snowdrop collage

Snowdrops look incredible when viewed on a grand scale, so with this in mind, I have picked out some great places in Dorset where it is possible to go and see this sight. I have put in some links to websites and maps if you would like more info…

Kingston Lacy

Compton Valence

Snape Cottage Plantsman’s Garden

I’m sorry that I didn’t go and visit these gardens myself – it was my intention! I unfortunately was struck with a lurgy of doom, had no voice and was pretty much told to stay in bed! 

Have a great Sunday everyone!

 

A tiny note – just to say, of course I don’t get any money for blogging about the gorgeous gems of Dorset – I do it for the love! 

 

 

Club Tropicana Time ~ FRUIT POM POMS

fruit pompoms

Now… I know you’re not surprised that I LOVE this whole idea… the tropical colours, the pom poms, the versatility… it’s just so jolly!

When I saw this beautiful post on Mr Printable’s blog, I knew I had to give it a try. The post explains, in careful detail, how to make watermelon, strawberry, lemon, kiwi and other fruit pom poms. To create theirs, the Mr P crew used a special cardboard  contraption, whereas I used my trusty pom pom makers. I found that I had to buy a larger one to make the watermelon… but this was no problem, as after phoning the kind people at SparrowUk , one was put aside to be picked up by Mr D-F, as he was going to be travelling right past their door.

strawberry garland

The instructions were easy peasy to follow and I was quickly producing fruity pom poms.  Now, mine don’t look half as good as the one on Mr P’s site and I think that it is because I haven’t quite perfected the trimming stage. After a few attempts I found that using small, sharp scissors was best and that it was necessary to take quite a lot of wool off from the pom pom to allow the shape to emerge. However, I still think that a gentle approach is a good one to start with, otherwise, you might over-snip and leave yourself with something that resembles a raisin rather than a strawberry!

watermelon pompom

The finished articles made me so happy, that I made a whole pile of strawberries and strung them up to make a sunny, summery garland. Just what is needed in this cold weather!

Who’s already rummaging in their yarn stash to find some crazy tropical colours for a kiwi?!

Have a great day x

 

Dorset’s Delicious Bits | WIMBORNE MINSTER

 

wimborne minster

… Wimborne Minster …

Golly it was cold when I took these pictures and my poor fingers could hardly operate my camera properly. Even so, I was so entranced by the prettiness of Wimborne Minster that I stayed outside, taking it all in, until I was a bit blue and frosty!

My first thought was – what is the difference between a minster and a regular church? Apparently (according to the great and wonderous google dictionary), a minster usually arose as part of a monastery or as a teaching church. Although, if anyone could shed a bit more light on this for me, I’d be very grateful.

In fact, not only a monastery was founded here, but also a nunnery, which housed 500 nuns at one point…

… and this is only the beginning of its incredible history:

* In AD871, King Alfred buried his brother here after a battle that took place in Cranborne.

* The minster contains the chained library, which is one of the oldest public libraries in England.

* On the inside of the tower there is an astronomical clock, built in the 14th century.

Before you wonder how I get to be so knowledgeable, the secret is… I had a little help with these facts from the wonderful ‘Slow Dorset’ book by Alexandra Richards.

minster tower

… incredible tower …

pretty door

… pretty arched doorways and windows …

If you fancy a bit more information you can visit the official minster website here.

Have a great weekend. I’m off to get next week’s photos sorted as well as prepare some seriously exciting things for next week. x

FRUIT SLICE CROCHET KEYRING

fruit slice crochet keyring

This little piece of crochet loveliness solved a bit of a conundrum for me this week… which all started with lunch boxes.  For about a month now, I have been desperately searching for a trendy-looking lunch box to take with me on my Finca travels around the county.

I would have never thought to indulge myself in this way, except that I had an unfortunate and rather comical accident which involved a knife, a fork and a hole in my usual lunch bag (for lunch bag please insert well-used and recycled plastic carrier bag).  I’m sure you can imagine the scene!

So the search for a replacement got underway and I dismissed one after the other: too big, too small, too spiderman-y… until at last I found a fantastic one.  The only problem was that it is very very similar to my friend’s.

I knew crochet would come to my rescue and help me sort out any possible future mix-ups.

In order to cultivate the food theme, I decided to whip up a fruit slice keyring, with the hope that once attached to my bag, would allow it to be easily distinguished.

 

cotton balls

crochet circle

Without time to buy a particular yarn, I rummaged in my stash and found some lovely  Rico Essentials Cotton DK in sage and teal.

The slice began as a magic circle and increased in 4 rounds of dc (using the sage). I finished the circle with a single round of dc in the teal before folding it in half and joining the two sides together.  It was at this point, that I realised that if I had wanted to add pips to the design, I should have embroidered these on before joining the two halves, in order to hide the tail ends of the yarn. Lastly, I fixed on a keyring loop for attaching to things.

birds eye crochet view

I’m really pleased with this quick little project and am now thinking of making a lemon, watermelon and other fruit slices – but this time with a quick yarn order! Please let me know of any other funky fruit slices that I could try out.

Have a great day! x

 

Dorset’s Delicious Bits | BEAUTY IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER


frog in progress

… Dorset Uglies, by sculptress Emma Mauger …

As I drove towards the home of Dorset Uglies creator, Emma Mauger, I didn’t quite know how I was going to feel once I was confronted by her collection of ‘Uglies’.  I tend to be drawn towards clean lines and geometric shapes, and although I would say that there is quite a big dollop of quirkiness in me, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to appreciate the beauty of these creations with their wonky smiles.

After being warmly greeted by Emma and given a very much needed cup of tea, I met the first of the Ugly gang…

… and fell instantly in love.

I was so shocked by my reaction and by how much I wanted to take them all home.

This incredible encounter happened when I met listening bird, whose ear is pressed to the ground listening for the footsteps of its family (gosh, I wish I had taken a photograph of him, he was beautiful).

I then met pairs of pigs, gazing up with soulful eyes and snouty noses. I chatted to wide-mouthed frogs, looking particularly pleased with themselves. I even met horses with rubbery lips – you know the way that only horses can make their lips seem completely separate from the rest of their faces?  Emma had managed to capture this expression perfectly. One particular horse, called Mostyn, apparently likes Scarborough but is not a fan of playing rugby.

That was the other lovely surprise; each character comes named and with a summary of its likes and dislikes. This enables people to quickly connect with the personality of each Ugly as well as choose them according to the way that they look.

man Dorset Uglies

… one of the Uglies at home in the garden …

After asking Emma about the design process, it became clear that a massive amount of talent, love and hard work goes into every one. Each model takes a number of sittings to become complete and a sitting can last anywhere from 2 to 3 hours.  She currently sells them from her studio in Stour Provost as well as being a regular fixture at the Swans Yard craft fairs in the warmer months.  Prices generally start at £20.

Alfonso

… Alfonso, the studio mascot …

As if all this abundance of character and charm wasn’t enough, I was introduced to Alfonso, the bearded dragon and studio mascot. Happily wandering around and occasionally snuggling up to the two cats – yes really – he does a good job of keeping all of the Uglies in check! Slightly stern in appearance, he really is very friendly and only puffs up his neck at rather large camera lenses being poked in his face (totally my fault).

I wonder which of the Uglies would grab your heart? Let me know your favourite!

which is your favourite

For more information and to get in contact with Emma you can view her Facebook page or visit her website.

Have a great Sunday everyone!

A tiny note – just to say, of course I don’t get any money for blogging about the gorgeous gems of Dorset – I do it for the love! 

FOUR WAYS TO TRANSFORM AN ORDINARY-LOOKING LOAF CAKE

make it cute

Last week, I took a lemon loaf cake to a bring-and-share lunch.  I was impressed with myself for putting in that little bit of extra effort to provide a homemade offering.  Saying that, I didn’t actually get time to ice it, like I had planned, but thought that if it was cut up attractively and put on a colourful plate, people would still have a try.

I tentatively placed my cake next to the brightly coloured, far more beautiful puddings that my friends had bought, before helping myself to the savoury bits and sitting down to have a good chat.

It was about half-way through the lunch, when people had been up for seconds and some were starting on their pudding, that I realised that my cake stood there… untouched.  I could almost hear its sigh of ‘I’m not good enough’ as it lay there in between chocolate coated marshmallows, biscuits and small iced cakes, all of which were already half demolished.

Many of my hilarious friends tried to cheer me (and the cake) up by having a slice and exclaiming to the room, in very loud voices, how simply delicious the lemon cake was, in an attempt to draw a crowd of plate-wielders.

The main fact is… that my loaf cake is yummy. I know it is… but I now know that a little more effort is needed to jazz it up and entice people to try it.  So here are my 4 ways to transform an ordinary-looking (but tasty) loaf cake:

make it cute 2

1.  Make it cute… Lots of people seem completely bamboozled by the sight of a large (normal) slice of cake. It terrifies them into thinking that they will be under pressure to finish the whole thing. What if it tastes like marzipan and I don’t like it? and other such questions spill through their heads!  My solution is to cut up the cake into cutesy squares, before securing small towers of them with adorned cocktail sticks. Words like eat me should help relieve any fear and encourage people to do just that.

inner child 2. Appeal to the inner child… If you’re anything like me, I love to choose cakes that would have been seriously rationed by my parents when I was little.  Anything dripping with icing and looking like it belongs in a 6-year old’s birthday party is the cake for me.

throw the kitchen sink

3. Throw the kitchen sink at it… Everyone appreciates a good effort in the cake making department. So if in doubt… go a little bit crazy with the sprinkles and sweets. It shows a sense of fun and opulence and generally goes down well.

do the drizzle

4. Do the drizzle…For something a little more elegant you can’t beat a traditional drizzle. The cake above called out for a lemon glaze, which provided moisture, a little extra sweetness and finished off the cake in an understated, classic manner.

I hope that you never have to experience this mortifying situation like I did. You can rest assured that I will be bringing the most spangly, outrageous-looking cake to the next bring-and-share lunch.

…and then we’ll see…!

 

Have a great day! x