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

Dorset’s Delicious Bits | Hidden View

bulbarrow view 1

… the view from the top of Bulbarrow Hill …

A secret little viewing spot that I have loved from the earliest days that I can remember. Even on a cloudy day, with moody-looking trees, it is spectacular.  Just the right place to sit and have a think while the wind blows all of your stresses away. I don’t think any of my descriptions could do this place justice… so I’ll just leave you with the pictures …

bulbarrow view 3

Have a wonderful Sunday x

This Week | Highlights

Keith

… Keith intrigued by her reflection in my lens …

This week has been rather a mixed jumble of happenings so far.  After noticing that Keith had a bit of a cold developing, including enormous coop-rattling sneezes, we formulated a Keith-get-well plan.  This included lots of fresh clean water with an added garlic clove, some Poultry Spice mixed into their food and an hourly check up!

Happily, by the next day Keith was completely back to normal and was being her usual happy (grumpy) self! Not a sign of a runny nose anywhere!

Custard creams

… an exciting take on custard creams …

We also had family visiting over the weekend and there was a request for a cake of some kind.  I felt like baking something completely new, but nothing in my recipe books grabbed me, until I came across a biscuit recipe for ‘Melting Moments’. This is a very smart, fancy version of a custard cream biscuit and were completely delicious but seriously full of sugar.  When making biscuits myself, it really reminds me of how much sugar must go in to shop-bought biscuits and halts me, momentarily, from eating them by the handful, until I forget about the sugar content again! Anyway, if you just want an occasional treat to go with a strong coffee, these are perfect and the recipe can be found in The Primrose Bakery Book.

Clary

… last of the clary …

I spent some of the more sunny parts of the days preparing the garden for Autumn. I cut back the stems of the rock roses, trimmed the herbs in the bed and generally had a tidy.  Much of this year’s Clary was over and needed taking out, but in amongst the brown, I found one plant still happily radiating purple petals and so I left him be as a reminder of summer, just for a little while longer!

I hope you’re having a great week so far.

Dorset’s Delicious Bits | Abandoned by the Sea

tyneham view 1

… Tyneham village …

We had a craving to have a walk by the sea this weekend, so took ourselves off in the Lulworth direction. However, as we reached the gates of Lulworth Castle, we decided on the spur of the moment, to take a right turn towards Tyneham.  After the crazily wiggly road and the breathtaking view from the top of the water sweeping out to sea, we descended into this eerily beautiful village that was abandoned in 1943. Sadly, the villagers were evacuated in order to provide the army with training grounds and their homes were left behind.  It was so amazing to walk through roofless houses and see the brickwork and fireplaces all still standing. We peeked through tiny glassless windows with views out into the woods until we felt the need to set out our mid-morning picnic (bananas and hot chocolate, if you’re wondering)! 

tyneham2

… the walls of the cottages …

We wandered past the church, which is still in good repair and the Rectory, which is less so!  Once you have strolled through the village, you can then take the walk down to the sea.  The path is incredibly flat considering that it is on this coastline and has been well maintained.  Although it is quite a long walk, it is worth it to smell the saltiness and have a paddle in the frothy waves.

flowers at tyneham

… the only life in the cottages are the flowers and ivy, clinging to the walls …

Crochet Poppy | Ready to Remember

frothy poppy

… crochet vs. paper poppy …

Remembrance Day is not far off the horizon and it got me thinking about the number of paper poppies that I always seem to lose within minutes of receiving them.  No matter how carefully I pin them on, after a while of busying about, I look down to find the red petals missing and just a pin sitting there, not really looking supportive of Remembrance Day at all.

I thought it might be better, for this year, to crochet a happy-looking poppy that will stay on through thick and thin. I will of course still donate but will leave the paper poppies in their tray for someone else to come to terms with!

I found a beautifully simple but effective flower pattern on the lovely blog Very Berry Handmade.  I have kindly been given permission to feature it here on The Dorset Finca, but I have translated into the UK version. So if you are into US crochet terms, pop on over to Very Berry using the link above. If you are happy with UK terms, please read on…

To make the poppy above, I used Stylecraft Special DK in Lipstick with a 4 mm hook.

Start with a Magic Circle and make 4 double crochet (dc) in the circle and close the circle by pulling the tail end (4 stitches).

R1: 2 dc in each dc round, join last dc to top of 1st dc with a slip stitch (ss) (8 stitches)

R2: 2 ch then 1 ss in next dc, 2 ch. Repeat all round then join round with ss (8 chain spaces)

R3: In each chain space make 1 ss, 1 chain (ch), 2 treble crochet (tc), 1 ch, 1 ss. Complete the round with ss into 1st ss. (8 petals created)

R4: Holding the flower facing you, take your hook to the back of the work and insert it round the 1st chain made in R2. Make ss round the chain, ch3, ss round the 1st chain underneath the next petal then repeat 7 times & complete the round with ss into 1st ss (8 chain spaces).

R5: Into each ch sp make 1 dc, 1 ch, 3 tc, 1 ch, 1 dc. Complete round with ss into 1st dc. (8 petals created).

R6: As in R4 take your hook to the back of the work and make ss round the 1st post of the 1st petal created in R5, ch 4, ss round next post then repeat 7 times & complete the round with ss into 1st ss (8 ch sp).

R7: In each ch sp created in R6 make 1 dc, 1 ch, 5 tc, 1 ch, 1 dc. Complete the round with ss into 1st dc.

Fasten off & weave in ends, except for the tail end.  I then used the tail end yarn to sew on my button to create the centre of the flower.  By adding a safety pin onto the back, the poppy should stay in place for good!

 

crochet poppy 1

 … there are lots of alternative flower patterns on Pinterest if you feel like mixing it up …

After making one poppy, you will have no doubt mastered this pattern! Once Remembrance Day is over, you can change up the colours to create corsages for your coat or bag to brighten up the winter season.

alternative poppy

… crochet flower made with 3 acrylic yarn colours …

Dorset’s Delicious Bits | An Organic Gem

veg1

Gold Hill Organic Farm, Child Okeford

It was about a year ago when I discovered this organic farm, nestled just under Hambledon Hill in Child Okeford. Despite my lack of realisation of its existence, the plot has been growing organic vegetables for 25 years and it is clear that the Gold Hill farmers know their onions (sorry, couldn’t resist).  The first time I visited, after asking permission, I was allowed to roam around the rows of growth and poke my head into the various poly-tunnels.  I was so staggered at the enormous range of produce that can actually be grown, in England, throughout the year completely organically.

Just walking into the shop (open from Thursdays – Sundays) will make you gasp, as brightly coloured, healthy-looking veg is heaped into wicker baskets, having only been harvested moments before. It really is something to see.  The lovely people here are also very honest about the one or two things that they can’t grow, such as potatoes. These come from another local farm, as for some reason the plot here didn’t agree with potatoes and they had a terrible time with blight.

 A recently new venture for the farm (and already a huge local success) is their veg box delivery service. Priced very reasonably and delivered throughout Dorset to people’s doors, the veg is picked the very same morning that it is delivered to you.  A feat of genius in my opinion!

Now for the really secret and delicious bit… In amongst all this organic loveliness, is a…  cafe! Yes, yippee! My complete favourite thing in the world. (Many of you are now exclaiming… ‘but I thought you said your favourite thing was…’) so please forgive me for having so many favourite things.  Food and a cup of tea is really up there in the top three.

lemon and polenta cake

… homemade lemon and polenta cake …

There are homemade cakes (baked that day, of course), a range of things to eat for lunch with delicious salads… all organic and fresh.  We sat outside in the warm September sunshine with an incredible piece of lemon and polenta cake each, a pot of tea and watched the gentle goings on at the farm, framed by Hambledon Hill in the background.  It really was a lovely afternoon!

For a bit more information and directions, you will find Gold Hill Farm’s website here.

baskets of goodness

… baskets bursting with delicious things …

Red Velvet Hedgerow Cake | Recipe

berries and frosting

… perfect after a long walk picking blackberries …

I have to start by saying a massive thank you to the creative lovelies at CakeNess for helping me out with this recipe. Their cakes are always so incredibly delicious and provide much cake wow factor! If you don’t fancy making this yourself, you can find CakeNess, here. They would be more than happy to whip you up a batch!

This recipe is so useful to adapt to the different seasons; blackberries in the autumn, strawberries in the summer… and will always be a winner as hostess gifts or for housewarmings.

cake close up

For the cake: 200g unsalted butter, 175g light brown sugar, 2 large eggs, 175g self-raising flour, 2 tbsp red food colouring, 150ml Greek yoghurt, 1 tsp vanilla essence, 30g cocoa powder

For the frosting: 150g icing sugar, 75g cream cheese, 250g blackberries (or other berries of your choice)

Method:

1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees C. Grease a 2 pound loaf tin and line with greaseproof paper.

2. Use 100g of the butter and beat it with the brown sugar until it is light and fluffy. Beat in one egg at a time with 1tbsp of flour. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the food colouring, Greek yoghurt and vanilla. Fold in the remaining flour and cocoa powder until smooth.

3. Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake for approximately 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.  Leave in the tin for a few minutes, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool thoroughly.

Frosting:

Use the leftover butter and whisk until smooth. Add the icing sugar, beating again before adding the cream cheese. Beat the mixture until thick and pale in colour.

Spread the frosting over the top of the cake and top with the berries.

top view cake

 … et voila …

Dorset’s Delicious Bits | On Top of the World

compton abbas

Compton Abbas Airfield, near Shaftesbury

… and this is just the car park …

We had a little jaunt last Sunday, to one of my favourite places to sit and ponder.  Not only are the views on the way up to the airfield quite incredible, but once you are there, you feel as if you are perching on top of the world, sharing a secret with only a select few.  Sitting outside on one of the benches, practically on the airstrip itself, with a hot mug of tea and an almond slice, you can forget about almost everything and immerse yourself into the world of sheepskin jackets and propellors.  It never ceases to amaze me that such a tiny, grassy airstrip can be such a buzzing place of people, planes, microlights and helicopters.  In just an hour, we must have watched at least 10 take offs and landings, with the requisite whoops and gasps and ‘crikey that was close’!

Although we had a little mishap with the little old car (something seized and she refused to start, even after a kind aeroplane engineer leant us some WD40), we left feeling windswept but invigorated, and on the whole, had had a fantastic afternoon!

See you there next Sunday?

chocks away

Be Brutal | Pruning

be brutal

… these plants benefit from harsh treatment …

I have never been one to be afraid of going a little cutting crazy in the garden. It was surely all going to grow back wasn’t it? Well, I was partially right and I must apologise to the plants that this mentality disagreed with, but also reassure them that they have made great compost.

An Autumnal hard prune is usually necessary for most plants and shrubs to avoid them getting rangy and to minimise frost damage during the winter. However, a mid-growing-season prune can also be like a ‘refresh button’ for varieties such as scabiosa, rose species, most herbs and geraniums.  I was amazed to see plants, that I had given an end of summer haircut, sporting a new mass of growth which had also encouraged re-flowering even in late September.

So take heart if you are worried about some drastic snipping. It’s time to brave it up and make friends with the secateurs (or in my case, garden shears)!

snip snip2